We spent some time this winter traveling to warmer places for a vacation that I like to think was well-earned. I often tend to critique every restaurant we visit, not actually for the sake of criticism, but just because it interests me and I believe in learning from all sources available to me.
The restaurant game has a very slim profit margin. In order to protect that margin, you have to be extremely vigilant. I try and leave no stone unturned in looking for ways to make things better. The model that I like to recall is the one that says: Think of a triangle. The three points are 1. Good, 2. Cheap, 3. Fast. Now…to make a profit you CANNOT have all 3. So pick 2.
I know right?? What a crappy scenario!! Especially since most customers expect all 3. But think about that the next time you go to a great restaurant. If they have achieved all 3 – well that’s something.
One challenge of our restaurant is the layout. We have 2 floors. The 2nd floor has 3 dining areas, main dining room, bar with billiard room & small porch. On our trip, we visited a number of places like that in Florida & the Keys. The buildings are old and they tend to ramble from one room to another.
Of the 17 restaurants we visited on our winter trip, by far our favorite was a rambling old place called “Harrys” in St Augustine, FL. The kitchen is down with just a wait station up. There is ample patio dining as well, with torch heaters every few feet. We enjoyed both lunch and later on, dinner there. Fresh seafood & pasta dishes with a N’awlians slant. I had the French Market Pasta. Fresh shrimp, chicken, spinach and bacon tossed with Orecchiette pasta and a beautiful parmesan basil cream sauce. I know I am still carrying around the 5 extra pounds that dish cost me, but it was well worth it! Lora tried the Shrimp & Scallops Orleans . Lightly blackened shrimp over crispy grit cake with Tasso ham cream sauce. Fresh and surprisingly light enough to bring out all the flavors of the seafood complimented well with the ham. These dishes were easily the highlight of the food dimension of our trip. The multi floor layout seemed no challenge for the staff. Communication was as flawless as the food and the service.
Give Harrys a try next time you are in the St. Augustine area. I’m sure Lora and I will be back.