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Memo From American Sommelier: Take The Time

Posted on  | October 2, 2014   Bookmark and Share
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Achieving a balance between work, family and self belongs high on your list of goals

Andrew Bell, president and co-founder of American Sommelier

This is the infamous time of year when evaluating every aspect of your program should be your primary concern. You have an opportunity to crunch numbers, correct errors, double-check pricing, etc. A review of my previous columns (online at beveragemedia.com) can maximize opportunity and lower overhead or inventory carrying costs. All good. But an even greater program to tackle is balance!

I personally find myself on occasion at odds with the hospitality business… the long hours, the holidays working, the weekends. By its very nature, the business puts time with family and loved ones at risk.

How to manage it all? That is the eternal question! Owners, I hope you are listening: Mid- and upper-level management who have balance in their home life bring a greater amount of energy and focus to their position at the restaurant.

Effort Required…But Rewarded

Time away from work is not often easy to maneuver for many in the business, so the intensity of the time spent together must trump the volume. When you have successfully carved out time to be with your family, turn off your phone, shut the tablet; in short, be in the moment. While it seems evident, it is one of the hardest things to do. It gets easier once we see and feel the positive response from the children or significant other!

A team effort may be required to steal moments. If both parents work, then the day care personnel needs to be involved. Weekly excursions to the area of your workplace might be arranged, yielding 10–20 minutes of quality time with your child and their caregiver. Don’t expect a playdate, but there is time to read together or play a short game. Game ends, so does the visit. Be prepared for tears in the beginning but as the routine is established, the tears tend to subside, leaving a welcome routine in its place.

For older children, having them come in for a meal when their school/sports/work schedule allows can allow loved ones to see you in your work environment, removing the curtain from what can be an unknown imaginary world. Children tend to make assumptions; inviting them into this amazing world in which we live and work is a great way to make sure they do not follow in our footsteps! (Just kidding.)

For couples, married or not, Date Night awaits. Two ways to attack this one: Go where you receive the red carpet, or find a place no one knows your name. In order to fully appreciate time together, you may want to alternate between the two types of places. A familiar destination can be energizing, with people stopping by the table, talking shop or not. On the other hand, it is well worth the effort to make an anonymous retreat, to be able to walk into a place and only have to focus on your significant other.

With the little time busy professionals have to ourselves, we tend to be creatures of habit when it comes to down time. This can be the death of relationships. Taking a little energy from what we put into work and applying that to our relationships will make them stronger, make them last longer and make us feel more complete when in the work environment.


Andrew Bell is a co-founder and president of American Sommelier. Through the Sales, Service and Buying Seminar Series, American Sommelier provides professionals with the tools needed to build and maintain a successful wine program in any restaurant environment. Member benefits include events, career guidance, discounts and the American Sommelier newsletter. For more details and a calendar of classes, visit americansommelier.com or call 212-226-6805.


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