Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Post No Bills - Jack Wood Gallery

Week by week, 14th and Vine becomes the new 12th and Vine.

Kaze and Quan Hapa have already put down edible roots in that section of Over-the-Rhine, joining established businesses including Mannequin (really, the first retail business in these gentrified parts), Pet Wants, Reser Bicycle and our pathetic beloved Kroger outpost.

Art lovers can now head to Jack Wood Gallery (right beside Pet Wants) to pour over beautiful vintage posters while they wait for their dinner reservation to open up.

You may recognize the gallery's neon lights and iconic posters from Jack Wood's previous spot in O'Bryonville. Wood says he had to move when the owner of his space in O'Bryonville wanted to return to the storefront. He reached out to friends at Mica (12th and Vine) and Mannequin (1405 Vine St.) and after ringing endorsements decided to make the move to OtR, too.

Wood has been dealing vintage posters for 15 years and collecting for five years more. Spend five minutes talking with him and it's clear he knows his stuff. We popped in for a quick look and ended up chatting for an hour about the various artists known for creating original Grateful Dead posters, famous poster artist Bernard Villemot's influences (Matisse for his earlier works), and the merits of Shepard Fairey.

About the latter, Wood suggests collectors buy anything and everything they can.

Whereas the O'Byronville location was open during business hours to cater to the business district's audience, Wood acknowledges he will likely stay open on some Friday and Saturday evenings to serve Over-the-Rhine's dining crowd.

Wood says he's still getting his gallery in ship-shape order, but he had little trouble finding some Dead posters we wanted to see. I imagine he wouldn't have much trouble digging up something specific for you, if needed.

For those of you already enjoying hearty poster collections, Wood says he's able to mount and frame them to ensure they stay vibrant with time. He mounts posters on archival-quality linen and uses special glass to ensure collector-worthy pieces are preserved for eternity.

Jack Wood Gallery carries a solid collection of poster genres including travel, transportation, and World War art. I noticed some 8x11 sized pieces were going for around $125; I am sure the Toulouse-Lautrec prints go for much, much more.

As if you needed another reason to spend your money in Over-the-Rhine.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Born to Serve

I never thought someone would invoke the name of God to justify being a cheapskate.

A few weeks ago the interwebs buzzed with the flap of a pastor who stiffed a server over an 18 percent tip, claiming she only gives God ten percent, reasoning the server didn't deserve the gratuity. A note here: the 18 percent gratuity was automatically added to the check because the party in question involved a table of six or more people.

I don't even know where to begin with commentary, but my past would have me side with the server. Because I used to schlep plates with the best of em'.

Long before I ever met with a client or held court in a control room, I used to wait tables. And I was damn good at it.

Each summer between 10th grade and my college graduation, I bussed plates, took cocktail orders and talked Kitchen Spanish with my colleagues from Puerto Rico. Now a tony, perfectly manicured resort along the Connecticut coast, the Wharf used to be a charming, dated inn with rickety wicker furniture and faded floral wall-to-wall.

The Wharf and its casual outpost upstairs (aptly named The Crow's Nest) served as the scene for my first forays into adulthood. It was the place where I called grown ups by their first name and discovered they regarded me as a peer, too.

The restaurant was where I learned about good food and also the ways of good business: Never eat a lobster in a month that has an 'R' in it. Always serve a plate from the left and clear from the right.

Time on the floor was a lesson in business practices I still use today.

  • Customer service: The customer is always right, even when they aren't. Treat all customers with courtesy, and if you have a cantankerous diner on your hands, kill 'em with kindness. It usually works.
  • Quick math: Thanks to many late nights of cocktail serving, I can process simple math pretty easily (and I can teach you an easy trick for figuring out 15 and 20 percent tips. The trick is in the decimal point).
  • Efficiency: Never enter or exit the kitchen without something in your hands. A dirty plate, a warm basket of bread, a fellow server's dinner order. Every task should be married with another. Bonus points if you can drop a check, greet a new table, clear some salad plates, and take a drink order during one circulation through the floor.
  • Always offer an alternative: If the kitchen 86es an item, offer your guest a comparable alternative. Strive to keep the customer happy, even if you don't have what they want.
  • Upsell: The customer likes a gin martini? What kind of gin is that? House swill, or perhaps Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray? Every interaction is a chance to sell.
  • Take care of your regulars: These folks are your bread and butter. Offer them a gratis drink or dessert from time to time, get to know them on a personal level, thank them for their repeated business. 
  • A smile and a thank you can do wonders. I learned this when I spilled some salsa on a biker dude's girlfriend. I was deeply apologetic and quickly gathered towels, club soda and asked a manager to comp some desserts. I smiled and thanked them for their patience and the biker dude (who was an attorney by day) joked the moment off and left a huge tip.
There's not a week that goes by when I don't think about my old serving days, though I haven't schlepped a plate in 13 years. Servers bust ass to bring us our every want, deserving well more than the 20 percent tip I leave for an average check.

But more important are the tips I gleaned from my managers and fellow servers. Those tips just may take this former waitress to the corner office someday.

As long as I can stay out of the weeds.

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.