Entries Tagged 'Food' ↓

Let’s do it!

Okay, this is just in jest. But I pitched this idea to some of my friends. We have bacon, beer, BBQ and chislic festivals, why not CABBAGE?! I consider myself a cabbage lover, as someone of German, Irish, French, Russian, Swiss and Czech decent, cabbage runs through my blood. And it is delicious. I have even joked that SD Chamber President, David Owens should be the honorary chair (he hates cabbage).

Just think of all the different dishes you could serve! Coleslaw, and lots of it! Soups, pigs in a blanket, the list goes on and on! Let’s do it!

Popular Political Blog changing name to ‘DakotaFoodCollege’

Well, we should have seen the writing on the wall, or at least the food splooge on his keyboard

After years of regurgitating press releases from the right-wing whack jobs that run our state, he must have finally gotten tired of the acid reflux it was causing, and decided to go after the real deal. Of course Pitty has been dropping hints, like his yearly fart-fest he takes to DC where he tries to find this weird dish called ‘fish & chips’. I guess he forgets we celebrate Lent in South Dakota also.

I think the biggest clue came when he posted this table of high sodium, high fructose, corn syrup and bowls full of bacon grease.

I’m glad to see Pitty is going after his real passion while staying true to his blogging style – Sh*t in, Sh*t out.

Food Fight!

They should serve more crow at public meetings.

Believe it or not, I actually find my reader’s comments and opinions endearing, sometimes. I may not always agree, but I have learned some things.

So I’m going to ask your opinion about a ‘scenario’ situation.

First, I will preference that some of the incidents I will be referring to did not happen to me, and it is a combination of comments I have heard from citizens attending public events where food is served.

I will say personally though I have attended several public events like neighborhood meetings, ribbon cuttings, etc, where free food is served to the public. Normally it is cookies and coffee. But at the ribbon cutting for the Administration building there were catered sandwiches and chips. Also, when I used to attend the early events center meetings, the public was welcome to pizza or sandwiches after the committee ate.

That being said, here is my question;

If you attended a public meeting, to observe elected officials, and you were sitting at the same table as them and a server put a meal in front of you (that you did not order) would you 1) eat it? and if so 2) would you ask if you need to pay?

Let’s switch it up a bit, what if you ate it, and no one gave you a check. Would you just assume it was paid for? As I mentioned above, the city gives out free food all the time at other public events. Would this seem any different since it was a sit down meal?

Also, what if NO ONE asked you if you wanted the meal and gave it to you anyway?

Here are my initial thoughts, as a person who worked as a server for over 15 years, if this would have happened to me, the first thing I would have said was, “I didn’t order this, and who is paying for it?”

But people who I asked about this who don’t work in the industry told me they would kind of make the assumption it was on the house.

I know how these things work with a large party, the servers try to drop as many meals on that table as possible, the more meals they ‘sell’ the bigger the gratuity (usually added into the overall price). No surprise a server would put a meal in front of everyone at the table. Also, in the restaurant’s defense, their servers have no idea who is an elected official, a regular citizen or a public employee, especially in an informal setting. And lastly, if you were having a public meeting where food is being served, why would you pick one of the most expensive restaurants in town?

That being said, I’m kind of on the fence. While I wouldn’t expect the city to pick up the tab (even though I have probably paid for it 100x over in taxes) Why should the public pick up the tab for the elected officials or the public employees? If this is a public meeting, and free food has been served at these meetings in the past, wouldn’t it be safe to assume if you didn’t order something and no one asked you to pay at the end, it was free?

Of course, Benny Hill said it best, “Don’t Assume, because you only make an . . . .

And what if a public official attending the meeting ASKED you to pay for it later? Would you?

Food for thought . . .

Food Tax Information

Click on below image to Enlarge

Shouldn’t we be striving to put the Banquet out of business?

During the Mayoral Forums, something TenHaken said resonated with me. When asked to look back on 8 years as mayor, what would he like to see as accomplishments. Paul said that he wanted to close The Bishop Dudley, The Banquet and Feeding South Dakota. He essentially wanted to ‘put them out of business’ because they wouldn’t be needed anymore.

Loetscher expressed similar goals early in her campaign when she had a FB discussion with a homeless advocate from Houston who is making big gains in ending homelessness there.

Whether Loetscher or TenHaken understand what kind of monumental task that will be, I don’t know. But it is possible and should be attainable.

It often frustrates me when I see ribbon cuttings and press conferences about expanding different facilities. I often scratch my head when I see local businesses giving to these organizations than some of these same businesses paying such low wages their own employees must use the facilities. Seems counterproductive.

As I have said in the past, we don’t have a housing or even a hunger issue in Sioux Falls, we have a wage issue.

New Sports Bar Menu at Sports Complex doesn’t list prices*

(Click to enlarge) Priceless menu at Bill’s

South DaCola decided to do a food review of the new sports bar, Bill’s. The new restaurant is a great concept from one of our local hospital’s for-profit divisions.

At first glance when you arrive, it’s your typical memorabilia sports bar with some local flare.

While we found the food to be your normal bar food fare and the service friendly, we wondered why the menu at Bill’s didn’t have any prices listed on menu. So we asked our server, who grabbed a shift manager to answer the question for us.

The shift manager came over and grabbed the menu from us, looked on both sides and said, “Huh? You are right, no prices are listed.” He walked off without explanation and seemed confused. He returned a short time later and said, “I checked our POS computer, and the prices are not listed there either, not sure what to tell you.” I asked if there was someone else he could check with. After waiting about 20 minutes we decided to order anyway, two 16 oz fizzy American tap beers and two bacon cheeseburgers with fries. We were about to finish up our meal when the shift manager returned with a phone number scribbled on a piece of paper and told us if we call this number they could give us the pricing. Since my guest and I have never experienced such a strange thing before, we decided to call. It was about 5:43 PM in the afternoon when we called. I got voicemail that said, “Thank you for calling Bill’s price coding office. Regular business hours are 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday-Thursday. If you need immediate menu pricing please dial ‘0’.” I tried that several times, and all I got was a recorded message that said, “Thank You for calling Bill’s, have a nice day.” and the phone disconnected.

I waved down the shift manager one more time and told him what happened and he responded. “That’s to bad.” and walked off.

We asked for our bill figuring we would finally get the pricing with a receipt. The tab arrived with a Bill’s header on it and a line that said amount due; $172.57. I asked our waitress if there might have been a mistake and she checked her POS and told me everything was rang in correctly, then gave me a phone number to call for customer complaints and coupon for free onion rings on our next visit.

I didn’t bother calling. Anyone want my coupon?

*This article was a parody. There is NO sports bar in Sioux Falls called ‘Bill’s’. It was an attempt to make light of the fact that most hospitals won’t show patients a price list of procedures that are usually overpriced.

South Dakota’s Regressive Sales Taxes are a prehistoric way to fund government

As if it isn’t bad enough that the state taxes food, and increased it by a half penny last year, now the state wants to implement another penny and a half on Farmer’s Market food sold by Falls Park. The state may be able to pull this off. Because state law says they can charge this additional tax to any retailer at a tourist site.

State Rep. Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls, said while he understands the revenue office is only enforcing the laws that are already on the books, an exemption for farmers markets is something he’d support. While he believes there shouldn’t be any taxation on food, burdening local producers with a higher tax than grocery stores will only deter the public from using alternative food sources.

“We’re discouraging locally grown products,” he said. “Those are dollars staying local right here. The person that grew that carrot lives here, spends money here and goes to school here.”

I guess I would have two arguments against the additional tax. First off, they are not selling souvenirs, they are selling FOOD. Secondly, the Farmer’s Market isn’t really in Falls Park, it’s actually wedged between a stinky meat packing plant, and a blue-collar bar, hardly the tourist attraction. People come to the market to buy fresh produce and the occasional jar of raw honey. They are not buying T-shirts of Falls Park.

I guess things are getting so desperate for the state and the city, they are looking to start charging additional fees on anything they can, including claiming organic food products are now souvenirs.

The sad part is they continue to make excuses about the farm economy and internet sales instead of offering solutions (and there are really simple solutions out there). They keep wanting to beat the dead horse hoping to suck more money out of it.

Let’s face it, sales taxes are regressive and primitive. Don’t get me wrong, they are applicable for many things, but should NEVER be charged on necessities like Food, Clothing and Energy costs.

Of course everyone fears an income tax. To most hard working South Dakotans, an income would never even touch you or effect you.

I would suggest we implement a three step process over 6 years;

First step would be to eliminate ALL sales taxes on anything tangible or a service that is considered a necessity of life or living. For example, you wouldn’t pay a tax to get your tire fixed on your car but you would pay one at a sun tanning salon. I would then increase that sales tax to 10-12% on all the remaining products and services. There would also be a ‘luxury’ clause. If you bought a minivan for your family of 5, you probably wouldn’t pay a tax on that, but if you bought a Porsche Crossover, there may be a tax. Same would go with luxury homes.

I would wait two years before implementing step two, which would be a income tax on corporations profiting more then $2 million a year, singles making more than $100K a year and households making more than $200k a year. This would be a flat tax of about 5-7% with NO exemptions.

I would wait another two years to implement the last stage, shut down Video Lottery. I would keep property taxes where they are.

Let’s face it, we can continue to bitch and complain about sales tax revenue going in the hole, but as the gap between the rich and poor get bigger, it’s reality, because it is a regressive tax. Tax those who can afford it.

A conservative’s guide to the greasy side of DC (besides the caucus)

A guest post by my conservative friend, Matt Showers;

Yeah, you would think I would need to go through a car wash to scrub off all the grease once I visited with our (mis) representatives, Rounds and Thune. But luckily I escaped their offices with just a couple of brown streaks, mostly on my nose.

The real grease is all the fine eateries around DC. And I’m not talking about the fancy smancy places, when I travel I must eat the same greasy crap I eat in my Podunk college town of Brookings. So forget about the 4-Star ratings, I head straight to the fart factories of Irish Pubs.

I give O’Burgers on 4th street a 3 Fart rating, mostly because the cheese not only backed up my bowels it shut down the gas chamber.

Cabbage O’Nally’s really had the best Rueben of all. Naturally with all that Kraut, it got a 5 Fart rating, and a night on the rollaway (yeah, since the old lady is the breadwinner, she funded the trip).

I almost bit my fingers off eating this deep fried and breaded banger at Sausage O’Donnells. 4 Farts for sure.

I completed the trip with some Fish N’ Chips at the airport, it sure would have made Ronnie Proud, and easy 4 Farts which gave us a turbo boost on the way home.

So the next time you go to the Nation’s capital, don’t worry, they have plenty of places that serve the same greasy crap they serve at home. Your tummy will thank you, your butt, not so much.


Should we really be ‘celebrating’ the expansion of a food bank?


You know my feelings on this. While the (business) community bands together to help a food bank charity, wouldn’t it just be better if these businesses paid their employees enough so they can buy their own food? I know we will never totally eliminate hunger. There will always be people who can’t afford food, such as those on disability or the elderly that can’t work anymore. But it is a sad when a working family can’t afford to buy their own food.

On top of that, the ignorance of our governor and state legislature raising taxes on food so we can pay ONE sector of public employees more (a program that is running into snags and not really working the way it intended).

It is time our lawmakers get serious about the minimum wage in our state and raising the wages of ALL workers in this state to compete with other states. Enough of selling us as a low wage state.

Of course some lawmakers still think it is all just a big joke. Our esteemed mayor took that opportunity when he jokingly said this during the above press conference about the administration building (about 6 minutes in);

“I like new and big buildings to . . . I do. Did I just say that? I think building new is better then remodeling.”

The poor and the hungry seem to be just a big joke to some people. Make sure the developers and contractors in this town stay well fed. And while we are planning to bond for a $22 million dollar administration building, we are proposing no wage increases for city employees in 2017. Better funnel some more money through the development foundation so they can give it to the food bank. Now that’s workforce development at it’s best!

Why can’t the hospitality industry in Sioux Falls retain good workers? Greed.


You get what you pay for

I will say it, the honeymoon is over. I knew there would come a day that we couldn’t keep building a restaurant on every street corner of this town and expect them to make a profit and last. Some would blame a worker shortage on the problem, I blame something else, a wage shortage.

It used to be easy to gather a group of unexperienced employees to run a restaurant in Sioux Falls, make huge profits, and leave those workers behind. Not anymore. There needs to be a change in philosophy, something I have often suggested in public employees. Hire quality employees, and pay them well, and they will do the work of 2-3 unexperienced employees that you pay half the wage to.

Don’t believe me? Well, I may not have owned a restaurant in my lifetime, but I have been working in them since I was 17 years old (almost 27 years). Over those years I have done it all, dishwasher, pasta maker, bus boy, line cook, fry cook, host and server. I even worked as a maintenance man. I’ve seen a lot, but the one thing that has always been a constant is that good employees who are paid well in the industry stick around, are usually never late and have great attendance. Money may not be the secret to happiness, but working in a customer service industry like food service is very demanding, but can be very rewarding if you are willing to do the job right.

About 5 years ago when I was in between full-time employment in the printing industry, I worked full-time as a server for 2 years. It wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t the duties of the job that were hard, it was the way the employer treated me (a corporate franchise). Though I was the top earning hourly tipped out server and had $125K a year in sales, not only did my employer not give me a raise, they actually took almost 20% of my tips in a thing they call ‘tip share’. It is a scam that has been getting legal challenges across the country that forces tipped employees to subsidize non-tipped employees (like hosts, bussers and cooks). It saves these companies millions in wages, while killing the morality of their tipped employees who ironically are the front line of customer service for their business. Wouldn’t you want to be paying these people the best instead of robbing them of 20% of their income a year? It goes back to a change in philosophy.

The days where restaurants in Sioux Falls and across the nation can get away with poor pay, virtually no benefits and quite frankly abuse is coming to a close.

My advice is simple to anyone who wants to run a successful restaurant.

• Target your marketing to the customer base you want. Not only are good employees valuable, but so are good customers.

• Treat your employees like you would treat your customers. This one is important. Over the years I have seen good workers with good intentions get thrown under the bus because of a bad customer. In fact I quit my last serving job because of it. I don’t believe in the mantra that the ‘customer is always right’. In fact, 90% of the time, they are completely wrong. When I have been asked what to do with a bad customer, my answer is the same. Apologize to them, thank them for trying your place out, refund their money fully, then ask them to NOT return. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen good employees get fired because a restaurant owner wants to save a BAD customer. Think about how senseless that is? Not only are bad customers bad for your bottom line, they affect the morality of your employees, and whether you ask them to return or not, they won’t anyway, and they will still talk smack about you either way. Asking them to not return is the smartest move.

• Pay all of your employees well, but also hire quality (experienced) people. I’m not just talking about front of the house, but I am also talking about hosts and dishwashers. Putting your employees on an even keel is the best way to keep peace in an industry known for unrest. There is nothing more frustrating for experienced employees who work their tail off getting paid the same as slackers they always have to carry the water for. Trust me, I believe in the team mentality, but that whole team has to be strong. It’s like links on a chain. Don’t coddle the slackers and reward the hard workers.

• Give customers something they will come back for. This one is very simple, give good service, provide a great product, and have a great ambiance and do it 110% of the time. With the saturation of restaurants in town, let’s face it, their are only so many customers to go around. And if they have one or two bad experiences, they may never return. This goes to how you run your operation. You wouldn’t hire a fisherman to run a battleship and vice versa. I have often joked with people for years, “500 restaurants in Sioux Falls, but not 1 decent place to eat.” Think about that for just a moment. Could you name 4-5 restaurants you have eaten in Sioux Falls where the food and service has been consistent 90% percent of the time? I can’t. And eliminate the price point. If I am going to eat out, price is not a factor, if I get something good in return. Put value in what you are putting out there, that means valuing your employees along with your product.

• Trust your employees. This one is huge. Never take the word of a stranger (your customers) over your employees, unless it is blatant they are lying. We all have bad days, that doesn’t make them bad employees. But there should also be REAL consequences to employees who screw up, which brings me to favoritism and nepotism. I see this all to often in the industry, in Sioux Falls it is like the Black Plague. Treat all of your employees the same while on the clock. There is nothing wrong with management being friends with their employees, but keep your love fest for each other off the clock.

The restaurant industry in Sioux Falls is on the cusp of collapse, I really believe that. My last job certainly proved that. This saturation of bad food and service cannot last and can only be tackled by higher wages to better employees. The industry doesn’t want to admit it, but they know eventually they are going to have to change. Quality people are available to work in the industry in Sioux Falls, I have worked with many of them throughout the years, but with quality people has to come quality wages.

But this isn’t just up to the industry, the legislature and the city council need to make some changes to the laws on the books. Years ago a team of well intentioned restauranteurs made their way to Pierre to change how employees in the industry get paid. Those guys are about ready to retire, and you can probably guess who they are. They have made millions on the backs of their employees by suckering the state legislature over the years. And they have strong allies that need to be persuaded to make changes to, like the Retailers Association and the Chamber of Commerce who are consistently anti-hospitality worker.

Here’s some quick changes that could be made;

• Eliminate the tipped employee minimum wage. It should be identical to all minimum wage earners. A tip should be an ‘extra’ a server or bartender gets for good service, it shouldn’t be 90% of their overall wages. Tips are too volatile.

• Eliminate the ‘tip share’. Allow tipped employees to keep 100% of their tips.

• Pay your front of the house employees the same as the back of the house. Harmony is a good thing.

• Hire more full-time employees, provide them benefits and PTO. A consistent workforce equals a consistent product. Keep hiring low-wage, part-time alcoholic stoners and you reap what you sow. By law, require restaurants to have a certain percentage of their workforce to be full-time.

I know, I have worked in a lot of places, and I can truly admit, not every restaurant runs perfectly. But blatantly ignoring the 700 pound gorilla in the room will only doom the industry in Sioux Falls eventually.

Pay better and hire better employees. It really is that simple.