“I believe in people and think they are more effective when given principles rather than procedures, strategies rather than tactics, whys rather than wants.”—Harvey Golub (excerpts of this letter taken from Jim Sullivan’s article in Restaurant News – December 28, 2009) – This memo in its entirety was originally sent on January 4, 2010 and then again on January 7, 2013.  Some things are just worth repeating. 


Since the inception of High 5 Hospitality thirteen years ago, the guest has been good to our business, even though we may not have always been at our best for them.  Americans are dining out an average of five times weekly in this decade, and we’ve seen higher comparable same-store sales quarter after quarter right up until 2017.  Traffic was good, and even when we screwed up, the guest seemed to forgive us.  Even if they didn’t come back, another guest took their place.  In recent years, we have survived the global recession, the last presidential election, the affordable health care act, the fiscal cliff and the threat of terrorism worldwide.

Last year, we received a swift kick in the butt.  We were faced with the moral purging of the news media, Hollywood and the political establishment.  We endured the NFL’s debacle of the National Anthem and the rising costs in our industry.  Competition increased, trends changed, dining habits shifted and millennials…well…we still haven’t figured them out.  With all the distractions around us, I think we became complacent, unfocused, and lost sight of what we get paid for.  Shame on me for not pointing this out earlier and more often with you, but we were just too busy.  Or maybe I just didn’t make the time (I guess it’s true that volume can hide a multitude of sins).  Either way, it’s a new year and there is no better time to refocus our energy to what matters most.  I hope you don’t mind me taking a moment to remind us all of WHAT WE GET PAID FOR.

  • Be nice to the people with the money. – Everything that you or I will ever have is currently in the hands of someone else: the guest.  Our business is run first, for their enjoyment and satisfaction, then yours.  This I swear- We can never forget that!  Great Service has always been our invisible product.  It can’t be stored but it can be given away.  It can’t be discounted or prepared, but it can be super-sized and delivered.  It’s most genuine when spontaneous and at it’s worst when it’s discretionary.  It makes a good meal taste better and guests come back.  It costs us nothing.  So, heap it on.
  • Minimize costs. – Do you know what the average pretax profit on the dollar is in our business?  About a nickel.  That’s right.  For every dollar our customer gives us, I spend 95 cents of it paying for food, beverage, utilities, napkins, rent, labor, maintenance and waste.  Then I pay taxes out of the remaining nickel.  Follow our recipes, and please DO NOT over-portion, overheat or break, twist, bend or snap things that aren’t meant to bend, snap, twist or break.  Care for our equipment and furniture.  Treat it like you paid for it because I did.
  • Maximize sales. – I do not pay you.  The guest does.  When you choose to not ring up a soft drink or to give away a drink at the bar, we don’t stand a chance of being profitable and that will put us out of business.  When a guest buys a sandwich or an order of wings, that purchase barely covers the cost of our sourcing, buying, storing, prepping, plating and serving it.  When you suggest and sell a beverage, combo, larger size, appetizer or dessert, we stand a chance of making that nickel on the dollar.  Chances are that if you don’t, we won’t.  To sell is to serve.
  • Build repeat business. – A new guest will visit a business once by either chance or by choice.  A coupon for or proximity to our restaurant may foster a chance visit.  A good or great experience on the part of the cooks, servers and managers converts chance to choice next time they go out.  Repeat business is our lifeblood, and it means that the guest has driven past 10 or 20 or 30 other places to choose ours.  Let’s give them something memorable every time.
  • Continuous improvement. – If you see, sense or know a better way to improve our people or procedures, please let us know. I promise to listen to your ideas before you have to listen to mine.  None of us is as smart as all of us, so please bring your brain to work every shift and help us all move the business forward for our guests and each other.  We must all have a bias for action to make things better all ways and always.
  • Clean as you go.  – Colonel Harland Sanders said, “Clean as you go is the sign of a pro.”  If it’s dirty…clean it.  Every piece of equipment, surface, wall, floor, door, table, carpet, ceiling tile…well you get the picture (and those too!).   There is no hired cleaning crew.   You are the cleaning crew.   Take pride in where you work.   Keep your area clean and clean it up for the next person.
  • Save the drama for your mama. – It’s not about you.  Or me.  It’s about the guest.  If your attitude is poison to the team and the guest, if you would rather be somewhere else other than here, if you insist on endlessly railing to your fellow crew and managers about how this is a bad place to work, and it’s not like your old job, or that life is constantly unfair, then it’s my responsibility to help relieve your misery by giving you a job at the competition.  Things that matter most should never suffer because of things that matter least.  Just sayin’.
  • Tell the truth. – “Lying makes a problem part of the future,” said basketball coach John Wooden. “Truth makes a problem part of the past.” ‘Nuff said.
  • Be on time. – Excuses are like…well, let’s say belly buttons: Everyone has one.  Next time, please just leave the house 10 minutes earlier.
  • Having Fun. – At the end of the day, this is still the restaurant industry, the best business in the world, and a free circus every day.  Yes, we get paid to have fun, too.  So, have fun with what you do, whom you serve and with whom you work.  If you see somebody without a smile, give them one of yours.

Business gets better when the people in the business get better. 

Sales get better when the servers, cashiers and bartenders get better. 

Customer service gets better when the people who deliver customer service get better. 

Food quality gets better when the cooks get better. 

Employees get better when their managers get better. 

Everything in life gets better when you get better and nothing is ever gonna get better until you get better.

 It’s a new year…..

Lead The Way!