"...As Louisa Would Say"
Alcena Plum, Proprietess, Owner/Cook of Louisa
The Life & Times of a Restaurant Owner, Mother and Woman of the World

I often wake up in the morning and wonder how I do it all. How does this all "magically" come together. And a lot of people ask and I just cock my head to one side, smile and shrug... Perhaps there's more to it than that? I guess we shall find out soon enough.

Visit me here to get a birds eye view into the life of the owner of two restaurants in The Great Recession, mother of a preschooler in the age of "Positive Discipline", and wife in the age of equality and independence.

Alcena Plum


Proprietess, Owner/Cook
Louisa's Cafe & Bakery

No Call No Show

12-16-2011

As usual the best (or worst) of my stories starts with a ringing phone. No call no shows are the worst. It’s bad for everyone… My loyal employees, our customers, me, L and Mr. Plum. This weekend was no different. When both of your brunch cooks burn you on the same day no one wins.

6:45 am I get the call:

“We have no cooks. I can’t get ahold of [asshole #1] or [asshole #2].”

I start screaming into the phone, ” OH MY GOD!!!!!! START CALLING EVERYONE ELSE!!!!” My body breaks out in a cold sweat. I’m terrified. I jump out of bed and in my sleepy haze find my chef coat and head to the bathroom. Then it hits me. Pure panic. I can’t do this. I can’t fake brunch. As you may know, I’m kind of an accidental chef. I can rock a dinner service but brunch is a whole different animal. You can’t fake your way thru brunch. 

Brunch takes a certain talent. A respect for the egg and the potato and a certain something that can’t be defined. As I stand there in my underwear, chef coat in one hand, phone in the other I become paralyzed. We are supposed to start service in 10 minutes! We can’t afford to lose today’s business! But I can’t do brunch. I just can’t… Can I? And the shaking sweating and screaming continues as I collapse onto the bathroom floor.

As I sit there writhing in my own panic I run thru all the scenarios. Lines of customers screaming for poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Me standing in the kitchen trying to flip eggs with a spatula and breaking all the yolks. Burnt toast, soggy bacon, mushy oatmeal. Tears in the fruit salad, swear words on the french toast.

I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done to deserve this treatment. I have been told on numerous occasions that I’m “too nice” to my staff. I have a tendency to treat them too much like friends or my children than my employees. I probably should have seen this coming. I probably should have fired that guy after showing up late the first three times…

I resolve right then to no longer be the Nice Boss Lady. From now on it’s all fire and ice. Two bad seeds have killed the good apple and it’s all serpent from here on out! You’re late, you’re fired! Having a bad day? Get out! Burn the soup? Pack your knives! I’m done!

The phone rings again. And again. I hold my breath as I answer…. My Kitchen Manager (an angel sent from the universe) and last remaining line cook ( a zen kitchen guru ) have arrived. Brunch will only start an hour late. I’m told to go back to bed and not worry. The remaining staff pulled together and made it happen. While I slumped on my bathroom floor in defeat, they stepped up big time and took care of bidness. My bidness…

I’m shocked and relieved beyond words. I hang up the phone, shuffle back to bed and throw the covers over my head. I lay very still while my mind and body process what has happened. They saved my ass… Our ass… Everyones ass. What did I do to deserve this amazing support?

Being the Nice Boss Lady is a double edged sword. Creating a working culture based on respect, understanding and camaraderie can work when the right boundaries are in place and the right people are participating. My challenge is to set those boundaries and stand up for the people that deserve it and let go of the ones that abuse it. The universe helped me clean house this time… Next time it’s up to me.

So, Serpent Boss Lady? Fire and Ice? I don’t think so. Maybe just a little fire in my back pocket in case of emergencies.

Related Articles:

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  • Creating a Viable Panic Room (homesecuritysource.com)
06-30-2012
Sara Miller
Please avoid swearing, My kids love your blog and have fun reading it to the fam sometimes but I really wish you didn't use swearing. It sets a bad example for my kids when they read it.

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