Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life is good

Wow, where to start. Well, I guess I'll go back a few weeks to Harvest Days. What an experience, I learned a ton and had a pretty good time in the process. I'm new to this food game, so I look at each event as an opportunity to learn something that will make me better in the future. Harvest Days was 2 months of school packed into 3 days. It started on Thursday with the packing. What a zoo, I've packed for single day events, but 3 days is a different animal. I wanted to be in Battle Ground by 7 o'clock and hopefully begin cooking by no later then 9. Yeah right, we finally rolled in about 9, but the staff at Harvest Days was struggling to find a place that would fit me and keep the fire marshal happy. After about an hour of deliberation, I agreed not to use any propane and they placed me smack dab in the middle of the food court/concert venue. I thought this was great, but I would find out later that it would have one MAJOR drawback.

Now the unpacking started, which was a boatload of fun, I have to thank my wonderful wife Kim for working so hard and getting me incredibly organized. I don't know what I'd do without her. By the time I got the bbq and everything squared away, it was 12:30 and the meat wasn't on yet. Not good. I fired the 'Q up and introduced the pork butts and briskets to their new home. Now it was the bbq's turn to give me fits. I couldn't stabilize the heat where I wanted it, so I had a decision to make: high heat faster cooking or low heat more smoke. I chose the safe route with low heat. Sleep was calling my name, as it was 2 am, so I hit the rack and got up just after 6 to check on everything. Things were not looking good, the temp had dropped to far and the meat wasn't really cooking. Wow, not where I wanted to be with 4 hours until I needed to be ready to serve to the masses who would certainly be swarming us.

I worked the temps, up and down, up and down, trying to get some kind of sale-worthy product, the meat just wasn't having it. This was my first big lesson. People are not ready to run to the food booths at the local fair at 10 am on Friday to eat. Heck, at this particular fair, they weren't ready for my bbq until 4:45. This caused me to learn lesson 2, overstaffing your booth costs you money, especially when you aren't selling anything. I sold 3 bottles of water and 1 bag of chips until 4:45, not something I saw coming. Luckily, after it cooled down, people started to get hungry and we salvaged an alright night. I could see that my sales projections were a bit lofty though.

I got a little bit of sleep Friday night, actually about 5 hours I think and was right back ready to go about 7:30 Saturday morning. We had a decent day Saturday, although there was a major lull in the mid afternoon when it got a little warm. Saturday, some of the guys came out to visit, including my old boss Kris and my father-in-law Ron. It was nice to have them around to break things up and they all enjoyed the concerts. Oh yes, the concerts. I was about 50 yards from the stage where they had a performances throughout the day. Lets just say that by the end of the 3 days, I was ready for a little silence.

Sunday was actually a better then expected day, I slept in till somewhere around 7, made my stops at the store and ha everything pretty well in order by the time Curt got there. We had a nice little day, with a steady stream of customers. 4:30 came around and it was time to pack it all up and call it a weekend. By the time I got everything home, dealt with a trailer hitch issue and got things unpacked it was 9:30. I was absolutely beat.

Overall we did alright for the event, but because of my lofty expectations, I ordered to many supplies and had to much staff on hand which severely cut into the cash flow. Those are the biggest things I took from this, inventory control and payroll.

Monday morning I got up and started returning everything I had rented so that I could get on the road to the beach. The family was already down there, they left Saturday morning. I finally arrived shortly after 2 and was ready for a couple of days relaxing, including a trip on the ocean to do some fishing on Tuesday.

Greg and I wanted to be up by 4 and on the road no later then 4:20 Tuesday morning, but I was so excited that I woke up at 3 and never went back to sleep. We had a great time on the boat, I caught probably 10-12 fish, 5 keepers and lost a few right next to the boat. I may have caught the most on the boat, but a lady standing right next to Greg caught 2 big kings, they weighed 24 and 26 pounds dressed out (no guts). It was a great day on the ocean, until we turned for home, at which point I got sicker then a dog. Oh man, I looked terrible Greg said, a fact he reminded me of many times.

I did the concert at Crown Park on Wednesday, which was once again a great learning experience. I had a few hurdles to jump through, but all in all we had an okay event. I just did burgers, dogs and for some reason I decided to have chicken legs. Bad idea, they took to long to cook and I just didn't need them. I've got to stop over thinking these things and always remember KISS (keep it simple, stupid). The best thing to come from this event was the fact that I was able to pack in 20 minutes, set up in about 20 minutes and then break down in about 20 minutes. Getting these processes streamlined is vital, because of the amount of headache it saves me

I got right back up Thursday morning to head back to the beach, where I was able to really just chill out and enjoy everything and everyone.

Saturday morning I headed out early to go to Corvallis for my Uncle Bob's 80th birthday party. I had a great time there, it was really nice to see my Dad's side of the family. I hadn't seen them in a couple of years and would really like to get closer with them. Even though the trip was long, I absolutely love driving through the Willamette Valley. It's so picturesque, like a postcard the entire way.

Now it's back to the grind, tomorrow we'll be at the concert again, then this weekend we're at the Beaverton Relay For Life. Have fun!