Monday, November 25, 2013

I Was Buying Into This Story About Gratitude Until.......

My long-departed Irish grandfather had away of  dealing with the nonsense I'd spout when I was an under-achieving and over-complaining college student.  It was always a quick quip, delivered in his brogue and with a smile.  When he had heard enough of my complaining  he'd just smile and say "Ah, Mikey, things could always be ninety-five percent worse as easily as they could be five percent better."  It was his way of reminding me to be grateful for what I have. 

And I do try every day to be grateful for the people I  know, the strangers I meet, the grace and forgiveness I have been given, and just about everything else.  Except the Cubs, maybe.  But I digress.

I was reminded of being grateful and of those conversations with my grandfather today when I read this interesting article about a family that opened a restaurant based on gratitude.  And their success allowed them to expand and to open several more locations.

The restaurant is named Café Gratitude, and it's vegan, natch, but set that aside for a moment.
 The menu is broken down into affirmations, so instead of asking your server for the cereal blend of coconut milk, pecans, seasonal fruit, vanilla and cinnamon, you say “I Am Bright-Eyed,” and the server repeats back to you “you are bright-eyed.” They also ask you a question of the day, like, "What moves you to your heart?"
Stay with me here.  I know you're starting to skim quickly.  Let's go further into the article.

The whole concept was to create a work environment that doubled as a school of transformation for our staff as well as the customers. Our parent’s experiment was: What will happen if we use the workspace to cultivate the most important human values -- such as love, gratitude, connection and trust? The fresh, organic and mostly raw menu, coupled with the good community vibration, had customers coming in in droves.
Put aside the parts of this story that may not fit what you like.  The bottom line is that the owners found a formula that works for them and for their customers.  They have expanded, they now serve 1,200 meals daily in their growing grateful vegan new age locally-grown restaurant empire.

That's pretty cool.  Not an easy thing to do.  And I'm grateful that guys like these can do this thing they love here in America.  Good for them!

Then I read the comments at the end of the article and saw this:
According to their Bay Area wait staff, their success has resulted, in part, from stealing tip money. As a result of a lawsuit alleging just that, they shuttered their Bay Area locations and fired everyone.
Well, that certainly is "transformational."  I expected it, somewhere in the back of my mind.  Maybe it's a scam, under all the feel-goodedness.

My living life with gratitude remains unchanged.  It is a part of who I am.  But I cast a more skeptical and wary eye toward those who use it as a business model.


68 comments:

Methadras said...

I'm grateful for what I have until someone or some thing makes me re-evaluate it. If I still decide that gratitude is in order it stays. Otherwise, it's out.

Sixty Grit said...

With Thanksgiving season nearly here I have been giving lots of thought to gratitude and being thankful.

Today I was not thankful when I ran over the septic system cleanout plug with the paramour*, again, but I am thankful I possess the skills to repair the damage I did, and the correct tools and even the correct adhesive. For all of that I am very thankful.

*That is how the words "power mower" are pronounced in Maryland. I am thankful I don't talk like that, hon.

bagoh20 said...

Gratitude is a free gift you give yourself, and everyone around you. I like the idea of this restaurant, although I would do it entirely different. For one thing, I'm grateful for the gift of delicious animals, because my DNA is 46% Canine.

Maybe they closed after the lawsuit because suing is the antithesis of gratitude. That's how we know that all lawyers work for the devil.

Amartel said...

"Stay with me here. I know you're starting to skim quickly."

Damn, you're good! You know your audience. So I read the rest and, yes, that's my City. All sanctimonious posing and no substance, truthiness and no truth. This past weekend I was purchasing something and was instructed to "have a beautiful day." Aye aye, Captain. And thank YOU for doing YOUR part to cultivate and transform my values. Remember Office Space? The movie where Jennifer Aniston is a waitress at a theme restaurant (modeled on TGI Fridays) and they have to wear pieces of "flair" on their uniforms to express their enthusiasm? Same thing.

rhhardin said...

Wm. Kerrigan suggests the pickup line, "How long have you been a server, honey?"

Michael Haz said...

I hear you, Amartel. The checkers at the grocery store I frequent always end the transaction by telling me to "Have a good one!"

I have cultivated the habit of responding "I already have a good one, I wish I had a longer one."

The checkers who have seen me more that once now say "Have a nice day." I'm working on a response.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Having worked for tips, there is nothing lower than management stealing tips.

But here is a good piece of advice: When I see a business that professes to be Christian, I check to make sure I still have my wallet. When a business does a similar thing on being green or some other new agey sort of thing, check you wallet twice and then keep you hand on it.

rcocean said...
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rcocean said...

I offered her a tip, but she wanted money.

rcocean said...

Vaguely, vacantly, vegan. As for Christian businesses, some live up to label, some are "wolves in Sheep's clothing".

BTW, I don't know if they are a "Christian" business, but I was impressed by the local "chick-fil-a" Closed on Sundays, a seemingly happy bunch of workers, and a nice atmosphere. Of course, its fast food, but you can't have everything.

MamaM said...

I'm all for attitudes and expressions of gratitude as long as truth is also present and not discounted or traded away in the process.

Humor is one way of handling and deflecting the annoying and insincere expressions from servers, cashiers and clerks, many of whom are required by management to repeat the same phrases over and over again with each transaction.

Sincerity and kindness is another. Lately, I've been responding with a sincere "Thank You" for service rendered regardless of what cliche accompanies it, and offering a brief moment of eye contact goes beyond the dismissive or cursory glance expected. If they're willing to meet eyes (and most are, at least here in the midwest) something good happens that extends beyond the words exchanged.

sakredkow said...
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bagoh20 said...

phx,

I would appreciate it if you would send me your bank account logon info. I promise not to do anything with it, but if I do, I know you won't judge me.

sakredkow said...
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Michael Haz said...

Thanks, phx.

When you call me a crazy winger, please do it in Elmer Fudd voice. Cwazy winger!

bagoh20 said...

I don't know what people expect. If an employee says "have a nice day", some are pissed they didn't get their own special custom and heartfelt comment unique from the ones given to the hundred other people that day

But, if they say nothing people will say they were rude or unfriendly.

Give them a break. They have to say something, whether required by the boss or not. You, on the other hand, have a choice, and don't have to do it all day long. Just be nice, they're working for a living here, and that's something now with nearly all incentive gone.

sakredkow said...
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sakredkow said...
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Michael Haz said...

I avoid the 'have a nice day' comment. Like Mama said, eye contact and a genuine thank you can mean a lot to someone. I also say 'I appreciate you' if I can see a wait staffer is having a bad day, or has worked extra hard.

And I tip 20%.

Michael Haz said...

phx, you wascallly wiberal.

bagoh20 said...

I usually just stick with "nice tits".

It doesn't work in all cases, but when it does.....

sakredkow said...
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bagoh20 said...

Well, you do have to come across as sincere. Otherwise, it can sound like snark. Everyone knows how I hate snark.

To make sure the compliment is understood as such, you can use the augmented version: " Nice tit's - are they real." That usually seals the deal.

Lem said...

I think I just heard the voice of Dubya, 43, over the loud stadium speakers at the Monday night game. Honoring Native Americans.

Lem said...

I'm hearing and seeing things that nobody else does these days.

They are coming to take me away ha ha

ndspinelli said...

Let's start a campaign to eliminate "no problem" from the vernacular. Then we can work on the nascent "no worries."

Known Unknown said...

I thought I was special.

The ladies behind the counter at Circle K calling me "honey" "sweetheart" "sweetie" and such ... until the next guy in line got called "honey."

I'm just the same as every other Polar Pop-buying schlub.

Titus said...

I worked for a Fortune 500 company in the early 2000's that required all "leaders" to attend a weekend Forum/Landmark training.

I was ambivalent but actually enjoyed it and was like a new person for about a year. I was fucking questioning everything but at the same time taking deep breaths and walking with vigor.

Many huge employers bow to this shit.

The training was helped by having a major hottie as team leader. Landmark is the offshoot of Werner Erhard and est.

tits.

virgil xenophon said...

Lem@9:24pm/

LOL! The first time I heard that song was my sr yr in college @LSU in 1966. I was in total limbo half-asleep/half-awake in bed listening to am music (there was no good fm in those days) from KAAY out of Little Rock, Ak. (my R&R mainstays in those days were KAAY, WOAI, San Antonio, WDIA, Memphis, KOMA, Okla City, and WLAC, Nashville.) When I awoke the next morning I asked myself: "Did I totally dream that weird stuff or did I really hear it?" In a serendipitous way it was the perfect "unreal" way to be introduced to such an "unreal" song, lol.

Leland said...

Evi's advice reminds me of Sam Goldwyn's advice about certain movies: "If you want to send a message, use Western Union."

I go to a restaurant to eat, not for affirmation or to receive a lesson from the servers. If I discover a restaurant owner thinks I need an unsolicited lesson on anything; I will never visit their establishment again.

Anonymous said...

What a load of rubbish. Cafe Gratitude never stole anyone's tips you are spreading lies. Cafe' Gratitude staff voted and most agreed that the tips would be shared with all staff that included waiters, dishwashers etc. No tip $ went to the owners. Many restaurants do this. IT IS A COMMON PRACTICE AND IS NOT REGARDED AS THEFT. A few creepy jerk offs who worked there tried to get some free money as americans are known to do today by filing a frivolous law suit because they did not want to share their tips. Great folkes those. Play the victim and ruin an employment opportunity for so many people.

Anonymous said...

The internet is both useful and a failure IMO. Anyone can post and repost anything without any consequences and never have to check any facts because nothing will happen if they are wrong. If it was left up to me, there would be severe consequences for posting lies on the internet. People harass and terrorize and slander each other just because they can. People play the game of "telephone" where unchecked hearsay gets repeated and repeated and repeated and no one bothers to check if what they are railing against, reacting to , protesting about has even one word of truth in it. "HEY WHO CARES, IT MUST BE TRUE OR PARTIALLY TRUE, SOME STRANGER WROTE IT." This is our world today, people caught up in stories that have no basis other then some stranger with a blog said it.

Michael Haz said...

I'm grateful for Google. It helped me find this in about five seconds.
http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2011/11/29/cafe-gratitude-announces-the-closure-of-all-its-northern-california-outposts/

Anonymous said...

@Michael Haz


So, " Paolo Lucchesi" who you do not know from Adam, is your go to person for information about the world. Interesting.

If I sue you for being anything under the sun, you must hire a lawyer and incur legal expenses and you must stop whatever you are doing to now spend time in court to deal with my BS. Good times.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Internet people's complete and total lack of interest in facts, rigour and accuracy is breathtaking. And scary. The internet is the new National Enquirer of 2013.

TMZ and people.com are two of the top visited websites in the United States.

If the internet and it's peanut gallery ever turned it's eye to us, our lives, what we are doing, only then would we experience the full brunt of this distorted grotesque false and misleading phenomena.

Sixty Grit said...

"Rigour", eh deafy? Go back to wherever you came from, foreigner.

Anonymous said...

@Sixty Grit

Who are you to tell anyone where to go? You some kind of elitist racist spelling nazi?

Rigor rigour, deal with it. I have no respect for a person who can only spell a word one way, let alone tries to enforce their spelling onto others.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rigor?s=t

Anonymous said...

@ sixty grit

So, can I conclude that you are one of the Internet people who lacks interest in facts, lacks interest in rigor and lacks interest in accuracy and prefers to dwell in the world of hearsay, gossip, conjecture, scuttlebutt and juicy baseless commentary that makes up a large part of the internet content these days?

Michael Haz said...

Oh hai Ritmo.

Anonymous said...

@Michael Haz

i would love to hear about your experiences of suing and being sued. You are probably a man of the world who has seen it all. I trust you have a few insights into the total BS world that is the lawsuit world.

Anonymous said...

I might suggest contacting the owners of Cafe' Gratitude "Terces and Matthew Engelhart" and asking them if what you read was accurate and true? Like make just a very very very small and slight effort to investigate something nasty and ferocious and ugly that YOU are casually circulating in the public domain, before you reinforce some total BS that you buy into because you are too lazy to do any thinking for yourself. Just a thought. Too harsh on my part? I don't think so.

Michael Haz said...

Deafchild - are you an owner, employee, or representative of Cafe Gratitude?

Sixty Grit said...

Oh look, deafy says that "rigour" is okay, then spells it "rigor".

What fortitude!

Michael Haz said...

...something nasty and ferocious and ugly that YOU are casually circulating in the public domain

Here's another quote circulating in the public domain:

"In addition to not receiving her rest and meal periods, Stevens alleges that she is required to participate in an unreasonable and uncustomary tip pooling scheme that leaves her with a very small percentage of the tips she earns as a server. Specifically, Stevens alleges that after tipping out 20% of her daily tips to the “central kitchen” — an offsite kitchen on 14th street — Stevens must then split the remaining 80% of her tips equally with all of the Café Gratitude staff, including the “shift leaders” and retail employees."

She sounds like a total ingrate. Imagine, wanting to keep the tip money she earned! Such audacity!

Michael Haz said...

Sixty, you missed where deafy spelled 'folks' as 'folkes'.

Sixty Grit said...

I KNOW!!! Bad proofread me!

But seriously, the deafster clearly has gone from zero to sixty on this issue which makes me think that vegans are some mean mofos!

But I bet they grill up nicely. SOYLENT GREEN IS VEGANS!!!

Michael Haz said...

They make their employees take empowerment classes (and pay the half of the fee), and then get all pissy when an employee feels empowered enough to think "I'm getting a bad deal here".

I blame the tofu.

Anonymous said...

@

"quote circulating in the public domain"

Like I said, and you will demonstrate it over and over and your little incestuous gang-banging with Sixty Grit will not change what you are doing on the internet, you show you have little or no interest in facts, nor interest in accuracy nor interest in substance. You are interested in shooting from the hip and casually regurgitating hearsay, gossip, easy bits of info that you can use to sell yourself as a hip savvy cool blogger, that you find on the net and doing no thinking for yourself. I call BS.

And I have no connection to Cafe' Gratitude. I ate at the place once years ago and did not fall in love ambiance and I am a carnivore.

Michael Haz said...

Yep. Ritmo.

Michael Haz said...

Deafy - Please list every fact you believe has been overlooked, and cite your sources. Every fact. Leave no facts behind.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you but I eat out alot and I travel alot and have eaten all over the US and Canada, being self employed and appreciative of the efforts of people who work in service industries where tipping is part of the person's pay, I tip generously, never less than 20% and at times as much as 25%.

I ALWAYS ask the server if tips are pooled, it does not change how I tip but I am interested to see if there is a standard. And what I have found is that there is no standard and that the places that do pool tips, severs are thrilled that everyone gets a piece of the action at the end of the shift.

Servers have a choice at which places they work. I have a friend who works her butt off and she resents pooling tips and she told me that when she went to interviews, that was the first thing she asked and if tips were pooled she did not work there. That is called being an adult and making the right choices for yourself.

Or you can be a little bitch and cry foul for your life not turning out. BooHoo

Sixty Grit said...

Oh my God - deafy is illiterate. Tell me again, oh deafbitch, in what dictionary is "allot" spelled "alot"? You are definitely one dim witted metrosexual.

Anonymous said...

@ Hazhole (since we are now customizing other people's names to suit us)


"Deafy - Please list every fact you believe has been overlooked, and cite your sources. Every fact. Leave no facts behind."

DECLINED.

Counter offer: I will provide one single example:

"their success has resulted, in part, from stealing tip money. "

Anonymous said...
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Sixty Grit said...

Classy!

But answer the question, deafer, where is your cite for "alot" being a word?

You are the stickler for facts, we await your reply.

Anonymous said...

@ Michael Haz

Are you against pool tipping and tip sharing in restaurants? And if yes, why?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Haz said...

Sixty - Ritmo is using a new name to post the same name calling and nonlinear thinking as always.

Sixty Grit said...

Interesting. But tedious. Thanks for the heads up.

Michael Haz said...

It's socialism. Low producers take a share of what high producers earn by their own effort. It's wrong.

Leland said...

So when Michael Haz wrote: Well, that certainly is "transformational." , I took it to mean the same as: IT IS A COMMON PRACTICE AND IS NOT REGARDED AS THEFT.

YMMV, but all Michael did was write that Cafe' Gratitude's practice seemed a scam, and all deafchild did is convince me that Cafe' Gratitude does indeed practice what Micheal claimed.

Michael doesn't demand or demean people that might disagree. In fact, he even requests: Put aside the parts of this story that may not fit what you like.

Alas, "deafchild" has no problems dropping sexaul slurs like "incestuous gang-banging" as a means of bolstering its argument against people they never talked to prior to today.

It's always interesting to see reactions like deafchild's. Here's a similar reaction from 2011. Scroll to comments and check out waygonow's style. The occassional need to use ALL CAPS. There's even misspelling. Complaints about the www/internet and frivolous lawsuits. Uncanny.

Anonymous said...

@Michael Haz

ok I am done. Enjoy spreading the b-llsh-t in order to to be able to see yourself as a hip blogger.

And I have no clue who "RITMO" is. I take it that it is some visitor who did not agree with your point of view and did not promote your survival in just the right way that floated your tiny self serving boat? Good for them whoever they were/are.

Leland said...

Or maybe it is Ritmo? If so, he's more boring than I thought.

Sixty Grit said...

"Harbour" is a dead tell.

Anonymous said...

"It's socialism. Low producers take a share of what high producers earn by their own effort. It's wrong.
"

THAT is a valid point of view and I respect that. But all producers have a choice about where they work. High producers especially. It is not fair nor reasonable that a person working as a server would dictate to a whole group how they choose to set up their approach to handling tipping. If a person is some kind a high producer with unique special powers, they more than anyone else would have a choice where they worked and there is lots of place that do not pool tips. Maybe you thin the government should dictate rules to business owners how they pay staff and how tips are managed. That is unattractive to me. But to each their own.

Sixty Grit said...

deafchild wrote...

"@Michael Haz

ok I am done."

As honest as he is literate. Titus, is that you?

Anonymous said...

An alternative title might be: "I Was Buying Into This Story About Gratitude I Liked Until...….Until I Bought Into A Different Story About Theft I Liked Better."