Author Topic: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds  (Read 60038 times)

Offline hfm

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #90 on: October 15, 2015, 09:15:41 PM »
You could just do BYO and waive the corking fee if you still don't have the license thing sorted out when you're ready to go. :)

Offline Rhino

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #91 on: October 15, 2015, 09:32:23 PM »
BYOB is actually illegal, and could jeopardize his chances of getting a liquor  license

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #92 on: October 15, 2015, 09:51:14 PM »
You could just do BYO and waive the corking fee if you still don't have the license thing sorted out when you're ready to go. :)

The better question is why our Community Board has been considering our liquor license application for five months, with no basis for objection and no end in sight. We have already made two presentations to the Board's Business Committee, and have presented it with drawings, etc. from which two things are clear. There is no apparent reason for repeated meetings, there are members who don't know what the Board's job is, there are members who have no memory of what happens from one meeting to the next, and the Board itself doesn't know why these meetings are taking place. Believe me, we asked at the last meeting, and couldn't get an answer.

By the way, Rhino is right. BYOB without a liquor license is flat out illegal.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 10:06:15 PM by Stew »

Offline Rhino

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #93 on: October 15, 2015, 10:18:24 PM »
I've lived in JH for almost 30 years, and the few times Ive had to deal with this Community Board have not been positive. Seems like they are on their own time, and are not for the good of the District they represent. When A "sports" bar, with a liquor license and 14 TVs is easier to open than a 30 seat restaurant, from a independent operator, something is not right. Not to mention, their are no less than 6 restaurants within a two block radius with liquor licenses on 37 ave between 85th and 83rd.  Did we really need another one on that block? Just saying.....Best of luck you you Stew

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #94 on: October 16, 2015, 06:38:41 PM »
This morning, at 8:00 a.m., our architect (Espresso77's Julie Nyman), General Contactor Matt McDonagh, Foreman Vivian Baldeo and I met to organise the "plan of attack".

I'm not inclined to post many photos during the renovation, mainly because things like drywall tend not to be visually riveting, but I decided to post a photo from this morning's meeting to our Facebook Page. The description - "There's nowhere to go from here but up" - is perhaps appropriate: https://facebook.com/swimtwobirdsny

Have a great fall weekend everyone.

« Last Edit: October 16, 2015, 06:51:29 PM by Stew »

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #95 on: November 01, 2015, 07:17:29 PM »
Realistically, we are looking at a January opening, but that said I'm interested in finding out who is out there in the Jackson Heights area who might be interested in working with us.

I'm less concerned about experience than about a desire to pitch in to help our restaurant provide our guests with a memorable experience.

We are considering a number of approaches to compensation, including a no tipping policy. Ryan Sutton has an excellent article on Danny Meyer's decision to do this at http://ny.eater.com/2015/10/14/9517747/danny-meyer-no-tipping-restaurants.

We may also adopt open book management, which may be of particular interest to people who want to know how a restaurant actually works financially. For more information on open book, see http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/business/at-zingermans-pastrami-and-partnership-to-go.html?

If you are a cook, it may interest you to know that we are thinking about our cooks being actively engaged, as at Denmark's Noma and Dominique Crenn's new restaurant, in serving guests.

We have made a decision to serve our guests in both English and Spanish, which means having at least one bilingual server at all times, so if you speak both languages, let us know.

If you are interested, please send me an e-mail and resumé at stewart dot wadden at swimtwobirds dot nyc

Thanks

Offline wlirfan

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #96 on: November 02, 2015, 01:13:07 PM »
Just a small comment on the no tipping policy -- when the news came out, my Facebook feed exploded with comments from current and former wait staff.  The general consensus was that they would not work in a "no tip" policy restaurant, where the tip would be used to pay fixed salaries for the wait staff and better salaries for the back room staff.  My friends took the position that they made more money in tips that they ever would have as a salary, and that by instituting such a policy, the very best wait staff would work elsewhere so as to earn the larger tips. 

Never worked in a restaurant, but the many replies that I read were all unanimous about this (although they all said that the back room staff should be better compensated by management, but that such compensation should not penalized the wait staff by granting them only a set hourly salary).

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #97 on: November 02, 2015, 05:31:12 PM »
Just a small comment on the no tipping policy -- when the news came out, my Facebook feed exploded with comments from current and former wait staff.  The general consensus was that they would not work in a "no tip" policy restaurant, where the tip would be used to pay fixed salaries for the wait staff and better salaries for the back room staff.  My friends took the position that they made more money in tips that they ever would have as a salary, and that by instituting such a policy, the very best wait staff would work elsewhere so as to earn the larger tips. 

Never worked in a restaurant, but the many replies that I read were all unanimous about this (although they all said that the back room staff should be better compensated by management, but that such compensation should not penalized the wait staff by granting them only a set hourly salary).

That is an excellent summary of the position many New York waiters take, although some are attracted by the idea of a regular, predictable paycheck.

The whole issue arises from the fact that under New York law, dining room staff (hosts, bartenders, waiters, busboys/girls) can be required to share tips, and indeed do, but cannot be required (and as a practical matter refuse) to share tips with the people who are creating the food that they serve.

Furthermore, if cooks are involved in serving guests, an idea that I find attractive from the perspectives of kitchen morale, team cohesion and guest experience, many waiters will also object, because the cooks will then be entitled to share in tips.

As someone who is opening a restaurant, and has worked both in the dining room and the kitchen, the one thing that is clear to me is that the current system is not just inequitable, but unsustainable, given the cost of living in New York and upcoming changes (which I support) to the minimum wage at McDonalds and other fast food chains.

This is one of the more difficult decisions I will have to make.

I hope to speak soon with Dominique Crenn, who at her new restaurant has not only done away with tipping but expects much of her staff to both cook and serve guests.



« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 05:48:42 PM by Stew »

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #98 on: November 02, 2015, 06:11:57 PM »
I see that I failed to address the waiter argument that restaurant owners should retain tipping but increase wages for the people who make the food and clean the dishes.

This would unquestionably result in higher prices for guests, plus something else...

Given current New York tip expectations (apparently about 20%), waiters would get an additional 20% of the increase in prices.

So where we're at is that waiters at quality restaurants are earning a very good living, the people who make the food and clean the dishes are not being paid a living wage, and the solution some waiters propose amounts to a price increase for guests and a raise for waiters.

:)





« Last Edit: November 02, 2015, 06:19:53 PM by Stew »

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #99 on: November 03, 2015, 05:53:19 PM »
A Jackson Heights resident has just sent me a tweet about a new NY Eater article on Danny's Meyer's decision: The Modern's No Tipping Policy Is Already Helping to End Its Cook Shortage Crisis

Of course, that doesn't mean that his waiters are happy, although Meyer did say recently that nobody has quit yet.

On a lighter note, North Carolina furniture maker Artistic Frame told me today that our matching dining and bar chairs are ready.

Photos in two Facebook posts here: https://facebook.com/swimtwobirdsny

When they were ordered, I was concerned that they might not arrive in time for our opening. Now the issue is that I have to figure out where to store them :)
« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 06:01:27 PM by Stew »

Offline Ecowoodlandsprite

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #100 on: November 03, 2015, 09:39:45 PM »
I've never been a server in NYC, but I've been a server before. I am completely for this no-tipping policy as long as everyone makes better wages. I lived in Paris for some time, and I honestly think it is better for servers to make a living wage--it is especially better for the kitchen staff, and we need to be more concerned about equality. The kitchen staff does as much work as the servers.

But then again, maybe I prefer restaurants where I can chill a bit, instead of constantly being bombarded by servers asking what I want.  For some reason, I find it rather degrading for servers to have to beg customers just to be able to make decent money. I know many Europeans talk about how great the service is in the States, but in all honesty, I don't think it is fair for a server to make $2.13 an hour and still have the chance of not being tipped at all. I imagine servers make a higher hourly wage in New York, but still...

Looking forward to the opening of your restaurant!

Offline CaptainFlannel

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #101 on: November 04, 2015, 10:53:21 AM »
When you take in to account that fine dining establishments in NYC really are looking for back of house staff with culinary degrees, but under the current system pay them an absolute pittance, it's no wonder that restaurants are finding it difficult to hire people with training at culinary schools. As Danny Meyers mentioned, you can't pay people who just dropped $40K at a culinary school $15/hour (or less) in a city with expensive housing and wonder why there is a talent shortage.

I don't think it's a surprise that many servers would have an issue with potentially earning less money, but if the servers actually understood that the current compensation strategy is unsustainable, they could agree that something needs to change.

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #102 on: November 04, 2015, 09:51:50 PM »
I've said this before, but something needs to be done about our Community Board.

Last May, I made an application before the Board for a license to sell wine, spirits and cocktails. Given our location and plan, there is not only no legal basis to deny the license, but lots of reasons to support it.

As of today (six months later), we have no idea when the Board will make a decision.

On October 9, the Board's "District Manager" (Giovanna Reid) sent me an e-mail saying that the Board would reply, by October 16, to concerns that I have about the fact that one of its members anonymously attacked issues that we raised about the Board's processing of our application on this forum, and refused to reveal his or her name. As of today, I have not received the promised response.

I'm sorry, but our Board's performance on our application, and I can only assume others, is just inexcusable. Our Board really needs to take a hard look in the mirror.

This afternoon, Ms. Reid finally left us a voicemail message. Her call will be returned first thing tomorrow. I just want to know two things. First, when is the Board going to deal with our application? Secondly, have Board members been told that they have no business taking anonymous shots at applicants? And I want answers in writing, not over the phone.

« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 10:10:20 PM by Stew »

Offline Songodd

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #103 on: November 05, 2015, 08:40:13 AM »
I've said this before, but something needs to be done about our Community Board.

Last May, I made an application before the Board for a license to sell wine, spirits and cocktails. Given our location and plan, there is not only no legal basis to deny the license, but lots of reasons to support it.

As of today (six months later), we have no idea when the Board will make a decision.

On October 9, the Board's "District Manager" (Giovanna Reid) sent me an e-mail saying that the Board would reply, by October 16, to concerns that I have about the fact that one of its members anonymously attacked issues that we raised about the Board's processing of our application on this forum, and refused to reveal his or her name. As of today, I have not received the promised response.

I'm sorry, but our Board's performance on our application, and I can only assume others, is just inexcusable. Our Board really needs to take a hard look in the mirror.

This afternoon, Ms. Reid finally left us a voicemail message. Her call will be returned first thing tomorrow. I just want to know two things. First, when is the Board going to deal with our application? Secondly, have Board members been told that they have no business taking anonymous shots at applicants? And I want answers in writing, not over the phone.

Can you open the restaurant without the liquor license intially? I know it sounds strange since so many people equate fine dining with alcohol and it may seem that something is missing. Personally I could care less about alcohol being available in a restaurant, but im probably in the minority.  However, if  Maybe the board/community sees that your place  is up and running and doing well they might be more prone to giving out the license. Not sure what concerns are raised when someone applies for a liquor license.

The problem with these type of committes is they have the power to giveth or taketh away and they do not necessarily have to be held accountable if they let their personal feelings get in the way. If you somehow crossed paths with someone on this forum who might be part of that community board, they can present their point of view to he committe in a way that makes it sound as though they have concerns about your ability to handle a liquer license or operate a restaurant.

Offline Stew

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #104 on: November 05, 2015, 09:40:40 PM »
The problem with these type of committes is they have the power to giveth or taketh away and they do not necessarily have to be held accountable if they let their personal feelings get in the way. If you somehow crossed paths with someone on this forum who might be part of that community board, they can present their point of view to he committe in a way that makes it sound as though they have concerns about your ability to handle a liquer license or operate a restaurant.

In fairness, the person who is a member of both the Board and this forum, after taking a run at one of my business partners for having the temerity to question the Board's process, privately withdrew his or her statements, acknowledged that there are problems and said that he or she intended to initiate a discussion within the Board about the issues. Also, there have been changes to the Board's web site that appear to be a direct result of our expressed concerns. That said, the Board member in question refused, and continues to refuse, to identify his or her self, and the Board, which promised to address our concerns about anonymous postings by October 16, has failed to do so.

Meanwhile, we made an application to the Board in April for approval of a Liquor License, have appeared before the Board in May and September, at which point we were told that we would be summoned before the full Board. To this minute, we do not know when that meeting will take place.

I think that the Board is well-intended, and I understand that it is made up of volunteers, but it needs to understand that it is unacceptable for an application to go on for what is now seven months with no end in sight, and needs to make it clear to its members that it is also unacceptable to anonymously attack applicants who express concerns about the Board's process.

I do not need a telephone chat with Ms. Reid, the Board's "District Manager", what I need is an answer, in writing, to two questions. When is our application going to be dealt with, and what is the Board's response to our e-mail, sent a month ago, and for which we were promised a response by October 16, on the issue of Board members anonymously attacking applicants on public fora?
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 09:58:22 PM by Stew »

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Re: Coming Soon: Swim Two Birds
« Reply #104 on: November 05, 2015, 09:40:40 PM »