"I'll just have pancakes and bacon."

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Madeleine's picture
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We tell guests what's for breakfast, we don't ask. This morning, 4 guests traveling together but not eating at the same time did this:

I go to the table to make sure everyone is eating. (Euros don't always eat, why waste the cook's time!) They know what's for breakfast because we've told them.

I get, "I'll just have a pancake and bacon, no sausage or eggs." So I explain there's a biscuit that comes with the eggs, but no pancakes. No bacon. OK, she'll have the biscuit. Later on, same table, the last of them shows up. He walks right over to the kitchen and says, "I'll have 2 eggs, over easy, and a side of bacon." Sigh. I say, 'Scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuit, that's what we're having today.

Why they think they just walk over and tell us what they're having when we've already explained how breakfast works is beyond me. If nothing else they can see the other guests eating the same thing. And there's the morning menu, posted right by the coffee. Like Cambs said the other day, we don't post it just to tell you we don't have it. We post it so you know what we have.

I don't mind if they just want toast. But it's not a restaurant. And it's not even a big kitchen!

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My folks at irishmountain.net have been doing set breakfasts for 12 years.  recently they decided to give people a menu the night before.  It has cut their food cost down by 30% and prperation by about 20%.

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in the UK its considerd very bad form (ie to the extent where you would loose a star in your star rating) for making people order the night before which I have always thought is stupid though I think most people have no clue what they want either the night before or even on the morning so they take everything and leave half.

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paulavery wrote:

My folks at irishmountain.net have been doing set breakfasts for 12 years.  recently they decided to give people a menu the night before.  It has cut their food cost down by 30% and prperation by about 20%.

I don't understand how a menu will cut down on prep time. When you offer different breakfasts, you'll have to do more than one entree and app. Unless you are using mixes. We do everything fresh, no mixes. We could give them a choice on muffins as we make them ahead but again, it takes my muffins about 20 minutes to cook and then the entree prep and cook.  Even if I got the order the night before it would be such a pain to do different breakfasts! The guests would be sitting there for an hour waiting for their breakfasts -  we are lucky here, they tend to eat almost everything.

RIki

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paulavery wrote:

My folks at irishmountain.net have been doing set breakfasts for 12 years.  recently they decided to give people a menu the night before.  It has cut their food cost down by 30% and prperation by about 20%.

Hi Paul, long time no hear. 

I can picture your Dad in the little cook's cap and Mom in a Flo from Mel's Diner pink outfit delivering the food.  

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Madeleine's picture
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That is exactly the type of setup we are trying to add to the kitchen! Right now we have a wipe-off board which works ok, but not great.

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 Food left is relative.  Full house every guest has cleaned their plate(s) this weekend. 100%! Some times, and yes it will be the same meal people pick at it.  I guarantee it is NOT THE FOOD.  Last week I had a lady who wouldn't eat anything, not one bite and declared "This is an amazing breakfast"  huh?

My experience - the biggest poeple eat the least, the smallest the most. Biggest feel embarrassed so won't eat much, smallest may have gone for a jog around town pre-breakfast and lap it up! So there is no way of telling, ever. Serve it up, let em at it!

Madeleine's picture
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Different complement of guests today, totally different reaction to breakfast. Everyone wanted everything. And cleaned their plates. Except the 4 who didn't show up. 2 of whom I have no idea what they are doing in their room but I keep hearing the water slamming on and off every 5 seconds. (Another problem we have to figure out. Why the pipes do that only in that room.)

2 guests were so delighted they booked for next year on their way out the door!

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Served it up plated, rarely had a problem.  So few that I can actually remember the specific guests with issues. 

For example, one guy couldn't have onions at all but forgot to mention it and I had made skillet new potatoes with rosemary, herbs, and onions.  I whipped up a batch for him without the onions while they were working on their fruit course with the baked goods of the day and they chatted up other guests.  They were some of our first guests and left a generous tip.  Only once when I had a full house of guests (mostly international) who were here for a specific university event and they sat down and started giving me their breakfast orders.   I reminded them of our breakfast policy but they just wanted something light that day.  I had planned on omelets so no big deal. It worked out fine, I can be flexible.  By the third day, they were converts and requested and ate the whole "innkeeper's choice" deal.  haha. 

I think what worked for me was that "innkeeper's choice breakfast" was posted on the website, confirmation, etc. and during our check-in spiel we re-confirmed any food issues and reminded them of how we did our complimentary breakfast.  Along with that, we had folks commit to a breakfast serving time during our breakfast time range so I knew when people were scheduled to show up for breakfast.  I also had a wipe off calendar board in the kitchen to keep track of the guests by room and their food allergies, brekkie time, special packages, special occasion, etc.  It was a back-up to my rez system info.

Every innkeeper has to figure out what works for their crowd of guests.  My type of service worked great for me because it was different than the other B&Bs here and that's part of what brought people to us.  They were tired of either getting a bad, small breakfast or having to serve themselves from buffet style.  I've noticed that several larger inns with totally open serving times from say 7- 9:30 am have gone to a small menu option type of breakfast.  Something that part of it can be cooked to order based on what the guest picks.  This probably works for places that have issues with more wasted food, too. 

There are so many options to choose from, that you can try to change things up to see if something else would work better in any given situation.  If that doesn't work, you can mix it up again.  Good luck!

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 I will always remember an inn that I really liked, but had an open breakfast time, when we rolled over to the breakfast area there was a coffee pot set to burn, as there were two drops left in, and no more coffee was made.  I was not happy.  I was there in the middle of the allocated time frame too.

We went to our local Mexican restaurant which now has a lunchtime boofay and I looked around at all the new people who had never been there, or not regularly, and the waste of food on their plates and it turned my stomach. I hate waste.  We tried the boofay but next time I will just do the menu.  I was unable to enjoy my meal, I am not anti boofay at all, I used to especially love a nice salad bar, but I hate the piles of plates of wasted food, plus they have to FRY everything to bring in the locals.

But around here could fry up a dog terd and people would eat it.

This weekend, "Loved the place next door" "Awful next door, poor service" I reminded them that if they ignore you that means they like you.  doh

"Horrible Italian restaurant" Uh you are from Chicago, need I say more.

"Loved The Vibe" yes I knew you would Southern CALF, had a home made Phad Thai where in lieu of noodles they were long skinny sliced of zucchini.  But, the southern greasy fried couple would have hate the Vibe.

There is no way of ever knowing someone's taste, or price point. Where one says "I am not here to eat local food" others say "I am not here to eat Mexican food!"  They get mad at you for even suggesting it. If they ask ME WHERE I WOULD EAT< which they all do, I tell them, and they get mad.  APPLEBEES! Quality is consistent, food is flavorful and service is BETTER than the rest.  Otherwise we have our local mexican place for lunch.

Oh wait there is the roadhouse type steak place where our guests get ill every time they eat there, they go there, even tho it is NOT on my list and tell me "Why isn't it on your list" then the next morning come downstairs GREEN.

Make what you think they will enjoy and then do what you do. That is the best solution. If something never works, change it.

Madeleine's picture
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We generally use one restaurant for our guests when they get a package that includes dinner. Why? Because they serve what everyone is here to eat. It's not the greatest. The service is wildly unpredictable. But they rarely run out of stuff and they tell you right away if they have.

We decided to branch out to offer a 'better' dining experience. Got 2 GC's for 2 pkgs used the same day. One guest thought it was terrible and said, 'Whatever deal you have going with that place, I would quit now.' Implying we got the GC's for free, and by golly I do not, I pay full price for them. The other couple? Same night? Loved it.

Unless a lot of people tell me the same thing, I just say, 'Glad you liked it,' or, 'I'm sorry to hear the service was off.'

Oh, and the wildly unpredictable place? Guests went there last night, told the server where they were staying and the server gave them 15% off their dinner. And people wonder why I send guests there. You know any other place where you tell the server you're staying at such and such and they take 15% off? (Second time that has happened this week, BTW.)

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Sidetrack alert....

JB, I'm so excited to find a great local sushi place here in a city that Southern fried food is KING!  ack!  We went there last night with some friends and it was awesome!  Friends have been there several times and according to them it is consistent, which has been our problem with the local places.  We will try it again for sure. 

Good advice with "if something never works, change it".  I'm not sure that our type of breakfast service would still be the best option here with the continued opening of nicer "economy" lodging with free breakfast boofays.  I think that I would have gone to a limited menu choice option, keeping the popular fruit dishes and baked goods.

 

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I don't announce what's for breakfast. If asked the day before, say at check-in, I always tell them I don't know yet. I don't want to give them yet another opportunity to tell me what I should make for breakfast.

We do a 4 course breakfast (fruit, entree, homemade granola or oatmeal, muffin/scone/biscuit,etc), so if they don't like one of the courses, there's plenty more food they can eat. We deliver the breakfast outside their room, knock and run, so once that food leaves my kitchen, that's it! No substitutes.

Of course I still go through the hair pulling we all go through to find the 4 courses that fit all the different dietary restrictions, but fortunately I don't have to see them face to face when they view their breakfast and don't like what's on it.

Madeleine's picture
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Because this happens frequently enough, tomorrow I try something different. Go to the table with the starter and repeat what we told them was for breakfast. Then ask if they would like sausage with that. Or, tomorrow, bacon.

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I never tell them ahead of time what is for breakfast, we always tell them that we don't yet know, we will decide in the morning. My reputation preceeds me a bit here, so they know that it's something different each day and they enjoy the surprise and guessing based on the smells in the house. We will gladly supply a special order breakfast for the reasonable fee of $50, we need to know ahead of time so that we can go shopping for provisions and items that may be out of season and difficult to get. I haven't yet had someone pull out the $50! And if they don't like what is being served today, there are plenty of other choices in the dining room... have some cereal, some oatmeal, some bagel or bread and there's the toaster and, hot water and milk.

Today, I served pecan french toast with butter pecans and maple butter pecan syrup. I obviously underestimated a sweet tooth today, the first two guests used up all the maple butter pecan syrup (there was a stick of butter in there!).... the next guests had just plain maple syrup.

But to be honest, I've also never served scrambled eggs, sausage or a biscuit. I've never made a biscuit and I don't think I have ever cooked sausage in the morning. Damn... maybe I'm limiting myself. I'm going to have to come up with something that uses sausage. Okay... how do you make sausage? How do you make biscuits? What do you do with a biscuit? Do they go hard quickly like bagette or do they store easily? And the only sausage I usually see around here is the kind you eat for lunch or dinner with things like pesto or goat cheese in them.

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Madeleine's picture
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It's slowing down here so I may try surprising guests with breakfast. I can practice when it's slow and see how it works. Not this weekend, we've already told everyone to check the board for breakfast.

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That's the spirit!

gillumhouse's picture
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I rarely say what is for breakfast tomorrow - cooks choice. And here the choice is eat what I have served or nothing because I do not have cereal or anything else (they can go to their room and eat apples, bananas, and/or Hersey's kisses that each room has).

This morning I had 2 rooms eating at 8 and 1 at 10, I made a pan of baked pineapple toast for the first group and since there was a big enough time span for them to be done and out of the way, I made the egg bake and English muffin bread for the 10 am. They are from nearby and here for a getaway and I wanted to impress them with the bread - but not enough to do a loaf of bread each for 6 people (4 of whom will probably never return). All had the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Tomorrow everyone gets Baked Oatmeal. We are slated to be greeters at Church so it needs to be something easy and quick.

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Sometimes I think it would be nice to do breakfast this way, but our "options" that guests select on a breakfast card the evening before is what makes us stand out from other b&bs in our area. Too many people have told us how much they appreciate it and we have had sufficient repeat business because of it to make it worthwhile... Alot of our market is parents of students (2 schools), alumni of those schools, government/military, competitive sailors (lots of regattas here), annual boat show attendees -- all these groups are potential repeats or spread the word to others -- so it's kind of our "thing" that gets people to stay here instead of one block closer to the water or a place that has off-street parking....

Oh, well... I still do have my limits... We did have a couple this morning that 'forgot' to check with me yesterday for an earlier breakfast time. They came down an hour early and the breakfast casserole they both wanted had only just been put in the oven... I COULD have whipped them up scrambled eggs and bacon, but I had ALOT of other work to do and was not feeling particularly generous this morning, so told them they'd have to make do with muffins / cereal / yogurt... Fortunately, they seemed perfectly fine with that...

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Madeleine's picture
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So, basically the guests sit and you bring them whatever you've made and they can eat it or not?

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 Keep repeating ...we are not a restaurant....we are not a restaurant.....our breakfast is complimentary...our breakfast is complimentary.

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Madeleine wrote:

So, basically the guests sit and you bring them whatever you've made and they can eat it or not?

YOU GOT IT MADDIE!

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

So, basically the guests sit and you bring them whatever you've made and they can eat it or not?

YOU GOT IT MADDIE!

I guess we should just try this. Plate it, serve it, clean it up. Of course, I do have to ask who it is who can't have the eggs, meat, peppers, onions, mushrooms so the wrong person doesn't get what they specifically told us they can't eat. And that may be what opens it up for discussion.

No, can't do it. I cannot throw all that food away.

Never mind. I just have to muddle along and get these wacky people once in awhile.

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We have just two rooms, so things are a lot easier here than for some of the innmates.  If they book online, they're asked about any food restrictions or preferences.  If I take a phone reservation, they are asked about any food restrictions or preferences.  Those with allergies speak right up, and most state their preferences.  That gives me plently of time to shop.  But they don't know exactly what they'll be getting until its placed before them.  We have a fruit salad starter, with orange juice.  The water glasses are also brought out at  the start, then an egg based (omlette, eggs benedict...) or sweet dish (french toast or....)  The egg dishes are accompanied by toast (house made bread and jam).  Coffee and/or tea come out with the meal. As I bring out the omlettes, or special scrambles, I'll tell them what comes inside, and if it's a local source or product. I put on my best waitress demeanor and treat them cheerfully and professionally.   This has worked very well for us. 

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gillumhouse's picture
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Exactly. I serve family style so they can take as much or as little as they please. There is no alternate. I do make breakfast per whatever the needs of the day - no sugar or dairy-free, whatever - but that is the entree today. Period!

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That is what we do here, too. We serve plated and they eat it or not.

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Mtatoc wrote:
That is what we do here, too. We serve plated and they eat it or not.

and as the saying goes "We can't wait for breakfast!!" 

Plating is half of it, then serving fresh yummy food is the other half.  Serve a great breakfast, people expect a great breakfast at a B&B.

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Exactly! Almost every comment in the books upstairs mention the great breakfast - and of course the wonderful conversation!

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Mtatoc wrote:
That is what we do here, too. We serve plated and they eat it or not.

Have you ever had anyone hand it back and say, 'I can't eat this'? Or do you get gracious people who make do? Even with cereal out in plain view, a nice fruit course and coffee, tea and juice all laid on, we still get the grumps who really do believe they can just say, 'I can't eat this,' and something else will magically appear.

Or, in the case of the people this morning, they just wanted what they wanted not what was being served to them. And, there's the kitchen, what's the problem???

We've always thought telling the guests what is coming would at least give us a head's up if someone forgot to tell us about an allergy. Sometimes it works that way and other times we get told as the plates are being put down.

We don't stock food. And we don't have the room to have a griddle and 4 pans going on the stove.

Sometimes I can't even do plain old toast!

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Madelleine, No, no one has done that. Yet. I have picked up plates that still had lots of food left. But I also serve a lot. We don't stock food either and I can't just make up something else on the QT. Just have a small kitchen and no room .... like you. I could do toast though!

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I once had a lady who just ate fruit and kind if just sat there. I asked if something was wrong. I had pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and blueberry bread pudding that morning. "I can't have cinnamon" was the reply. If she had TOLD me... I did make scrambled eggs for her (she was the only guest that day.

There is the fruit dish, muffins, OJ AND a non-ditric juice, and coffee or tea. Just toast is not usually even an option because I often have NOT baked bread so have none in the house. I guess I have always just had the gracious ones.

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Didn't I give you a biscuit recipe a while ago? Smiling  See this video: http://youtu.be/xDPG52oTWno

Sausage, you buy them premade...fry them in a pan and you are done.

Look here: http://jimmydean.com/default.aspx

 

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Who's Jimmy Dean?

Closest thing I have seen around here is this brand. They run about 50c a sausage 

We are more likely to see these on our shelves.... and at over $3 per sausage, I'll be damned before I serve them to guests.

Or these.... at over $1 a piece....

Okay, but what do I do with a biscuit. I saw the recipe earlier. You are talking to someone who is from bagel, bread, brioche and baguette territory. I'm more likely to know what to do with a scone or English muffin then a biscuit.

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Patty sausages are served in many restaurants in our area.  Just sausage without the casing.  There are many sausage recipes on the web, try a breakfast sausage recipe. When you find one you like, make a batch and freeze in individual airlock freezer bags.

I remember an irish B&B that served small portions of black pudding with the breakfast.  Memorable as a local thing, but not something I'd duplicate.

 

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Just broading your horizons here Smiling

I just used the Jimmy Dean sausage as an example. We have lots of different brands.

But if no one ever expects them, don't bother. As far as biscuits, you can use them in place of rolls with breakfast of a dinner for that matter. Biscuits are in the same territory as scones. You can put in herbs, cheese etc to give different flavor. If served plain, people usually put butter and/ or honey on them or some sort of jam.

 

Madeleine's picture
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You should stick to what guests expect in your area. If you don't know what sausage for breakfast is, no one is expecting it. If biscuits are foreign, don't serve them.

Jimmy Dean was a popular C&W singer in the US. He was also an actor, TV personality and businessman who died last year.

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we sometimes get "oh we won't have black pudding" nope cos we don't serve it!

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 They could eaten here this morning and had Bill's pecan pancakes, and the other Bill's bacon, and the third Bill's eggs.  Was their name Bill?

Madeleine's picture
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Nary a Guillaume in the bunch!

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