Since opening earlier this year, Daily Diner Frogtown has already garnered a lot of attention for both its food (fried chicken and waffles with homemade maple syrup, anyone?) and for its mission. As part of the Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, the Diner provides job training for men and women transitioning out of homelessness, addiction, and poverty.
General manager David Lindahl has worked in the restaurant business for the past 35 years, including 15 years as the general manager of Timber Lodge Steak House and four years operating Hotdoggin'it in Robbinsdale, which he co-owned with his wife. He gave us a peek at a day in his life as the manager of Daily Diner Frogtown, from an early morning rise to pounding the pavement in the Frogtown neighborhood.
5:15 a.m.: Rise and shine! Make coffee, iron a shirt, get ready and go! I have a 45 minute drive to work, so I need to get up and hit the road early.
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.: Arrive at the Daily Diner Frogtown. The first thing I do—before anything else—is take time to connect with each of my staff. Then it's time to check the deliveries, make sure prep lists are filled out, and make adjustments as necessary. Check for reservations, fill out seating charts, and go over any specific details for service and menu items for the day.
8 a.m. - 2 p.m.: I manage the floor, expedite food to our customers, and do the easiest, most enjoyable, and most important part of my job—visit with our guests! Keeping your finger on the pulse of the restaurant is vitally important, and I think managers are foolish if they don't make this a regular part of their daily routine. How do you know what's really happening if you are unwilling to work in the trenches yourself? Sorry, didn't mean to preach...
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.: My afternoons vary from day to day. As a the manager of a new business (just opened in April), it is critical for me to get out a couple times a week and canvass local businesses. I ask for the manager or supervisor, tell them I won't take much of their time, and briefly give them an overview of what the Daily Diner is all about. I always drop off an incentive gift, like one of our Daily Diner coffee mugs, a few $5.00 off coupons, and as many take-out menus as they want. This a perfect time to make sure the community knows who we are and a chance for us to put a face to the Daily Diner.
The Daily Diner is more than just a restaurant. As part of the Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, the Diner will also serve as an on-the-job training program for men and women transitioning out of homelessness, addiction, and poverty. So right now, part of my afternoon is spent writing and gathering training materials for our first set of trainees who are starting in August. This is a time-consuming task, but we are really looking forward to being able to use the skills and talents we have to help people in need get on their feet! Afternoons also allow time to follow up on any catering orders we have, return calls, and respond to emails.
4 p.m. - 9 p.m.: Time for the dinner crowd! Our evenings are still uneven, so sometimes there is time to check on sales trends, write schedules, and tidy up any loose ends—things like schedules for daily specials, new menu items, etc. We just made major changes to our appetizer, salad, and burger menus, and It's really beginning to create some excitement! Especially the burger menu, with additions like the Firecracker (this one has some kick with pepper cheese, grilled jalapenos, and habanero pepper sauce) and the Bullfrog (a juicy hamburger nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches). It's a lot of burger!
9 p.m.: It's been a long, but really good day. It's time to clean up and go home—tomorrow's on its way...
[Photo: City Pages]