Louisville restaurant owner / cook on supply chain nightmare
Imagine yourself as the owner and cooking at a popular, short-lived restaurant. Suddenly you look around and find that the price of your cooking oil has tripled and you can’t buy cookies for love or for money.
These challenges make it tough when your customers are looking for an all day breakfast and the many deep fried delicacies that make dinner so delicious. And that’s just the start, says Gibin George, owner and chef of D. Nalley’s Diner.
“Over the past few months,” he said in a lengthy interview that started via email and continued face to face, “We have had several items that we regularly purchase from major vendors like Restaurant Depot, Sysco, GFS which were not available. Items vary from paper products like takeout boxes and wrapped straws to consumables like onion rings and liquid eggs. They are out of stock at many things.
He doesn’t blame his friends in restaurant supply stores. “All of these places are completely out of the question. Restaurant Dépôt is close to us. I am there everyday. Their manager, Daniel, is trying hard. It’s not his fault, but the lack of employees and the lack of product, and when it’s gone it’s gone for weeks, and there’s nothing we can do but get out of the box. beaten track.
The supply issues became so complicated, he added, that he had to turn to Amazon Prime for several products. “We were making the cookies,” he said. “We’re an old-fashioned American restaurant, with inexpensive food. But now the price of chicken has doubled. A 35-pound container of cooking oil has gone from $ 15 to $ 45, and large 20-pound beef rolls have quadrupled. “
George brings an unexpected set of management tools as a restaurant owner trying to thrive during a global pandemic. After migrating with his family from New Delhi, India, in 2007, when he was only 17, he headed straight to UofL. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in commerce and then wishes to complete his MBA from the University College of Commerce of UofL. He’s such a big fan of UofL that he repainted the exterior of his building at 970 S. Third St. in a bold cardinal red and black.
It sounds like a path to corporate fame or maybe hedge fund management. But George went in a different direction: he set his sights on restaurant management when he stumbled upon an opportunity at another longtime restaurant.
“In 2015, the owner of Twig & Leaf, my friend’s cousin, invited me to come and discover the Twig. I stayed there for a month and then said I would take it over as a part owner. Twig was going through difficult times. It was the only place open 24/7 in town, but competition from chains had reduced their business. I owned it for three years and did very well.
But ultimately, he said, he and his friend and partner didn’t agree on some management issues. Then another opportunity presented itself: regular D. Nalley’s customers approached him with a proposal. Darrell Nalley, the longtime owner of the 60-year-old property, wanted to retire. George became the owner of the business. Nalley retains ownership of the building and its property.
On opening day in 2017, Mayor Greg Fischer brought a proclamation declaring October 23 as D. Nalley’s Grand D– opening day. The framed document holds a place of pride just inside the restaurant’s front door.
This front door sees a lot of traffic, drawn to a traditional dinner menu with each course priced at $ 7.95 or less, except for its popular international specialties with entrees like chicken shawarma, rice. fried chicken curry, fried rice with vegetables, stuffed chicken livers and wait for it… Makaroni Po Flotski, Russian marine style ground beef macaroni. All of these culinary delights cost $ 8.99 or $ 9.99.
George is proud that the restaurant has remained open, serving customers safely with masks and social distancing throughout the pandemic. Doors were closed to indoor dining only during the three months (March 16-May 22 and November 20-December 13, 2020) when Governor Andy Beshear ordered all restaurants in the state to be closed to traffic due to peaks in Covid-19.
“With the exception of the mandatory restaurant closure, we have remained open,” said George. “And on closing, some customers said, ‘Stay open, we’ll pay the fine.’ He added with a smile.
But supply prices are increasing dramatically: “being a restaurant with low prices,” he said, “seeing product costs reach a new high has put us in a situation where we now have to increase prices.
“As an employee in the restaurant industry, I understand why people ask for higher wages. A waiter earns $ 2.13 per hour plus tips. Even though at the end of the day most of our servers run around $ 15 an hour with tips, I understand why they’re asking for higher wages. Not everyone gives good advice, let alone good advice. But here is my question, if there is an increase in wages to say the minimum state, would these waiters agree to lose their tips? Or would customers be willing to pay higher prices for the products? “
George is philosophical about it all, and he doesn’t quit the business he loves. “I am confident this year will be better. I have met people who have had their first dates here, they keep coming back. Its most loyal customer, a certain Jerry, is 89 years old and has been a regular at D. Nalley’s for 50 years.
“I don’t see myself working at another restaurant,” said George. “I don’t see not being in this restaurant. In five years, I will probably be here.
970 S. 3rd street