Woke up Thursday and zapped the last cup of Wednesday’s coffee.
Didn’t want to make a fresh pot, and I wanted real conversation instead of talk radio or Spotify. So I pulled on my boots, got in the car, and headed down the hill to Clyde’s.
As I walked in I noticed Clyde at the bar, his laptop open in front of him.
I joined him there as Rita walked up to take my order. “Just coffee for now, Rita. I’ll order breakfast later.”
She skipped off to the kitchen, presumably to give Chris the good news, before getting my coffee.
“Mornin’ Clyde,” I said while looking over to see he had an Excel spreadsheet open.
“Mmph,” he grunted.
“I’m working on next year’s budget, Bunkie. Even though I’ve cut spending by almost 20 grand, it still won’t balance.
“You and the other ‘top shelf’ drinkers will have to pay more, I’m considering dropping some of the middle shelf stuff to the bottom shelf, maybe move some of the bottom shelf to the well. That ought to increase sales enough to make up for it.
“Breakfast will have to cost more. Lunch too. I can’t increase the evening menu prices very much, but they may have to go up too.”
“Clyde, this makes no sense. Just over a year ago this was just a dive selling hot dogs and road-kill stew. Through a series of wise business decisions you’ve made a semi-great place out of it.
“What’s happening now?”
“Well, I wanted to put in a new gas range, about $7,500. And 6 new dryers and washers in the laundromat. Another $20 thousand. I felt like we needed new tables and chairs in the dining room. New light fixtures and curtains, maybe new tile on the floor. All together about $40 grand.
“I’ve cut that back now to just 3 washers and dryers, a much cheaper gas range, just chairs and no tables. I cut out the new light fixtures but kept the new curtains in the budget.
“That all amounts to about 20 thousand in spending cuts, but my budget still won’t balance. Even with the price increases on you high roller top shelf guys.
“I guess I’ll need to get a loan.”
“No Clyde, you just need to get back to the common sense that got you here. What you call spending cuts are not really cuts. You’ll still be increasing spending, with none of it going to anything that will increase revenue.
“Forget the new range. You’re doin’ fine now without it. Forget the new washers and dryers. Yours are seldom all in use at once, and when they are you have a beer customer or two waiting for one to open up.
“Stop thinking like a bureaucrat, simply decreasing the amount of new spending is not a cut.”
“Well, what else can I do Bunkie?”
“Clyde, I don’t know much about running a restaurant. Even less about running a bar or laundromat. What I do know is common sense and what a customer wants.
“Improve your food quality. Let’s face it, your steaks are not that great. Improve your menu variety. I can get a dry chicken breast and three vegetables anywhere in the county. Give me some real lunch choices. Get creative and add some new stuff to your menu. Stuff I can’t get just anywhere, and make it better than anything else I can get anywhere.
“Your staff is excellent. Keep ‘em.
“If you have to raise prices, hit us all the same.
“But above all, stop budgeting like Washington does. It won’t work and you’ll go broke. Just like Washington has.”