Love of Labor
It’s Monday morning, and I am deep in thought about many things, but mostly, about how much I enjoy the work I do here at the Kangaroostaurant and Kangaroost. It hardly feels like work. I have an endless to do list interruptions to say a quick hello or have a short visit with family, friends, co workers and other folks who come by the restaurant. I enjoy the things on my list….I only wish I had more time!
Devon was grown with lots of Kangaroost food ~ we had the honor and privilege of knowing his family since the beginning of the truck. They have since moved to the East Coast…and like family, we miss them.
Many Hands Make Light Work
This saying always makes me think about how much easier things go when we have help. I am here to tell you that I have the best help around. Since moving the Kangaroost to the Appleton location, we’ve had the best of luck when it comes to hiring new folks to help us here at the restaurant and on the truck. All biases aside, I think we have the best Crew in town and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. Currently, we have 25 folks who work here each week. Every one of them makes this all possible. We have a great management, front of house, back of house, catering and truck team. The folks that work here do everything from marketing to lawn mowing, along with Jay and I they are the ones behind the scenes doing the work. You might see one of us at the hardware store having keys made, or picking up ramekins at rummage sales, or maybe at a thrift store in search of a cast iron frying pan. You may see us outside in what will soon be our garden. Or pulling burdock from the yard. When the website or Facebook is updated, it’s one of us.
Eric and Alex, working hard and prepping for the day ~ these two have been with us since the start of the Kangaroost.
The Heavy Lifting
There is a lot of work to be done, and though having help makes things easier, I’m here to tell you that working in a restaurant is not easy work.
When we moved to our new location, much of the work was done by our Crew or friends. We are grateful.
Chef Adam hammering out menus…
If you are a server, you spend countless hours on your feet, taking orders, chatting with folks you don’t know yet trying to remember things about them and somehow connect while multitasking x 20, grabbing hot plates and smiling while your fingers scream expletives. Remembering everything and keeping everything organized in your brain is a challenge that our servers do without flaw. They work hard and it’s common in the restaurant business to be short staffed. Everyday, these folks show up to work, ready to provide the best possible service and lend a hand to help in any way they can!
Server Adam photo bombing at Loudon’s Birthday Celebration…sometimes serving our family and friends is involved.
Server Riley getting flowers together for vases on Mother’s Day 2013, Riley does it all…even payroll!
Front of House manager Jess puts together specials each day as well as scheduling, training, hosting, keeps Jay and I sane, organizes reservations, you name it, Jess does it!
The truck folks are here early in the morning to prep and load the truck prior to lunch service. Often this means coming in at 7am and not being done until after 7pm. Working on the truck is a lot of fun, and we get to meet so many people, but the days are filled with prep, cooking, cleaning, changing oil, starting generators, filling up propane tanks, driving the truck sometimes for 3 hours, then cooking for 8 hours and then driving another 3 hours home. We have a fantastic truck crew who are learning all the ins and outs of food trucks. None of them just show up for an 8 hour shift. They are involved in the business and committed to what we do almost as much as we do. They know the truck is our baby and treat it with the same care as we do. They know it’s quirks and what to do when something is working and it can’t be fixed by duct tape or clothes hangers.
On a recent trip to Milwaukee where we cooked food for over 200 people, Eric, Chef Adam and Kelly left the Roost at 8am to return at 9pm. Yes, long lines and long days indeed.
If you work behind the bar here at the Roost, your day starts with squeezing fresh juices, making simple syrups, gathering lemons, limes and grapefruit, filling ice bins and setting up cocktails stations before you are ready to serve a drink. Once all of that is done, your time here is spent muddling, stirring, shaking and commiserating with guests. I was taking a break one night when I overheard a guest told Alyssa “you look like you really enjoy what your are doing.” To that Alyssa replied “I love what I do.” Alyssa dreams in cocktails. Jennifer is always experimenting with new concoctions. Even Jess has stepped in and has had guests ask if she was behind the bar ~. No mixes, no high fructose corn syrup…our drinks are about simple, fresh and in house made. The spirits, beer and we serve are well thought out and researched (often many of the Crew will help with the research). Alyssa can tell you a lot about what your drinking…so don’t hesitate to ask! Keep an eye out for Jeff who you may see behind the bar. On Sundays, Jay is usually the face of the Bloodies and Mimosas – with Alyssa helping on the busier holidays.
Jennifer shaking up a whiskey sour! This cocktail, made with an egg white involves 5 minutes of vigorous shaking!
Alyssa dreams about cocktails! We are lucky to have her here ~
The kitchen crew is always up to something. If it is quiet in the dining room, we are preparing for the next meal service. Our kitchen Crew does every bit of the behind the scenes work that goes into your meal. Making the salad dressings, cutting and watering micro greens, cleaning plates, planting gardens, cutting French fries, making pie crusts, baking cakes, picking up blow torches, scrubbing countless pots and pans, ordering and sourcing food, maintaining inventories, making menus, specials, prep lists, mopping floors, it’s all part of the deal. Days are often long, without time to take a real break. But each and everyone of our kitchen Crew comes in ready to work hard and are so passionate about cooking!
House made Pickles
Hard work with time for PICTURES!
I get emotional when I think of the love and thoughtfulness that is put into the dishes we serve. From the farmers growing and producing it, to the folks preparing it, to the servers bringing it to your table, every step of the way your food is handled with love. It’s true, this is a labor of love!
These eggs from Olden Produce are used in our kitchen, bakery and yes, even the BAR!
We were able to take a trip to Nami Moon Farms last fall and hang out with Chris, Maria and a bunch of turkeys.
Chef Adam’s daughter Maddy on a recent visit to Keune Organic Meats.
Love of Labor
I’ve told you about some of the work that goes into your experience here. While the work is difficult and exhausting the reason we keep coming back and keep working hard, is because we love the work we do.
Serving food to a restaurant full of guests is a rush unlike any other.
We recently hosted a group of folks from Kimberly Clark. These guests were here from Costa Rica!
Plating a dinner to be served to someone celebrating a life milestone is an honor!
We recently served a New Orleans style dinner for a friend celebrating 30 years of life!
Driving the truck filled with delicious food to a farm to serve guests at a wedding is an experience that will make your hair tingle! It’s even better in the rain ~
Our first ever farm service…on a Red Barn Farm, captured forever by Wisconsin Foodie.
Another first…in an airplane hanger!
Having someone share your Facebook post or re tweet your tweet is exciting. It is indeed fun to know that others are as excited about what you are up to as you are!
One of our more popular Facebook photos…,
So, why all the fuss over the people that work here? Because, I care for them, deeply. Each and everyone of them. I know about them, their families their other jobs, their children, what they do on their days off. It’s often hard for me to remember that they are not my children as I remind them that a pan is hot or that they should take a break. They will often give Jay and I rides home, they pack a lunch for Jay everyday as he heads off to his other job – they take care of us, and we, do our best to take care of them.
Alicia one of our cooks and also a student at the Fox Valley Tech, created this Wisconsin gem for this year’s Wisconsin Restaurant Association Cake Decorating Competition.
they are like family…
The line between employee and employer is often blurred here. But, at the end of the day, we are still employers, and the people that work here employees. We take that seriously. Jay and I have spent countless hours worrying about payroll and we have often had to ask for help to make sure everyone working here gets paid. It’s a big responsibility and a huge commitment on both ends. We recognize that and take that very seriously. Sometimes, things happen that make it necessary for folks to leave the Roost. It’s the way it goes. Things don’t work out for whatever reason, but that’s life. We always want folks to enjoy being here and being a part of the family. If it’s time to move on, we support that and have even encouraged it.
Josey and Veronica.
So, for me it’s about more than employees and employers. It’s about people, their families, their history but most of all about respect and dignity. I may get frustrated and may not always have a big smile on my face, at the end of it all, I respect the folks that work here, not just for the work they do here, but for the things they do in their life to make the world a better place to be. They are good people, who I trust, with what has become my Labor of Love.
So, on this year, this mom is saying thank you to all of them, for helping me learn, grow and be a better person, both personally and professionally. Just like my children, you teach me something new each and every day.
Chef Adam and I on the line for dinner one night. Judging by the bags under both of our eyes, we were whipped, but still smiling.
And to your Mothers who have raised fine human beings!
With love and gratitude.