Today marks 24 years.

Babette’s Cafe opened 24 years ago tonight.  Seems like yesterday….

Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, some of you since the beginning.  No, we’re NOT closing.  Babette’s continues to bring me joy, pride and challenges.  But I am trying to step back a little bit and I’m finding it harder than I thought.

Justin Kurtz is our Chef
Stephen Puche is our Beverage and Floor Manager
Alex Edge is my Host, Kitchen Expediter, and Assistant Manager

My job now is to make sure the “team” has what it needs, to update computers, implement the marketing and keep up with the bills.  Yes, I still have to sort through the 20 different light bulbs we have on hand and I still book parties.  I miss the kitchen terribly, but when I spend a shift in there, in an emergency, I can hardly walk by the end of the night.  I miss hosting, but  I can’t be tied down to one spot.  I could always pull a shift at the bar, but it’s not pretty. Right now, I’m caught between working long days on a project or putting in a very short day, for which I feel terribly guilty.

So in a few years, I will be gone from the restaurant.  I’m not sure what that looks like, but will likely include a little gardening and a lot of traveling.  I dream of packing my Volvo with my dog and camping gear, inviting my husband and hooking up a Gidget trailer to head to the National Parks.  I imagine living in a tiny house in the woods without electricity, (Thoreau), but with indoor plumbing.  I hope one day to know all the names of the plants I have put in my yard, so I don’t have to leave the little tags attached to them.

But, I’m not ready yet, (daughter still in college) and so thankful that I have this second home.  Thank you for coming on this journey with me.  Happy Birthday Babette’s!


Hire a Lighting Designer.

atlanta french restaurantI didn’t do this until several years after I opened the new location. Thought I couldn’t afford it. Thought the architect would take care of it.

I was $30,000.00 over budget with change orders and we were three months behind with a contractor who was not paying his subs. Maybe I couldn’t have spared the money and the time, but I should have done it as soon as possible. It was not that expensive and it made all the difference in the world.

This falls under interior designers work more than an architects I guess, but I was sorely disappointed. No money for an interior designer certainly. I recently had a customer come in who is a lighting director for the film industry. He suggested I needed some cones to further target the lighting correctly.  He said he would make a mock up for me, but that hasn’t come to pass.

So still a work in progress.

Buy a Manitowoc Ice Machine….

Clean it and hug it every day.

Get in touch with their authorized service rep.  He will keep it running for years.
I bought mine in 1996. My service man keeps suggesting I may need a new one soon and then he fixes it for less than $200.00.

I really do hug it and pat its side once in a while. It’s a workhorse.

Or I have my staff hug it: Nova gave it the hug tonight.

Nova with icemachine



You Have to Know What Clean Really Is….

Clean Atlanta RestaurantI scrub the faucet handles on the hand sink in the kitchen.

There are instructions on the food handling tests that the Chef, Sous and Manager have to take in Georgia that tell us all how to wash our hands. It instructs for how long and for us to let the water run while grabbing a paper towel. Turn off the handles with the paper towel and then dry your hands…..

Well if someone doesn’t follow this procedure, then the paper towel becomes contaminated, so you have to scrub all the handles frequently. It drives my staff crazy when they see me doing this on a busy night. But first things first. We use Comet spray. In speaking to a chemical engineer a few years ago who was trying to sell me his new cleaning products, he let slip that Comet Cleanser has a patent on their cleaner in that it doesn’t have to be rinsed. Well, OK.  I buy Comet spray and yes, we go through a lot, as in a case every three weeks. Everything else in the restaurant is washed with warm soapy water, rinsed and then soaked or rinsed again with sanitizer.

Yes, we do pull all the shelves away from the walls in the walk in coolers and scrub them down, wash and sanitize the racks. We do the same with the line coolers and freezer.
We dust, clean the bathrooms and scrub the kitchen and bar.

But you also have to clean under the coffee machine and scrub the undersides of sinks and shelves. You have to wipe the salt and pepper shakers. Also the touch screens on our computers, the handles on the walk in coolers. You have to scrub the wheels on the kitchen equipment.

We’re serious. I’ve had many repair people come in and tell me we have one of the cleanest kitchens they see. We’ve had not so good scores from the health department for missing the most minuscule item and have gotten a great score where I know we should have scored lower.

So yes, you have to be a clean freak. A neat freak helps too, but that’s another post…..

Photo Credit: Andrew Bain