24 May 2009

Why I'm not smart enough to be a restauranteur

Food stamps can only be used to buy ingredients and raw food, not cooked food, and therefore can't be used in restaurants.

Some people with food stamps may not be able to cook food - e.g. broken stove, no stove, lack of electricity or gas to stove.

Seafood markets are primarily sellers of raw food. They therefore take food stamps.

Many seafood markets in the U.S. southeast will also prepare and cook food upon request. Officially this is a side service.

Some friends of mine (formerly the owners of a Chinese takeout) own and run a seafood market. It's located in a poor part of town. They will fry, steam, or boil nearly everything they sell (for a small fee).

The end result:

There is no actual difference between their seafood market and their Chinese takeout from an order-taking/food-passing perspective, except that nobody ever writes any of the orders down. T.T

There is a big difference at the cash register. Because food stamps can't be used for cooked food, the cooking fee must be charged separately as cash - which can get really complicated with the whole not writing anything down thing. But only to me, because everyone else there can do it in their heads. TT.TT


neurondoc said...

Yikes. That is complicated. And involves math, so Nathan will complain... :-)

Nathan said...

Unless the cooking fee is 'by the pound', it really doesn't sound all that complicated. More like counting than REAL math.

vince said...

I think I'll stick to programming. It's a lot less complex :-)

MWT said...

It is by the pound, Nathan. $1 per pound, minimum $1 if it's less than a pound.

Unless it's a low-country boil, in which case we just take a dollar off the listed price and count that as the fee.

Or if it's any of the pre-cooked things that just get reheated in the microwave at 25 cents per order.

Or if they want french fries, which is also 25 cents per order.

Or blue crabs. Those just get sold by the dozen, with no fee even if they're boiled. (Which is entirely different from snow crabs or dungeness, which are sold by pound.)

So if they want 2.5 pounds of fried shrimp in three separate orders, two of them with french fries, and also a pound of fried fish, a low country boil with garlic butter (cost: 50 cents extra) and two dozen cooked blue crabs, what do you do, Nathan? Quick before they get impatient!


MWT said...

Oh, forgot to mention - we must always ring up the purchase as if the customer is going to pay normally, because otherwise the non-foodstamp people (about 10% of customers) are offended to be thought of as foodstamp people. Only after they show us their food stamp card do we a) take off the tax, b) deduct from the register the amount that got added in for cooking things (that they're going to pay in cash), c) add the cooking fees that only apply to food stamp people (that they're also going to pay in cash). By the point of b), I've usually forgotten how many pounds of anything was in the order.

WendyB_09 said...

Who cares if it's a little complicated, it means from time to time the people using FS are getting fresh, properly prepared seafood food in their diet. Which is healthy.

Better then a steady diet of cheap pasta like raman noodles and mac & cheese, cooked in an electric fondue pot because the gas is off. Trust me on this one.


Nathan said...

Clearly, the answer is that I couldn't work the register before my fourth cup of coffee.