Archive for restaurant

May
12

Well, It’s Been a Long While

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I was just cleaning up some websites, and here I am on this one.  I’m going to leave it up, but I’ll let this post be a little update.  I like bullet lists, so here we go:

  • The girls, Becca and Chloe, are about to turn 10 and 8.  I’m no longer a soccer mom, but the girls have been taking drum and guitar lessons for about a year.
  • We still have the restaurant, Downey’s House, and it is doing well
  • I’ve become a life and business coach.  Go check out my website :)
  • I’ve stopped working on t-shirt designs, but all my old designs are still selling.
  • I haven’t gotten any younger :(
  • I may come and post some kid related stuff here.  Maybe.  I’m contemplating.
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Dec
29

More Drink Tax Debate

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Well, there’s another court hearing regarding the drink tax today. You can read a snippet about it from the Post Gazette. In a nutshell, they (restaurant owners and a councilman – Charles McCullough) are trying to stop my most hated person, Dan Onorato, from using funds collected by the drink tax for anything other than the Port Authority. Did you know that the drink tax collected 16 million dollars more than what was needed for the Port Authority? Crazy. I’m hoping that this makes something else happen. And I wouldn’t mind it if it made Dan Onorato cry a little.

After owning the restaurant for seven months now, I have realized that there really isn’t money in this business. Don’t get me wrong, we are able to pull a salary – enough to pay our bills and the extra mortgage on the house that we got so we could buy the bar. But what’s crazy is the sheer amount of money that needs to go OUT. Our electric bill is about $2,000 a month. Gas is about the same. Payroll is crazy. Insurance? Holy crap. Liquor liability insurance is completely insane! Then there’s our health insurance! We picked some crappy tier with UPMC, and Tony has a $2500 deductible per year. I’ve been reading a lot of restaurant-owner-related-crap, and for every $1 in sales, owners are lucky to see about a nickel. That seems about right. But I really don’t think that other people realize that.

All in all, though, Tony LOVES having the restaurant. And his happiness is worth it. And we won’t be living in a van down by the river any time soon. Tony is one of the hardest working people I know, and considering the economic times, the restaurant is doing really well.

How about that for a venting session? :::takes deep breath::: I feel better now :)

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Nov
16

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OH, I forgot about a couple of things that happened on Friday.  The bad thing?  My payroll company took the entire payroll amount ($7,000) out of my checking account and paid my employees.  Um, payday is November 2oth.  They took it out SIX days early.  I about threw up when I pulled up my online banking!!!  Luckily the money was in there, but there are a lot of checks floating out there waiting to be cashed.  They fixed their mistake (well, enough where my account would be ok), but that was just another bump in the day.

Later on Friday night, I got an email from Zazzle, and here’s the graphic:
Well, I added the writing that says “Hey!  That’s my design!”  Anyway, that was a nice little surprise.  OH, and if you’re looking for aprons, they are $4 off at Zazzle if you use the code TURKEYAPRONS until November 25. (Just in case you can’t see the pic).
Look at that!  Two posts in 12 hours.  I’m getting there!
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Oct
23

Time flies…

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Well, time really DOES fly when you have 8 million things going on in life. So sorry I haven’t written. Mom came up for a visit, running the restaurant, doing my online business, doing kindergarten homework, sometimes sleeping. OH, and the new seasons of my fav shows have started. I have found time for the shows that I like to DVR. They are, in no particular order, True Blood (HBO),The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Three and a Half Men, and new to the line up, The Big Bang Theory. New episodes of 30 Rock start next Thursday, and that will make it on the list too. the beautiful thing about DVR is that I can watch it whenever I want to and skip the commercials. Now I just have to get it in my bedroom, so I can watch before I go to sleep!!

So, here’s what motivated me to actually write today. Another funny little Becca story. Last night we were doing homework. She had to glue pictures (or draw pictures) of things that started with the letter ‘A’ onto a paper. Her little brain was searching and searching for ‘A’ words. She’s sounding it out ‘aaaaaa.’ And then she looks at me with her big, beautiful eyes. “Mom, I can’t say that. It’s a swear word.” Of course I know what she’s thinking. So I tell her “Well, go ahead and say it. Just this once. Because if it’s at least a word that starts with ‘A’ I’ll be happy that you figured another word out.” Sh she says it “OK…ass.” Then she starts giggling. But the kicker is what she asked next. “Mom, can you draw a picture of a butt on my paper?” Laughing, I tell her that I didn’t think Mrs. Z would appreciate a picture of a butt.

I just went out and bought bags and bags of Halloween candy and hid it from
myself the kids. There’s the preschool party (bags of treats for 11), then there’s the kindergarten party (smaller bags of treats for 19), and then there’s trick-or-treat. The really bad thing about all of this is that I’m going to get all of that candy back through my kids. Ugh.

I’m also gearing up for the Halloween Bash at Downey’s House. Gotta finish getting my costume ready today. I think I have the tricycles for the tricycle races, got the ingredients for the pudding shots, got some spooky drink garnishes. Now I just have to make it through tomorrow. Got a nice 12 hour day ahead of me. Oh, and it’s also Anita’s (the co-owner) birthday tomorrow, so I have to go and get her a little surprise cake.

I have lots of thoughts racing around this crazy head of mine, and I really will get better at posting them. And all of the stories. OH, I just thought of another one. Gotta remember to talk to you about Chloe and the color black. See ya later!

Aug
25

A whole new world

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Well, Becca had her first day of Kindergarten today. She was totally and completely adorable!!! I’ll post a pic later, but she was grinning from ear to ear. I, however, was all emotional and cried like a baby. I was just so proud of her!! She hung out with the big kids and climbed right up onto that school bus with no problem. I can’t believe that we’re starting the whole REAL school deal. And Chloe starts preschool next week. She’s been there for a summer program, so I’m not really so worried about her.

I got a response from our buddy Dan Onorato. It was basically a canned response, with a little bit of personalization at the beginning. And it wasn’t from him, but from an assistant. It was basically a bit commercial for Dan, stating all of his fantabulous statistics and what a swell guy he is. In fact, I’ll copy and past it for ya, just in case you want to read it.

August 25, 2008
Dear Ms. Downey:
Thank you for your email. County Executive Onorato asked that I respond on his behalf.
Allegheny County is required by federal and state law to provide a $30-million local funding match to Port Authority each year. The revenues from the drink tax and car rental fee are dedicated for this local match. Without the drink tax and car rental fee, the County would have to increase property taxes by $30 million in order to meet its legal funding obligation to Port Authority. Four leaders of F.A.C.T., the group promoting the repeal of the drink tax, testified before County Council that they would prefer a raise in property taxes. The County Executive is strongly opposed to raising property taxes to fund mass transit.
Allegheny County is not authorized to collect any tax that it wants. The County can only collect taxes that are authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At this time, the Commonwealth only allows Allegheny County to collect the property tax, drink tax and rental car fee.
Please be assured the County Executive has been creative – cutting spending and increasing government efficiencies. During his first four years in office, Mr. Onorato has reduced expenditures and streamlined government by removing 626 employees from the County payroll, and Port Authority reduced its workforce by 375 employees earlier this year. That is a total reduction of 1,000 public employees in four years, which saves taxpayers approximately $50 million annually.
County Executive Onorato was also the primary advocate of row office reform, and come January 1, 2008, we will have successfully reduced the number of row offices from 10 to four, which will save taxpayers at least $1 million annually.
The County Executive has also embraced opportunities to consolidate government functions and eliminate duplicated services to improve efficiency and save taxpayers money. In a two-year period, the Onorato administration reduced the number of 9-1-1 call centers in Allegheny County from five to one, which saves $3 million annually. The City of Pittsburgh’s fingerprinting operation was collapsed into the County’s, and the Pittsburgh Municipal Court was merged with the County court system.
The County and City signed a joint telecommunications agreement that will result in $4.5 million in savings over the next three years, and the County has also taken over purchasing for the City, which improves the efficiency of purchasing operations and results in significant savings for taxpayers. Finally, the County and City have formed an energy purchasing consortium that is open to the region’s hospitals, school districts, colleges, universities, municipal authorities, non-profit organizations and private businesses. This consortium has the potential to be largest cost-saving public/private partnership in the history of Western Pennsylvania.
In addition to these savings, County Executive Onorato cut taxes his first year in office, and he has successfully held the line on property taxes every year since then. Allegheny County has not seen a property tax increase in six years, while all of the counties around us have. During this same period, Armstrong County taxes have increased 35 percent, Beaver County has raised taxes by 19 percent, Butler County taxes are up 12 percent, Washington County has increased taxes by 24 percent, and Westmoreland County taxes have gone up 24 percent. Mr. Onorato’s decision to implement a base year assessment system has also brought stability back to Allegheny County’s real estate market and put an end to back-door tax increases.
Thank you again for contacting our office. We appreciate your input and we wish you success with your business.
Sincerely, Megan Dardanell
Office of the County Executive

All I have to say is blah, blah, blah. I chatted with some of the people from FACT (they’re fighting the drink tax), and they opened my eyes to a few things. I had always wondered why the larger chain restaurants weren’t really doing anything to fight the drink tax. She told me that a lot of the chains get money FROM Allegheny County just for opening their doors (she mentioned the Cheesecake Factory), and they get some big ol’ tax breaks. What do the little restaurant and bar owners get? Diddily Squat.

She also mentioned how they are really concentrating efforts throughout the state in campaigning against the drink tax. Their thought was that we would Never, Never, Never, Ever want Dan Onorato do become governor (and that’s church!). Because if he were to become Governor, that drink tax would almost definitely be state wide.

Anyway, she opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. I haven’t officially responded to the letter yet. But I will. When I get some more energy. All that girlie-emotional-PMS-weeping from this morning has made me tired!

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