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Kevin Yee

RESTAURANT INFOBITS

Painting a profit picture 

In both DL and DCA the talk in the last several months has all been about profit margins. They use SPLH (sales per labor hour) to measure profitability, and lately they focus on making this number as high as possible for each location.

While profit is nothing new, what is new is the focus away from customer service that marked the tenure of Mike Berry as the restaurant division's vice-president. Mike had introduced a number of innovations and programs designed to identify, enhance, and perfect the guest experience. Many of his ideas have now, sadly, been rolled back in little ways throughout both parks.


Speaking of Mike Berry 

The onetime head of restaurants and most recently manager of Downtown Disney (DtD) has moved on from the company, and he now enjoys the perks awarded to the President of Barnes & Noble (such as a company jet).

Mike had wanted to move on for some time from Disney. He had been offered the job of president of the House of Blues when Downtown Disney began construction, but when he made noises about wanting to leave entirely, he was begged to remain in the "cushy" job as manager of the entire Downtown Disney project. The job - which truly was easier than what he would have faced at HOB - was a way of "throwing him a bone" and postponing his departure as far as possible.


Wetzel's Pretzels: Business as... Usual?

It's no secret that Wetzel's Pretzels at Downtown Disney is a smashing success (it frequently seems that Wetzel's and Haagen Dazs, the two most recognizable and affordable names in Downtown Disney, are the only food facilities that are constantly packed to the gills). While this may be true, the management situation at Wetzel is far from pristine.

There have been three General Managers at Wetzel so far, in the location's brief existence since Downtown Disney opened. Are things that hectic there? One sign of overwork: one morning the opening worker locked herself out of the building by accident, and didn't have another key to let herself in. Eventually one of those former managers was called, and he good- naturedly agreed to come on down and let her in. What he was still doing with a current key is something of a mystery, though. Wouldn't they want it back? Or change the locks?


Customer Service in Downtown Disney

The courtyard at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
The courtyard at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, a three-part location in the middle of DtD, is apparently not encountering the types of crowds they had expected, but business is not entirely horrible there. Nevertheless, there are rumblings that the location is not getting good customer service reviews, at least by word of mouth.

The situation is even more dire across the way at Y Arriba Y Arriba. The manager there is said to be less than concerned with customer service, and is even reported to have said "they're just tourists," implying that repeat visits is not a factor in their business model and focus. Disney, which owns a good chunk of the Y Arriba location at DtD, is understandably not pleased with that attitude. 

The Y Arriba Y Arriba store and restaurant.
The
Y Arriba Y Arriba store and restaurant.


ABC Soap Opera Bistro

The ABC Soap Opera Bistro
The ABC Soap Opera Bistro

Over in California Adventure (DCA), the ABC Soap Opera Bistro has a new manager named Fabio, who was brought in by Mary Niven, the current executive in charge of restaurants at the Disneyland Resort. Like most DCA restaurants, the Bistro is not meeting its sales projections, but the picture here is more rosy than at some of the other high- priced dining alternatives in the resort.

By the way, the recent breakfast they had going on there has been canceled, as has the Eureka parade buffet. Not enough customers it seems.


Boudin Bakery Tour

While not exactly a restaurant, the Bakery tour at least deals with food, so I thought it would be interesting to offer up this tasty little tidbit: the tour is vastly under performing its capacity. If you've ever been to DCA, you might have guessed that, but you probably wouldn't have figured the actual numbers. A recent Sunday - with perfect weather, mind you - had an average of about 240 guests per hour visiting the bakery.

As a point of comparison, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland moves 3,400 guests per hour when running at peak capacity. The wait time for Pirates on that same Sunday was almost an hour.


Outdoor Vending

If you're familiar with those food, snack, popcorn, balloon, drinks, and souvenir carts that litter the landscapes at Disney resorts, you might know of them as Outdoor Vending, or just ODV. At DCA, the term ODV has a different official meaning: it stands for "Outdoor Ventures" (get it? outdoor vend-tures?) There is no shortage of bad puns at DCA, but this one tickled my fancy for some reason.

By the way, attractions head Paul Pressler was so enchanted with the larger sized vending carts designed for DCA, (they carry more items to sell) he immediately wanted all the carts in adjacent Disneyland also replaced with them. Panicked Imagineers had to show him that the new carts would not fit into the older park, and hopefully have talked him out of it.


Restaurant Awards

We close with some cheerful news: a number of Disneyland Resort restaurants have been honored with prestigious awards. The California Restaurant Writer's Association awarded PCH Grill (Paradise Pier Hotel), Yamabuki's (Paradise Pier Hotel), Granville's Steakhouse (Disneyland Hotel) and the Wine Cellar (Disneyland Hotel) with the award "three stars" for Outstanding Food and/or Wine."

Other winners included the Blue Bayou in Disneyland and Hook's Pointe at the DL Hotel, both of which earned two stars in the Distinguished category.


MENU PRICES

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