Issue 30

In the Business: B & G Tasty Foods, Part 2

In the Business: B & G Tasty Foods, Part 2

Publisher’s Note: This column lets business owners, in their own words, tell us about the history of their place, how they came to be involved with it and what it’s like to run it. Eddie Morin, the owner of longtime Omaha institution and favorite B & G Tasty Foods, told us about the history of B & G in Part 1 of this column. In Part 2, that you now see before you, he will examine what it is like to run it.

I view myself as B & G’s current caretaker, not its owner. When a customer asks, it seems easier to tell them that I am the owner, not the caretaker. I don’t want to sound like a weirdo. B & G must go on, and I will run it as long as I can. I made a promise to myself that I would explore every avenue necessary to keep B & G open. I have messed up enough things in my life, and I am determined to make this one work. Failure is a powerful motivator.

I am certainly biased in the direction of liking B & G. But to me, B & G is the way fast food is supposed to be. Fast food has a dirty name now, but I don’t think it needs to be looked down upon. B & G is fast food the way it was run 50 years ago, and should still be run today.

I take pride in the quality of my food. I try to use as many raw ingredients as I can, and as little “ready to throw in the fryer” bag foods as possible. I will not serve something that is ugly or tastes bad. I hand the food to the customer myself and I will not be embarrassed by what I hand them. Also, I do not want anybody’s money who feels like they got a bad deal. If you think your food is not worth the money you spent on it, let me know and I’ll give it back to you. I need to make money and I don’t feel bad about that, but I want zero dollars taken in dissatisfaction.

To try to save money, cutting costs has been how most of the past owners have run B & G. I think this is a mistake. We can save a ton of money in costs by simply closing the doors and not serving food anymore. I feel the only way to survive is to provide more. More quality; more service; more food. Make people say, “That was a good value and I will come back.”

People want the place to look nice and be clean as well. This is a very high priority for me. I still have lots of plans to make the place even nicer. It just takes time and money, both of which I am very short on. I feel customers have a very clear idea whether the owner cares about their establishment or not. If I were to decorate the place cheaply, it would show that I didn’t care about B & G. By building everything by hand, myself, we are able to achieve a look that shows we care about the place and that we will put time into making it nice.

I was not happy when the landlord ripped all the brick and stone off the front of the building to replace it with full glass fronts. These are cheap and modular. Our stone front required that every stone be set by hand and had a level of craftsmanship that would be cost-prohibitive now. The plaza was not fancy or a pinnacle of architecture by any means, but it was nicer than it is now. Now, we look like everybody else. It is clean and fresh, but lacks character. I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble with our landlord. He is very nice, I promise!

Taking over an old, established restaurant is probably very different than starting a new one, but this isn’t something I think much about. I guess I do think about it, but it is my life, not some side project so it is hard for me to see it any other way. I haven’t owned any other businesses, so I don’t have anything else to compare it to.

It is important for B & G to stay the same. Many businesses are required to change quickly and with the times. People want B & G to stay as much the same as possible, for as long as possible, and I do too. This fits my personality just fine. I’m not a big fan of automation and I am saddened by the loss of craftsmanship. Occasionally, we do introduce new items or procedures to the restaurant. We have a new style cash register and printers. We boxed this into wood to keep it looking as much in our style as possible and not like new computers. We take all major credit cards. Impressive, I know. We are, however, aware that the world is moving at a fast pace and adapting to the new technologies. Many in the food industry, whom we personally know, have recommended us to use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software to handle our day-to-day activities. ERP solutions, according to SYTE Consulting Group, could help food companies take the guesswork out of anticipating demand and managing inventory. This in turn can reduce the risk of wastage. Besides this, I have also been told about many other benefits (like managing sales data, finance and accounting easily) of using an ERP software. Who knows, maybe someday I would consider using it.

Anyways for now, we are planning to keep B & G as static as we can. Our first rule of business is not to mess with the recipes. We use the same recipe for everything we make as we always have. When we make new items, we try to keep old style recipes in mind and do it in a way that could have been done 60 years ago. We are not looking to make our work easier or faster.

We try to have old style customer service. We do not have an answering service. We do not give people numbers. We do not harvest data. We do not require the customers to bus their own tables. We want to know our customers’ names and what is going on in their lives. We want to make sure everyone got the food they wanted. We want our customers to respect us as much as we respect them.

All of our staff have college degrees, are currently in college, or will be going to college after high school. Does this mean anything? I don’t know. Should we have all moved on to “real” jobs and let B & G die? I don’t know. I’m not sure college is what it used to be. I think it’s fair to say that the cost of tuition has definitely seen an increase over recent years. So much so, that it may even put people off going. That’s not right. There are so many things that you can consider doing when it comes to paying your way for a college education. And over the past few years, fundraising ideas have become more popular amongst people who want to raise money for their college fund, and it allows people to have fun at the same too. But it shouldn’t have to be like this. College shouldn’t have to cost that much, and so I think it has definitely changed. We all love B & G though, and that is more than I can say for a lot of employees of fast-food restaurants – or any job for that matter.

Speaking of employees, I love mine. I work with my best friends and it makes my job a blast. A lot of them have been my friends since my teens and the rest have become my friends as time goes on. Being involved in so many people’s lives is such a great pleasure. Hence, I’ve decided to comply with the new rules and make a health and safety policy agreement so that everything looks in place and my employees feel more welcome about working in B & G. One of my friends suggested that I could hire Health & Safety Consultants to make my job easier. Anyway, I’m thinking about it.

I find it absolutely shocking that most bosses and managers don’t want to participate in their employees’ lives. I enjoy meeting my employees’ families and helping them with their problems. I’ve gotten to attend graduation parties, family Thanksgiving meals, dance recitals, and music concerts. I felt one of the toughest parts of my life was college and post-college. I totally empathize with what people are going through at that stage in their lives and like to be around to help them with that transition if I can. I have made life-long friends through B & G and that is something I am extremely grateful for. The employees are certainly the best part of my job.

I am learning new things every day and always strive to run B & G more efficiently. I could always be better at it, but I am proud of how far we have come. Running B & G can be a struggle at times, but none of my heroes had it easy or ended up rich. I love my job and can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.

Eddie Morin

Eddie Morin

I’m Eddie Morin. I’m from Omaha. I run B & G Tasty Foods, and I like eating food, playing video games and dinking around with my wife and kids. I used to not be so fat. That’s all I really think there is to me.

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