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March 2013 Posts

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A Day in My Shoes
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Episode 2 - A Day in My Shoes

Monday, March 4th 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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A Day in My Shoes – Shopping Day for High SocieTea House, Wayne, NJ – February 5, 2013


Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR Click HERE for a complete listing/directory of entries and topics.

 

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EPISODE 2

Shopping Day for High SocieTea House, Wayne, NJ

 

On February 5, 2013, I had an opportunity to spend a day in Michael’s shoes to shop for the tea room.  Now I am no stranger to grocery shopping – but This was no easy task for a woman, I tell you!!  In fact, there was not one other woman IN the restaurant supply store.  That’s right!  At one point I felt like I was invading some private men’s club and it was very awkward. (It’s no wonder they nixed the photography.)


People/men were just stopping and staring in every aisle!  I asked Michael, what’s up – he said I was creating quite a stir – you don’t normally see women in this store!  So, I’m thinking, well you don’t normally see men in the grocery store unless it’s Christmas and they are trailing behind their wives and slowing things down, and getting in the way!  So, I expect they felt the same way in return. Here I was mucking up the process.

 

So why no women?  In my mind, here’s why . . .

 

Picture this. Well – if you have ever shopped at Costco or BJs then you know the bulk sizes of things such as Bisquick mix or huge bottles of mayonnaise or mustard, large bags of frozen chicken, whatever.  Now, think of Those items in bulk – in huge boxes full of each item. So, a box of 6-12 large boxes within. The quantities are so huge, that it would be impossible for me to personally grab that off of the shelf at a restaurant supply store.  So, my advice to the tea room ladies, is to send a man!

 

Not everything was so ridiculously huge, but close to it. Huge bags of carrots where the carrots were freakishly the size of baseball bats? I am still scratching my head about that… Huge packages of cream cheese and other cheeses, huge boxes of lettuce and salads, huge cans of fruit, huge boxes of sugar, etc. The freezer was so huge, it was meant to be walked-in with the cart – winter coat and all!

 

So, I asked Michael to tell me where they usually shop and why they shop at each location. What is unique or different about each and why or why not would you perhaps use a food distributor? 

 

I learned that the tea room does not use a food distributor. Part of the reason for that would likely be that they need to keep food costs to approx. 30 percent and using a distributor for lesser quantities would not make sense financially.  They shop for large, bulk supplies of utensils, aprons, trashcans, a variety of food items, soup base (all soups are homemade), take out containers, sugar, and general restaurant supplies at a restaurant supply facility.  The one they use is called Restaurant Depot, but it may have a different name in your city.  They also shop at Costco for large but not gigantic quantities of things such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts for making chicken salad, and other bulk items needed in lesser quantities than would be found at the restaurant supply house. 

 

All food at High SocieTea is homemade. Soups, salad dressings, scones, quiche, and all sweets…everything made from scratch! So it takes careful planning to be sure everything is fully stocked in the tea room to continually make what is needed for the week to cover all reservations and ensure enough food is prepared ahead for each person booked for parties, and additional goods for takeout as well. Menu planning and shopping lists are in a continual state of flux.  They keep a list on the fridge just like you would do at home! Menu planning is generally done by Bernadette, the owner, but she is getting Michael involved with that more these days.  Michael generally does the shopping, cooking, and manages the kitchen operations at High SocieTea. He wears many hats and leaves no stones unturned. Soon we will spend time cooking with Michael so you may learn more!

 

Coming up next – NY International Gift Fair with High SocieTea owner, Bernadette Solari.

Coming Soon after – reporting on three dates I served the public at High SocieTea

After that – we are mixing it up with some great tea execs! and will move on to other types of tea businesses.

Stay tuned!

 

If you would like to visit High SocieTea House yourself,
Call High SocieTea-reservations required: 973-696-8327
Location: 20 Old Newark Pompton Turnpike, Wayne, NJ 07470 (highsocieteanj.com)

 

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