pioneer square

The neighborhood gyro shop needs an efficiency consultant

Lunch during the week is usually more of an errand than an experience, a quick round trip to fetch something edible and cheap that will keep me alive long enough to do it again tomorrow, and thus is an obvious target for efficiency optimization, both from a logistics standpoint as well as in its value-for-dollar. The amiable, well-intentioned proprietors of the gyro shop 2 blocks to the west, however, have confused the process.gyro-photo

I ordered a gyro sandwich to go, and then proceeded to loiter around the tiny dining area while they put it together. Maybe to offer customers a little more for their $6.99, or maybe because it’s cloudy and unpleasant outside, they offered me (and any other waiting customers) a free bowl of soup, passed across the counter in a styro bowl. Spoons were on the opposite wall near the condiments, as indicated by a gesture. The soup was simple but good, some kind of lentil-curry-porridge that was satisfyingly flavorful and warm – too warm, really, as it was too hot to shovel down and needed a lot of blowing, slurping and mostly waiting for it to cool while juggling the flimsy bowl to avoid burning my hands.

Now a gyro takes about 5 minutes to make if you are an average human being. If you are an authentic Greek gyro-making ninja then it takes you about one minute and 15 seconds, which is about how long it takes one of us average human beings to eat two spoonfuls of blazingly-hot soup. And therein lies the dilemma: my gyro was ready, wrapped and bagged for travel back to my desk to eat while I’m working like a good office drone, its tasty aroma wafting from the bag as the chilled vegetables were already beginning to cool the warm slab of meat and the steamy falafel dough. I had paid $8 (after dropping a GW in the tip jar) for this sandwich and its delicate balance of hot and cold foods that is enjoyed properly only when fresh, and yet here I was wasting that culinary opportunity to finish a free bowl of soup. Not only that, but I was trying to rush the soup’s natural schedule by eating it before it had reached its own peak-enjoyment temperature, repeatedly burning the mouth for whom this experience was mostly intended.

I ended up clamping an upside-down bowl onto my soup and shuffling back to assigned seating area number 410 to finish my meal; rescued yet again by my MacGuyver-like ingenuity. But I ask you, gentlemen of the gyro shop – did you think this through sufficiently? While I appreciate the proactive marketing of free soup, the thoughtfulness it shows towards your customers to offer them something satisfying while they wait, and the added value of complementary side dishes on an already value-priced meal, the logistics just don’t work out. Let me offer you some suggestions, based on similar but more successful models:

  • The Chinese and Teriyaki places offer free soup (in real bowls) to customers dining in only. Take-out orders go without.
  • Starbucks offers tastes and samples to customers waiting in line but they are shot-glass-sized, ready to consume immediately, and are finished before the customer’s order is ready.
  • A good restaurant might offer a free appetizer or similar complement when a meal is slow to be prepared. But they usually do not employ Greek gyro ninjas for whom “slow preparation” means “still shorter than a superbowl halftime commercial.”

All in all, gyro shop, I respect your ambition but think you could use some outside consulting. I am willing to accept payment in baklava.

Seattle Streets Photoshoot – August 2009

A morning spent exploring Pioneer Square’s alleys and backstreets with Alex looking for photogenic things, places and moments. I love scenes of urban decay and south Seattle definitely has its share of that, but there are also some beautiful, well-preserved historic buildings along with nuggets of modern progressivism. The neighborhood really is a mixed bag, both architecturally and socially, and I think that’s what’s so appealing about it to me.

Gallery slideshow here.

Night shift

I’m almost a full day off right now – i’m awake, at work, covering the night shift, when on a normal workday my alarm would be set for about 30 minutes from now. I’m doing ok staying awake, but that doesn’t mean i’m not going to be *really* ready for bed when i get home. I don’t know how i did this in college. Am i really getting that much older, or is it just that i’m out of practice?

Only one more week until i get keys to my new house. (I’m calling it a house, cause even tho it’s technically a duplex and it only has one bedroom, it feels quite a bit like a house on both the inside and out). I talked with one of my coworkers the other day (i honestly don’t remember, the days really blur together when i all i do is sleep, eat and work for 4 days in a row) that lives only a couple blocks from the office, here in Pioneer Square. I have to think he’s crazy. Sure, it’s historic and charming, but i certainly get my fill of the stumbling all-day drunks, the mid-intersection shouting matches and the constant panhandling on my one trip outside the building to Starbucks each day. I’m pretty sure i wouldn’t want to come home to this area, too. And then i found out he pays $1400 a month for a 2-bedroom apartment with an underground garage! Eek! I jokingly told him that’s more than i make in a month…

I should have some great links to give you tonite, er, this morning.. whatever. Or something funny to say… i’ve had the last … (long pause) … (still thinking) … 5 hours talking to no one by myself. But i really can’t remember anything of any consequence; i spent all the concentration i had left for the morning, er, night getting some SQL jobs started and sending out some notification emails like i’m supposed to do on this shift, and after that requirement was met, my brain checked out for the night, er.. day. If you could see how slow i’m typing right now, you’d laugh…!