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RAS In the News

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The Restaurant Doctor

Business Philadelphia, June 1993
by Julie Liedman

Ron Gorodesky knows all the
symptoms of a badly-managed
food-and-beverage operation.

And he knows how to cure them.

His clients just eat this information up.

The night is dark and stormy. Suddenly, two shots ring out. One is a shot of tequila. The other, a shot of bourbon.

Quickly, now: vodka, rocks, but-uh-oh-no attempt to upsell to a call brand. Margarita, hold the salt, but-oops-no wedge of lime.

Two Tanqueray Sterlings, rocks, over by the window. A Sam Smith at the far end of the bar.

The bartender is a perpetual-motion machine. Cleaning ashtrays. Drinking coffee. Washing glasses. Punching numbers on the cash register. Service total 75 cents. Service total $3.50. Service total $24.25.

Ron Gorodesky sits at the bar, alone, barely looking around, but drinking it all in with his eyes.

The bartender is not ringing up every item on the cash register, Gorodesky notices because he knows to look. And some of the money isn't even going into the register; it's going into that other drawer, over there.

They call him The Restaurant Doctor. As president of Wayne-based Restaurant Advisory Services, Inc., he's a consultant with a special appetite for the food-and-beverage industry.

Tonight, The Doctor is making a house call. This upscale bar and restaurant near Harrisburg is not doing well, and Gorodesky has been retained by the bank that holds the mortgage on the property to evaluate the operation so some educated decisions can be made.

"You know," Gorodesky says, "bartenders can rob you blind while you're watching them. They can do it in a number of ways but it all comes back to the same thing-they give you a drink, they take your money and put it somewhere other than the register. They're in the unique position of being able to control the product as well as the distribution and the service, even though the basic tenets of internal control say you should separate these things."

He looks around the busy room again. "In this case, though," he says, "I'm not sure yet whether the bartender is stealing from the restaurant or the restaurant is stealing from the bank. They say they can't pay the debt service. Yet, maybe they've just figured out how to take the money out another way. I'm going to have to examine the records carefully, talk to some people. This will take investigating."

The Doctor is in. He is scrubbed and suited-up. He will study the X-rays and the bone scans, the cardiograms and the blood work. All this to prevent a post-mortem in the very near future.

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