Attending (10): Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Jim Leyhane, Stewart Wagner, Carole Spencer, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, A.J. Amato, Murray Forth, Len Leonidas.
Guests (4): Bethany Potter, Diane Leyhane, Maggie Forth, Kayden Leonidas.
Program: Bethany Potter, P.F. Chang’s manager
In 2007, Bethany Potter came to the Capital Region as beverage manager for the new P.F. Chang’s restaurant being created at Colonie Center. Less than three years later, she was promoted to manager of the entire operation.
In a presentation that immediately caught the attention of our members and guests, Bethany explained the myriad number of roles played by the staff of the upscale Chinese restaurant — a venue easily spotted by the large horse statues that flank the entrance.
“We play many roles in the lives of our customers,” she said, everything from server to bartender to chef to counselor to tourist guide to first responder to marketing expert to purchasing agent … and she went on to list, with concise explanations, many services, some serious, some a bit tongue-in-cheek.
“Sometimes people don’t want to discuss a problem with someone they know, but they feel comfortable talking to their server over a cocktail. And, we don’t judge,” she said with a twinkle, “until we get back in the kitchen.”
Bethany pointed out that the P.F. Chang chain, started in Scottsdale, AZ, in 1993 by Shanghai-born Philip Chang and now in 200 locations around the world, has a corporate food and beverage menu but allows managers to tailor their beverage menu to their particular markets. Bethany, for example, wrote the Colonie restaurant’s entire beer list and part of the wine list to appeal to Capital Region consumers.
The restaurant cooks every dish to order, from fresh ingredients. It also has an interesting approach to handling orders from customers with allergies.
“We have an Excel matrix that lists ingredients and methods to avoid to accommodate the 10 most common allergies,” Bethany said. “We can tailor our cooking to meet any allergy or combination of allergies.
“We also have a very formal approach to cooking gluten-free foods for people with sensitivities or celiac disease,” she said. “We have separate woks, freshly-sensitized utensils, separate containers, all color coded so everyone on staff knows which to use. We even have special china to serve the food on, designed differently from our standard plates and bowls.”
Anyone unfamiliar with the P.F. Chang chain can go to its website, which contains the full menu and specials, connections for reservations or takeout ordering online, and other information. The restaurant frequently adds limited-time food and drink specials, some of a seasonal variety.
• President-elect Bill Dowd chaired the meeting in April Dowd’s absence.
DONATION PROJECTS: Bill thanked members for their generous donations to two ongoing projects — “Pocket Change for Autism,” which will run through June, and “Cans In a Box” which began this week. Please remember to drop your loose change (paper currency also accepted) into the jug each Thursday. And, please, remember to bring non-perishable foods in cans, boxes or envelopes through mid-December for eventual distribution to local food pantries. Looking for suggestions of what to donate? Just click here. NO glass containers, please.
RLI: Bill reported that because Levels 2 and 3 of the Rotary Leadership Institute had been cancelled this year, Southern Rensselaer County will not have anyone in attendance. He was the only one to register, but it was for a Level 2 course since he already attended the Level 1 course. We’ll hope for better results next year.
BOWL OVER POLIO: Event coordinator Murray Forth said our 3rd annual fundraiser to help Rotary’s global battle against polio will be held between the final NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. The specific time and date should be firmed up by our next meeting.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, October 10, at Quigley’s Restaurant. The speaker will be Susan Austin, District 7190 Governor for the 2013-14 Rotary Year. We hope to have a strong turnout to greet her.