How I Respond When People Complain About Our Prices

Below is a review we recently received for Beardslee Public House, our Northwest-inspired, family friendly eatery and brewery. I removed the guest’s name as I am not out to shame anyone.

“First of all, I use to love this place. I’m sitting here at Beardslee now disgusted with their current price hike. I have one question for the owner, do you want to alienate your faithful customers that come here 2-3 times a week? Charging 14 dollars for a basic burger and fries is crazy. Especially when you are located right by 2 colleges and TONS of student’s come here to eat. Congratulations, after today I will never come back. Your disregard for your community and clients in an effort to make a buck because you are now popular won’t fly…… I’m 100 percent sure that others will take my stance…. based on your food and beer items that are overpriced. Yes, you just alienated your college based customers.”

I personally wrote back to our guest and my response is below:

I’m sorry you feel this way. I’m also concerned that you attacked me by stating that I had no regard for my community or clients in an effort to make a buck. I have yet to make a buck on the Beardslee Public House, I hope to someday be able to repay myself for all of the expenses to open a restaurant like the Beardslee Public House. But I do have a question for you … what is a fair profit for an owner of an establishment like Beardslee Public House? 15%, 10%, 5%?

In the time that we have been open, we have been able to pay back about $350,000 so far. We just looked at our business pro forma for 2017, and we were projected to make $80,000 on $4,500,000 in sales, that’s less than a 2% margin. Cash flow would have been a negative $150,000-$160,000 just to cover the debt payments of $260,000 a year.

We have approximately 25 people a day working around 6 hours each making minimum wage and tips. That’s 150 a day or 1050 hours a week. In 2017 we were required by law to increase minimum wage to $11.00 an hour up $1.51 over the 2016 set rate, that is approximately $1585.00 in additional wages every week, times 52 weeks that is $82,000+ a year, add on 25% for payroll taxes, medical insurance, FETA, FICA, state industrial insurance and federal and state unemployment insurance and now it is $103,000+. Now add the other employees who want raises because all of the minimum wage employees got raises. Now add on all of the increased costs for food, beverage ingredients, and other increased costs because all businesses are dealing with the same problem, and you can start to see how this adds up.

People don’t realize how difficult it is to make a dollar in the restaurant industry; they just look at the food cost and think they could do it for less.

Take this into consideration … we pay approximately $1,260,000 in product costs. $600,000 a year in rent, $450,000 a year for management wages, managers, brewers, chefs, and none of that goes to ownership. A grand total of approximately $2,025,000 in all wages including the taxes and benefits. $130,000 a year in promotional costs, $50,000 a year for Repair & Maintenance, $150,00 a year in water, sewer, gas and electric costs, $36,000 a year in business insurance, point of sale costs, 3% or around $135,000 a year to the credit card company, janitorial costs of $50,000 a year, cleaning supplies $26,000 a year, dishes and utensils $25,000, we discount or give away food to employees worth over $60,000 a year, this as you can see can add up … and I have not even listed the other 25-30 cost accounts, paper supplies, dues and subscriptions, dish washing machines and supplies, city business taxes, state business licenses, health department licenses, federal alcohol production taxes, light bulbs, point of sale system, management information system costs, software, hardware, menu covers, menu paper, copier, copier paper, office supplies, business cards, delivery van, delivery van gas, and there is so much more that I can’t even think of it all right now.

I do take exception to your comment about disregarding my community. I’m sure you are unaware of the information I’m about to provide you…If you are a student nearby then you probably remember the massive fire which destroyed much of downtown Bothell last year. We were among the first to bring much needed supplies to the first responders, the following Monday we gave all of our after-cost proceeds to the Cozy Corner Café owner, who lost her business that day. Beyond that, we have supported Bothell schools, sports teams and many other community projects. Last year we provided over 800 gift certificates to different charitable organizations throughout our area.

This is not the greedy owner trying to fleece the college student … it is a legitimate business that employs 92 people in the Bothell community, pays its employees well, and pays all of its taxes, values its guests, the guests that value good service and good food. We use USDA Prime for our regular burgers; no one else uses USDA Prime for burgers. We bake our own buns, we make almost everything we do in-house from scratch, that takes time and effort, and we do pay our crewmembers a fair and living wage.

If my goal was to fleece anyone, my restaurants would never survive…it’s my hope that I’m able to provide people a great place to work, a great place to enjoy their friends and family, and a great place that supports its community.

But, There is a cost to doing all of these things and that cost is an additional $1.00 on our burgers and $.50 on a pint of beer. If that is too much to pay, then I’m sorry, and we will miss you. But I think most people will realize that this is a cost of doing business the right way at a high level and will be willing to support a living wage in Washington State by supporting those who chose to do business in this state.

Chef John Howie


  1. Rebbeca on March 24, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Other businesses seem to offer fair prices…. why not ask them how they do it? Additionally how they do it and stay afloat.

    • Charlene dyer on March 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      They probably do it by selling shit food that they buy at low cost. If you want grade C meat and veggies full of hermones, go for it.

      Ill stick to fresh clean food from “expensive” restuarants anyday!

    • Charlene dyer on March 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      They probably do it by selling shit food that they buy at low cost. If you want grade C meat and veggies full of hermones, go for it.

      Ill stick to fresh clean food from “expensive” restuarants anyday! Hah

    • Ruff Boi on March 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Dumbest comment on this thread ^^^^^… are you illiterate? Did you not read the thorough and detailed explanation which outlines why restaurants charge what they do?

    • Jitti C on March 27, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      Other places you ate probably use poorest quality products to stay afloat without you knowing that. Can’t compare two businesses with different approaches and commitment.

    • Merry Brewer O'Dowd on March 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      They most likely have long-term leases that were established years ago, or perhaps even a decade ago, and don’t have this particular chefs horrific rent prices. Those of you outside the industry will never understand exhaustive details of opening and running a restaurant.
      I applaud this chef and his excellent explanation and response – he did not have to respond at all .

    • Kay on March 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Those other business are skimping on something in order to make it work. Either they’ve been around long enough that they’ve paid off their loans and start up costs, or they are using inferior products, or they are hanging on by a string and may be closing soon. There is a huge difference in baking your own hamburger buns and just buying them. If you understand and appreciate food, you’d know this. Do you know that the profit margin for restaurants is about 5%? And you’ll only get there if you keep your labor and food costs in line. 10 employees that diddle around after their shift taking their time with side work can take a profitable week and turn it unprofitable. And who’s to say the $14.00 isn’t reasonable for their burger and fries. He’s using top quality meat and making his own buns…I guarantee you that a restaurant charging $10.00 or less for the same meal is using a frozen beef patty that costs about $1.00 to the restaurant and a bun full of preservatives that probably cost $0.25 cents. I’d say at $14.00 at Chef Howie’s restaurant you are getting a whole lot more bang for your buck

    • Dutchess on March 27, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      @ Rebbeca…. you can’t compare one business to another unless they have the same everything. And why would you assume they know so little about business that they should run around to other business and ask about running costs. maybe do your research on the business owner before making assumptions. 2% is 2%. Or maybe you prefer they stop paying for janitorial costs or maybe get a lower quality of beef so you can “feel” like your getting a better deal. If your not in the business maybe stick to what you know and don’t criticize.. And no, i don’t have anything to do with this business nor have i had the pleasure of visiting this place, but its people like you that make me cringe because you hurt businesses with your uneducated assumptions.

      Chef John Howie, you kick butt! I knew of your reputation before i ever met you.

    • Leigh on March 27, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      I think the point is that to offer “fair” prices, the business would have to cut corners (non-USDA prime), pay its crew members less, and participate less in the community (800 donations annually). He’s not getting rich here… 2% return is less than most business owners would accept before entering a business.

      The higher price is “fair” for what you are getting, even if you your too blind to see the value in it.

    • Ben on March 27, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Those businesses are finding a way to cut costs by buying cheaper food or under paying their employees. Or, they are not paying attention and they are underpricing their menus. Maybe they are on a slow path to bankruptcy… a full restaurant is not always a successful one.

    • Scott on March 27, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      What other businesses? Franchises or local? Franchises have buying power, local will usually cut costs where you’ll find a lower quality product.

    • Taylor on March 27, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      Probably by cutting corners, doing things illegally, or in an unsafe way

    • Pete on March 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      They don’t support the community, pay lower wages (and get employees commensurate with the pay), use cheaper ingredients, and make a few cents on you because you don’t care about quality products and services.
      The regulatory cost remains the same.

    • Mary on March 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      Have you ever owned a restaurant? If not, your ‘advice’ is not needed.

    • Craig on March 27, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      You don’t get to call a price unfair unless you had no choice but to purchase it, or were somehow deceived into purchasing the product.

    • Rebecca on March 27, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      If you’d read his entire response you’d realize that other burgers in the area that are cheaper are also poorer quality. There is no easy and cheap way to do things right. You want cheap, try fast food.

    • Jamie Robinson on March 27, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      My guess is that others restaurants adjust by selling lower quality food. Beardsley does make their buns in house.

    • Starr on March 27, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Usually by cutting corners, somewhere !!

    • Elizabeth Mah on March 27, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Illegal immigrant labor, sub-par ingredients, low wages, less debt, less charitable giving. There are lots of ways to manage costs, but if the customer gets cheap rates, it usually means either the environment or the laborers are losing out.

    • ChazLamborghini on March 27, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      Skimping on quality, doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

    • Pho Cough on March 27, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Instead of whining about not being able to afford another $1 for a burger, you’re probably better off spending your time waiting to order from the Dollar Menu somewhere, maybe investing in a bag of rice for home? You get what you pay for, dining is an experience.

    • andrew on March 27, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      Go to Mcdonald’s, Rebecca.

    • Brion Shreffler on March 27, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Do you want a fair price or a cheap meal? $14 is not that bad for a burger and fries–if the quality is there. Sounds like the chef is using better ingredients. As he points out, that costs money. Then there’s what his staff does with those ingredients. If the burger and it’s from-scratch components beat out the cheaper options, then you’re complaining about paying for a better product.

    • Chad on March 27, 2017 at 11:03 pm

      I think the author just laid out a pretty detailed explanation on how they do it.

    • Jordan on March 27, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Number one, you get what you pay for. Number, two, if you don’t see value, don’t patronize the establishment. Number three, prices are set as a reflection of cost and consumer demand…the market (environmental and consumer) dictates price.

    • Mark on March 27, 2017 at 11:27 pm

      Rebecca can you name a similar business with similar ambience and a similar menu. It’s more helpful than saying other businesses do it

    • Kate on March 27, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Did you miss the point of the article? It’s clear that his prices ARE fair! He’s fair to his customers, fair to his employees, fair to the government, fair to the community, etc.

    • Jean on March 28, 2017 at 12:43 am

      Read the article….subpar ingredients, subpar employees and probably a lot less community involvement. That is how they do it!

    • ApplaudingBizOwners on March 28, 2017 at 1:40 am

      “We have approximately 25 people a day working around 6 hours each making minimum wage and tips. That’s 150 a day or 1050 hours a week. In 2017 we were required by law to increase minimum wage to $11.00 an hour up $1.51 over the 2016 set rate, that is approximately $1585.00 in additional wages every week, times 52 weeks that is $82,000+ a year, add on 25% for payroll taxes, medical insurance, FETA, FICA, state industrial insurance and federal and state unemployment insurance and now it is $103,000+. ***People don’t realize how difficult it is to make a dollar in the restaurant industry; they just look at the food cost and think they could do it for less.***”
      (Pssst, Rebbeca, he’s talking about you.)

    • Rebecca on March 28, 2017 at 2:24 am

      He just explained how and why his prices are fair for the product he offers his customers and quality of life he offers his employees. If you can’t read his explanation, digest it, and respect and understand where he’s coming from- without being rude and condescending- you don’t deserve to enjoy his establishment.

    • Edward Tyson on March 28, 2017 at 2:32 am

      That’s your comment reading his response. Rebecca please take a business course.

    • jordan w on March 28, 2017 at 2:36 am

      most likely by cutting corners and using inferior products.

    • Matt on March 28, 2017 at 2:46 am

      Is that a serious question?

      Hurry up and open a restaurant right next door to his. You should have no issue capitalizing on his ineptitude.

    • JP Jones on March 28, 2017 at 3:41 am

      Rebecca, even one example of a business doing it better could lend validity to your statement but without any I wonder if you may be talking about a hardware store or health insurance company.

    • Bill on March 28, 2017 at 3:44 am

      Some of them offer lower prices by serving lower quality food prepared by lower paid workers and by cutting corners in ways that generally only benefit the bottom line. It’s a different business model than the one this business owner has chosen. And as a customer/consumer you can choose to patronize whichever place serves your needs, but it isn’t fair to expect an owner to sell you a higher quality product while treating his workers better for the same price as the competitor who has chosen the other model.

    • Andy on March 28, 2017 at 3:59 am

      maybe they dont pay their employees as well, maybe they use cheaper ingredients, maybe they dont give back to their community the same way..

    • Heather on March 28, 2017 at 4:41 am

      I would take a chance and say that they are buying most of their goods from chqins and not using the same quality products JH is.

    • John on March 28, 2017 at 5:45 am

      Other businesses offer “fair” prices by using cheaper ingredients and offering an inferior product. He very clearly states that he uses USDA prime beef and bake their own buns.

    • Tim on March 28, 2017 at 6:15 am

      It seems to me that you have A) no idea how the restaurant industry works B) didn’t read the article C) have very little care about what you put into your system e.g. FOOD. It is possible to make a decent profit in the restaurant industry. But you have to cut corners. Maybe you buy cheap frozen beef from factory farms. Maybe you skim tips from gratuities. Maybe you require employees to show up early for work and refuse to pay their over time. Maybe you don’t pay a living wage. Those are just a few examples of ways I have seen people make a profit in over a decade in the restaurant industry, but I have also seen people make a thin margin of profit by doing it the right way. The way that this business owner is. As in all walks of life doing the right thing often costs more. More time, more money, more stress. In the end his point is, if you would like to truly support your community, do so by supporting those who do the same. Sometimes that means paying an extra dollar for your burger.

    • Lexington Iron on March 28, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Have you ever eaten there? It is definitely the highest quality pub in the area so I would just say that it’s not as easy as you think to merely “ask them how they do it”. Quite a mouth breather comment.

    • Jim on March 28, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Rebecca, with all due respect did you even read the article? If you still think that the Beardslee Public House is not offering fair prices, after all that explaining, you can go down to McDonald’s for a lower priced meal.

    • Gabby on March 28, 2017 at 7:36 am

      It may be because they cut cost in an area where he is not willing to compromise. Like food quality, hiring undocumented kitchen staff and not paying a fair wage or taxes for them, lower grade supplies, etcetera. Or he could stop giving back to the community and use all that cash for the business to keep prices lower for customers. The “other businesses” may have lower cost because they may have had more starting capital in the business and not needed as many loans as he did to get going there for less debt to pay back. They may have a less expensive location that they rent from or own the property outright so there is a savings there. He stated he is only making 2% margin or profit, that’s not a lot he is probably not the only owner so that 2% may be split so he may not even be making 50k a yr himself. But long story short this seems to be something you want answers to why not find out for yourself because he’s running his business at the quality and reputation that he wants to, both seem high standard to me. Side note: I don’t know where your from but I’m from Philly there are artesenal burger places peppered through out the university area there are 6 universities in Philly I can think of off the top of my head $14 is comparable.

    • George on March 28, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Obviously that is a fair price for what you receive.

    • Tim on March 28, 2017 at 11:26 am

      Holy shit, did you not read the above statements. Go eat at mcdonalds then

    • AmyB on March 28, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      You don’t have to go there. He doesn’t need to look at his neighbor’ business model. He just explained way more than the complainers deserve. Go increase your wage a $1 an hour or decrease your consumption if you really must go there. Put $1.50 on a table and stare at it. Think long and hard if not keeping that will make or break you. If it will break you, you need to look inward and sort that out deforest you spend another penny. Fear and lack is no way to live. Not receiving that as a business owner could make or break his business. It’s his to decide, not yours.

    • Ryan on March 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Rebecca, did you bother to read the article? Those places are most definitely not using the prime ingredients, not making things such as buns from scratch. $14 for a burger platter is the absolute standard in any decent restaurant in North America. Next time read the entire article before adding your opinion. If you did read it in its entirety, then you clearly missed the point.

    • Stephanie on March 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      They do it by offering sub standard food that quite frankly I wouldn’t feed to my cat let alone a customer. If you’ve never been in the restaurant business for yourself you don’t understand and you never will. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done for free.

    • Philip Justin on March 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Are you serious?

    • Sue on March 28, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Small businesses are closing all over the state due to rising costs associated with the new minimum wage and it’s projected increase over the next few years.

    • Jacques B Peel on March 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Wow your cluless

    • Chef Nieves on March 28, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      They use cheaper ingredients and buy already made products. State taxes might be cheaper in other locations. There are variables. This chef cares about his food. So he is offering the best. Essentially this place isn’t for those looking to get a Whopper or a Big Mac. This is for ppl who know and appreciate good food.

    • Marcia on March 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Because they are using inferior product to him. As he said, no one else uses usda prime beef for burgers in the area or at all really. Generally they use the lowest grade of beef which is less than half the cost. He is offering a premium product at the appropriate cost, and they are providing a standard, low grade, product at the appropriate or even higher than appropriate cost.

    • Chef T on March 28, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Cutting corners, using inferior/cheaper products. McDonald’s is a lot cheaper, that’s a choice you have as well.

    • Ann Marie on March 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      They most likely do it by cheating on their taxes, paying people under the table, not paying their vendors on time, AND not taking a salary! It is incredibly difficult for mom and pop businesses of ANY kind to make a profit. If all you care about are cheap prices, then you are part of the problem!!!

    • Sue L. on March 28, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      They probably don’t use USDA Prime beef, and they probably serve processed buns. You can do it cheaper, but the quality probably isn’t as good. For some people, quality matters more than price.

    • Melissa on March 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      They do so by cutting costs and offering a lesser, common product. Not something unique or special. “Fair” pricing is not a thing. Do you want McDonalds or do you want high quality. Inflation is a real thing, and there are many many changes happening to our country right now that really affect small business owners, making it difficult to “fairly” employ and compensate people for their time, making the less desired employees flock to us small business owners because we can’t offer a livable wage a lot of the time. And we especially can’t offer health insurance and things of that sort many times as well.

    • Geno on March 28, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Rebbeca, What is your idea of “fair prices”? and what are examples of “other business’s”?

    • Craig on March 28, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      1. Examples? Including in-depth investigation of the example’s financials? Otherwise this is a useless anecdote.
      2. I’d wager that any place which manages not to change their food prices *and* still comply with the law RE: employee compensation has probably had to reduce the quality of their ingredients, or is a chain which can eat local costs by balancing them with gains elsewhere.

    • Gene on March 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Other businesses aren’t using high quality ingredients. You just don’t understand, or are ignorant. There’s nothing wrong with that, you will eventually understand.

    • Big Moni Luv on March 28, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Really?? He just explained it to you !..please reread. I’d like to point out he uses good beef makes their own bread this sounds like a top-notch guy and a great place to work. Getting a living wage in the restaurant business is amazing. Those other places probably use frozen burgers and ready-made buns. You’re paying for a little extra quality which I for one wouldn’t mind at all. A dollar more on a burger and $0.50 on a pint is not that bad. everything’s expensive these days. I can’t afford to eat out a lot anymore these days but when I do I would love to go to this place!

    • K ken on March 28, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      They use less quality ingredients, don’t pay their staff well, probably don’t give back to the community. Did you not read all the things in his response. Im in the industry, people ate just ignorant. Also, they compare made to order fresh high quality ingredient restaurants prices to corporate chain restaurants…which use prepackaged boil in bag meals.

    • James on March 28, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Which restaurants would you have him ask. Do they have the same quality bar for ingredients/food/service? I’m sure Arby’s and McD’s could offer him some advice on bringing costs down but is that what really want to set the bar for food at?

    • Don on March 28, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      I am guessing they use lesser quality ingredients

    • CG on March 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Thank you, I worked 20 years in the service industry and I’m well aware that being a restauranteur is a labor of love. A well run eatery would be lucky to make 6-8% net income off it’s gross profits. I once had a customer take up about 15 minutes of my extremely valuable time during a busy night to make a huge fuss over a ONE DOLLAR over-charge misprint on a bottle of wine. Unfortunately he noticed it on the way out after paying and held me hostage while he lectured me in front of waiting customers. He wanted me to insure him that I would personally correct the mistake as if I made the price up myself and not an goof on the part of management while entering the hundreds of prices of wine bottles into the POS system. Since trying to refund his one dollar would take me an additional few minutes that I didn’t have I reached into my pocket and gave him $2.00 from my tips and told him that I was sorry and to please except my refund so that I may get back to work. He then scowled at me and insinuated that myself, the staff and the restaurant were all in collusion to steal money from people and we should be “shut down”. Clueless ignoramus.

    • Anth on March 28, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      Check the quality….of everything at those places…

    • Ray Hafenecker on March 28, 2017 at 11:25 pm

      I am an owner/ operator since 1972 in a family run restaurant tavern and I applaud Chef John’s response. Most people think we are rich from grinding out 80 hour work weeks. These complaining customers do not see the whole picture. Until you have worked in the hospitality industry, it’s hard to imagine the sacrifices….
      Hats off to all owners and servers!

    • Tommy Two-Times on March 29, 2017 at 1:02 am

      They sling crack out the back door – I seen it

    • Tammy on March 29, 2017 at 3:43 am

      Wow Rebecca, how rude. He was well spoken. Explained everything. Ignorance must be bliss.

    • Collin on March 29, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Cut corners… a lot of corners… or be a chain and get bulkier pricing… and still cut corners…

    • Kristin on March 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

      They use cheaper products fulk of fillers and chemicals…thats how they do it. None id the chsin restaurants offering 2 for $20 like prices are offering wuakity products made in hoyse from scratch.

    • Daniel on March 29, 2017 at 11:36 am

      When you are a chain you order for a dozen stores in your area drastically reducing prices and typically quality as well. There is never a give without a take somewhere. Ever!

      So this restauraunt would need to take on many multiples of that debt they already have and poof the management and workers out of thin air and iron out all the kinks that come with starting a restaurauny anywhere plus the marketing and branding to make a succesful new business. And I could go on but you can probably start to see. Just not enough hours in the day for a small business owner to do that to compete with the likes of applebees and chilis while still giving their top quality of service.

    • Restaurant Worker on March 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Cheaper quality of everything and less wages. There you go.

    • Jill on March 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      There is a difference between doing it and doing right. Many establishments around me cut employees to make this work and that hurts everyone. Or they just put everyone at $11 with. no consideration for anything else. It sounds like this business is doing it right. No matter what though, if you want good restaurants in your community and you want a living wage for the people who live in it, you have to recognize that prices will go up. The restaurant owner must make a profit and it was already nearly impossible. Look at how many restaurants fail. If it was so easy everyone could do it. The government doesn’t subsidize restaurants. The increase in costs comes right out of the owners pockets. In my restaurant the increase is $100,000 a year. Do you have $100,000 a year to donate to your community so that they don’t share in the cost of a living wage?

  2. Greg I. on March 25, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Well said Mr Howie. I worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years and did everything, but own a restaurant. I totally get what you’re going through. This moron is probably the same person that voted yes on the $15 minimum wage, not realizing that everything else has to go up in price to keep businesses afloat. He also probably doesn’t realize that it takes $4000 a day to operate a restaurant, before you even see a profit. Hey dipsmack! If you can’t afford to eat at Beardslee( which is highly unlikely if you in the Bothell area), go eat to Applebee’s. Keep up the good work, John. Your food and prices are great.

    • B W on March 29, 2017 at 2:52 am

      I get what you’re saying, but why don’t you try living on $15/hour and see if you’re still calling people “morons”.

  3. Maureen on March 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Well stated Chef. Must live under a rock to not be aware of the “good works” you do.

  4. Candace on March 25, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Outstanding Chef! I have not had the opportunity to visit the BPH but I am a regular at John Howie and Seastar. ALWAYS delighted and I thank you!

    • Craig on March 27, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      Wait he owns 2 other restaurants?

  5. Don on March 25, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Well said Mr. Howie, John does so much for this community and he runs incredible restaurants! I’m willing to pay extra for a premium product! I will continue to support his restaurants! Plus he is very kind and generous!

  6. JOANNE on March 25, 2017 at 9:16 pm


    • JESS on March 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Uh first of all how do you know this is a female who wrote the comment? Even if it is wtf does the women’s March (which I’m sure is what you’re referring to with the pink ears comment) have to do with ANYTHING, especially this topic?? There were plenty of small business owners at the women’s March and people who work their assess off. I work in the restaurant industry and I get pissed off aT people who complain about prices and guess what? It’s mostly older white Republicans that do the complaining!!! Ignorant idiot.

    • SEAN GALLAGHER on March 27, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      It sounds a lot more like a person in a red hat with MAGA embroidery that is made in china.

    • Leigh on March 27, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      JoAnne, what about this post made you think the writer was a feminist (I assume this is what you are implying… Did you know all caps means yelling, by the way?) I think you are confusing feminists with liberals, which is fine, they do tend to overlap. My impression of liberals is that they are more willing to pay more for the greater good (in this case a socially responsible restaurant). So, what makes you think the complaining customer was a liberal feminist? Asking for all my friends with brains the size of crocheted cat ears…

    • Virginia on March 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Joanne…I bet you are absolutely correct. If a guy…he surely has a safe space

    • Jack on March 27, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      Brain size in humans is not an indication of intelligence. If you had taken any college level biology classes on the subject you’d know this. Oh, your comment was meant as hyperbole and you’re just being a jerk? Okay.

    • H. Kathryn Lamat on March 28, 2017 at 2:54 am

      Oh, c’mon! Have to make EVERYTHING a sexist soap box????

    • Jen on March 28, 2017 at 3:01 am

      I’ve worn a pink hat, worked in restaurants, support this chef’s opinion and voted down min wage increase. Don’t stereotype. Unnecessary.

    • Michele on March 28, 2017 at 3:07 am

      Hey! I wore my pink hat with ears today. I don’t understand why you think that a pink hat wearer would complain about fair prices!

    • Maxx on March 28, 2017 at 8:11 am

      What a completely irrelevant and moronic statement. But the ALL CAPS really gets the point across! LOL!

    • Jon on March 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Love it when morons make things not at all political about politics. Speaks volumes about their gene puddle.

    • Bob on March 28, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Nope just bigots like you who think that everyone who wears a pink hat is stupid.

    • Gina Connolly - home owner in the area! on March 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Don’t say that, and don’t be rude, you are disregarding John Howies eloquent response. Liberalism has nothing to do with being cheap. It’s being fair like JH is trying hard to be.

    • Jessie on March 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      What kind of comparison is that? You think women protesting to be treated equally has anything to do with Chef Howie pointing out the true cost of running his business? If anything, those in the pink hats seem to understand MORE about when the bottom line does and does not add up. After all, they’ve been making due for less for years! I think the writer of the comment card was an entitled jerk who can’t see past himself and his wallet. I predict he drives a flashy car, has a prescription for little blue pills, and gives people a hard time when the least little thing doesn’t go his way. Probably no way to know– with all his grammar mistakes though, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t one to have taken advantage of the college in his town.

    • Laura on March 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      I own a small all locally sourced restaueant in Evetett and live in Bothell. Here’s how they can spend less and charge less. They do it by offering a lower quality if foods, hiring less experienced people, giving less service, less benefits to employees and a less competitive location.
      Not all businesses want to be the same and not all customers want to go to Denny”s or a low quality restaurant so they can spend less money. Not everyone has the same budget. Not everyone finds what you find important to be important to them. That is a very self centered view of the world. Personally, I don’t want to eat lower quality food made by cooks, not chefs. I frequent high quality and locally minded restaurants, like my own. I am happy to pay for that quality and think over $14 for a burger is perfectly reasonable for this location.

    • Moses on March 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Why insult women with your remark? And those people with the pink hats are fighting for YOUR rights.

    • Chef T on March 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      That’s really irrelevant to this conversation. But trolls gonna troll, am I right ?

    • Cris on March 28, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      That was rude. WTF does politics have to do with this? Grow up dumpster….

    • Julie Samuelson on March 29, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Joanne, you just read a reasonable response written by Chef John. Please try to understand that your comment is just name-calling. If you are upset and feel that liberal people are ignorant/unintelligent or you think their public reponses are silly, then say that – and say why. Please use your words without “shouty capitals.” We seem to disagree politically, but I challenge you to explain what you think without demonizing and belittling others. Give it a try. Thanks for your time and attention.

  7. Heather Chojnowski on March 25, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Awesome response.. Most of us are guilty of complaining, so it’s good to be reminded of all of the costs.. unfortunately, everything goes up on cost…
    I’ve never had the pleasure of going to your establishment, but after working as Bar Hostess at the Keg for 6 years, I’ve seen up close and personal how rude the public can be…

  8. D Scott Blair on March 25, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Bravo well said. Obviously they don’t have a clue about how Much it costs to run a business just to break even

  9. James Walsh on March 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Spot on, Chef Howie. Press on. Obviously, you omitted the myriad of chartible causes you and your TEAM so ardently and support.

  10. Tina on March 25, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    For the quality of food you provide and serve, I am more than happy to pay the extra dollar any day. While the person who wrote this may never go back there are others happy to enjoy the atmosphere, appreciate local ingredients and food that is masterfully crafted by a great chef.

  11. Linda Allasia on March 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Well said!

  12. Steve Breda on March 26, 2017 at 12:24 am

    And that’s why I will always support my neighbor Bothell business. It’s easy to understand the value. And when everything is freshly made you can tell the quality. It’s by far and away THE Best burger anywhere. Those that don’t understand value and community can leave me your empty seat.

  13. Jeffrey on March 26, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Well written . It’s unfortunate for minimum wage increasing to a record high that it’s causing long time establishments to be put in a position to have to close there doors . The other alternative would be to increase your prices by 20 to 30% . I’m hoping that our government and or state officials will make the opropiate decisions and changes to help our small business to not only stay open but to make a profit . I think there needs to be a tax break for all small businesses that are struggling to keep there doors open .

    • b on March 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      It’s unfortunate that people need to make a living and minimum wage is raised to meet inflation (and is still too low)? No.

    • Sue L. on March 28, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Although – I am happy to pay an extra $1 for a burger and $.50 for a beer (and even more), if it means that the restaurant workers earn a living wage. It’s not easy to get good help for cheap. They deserve to be paid as well.

  14. Linda on March 26, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Bravo Chef Howie! Your are a class act, all the way!

  15. Janet Hanks on March 26, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Couldn’t agree more with Mr. Howie, the hidden costs are enormous.

    Your reply to your customer was heartfelt and hopefully provided clarity.

    Good food, fairly priced. A great place to eat!

  16. Joyce Ford on March 26, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Good for you, Chef!

  17. mr lee on March 26, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Well said , Chef Howie. More people need to be educated on how small business works, I hear all too often; “They must be rolling in the dough. ” (pun intended) . Thanks for breaking it down.

  18. Mike Sharadin on March 26, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Right on John

  19. Leslie on March 26, 2017 at 4:12 am

    Here here! Glad to see you stick up for the industry!

  20. Charles Ramseyer on March 26, 2017 at 5:27 am

    Thank you John

    • Mark H. (CPA) on March 28, 2017 at 3:29 am

      You should follow up and suggest that they take an economics class at the local college. Or, alternatively, learn to cook. It was a rare treat to be able the eat out when I was in college and I had to work 30 hours a week as well. Sounds like just another young, spoiled brat with a false sense of entitlement to me.

  21. Marty Ogan on March 26, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Nailed it!!

  22. Sonny Winters on March 26, 2017 at 7:06 am

    As a business owner myself I find this reply to the “unhappy customer” to be a very thorough and well thought out answer. People do not look at the real thongs in life.
    If they don’t like the price then they don’t need to shop there. A successful business has to charge what they need to charge in order to stay in business.

  23. Andrei on March 26, 2017 at 7:37 am

    I checked Google and this is real. I left you a 5 star review (though I’ve never been in there) to hope and counter the stupidity. As a fellow chef I admire your dedication to food and your community (not to mention your book keeping), I hope you have many successful years ahead of you loyally serving the people of Bothell.

  24. Phil Macfadden on March 26, 2017 at 8:13 am

    My oh my. My wife and I enjoy the food and appreciate the service. I was a small business owner and understand where chef is coming from. We will continue to enjoy Beardslee Public House. Thank you for your community spirit and support.

  25. Mike Robertson on March 26, 2017 at 8:57 am

    It would be nice if people had an idea of how difficult it is to run a restaurant, especially in this new wage climate.
    I worked with John Howie at Palisade, years ago, and I can tell you that every item he had on that menu was quality ingredients and worth every penny. It wasn’t cheap, but if you want cheap, stick to fast food.
    I think it might be time for me to take the long trek to Bothell to support Beardslee. If you haven’t had John’s food, you have been deprived.
    Sorry that Seastar had to close John, but good luck with Beardslee. We’ll come for a visit soon.

  26. John Erdman on March 26, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I support Chef Howie on his statement. As a retired business owner I can assure the general public how difficult it is to make a profit and keep the quality of the products high. Our government makes it even harder with all the laws, rules and regs the business has to comply to. I have not been to Chef Howie’s restaurant as it has been a tough health year for me, but I would be happy to pay $14.00 for one of his burgers due to his fine rep. Well, that’s my 2 cents worth.

  27. maureen on March 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Awesome reply! Thank you for your time.

  28. Steve A. on March 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Bravo Chef John!! Your comments are applicable to all hospitality establishments across the globe. Too many people think they make a good burger at home and they too can be in the restaurant business. Wake up people and read the Chef’s response.

  29. Michelle on March 26, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Love this! Exceptional way to lay it out for the biased mind, that can’t comprehend, they aren’t owed anything, deserve nothing, and work is the only way to build something. When will they recognize that they are the reason prices are so high? Economics.

  30. Jay Marcus on March 26, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    John- this is Jay from Miami- owner of a small shoe business! I commend you for your excellent response-it is loaded with easy to read and understand and flowing info- remember , you are successful! Very successful!!
    Once you make a decision to go in business, you are making a decision to be successful!!
    Keep up the good work!
    I don’t know you, I don’t even know what city you are in , but your answer to I lowly critic assures me you are a true winner!!!
    All the best!

  31. Pamela Marsh on March 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Very well stated. It is obvious you care very much for your clientele. I am retired, and many times I must say no to places I can’t afford. That is just the way it is, the restaurant has nothing to do with my budget, and there is no place for anger because of this. Thank you for sharing your letter. I will always give you GREAT recommendations!

    Pamela Marsh

  32. Cheri Carbonatto on March 26, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Well said and Thank You for the enlightenment ! I will admit, I have wondered about price increases in Restaurants many times through my life …. and now I more than understand. I have never been to your establishment ( I live in Cle Elum ) but the next time we venture to the Westside… I will put your Restaurant on our “To Due” list , in Respect for you sharing the numbers with strangers in hopes of educating the negative word of mouth, I hope you heard a positive response from this “client” and if not …. their loss …. and our gain for our new understanding of the difficulties of a “Service” Industry .
    Here’s to prosperity in your future. I am sharing this Facebook post in hope others will take the time to read and understand also. God Bless ?

  33. Naomi Kakiuchi on March 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    John, you have always been such an inspiration to business owners and customers for your values. I appreciate you educating us on how it all works and allowing customers to truly appreciate the food on their plate and the dedication and dollars to have a top notch establishment. Perhaps we can be present to our meals with gratitude and savir each deliciius bite!

  34. Robin Daly on March 26, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    So well stated.

    I also run a locally-owned business, not a restaurant, and your breakdown of expenses is very clearly laid out. I know people don’t understand everything that goes into the final product, but you’ve done a great job illustrating what every brick-n-mortar business-owner faces.

    Thank you for letting us peek behind the curtain, that takes some openness that not many would risk. While the details of our individual operations differ, the breakdown of costs is spot-on.

    Cheers and many successes to your operation!

  35. Kim Hildahl on March 26, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    John, thank you for taking the time to break down all the costs to provide people jobs and great food for your customers.
    As an employee of the Washington Hospitality Association I’ve been waiting patiently for an operator like yourself to lay it all out for those who have no idea. Thank you so much. I will share this with others.

  36. Paul nelson on March 26, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Wow WWII said as a tormented restaurant owner I could not agree with you more. I have never ate in any of your restaurants but will now make a point of doing so. Good luck and prosper

  37. Dow on March 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Way to break it down Chef John Howie

  38. Jeff on March 26, 2017 at 4:19 pm


    Thank you for putting this statement together so eloquently. My wife and I own a small brewery in Edmonds and face similar questions and responses from guests.

    Fortunately we are supported by so many that understand the costs of running a small business and hope the best for us and they continue to show us all support.

    We opened our doors in November of 2013 and have been able to expand our space about 15 months. We are self funded, take no draw, community focused and work a million hours a week. We hope to someday have a modest take home after clearing our investment in the business.

    We enjoy going to Beardslee and hope to host you and your crew at the Salish Sea Brewing Co. and Taproom soon.


  39. Rafi on March 26, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Now I wanna come have a meal at your place and bring a bunch of guys with me! Well said John!

  40. Nick on March 26, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Well said! Thanks for the explanations.

  41. Colleen dalton on March 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Well said. You’re right, we don’t know all the hidden costs.

  42. jen simons on March 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I live in Bothell and I will seek your restaurant out. I worked many years as a waitress and know that it is hard to make the business profitable. I am especially moved by your gift to Kozy Corner, I have worried about the people there since the fire. There is a true neighborhood, community feel between small business owners and you have it.

  43. Debi on March 26, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you! We are also business owners and find it very disheartening when people fail to understand the costs of just “keeping the doors open” and providing a quality service. Not to mention the risks and sleepless nights worrying about whether we can keep good people employed.
    God bless you for all you do to to support the community and give to those need.

  44. Gary Tucker on March 26, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    This is perfect – thank you for that response! Some people don’t seem to realize that continual rising costs inevitably lead to raised prices. The repercussions of raising the minimum wage are being felt across the board, but most viscerally in the restaurant business, where the profit margin has historically been notoriously thin. Restaurants give so much to their community and get so little back: Sometimes people need to be reminded about how tough your business is, so again, I thank you for this letter.

  45. Marcus on March 26, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. Amicably. Facts over friction. Never been to your establishment, but I’ll seek it out.

  46. Dorene Dix on March 26, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Excellent rebuttal. As a former private business owner, most consumers do not educate themselves on the many factors which contribute to setting prices. It is not a random act. Well done.

  47. Tim Parsons on March 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Love your response. I’ve had to similarly explain why our hot sauce costs more than mass market brands. People that have never run there own business think business owners are automatically rolling in dough.

  48. Marci Johnson on March 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Spot on Chef!

  49. Karen Sjostrom on March 26, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I have not had the privilege of dining at your establishment, but I plan to visit at the earliest opportunity! I wish to support you and your effort to be a good citizen of our community.

  50. LSPolen on March 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    As a small business Owner of a specialty shop in Puyallup, your response to this patron really hits home with me. Thank you for sharing. After 6 years, I have yet to bring home an income for myself (relying on only 1 income, my husbands, for the 1st time in my life).

  51. LSPolen on March 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    As a small business Owner of a specialty shop in Puyallup, your response to this patron really hits home with me. Thank you for sharing. After 6 years, I have yet to bring home an income for myself (relying on only 1 income, my husbands, for the 1st time in my life), due to coats of running a business.

  52. LSPolen on March 26, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    As a small business Owner of a specialty shop in Puyallup, your response to this patron really hits home with me. Thank you for sharing. After 6 years, I have yet to bring home an income for myself (relying on only 1 income, my husbands, for the 1st time in my life), due to costs of running a business on my own.

  53. Janet Wheeland on March 26, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Dear Chef John Howie,

    Hang in there, and many thanks for operating such a fine establishment. I am sure the local community is glad to have you and you brew house.

    I appreciate you taking a moment to remind people what it takes to run a business like yours. There is SO much more than meets the eyes.

    We will be sure to stop in next we are in your area!


  54. Mark on March 26, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    I had a great deal of respect for you already chef, even more so now. Handled like a true professional. I hope the student can appreciate the time you took to educate him.

  55. Eric on March 26, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Well said Chef! Too many times people do not understand the time, effort, sweat, tears, and $ that goes into a restaurant. Keep up the good fight if i ever make it to the great northwest i will happily visit the Beardslee Public House!!

  56. Ed Bodman on March 26, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    I appreciate this article. Owning a business is hard. I also get that a college student might not be able to afford to be a regular at this place. Stay in school and gain a skill that pays you well enough to choose to go more often. I couldn’t afford to go out often when I was a student, and even now look at it as a luxury of choice. While in the past I might say to a friend ” that place is too much” as a reference to my personal situation. Now a post like that on social media can impact the restaurateurs bottom line. Refrain from diluting you emotional personal thought. Only write reviews that help consumers learn about a business.

  57. Marc Streisand on March 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Chef, I applaud you, actually standing applaud you, for your straightforward approach to handling this seemingly unfounded negative review.

    I too am a small business owner, but if a high quality high end clothing company, located in a small city called Providence, in RI.

    I often get complaints from people, some whom never even entered my store, for being too expensive for “just” being clothing.

    It’s so hard to combat the fact that yes, we are expensive, but we carry the finest clothing that the world has to offer, pay our employees approximately 25% more than any others in New England, and happily do so because they’re well trained and professionals.

    In addition, we have a full tailor shop of Master Tailors, where most other stores, don’t even have an in house tailor…thus the coat of having true artisans, is also often over looked.

    Let’s not even talk about rent and all the free give always to every charity, school and children’s fundraising event around.

    In any event, if everyone really knew about what goes into running a small business, maybe they would step up to the plate and support the efforts of us crazy entrepreneurs.

    Keep up the good fight.

  58. Scott Douglas on March 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Amen to all of that. People look at the cost of an item and somehow think that the entire cost basis for that item should be just the parts/ingredients costs and some undefinable (and very small) amount over that. And yet, anyone with more than a grade school education should understand that the price of a product in the marketplace has to take into account innumerable factors to arrive at its retail price to the consumer. I don’t need to rehash all of those, as Chef John Howie did a brilliant job in articulating those factors. I work in the electronics industry and we are constantly faced with questions about discounting this or that because some other company discounts their products. It is clearly the online shopping experience and influence where for a wide variety of consumables, it is very easy to go to a website and find a product that is being discounted somewhere more than at a brick n’ mortar store. I wonder what these people will do when the item they purchased online that they really don’t understand or can fully utilize needs service, or they need advice, or they want to optimize it. There is no question mark needed at the end of that last sentence because I know the answer. They will call or stop by a business like mine that employs knowledgable professionals and try and gain free advice or service or help. And this puts a company like ours in an awkward position. On the one hand, there is the very natural human tendency to want to help someone who is right in front of you or is asking a question on the phone that you have the answer to or at the very least some helpful advice. Yet at the same time, these are people that made a purposeful choice to bypass a local business whose entire business model is to provide support and service for the items that we sell, all in order to save a marginal amount of money above the retail cost that we charge. Yet if we turn these people away, we risk being ‘Yelp’d’ (don’t get me started on that racket) for our inflexibility and are accused of acting in a manner that sent them running to the internet to buy things in the first place. And so we straddle a very fine line where we aspire to try and bring value to what we sell by virtue of the quality of our installation services, our advice and counsel, our close relationship with our vendors, which brings with it very real advantages in being able to get answers to questions and solutions to problems that the individual consumer would find themselves alone on an island if purchased online and left to fend for themselves. And often times, those advantages are evident and we are able to provide a quality product and a level of custom installation or service that the internet cannot now or ever provide. Yet it is still equally if not more common that we are pressed on the issue of price, with the customer knowing full well that as a small local business, discounting items that are low margin to start with is more painful than it is for a company whose employees number in the thousands. And that as commissioned salespeople, our income is based off of the sale of product, for which we only charge the (usually published) MRSP. We do not charge one thin dime for the hours and hours of advice, proposal generation, site visits (plural), phone calls and emails to vendors to get/gather information, meetings with local trades to coordinate efforts, or meetings internally with engineering and project management and scheduling. But we effectively pay money out of our own pockets when we discount the items that our advice often led you to in the first place and all to get that electronics item that you feel you could get cheaper somewhere else, for less than what we are asking, which again, is only the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). We are lucky to have ownership that is the perfect combination of business savvy and personal interest in the products and services that we sell and provide. That has helped steer us through hard economic times. I only wish that there were some way that we could infuse into the minds of all who visit our store how lucky they are to have a business like ours where they truly are at no risk of having snake oil sold to them and where, to a person, everyone wants to do the best work and offer the best service they can for the customer. It is perhaps no coincidence that when I look back on the systems that I have done over the years, without question, the ones that went the smoothest and where when all was said and done the customer was the most satisfied, are the ones in which we were able to establish a level of trust and as a result were set loose to maximize the potential of the system for the budget amount (clearly) articulated. The systems that can sometimes go a little sideways are the ones where our methods or motives or the prices are constantly questioned because they read something on a forum or they found something we sell cheaper from some internet dealer. This type of consumer does not see or appreciate or understand the reason why sometimes the burger and fries need to cost $15. Because really, when you leave Beardslee Public House after having had such a meal, do you really spend one nanosecond bemoaning the fact that a Happy Meal at McDonald’s could have been had for $5?

  59. Lucía D'Angelo on March 26, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Bravo! I will come to your establishment to enjoy a meal when I visit Washington next month.

  60. Gingersnapp77 on March 26, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Good for you! My family and I have always supported your business’ and reading this makes me happy to continue to do so. Way to go!

  61. Jimmy on March 26, 2017 at 7:22 pm


  62. Claudia on March 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Well said, Mr. Howie! Few people understand the business model & difficulties behind a perishables operation. We love Beardsley Public House, & plan to return soon!

  63. Dick Beach on March 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Heartfelt..don’t know wether the comment required so much effort. Whoever wrote the review just won’t believe you..however you properly felt. However you properly felt better for getting it all of your chest..I am also in the restaurant businessakes you wonder why we do it?

  64. Dick Beach on March 26, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Heartfelt..don’t know wether the comment required so much effort. Whoever wrote the review just won’t believe you..however you properly felt. However you properly felt better for getting it all of your chest..I am also in the restaurant busines..I wonder why we do it?

  65. Heidi on March 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Good for you! As a fellow business owner, I understand your plight. I hope you see continued growth in your restaurant so you do indeed turn a good profit. Additionally, Beardslee sounds delicious and if I am ever in your neck of the woods, I will eat there!

  66. Alan Gersh on March 26, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    I’ll pay $20 for top quality burger…….last time at burger king,I have spent $11 for whooper,fries and large soda. Maybe that’s his place of dining if he is a student.

  67. Bob Gerrish on March 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you! I wish I could afford to support your business. The owner is the last one to see any money!

    I know this all too well as we ran Pizza Works for the last 6 years it was open. We bought the business fairly cheap but getting it up to speed, increasing business, all the related business costs, keeping 5-6 people employed costs. We put in our most of our retirement savings and never got that back out or got paid a penny for our six years of work. People who haven’t been there think the owners are trying to make a fortune by raising prices. Believe me, most would be thrilled to pay off debts and earn a buck an hour. Would you work for that little? If not try -$20 an hour. I’m sure you’re in the same place we were and I wish you lots of luck getting where you can see a trickle coming back in.

  68. Mary V. on March 26, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Beautifully said! I love it!
    If he wants cheap, nasty food, go to McDonalds!

  69. Tom Katus on March 26, 2017 at 8:01 pm


  70. Neal Clement on March 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you John for the well written, logical and detailed response! Your investment and participation in our community is much appreciated. I will be spending my hard earned dollar at your location soon and repeatedly!

  71. Amanda Gourlie on March 26, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    As a fellow business owner in the food industry, we own The Vet Chef, a SoCal Mexican food trailer, I want to thank you for breaking this down. We have only had a few complaints about our prices but have tried giving the same explanation and we have accepted that our prices will be too high for some but like you, we do everything to give back to the local schools and other charitable organizations and we employ Veterans and their families at a livable wage. We buy quality products and try and stay local where we can afford to. We think you’re doing a great job and appreciate you in the community.

  72. Melissa Johansen on March 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Having worked in the Hospitality Industry most of my life. RIGHT ON! You offer a quality environment, exceptional food, and customer service beyond “good customer service”. Anything that carries your name I know is quality, no question.

    Thank you for a being a part of our Bothell Community, I have lived here for forty years, and your establishment has made it a better place.

    (I have followed you since Palisades)

  73. Brian on March 26, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Well written John! As a Director in the service industry as well, I often times think that people and customers forget the cost of doing business and only look at the end-user cost. I can appreciate all that you have put in your explanation to help educate. Well done!

  74. Bob Gordon on March 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    As a former, failed restaurateur, I can say your comments are spot on. And I would bet that same customer would be shocked at what a meal now costs at Ivar’s Fish and Chips, and Wing Dome.

  75. giulia talerico on March 26, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    i hear you! i was a restaurateur in the Midwest for years. Now retired here in Bothell. unbelievable challenges in this area. you’re doing a good job. keep faith!

  76. Jodell Hinojosa on March 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    AMEN and good for you! Food margins are some of the worst in the industry. It is truly a passion to deal with the obstacles.

  77. Jamie on March 26, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for such a well thought out reply! As a business owner in Bothell, I face the exact same challenges as you and it’s disappointing when people attack you for trying to stay in business! I drive an older car than many of my employees and I’m the only one to not take a paycheck in “lean” months…. I appreciate your willingness to take the time to educate those who don’t understand the costs associated with running a business!

  78. Paula Vail on March 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you Chef John. You’re the best.

  79. Erik Hall on March 26, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you ! ! Most people have no idea !

  80. Betty Thibodeau on March 26, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    Class act and it does my heart good to hear a Chef/Owner stand up and fight back. There is always more than meets the eye when owning a business and trying to survive. There is also lots of people that cannot wait to scream foul without knowing the facts. I applaud you John Howie.

  81. Davis Schreiber on March 26, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Amen! Thank you so much for writing this. I spent much of my formative years waiting tables, bartending and basically all other aspects of the restaurant. I get it! My friends and I have had a little initial sticker shock at eating out as of late, but I always point out that the cost of operating a restaurant with quality food and treats their employees ethically is not cheap. Keep up the good work!

  82. Jackie Stone on March 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Preach it brother! As a small business owner I can agree that running a business is no joke! Thank you for providing amazing food, customer service and community! And as much as I go to John Howie Steak house, I should have at least ran into you by now. Can’t we be friends? LOL

  83. Dee on March 26, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Very well said!

  84. Alexandra Labunets on March 26, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I salute you. As a small business owner, such a comment is all too common from clients / consumers only because they never truly realize how much it truly costs to run a business and run it well. If you want cheap, you go to McDonald’s. I would never go to Nordstrom and demand that they sell me a genuine Fendi purse for $50 just because another brand sells purses for that much. People often forget that price isn’t the only thing you can (or should) compete on in business; John Howe’s establishments were always about attentive customer service and impeccable quality food selections.

  85. Rob W. on March 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Well said Chef. Thank you for supporting our communty. My wife and I frequent the Beardslee Public House and love it. Keep up the great work.

  86. shelley on March 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    I wouldn’t have bothered responding, especially with such an explanation. You’ll never make people understand what you do or what it takes to run a business.

  87. Pw on March 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Sorry but $14 for basic burger and fries is WAY TOO MUCH.
    Need to control costs better.
    And paying minimum wage IS NOT paying your employees a decent wage.

    Let me guess pints of beer are $6.50 or more…..again too much dude.

    • Starr on March 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Then don’t go there. $300/ hr is too much for a lawyer, $175 for technical assistance, $200 for an accountant… after all it’s just “time”.
      And I am sure your salary is too much for whatever’s you do too !

    • Trollzbgone on March 28, 2017 at 12:47 am

      To Pw, and Rebbeca: neither of you have the capacity to substantively respond to John Howie’s math or his business reality… in puerile fashion, you claim wisdom you do not have, to declare that “there must be a way, SOMEHOW, to charge less.”
      Would you…
      A) reduce food quality?
      B) cut to fewer staff, lowering service quality?
      C) eliminate all profits, working for free?
      D) Borrow more to ensure patrons didn’t have to pay as much?

      None of those sound like good options? Then the alternative is to charge more.
      If you don’t understand that, then just shut up already. You don’t comprehend reality.

    • Lee G on March 28, 2017 at 10:02 am

      PW – Dude it sounds like Burger King and a six pack of Bud is more your style. So do it and keep stepping.

    • Eric McFarland on March 28, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Guess you need to stick to getting your burgers from McDonalds and your beer in cans!

    • Amazed on March 28, 2017 at 8:14 pm


      Sorry, but your ignorance of the industry as well as your fundamental misunderstanding of COGS for PREMIUM products is showing.

      A burger ground from PRIME beef is anything but basic. Are you aware of the standards and costs involved with acquiring USDA PRIME beef?? Apparently not. Find another establishment that provides USDA PRIME in their burgers with a lower cost at the same weight. If you can, I guarantee it isn’t actually PRIME in that grind…just a shady operator falsely advertising. 14 dollars is a bargain compared to some other operators elsewhere in town who sell USDA SELECT or CHOICE burgers at 9-12 bucks.

      11 bucks PLUS tips is far MORE than a decent wage. I did just fine as a server and bartender getting zero dollar paychecks after taxes and making 100% of my living in tips since my hourly was 2.13. I bought a house and paid my own way through a B.S. as well as my masters on it. All during the financial crisis, I might add.

      6.50 for a pint of craft beer served in the brewpub it’s made in is pretty standard, if not on the cheap side. Once again, your fundamental misunderstanding of COGS when dealing with a PREMIUM product is showing. If you would rather guzzle 22 oz Budweiser drafts at 3.50, go for it. This is not that; don’t confuse the two.

  88. Mark on March 26, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    ??? Well said. ???

  89. Richard masef on March 26, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Well stated. Unfortunately you will never convince that customer of quality does cost money. I’ve been in auto repair biz/ownership for 35 years. I’ve heard same nonsense. All I can say is tell the customer politely thank you and good luck with their new choice in restaurants. Customers do have to be fired now and then.

  90. Helen Margetan on March 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Great job John. I have always been taken care of in your restaurants. I love you for that!

  91. Meg on March 26, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Well stated Chef Howie. Being a local commercial credit underwriter I know this all to be true. The majority of banks refer restaurants to the SBA to provide financing. It is a high risk business with a lot of upfront costs even before the doors open. It takes many years to become profitable. It costs a lot of money to provide quality service , a beautiful atmosphere, and exceptional food.

  92. colleen quigley on March 26, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    This was so interesting and informative. I wish you luck.

  93. Shannon Sykes on March 26, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    THANK YOU!!! From one fellow restaurant owner to another, THANK YOU for saying what we all think every day we come home after 12 hours with even less money in our pockets than the day before. Staffing costs alone are outrageous, even in states where minimum wage is not $11.00 an hour…. the world is in for a rude awakening when this is the case everywhere…. Ok, you will have more money to go on vacation, and spend at great local restaurants… Yes! Great! but that vacation, and those meals are going to cost a bit more now… simple economics.

    • ApplaudingBizOwners on March 28, 2017 at 12:51 am

      I wish government officials could spare at least a bit of sympathy for folks like you, who don’t have a guaranteed pension for life like all of their colleagues and employees.
      Every business owner I know is beseeched for donations on a weekly basis– the same folks never ask for donations from the folks who will retire with $100,000 pensions, based on a 40-hour week.

    • Mariah on March 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      I’m sorry, but if you think people making $11-15 bucks an hour are using the increase from $9.47 on “vacation and great meals” then I assume you’re living in Mississippi, where it’s maybe possible to still live on $15,890 a year in a small town, after inheriting a small family property. That’s what you would earn if you worked 40 hours a week and took noooooooo vacations at $9.47 an hour. Never any time off. 52 weeks a year. At 11 bucks an hour, working full time, no vacations, you can expect to take home about $18,000. The average price for a one bedroom apartment in Seattle’s​ cheapest neighborhood of Seward Park costs $12,000 a year. So that leaves you with $50 a month for everything else. Everything. Bus, phone, heat. So unless you’re expecting that these super rich Seattle minimum wage earners are finding random dimes on the street and taking vacations that cost 40¢, take a seat.

  94. Joe Jacobs, C.E.S.I. on March 26, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Congratulations Chef John. Your response was right on point to people who know nothing about the cost of running a business. Too many people look only at the cost of services, never realizing that only a small portion of that is net profit.
    Keep the great restaurant going.

    In our business we usually face similar comments so I hope you feel honored if I borrow portions of your response when I explain the cost of running a highly qualified, IKECA certified kitchen exhaust cleaning company.

  95. Pote Wong on March 26, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Excellent reply!!! These points can be understood only by business owners. I am glad you point them out in great detail.

  96. Rob Butcher on March 26, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to explain the reality of doing business in the state of Washington and for sharing your business expenses. The numbers are daunting.
    I hope that the disgruntled patron is able to return as a customer of yours with a renewed respect for all you and your companies do for our community.

  97. Kenhi on March 26, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Well presented set of facts.

  98. Sue on March 27, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Great response. Thank you for your honesty, and for running an ethical business with great product. I’m a retired banker, and agree that many people haven’t a clue what costs are, for yours or many businesses.

  99. Irwin on March 27, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Chef John
    You can’t satisfy everyone. $14 for a prime meat burger is cheap. Most restaurant patrons do not understand the expenses nor the hidden expenses that occur daily in the restaurant business like equipment breakdowns.
    Keep up the good work.

  100. Joe Cannistraci on March 27, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Outstanding, particularly the transparency concerning the economics.

  101. Laura Flaum on March 27, 2017 at 1:18 am

    This is the most well said.. informative, honest and respectful retort I have read in a long time. As a business owner I applaud your response! Well done!

  102. Matthew J. on March 27, 2017 at 1:33 am

    As someone who has worked in this business as a server, bartender, cook and FOH Manger, BRAVO Chef Howie!
    This was an epic and perfect response to the forever misunderstood nature of why things are as they are in the business. Next time I’m in Washington State, I think I will make a trip to patronize your establishment. If I lived in Washington State, your restaurant would be one I would desire to work at.

  103. Che Dimitris on March 27, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Amen brother, everyone thinks that they can open a restaurant and run it like it’s a piece of cake.

  104. Mrs. Smith on March 27, 2017 at 1:41 am

    I totally agree with the restuarant owner. On top of what was stated ,how about the owners working 16 hour days. Pay the dollar and shut up

  105. JudyAnn Miller on March 27, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Very well put Chef…you have nothing to be ashamed of and it is apparent that the writer of the original letter doesn’t understand how costs create the need to increase the retail cost of the product served in order to do what you do for the business and your employees. There are 92 people who would be in a world of hurt if you had to close your doors in order to keep your prices down…you just can’t have it both ways…thanks to you and owners like you who do care about their employees and the community…I hope they understand and continue to support your establishment!

  106. Surf Monkey on March 27, 2017 at 2:14 am

    And this is why I cook at home.

    • Starr on March 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Take your wage per hour, plus portion of your mortgage, utilities, and insurance, the ingredients, the waste, the shopping time, and figure out what that meal really costs you !

  107. Mary Jo Marshall on March 27, 2017 at 2:14 am

    I grew up in the restraint industry, my parents owned a tavern in Highwood Illinois … Army base And college town … “Lake Forest” you can’t be all things to all people… on the weekend Friday and Saturday nights Jazz combo from Chicago would play … great for the local community. Front end bar and booths back room family dining… environment says a lot #nightngale #Highwood #little italy

  108. Rock on March 27, 2017 at 2:34 am

    wow…80k on 4.5 million? Maybe you should spend that 500k salary on different management

  109. Jamie mahon on March 27, 2017 at 2:43 am


  110. Linda Robinson on March 27, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Well said! And no one can ever say that John Howie doesn’t care for his community!
    Love his restuarants and frequent them , especially Seastar.
    If you want good service and quality food his prices are more than fair.
    I love that the quality is consistent. No complaints from me.
    And I love that he generously has shared a couple of recipies with me.

  111. Glenn on March 27, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Did anyone twist your arm or threaten you to open a restaurant?
    I am sorry but anywhere that charges $14 for a lousy hamburger would never get a dime from me and I am surprised by the amount of fools that actually would spend that on any given day.
    And no I do not eat any of that fast food crap either I would rather buy the food and cook it home

    • Meg on March 27, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      PBR and a Big Mac for you then. Quit yr bitchin’. And good luck making a good burger and fries at home for less than $14. Some of you people are delusional and entitled.

    • ApplaudingBizOwners on March 28, 2017 at 12:57 am

      He charges $14 for a premium meal at his award winning restaurant (burger as entree) and thus, it is not for you. Some people appreciate quality and freshness, some people don’t. But to look down your nose at those who do?

      But all that aside: your comment “did anyone twist your arm?” Where did that comment come from? Howie opened a place that created 92 jobs!!! How many jobs have you created? He wasn’t whining– he was telling a whiner the reality behind the price increases, and explaining the multitude of challenges involved in staying afloat. Yet you can only point a self-righteous finger at him.

    • Eyeroller on March 28, 2017 at 4:25 am

      Then why are you commenting? This doesn’t even apply to you.

    • Matt on March 29, 2017 at 4:06 am

      Please do. I would encourage anyone who can’t afford to eat out and tip respectively to learn to cook at home. If you can do it better for less money, you should. Best of luck to you.

  112. Penny White on March 27, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Good on ya. I’m a restaurant owner and guests have no clue what it takes to OPEN a restaurant, let alone run one. A good rule of thumb in my area to open a restaurant is $125.00 a square foot. I really want to tell my guests; if you want great service, great food, clean building and kitchen, sanitation, insurance to cover you if anything happens to you in our parking lot or in our restaurant, happy employees who make a living wage, skilled staff who care, community investment, and so on and so on, someone is paying for it. ME! The owner. The last one to get paid. No health insurance except high premium high deductible ACA, no retirement , no benefits but long hours and a business that’s keeps you awake at night thinking about how to do things better, yep, that’s me. I wouldn’t change my job for anything because I love what I do, but for those guests and employees that think I am just raking it in….you couldn’t be more wrong! It takes a long time to pay off your original loan/investment, and when you do begin making money you tend to put your profits right back into your business if you are a good business owner ; I.e., new equipment, paint, water heater, etc etc etc!

  113. Linda Robinson on March 27, 2017 at 2:57 am

    Well said ! No one can ever say that John Howie doesn’t care about his community.
    Love the restaurants and frequent them, especially Seastar. I appreciate John sharing recipes with me as well. Always a great host and I appreciate that the service and quality of the food is always top notch and consistent.
    No complaints from me.

  114. MG on March 27, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Nice summation–and on point–with you 100% of your under 5% marginal rate of profit–in the best of times and it’s getting slimmer by the second–

  115. Mary Miller on March 27, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Thank you Chef John!!!! We have the same issues in AZ. Most customers understand, others just want to complain. They still want the 25 cent McDonald hamburger from decades ago. Prices go up…it’s life.
    Maybe these complainers need to live the life of a restaurant owner for one month, then rethink things.
    If I am ever in your city, I will happily visit it and HAPPILY buy a hamburger and a pint or two!
    Again….THANK YOU!

  116. David Groll on March 27, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Well stated and very professional. Thank you for your detailed response to a guest who obviously was unaware of the costs of doing business.

  117. Steve McLain on March 27, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Well said John, most Guests have no idea what restaurants cost to operate. Those whom usually complain about pricing, speak about their own budgets and what there willing to pay. There are many other restaurants to dine at who are cheaper, and that shows through the less than quality product served I hope he realizes this and returns to you as a valued Guest.

  118. Cynthia La Fleur on March 27, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Well spoken!

  119. Adonis McNeal on March 27, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Thanks for posting Chef! I hope the person that took the time to write to you, took the time to read this! This is very good information. I know a couple of high end National restaurants have closed in Seattle after the the minimum wage was raised and the law that added to the hourly rate when you are called into work when you are not scheduled. I don’t think people realize how expensive it is to run a restaurant!

    • Bob No Boundaries Inc Chicago on March 29, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Well done CHEF, I’ve never been to your place of business but would totally stop in if ever in the neighborhood. I myself have had my trucking company and in business for 49 years and have heard same comments, so one unhappy customer will bring you 100 new continue success to you??

  120. Larry Zilar on March 27, 2017 at 3:59 am

    Thanks to you, Chef Howie, for explaining “The Economics of Employment ” to the masses who think that they know it all.

  121. Martin Rodgerts on March 27, 2017 at 4:01 am

    I love you Chef John Howie!!!!!! Oh how many times I have thought of printing out my Profit/Loss report so people can see that just because I own a business it does not mean that I am independently wealthy and can afford to give away drinks and comp food and charge less… You are the man,

  122. Chef Paul Conte on March 27, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I’ve been in the restaurant business for 28 years so thank you for educating folks. People have no idea how difficult and risky it is to open a restaurant. If people had to spend 24 hours in a restaurant I guarantee they would be humbled.
    Thank you very much and keep doing what your doing.

  123. Alan on March 27, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I’ve always known the cost of doing business is expensive, if done right.
    I recently had to let go of my business license as my health took a turn and I could no longer put in the time and energy to keep up with my expenses.

  124. Mike cooney on March 27, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Nice letter John. Very well stated. Having owned a small shop (coffee/wine bar) in Chelan for the past 12 years, I really understand and appreciate your response.
    Your old neighbors,
    Mike and Janice Cooney

  125. Susan on March 27, 2017 at 4:40 am

    John, bravo to you for defending your life’s passion and business. I have worked in retail/customer service my entire life. My father owned a business in downtown Seattle back in the day. He taught me the cost of running a good business. Many people don’t understand overhead costs. They also don’t understand quality ingredients cost more. And that if you want a business in which people will frequent, you also have to employ happy employees. Happy employees are well paid. Thank you again for speaking your mind and hopefully educating a few people. You’re restaurants are AMAZING!!!

  126. Juanita on March 27, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Excellent letter but I hope the individual who gave you the poor review actually read and understood what reasoning lies in running an establishment such as yours. The restaurant industry is brutal! That extra dollar for a burger and 50 cts extra on the beer is the stupidest reason for not wishing to return! Your prices seem fair and just for a great beef burger! Don’t worry about that person. You’ll still have your fsirhful customers that won’t quibble about an extra $1.50 on their tab. Kudos to you for your super letter of explanation.

  127. Wendy on March 27, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Good for you Chef! Too many people think they know the business and are too quick to criticize. Thank you for all you do for the communities where you have chosen to open your restaurants. Now how about brining one to Kirkland?!

  128. Cheryl Simmons on March 27, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Thank you for investing in Bothell. Your restaurant is a great addition to our community.

  129. Kai on March 27, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Well said. Well done by explaining and exposing all the financial details. Kudos for doing what you do the way you do!

  130. Jane on March 27, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Well said, Chef Howie. If people only realized how much you give back to the communities (and region), where your restaurants are located, they would not complain about a small price increase on a high quality meal. Not to mention the employees who have local jobs because of you (some, not doubt, are even those college students). There are lots of cheap burger places, and that’s exactly what you get. I’m willing to pay a little more for a good meal in a place with a great atmosphere. Keep up the good work!!

  131. Eric Dunavent on March 27, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Well said. You are the kind of employer that many in the F&B Would be happy to work for.

  132. Jason spears on March 27, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Chef Howie,
    What a great post. Most people generalize about these things, but your willingness to share real numbers is powerful.
    I owned and operated multiple restaurants years ago in another state, in a better business environment, and I still saw how only near perfection can eek out a minimal return. Now, in this state, restaurant owners are being squeezed from 8 directions. I have hundreds of customers in greater Seattle telling the same story every day.
    Keep up the great work at Beardslee. Thanks for the vulnerability in this post.
    Jason, founder of yoir neighbor Locust Cider

  133. Marsha Kriney on March 27, 2017 at 5:51 am

    OMG…what a jerk. I’ve found Beardslee Public House prices to be reasonable for the great food and beer served. To be that petty….sad…get a life. And the very classy response by Chef John Howie…..he went way out of his way to explain.

  134. Tom Lee on March 27, 2017 at 5:57 am

    You kinda sound like a baby

    • Starr on March 27, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      It was a full, transparent, and educational response to someone who made a comment without full knowledge of the industry, or this businesses’ contribution to the community… there was not a “whine” it.

    • Tony Oung on March 29, 2017 at 4:19 am


  135. Serena on March 27, 2017 at 6:06 am

    You sound like an amazing man, business owner and community member. Thanks for responding with the hard truth instead of not going with “the customer’s always right!”
    Keep up the hard but mostly rewarding work!

  136. Kathryn Mooney on March 27, 2017 at 6:08 am

    All I can say is God bless you and your family! Loved your note!!

    • Kathryn Mooney on March 27, 2017 at 6:10 am

      All I can say is God bless you and your family! Loved your note.

  137. Charles Boyle on March 27, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Good man for helping his customer, indeed all.of us, better understand the DNA of a business that we take for granted when looking at the menu.

  138. Robert on March 27, 2017 at 6:37 am


  139. Cindy Ulibarri on March 27, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Bravo to you!!
    You educated this customer with valuable information and CLASS.
    I wish every single consumer would read your response and understand what business owners are up against.
    God bless you.

  140. Maggi Broggel on March 27, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Excellent response. I do not think that most people understand one thing about the cost of doing business. I myself was a small business owner and between taking care of my employees and taxes I barley ever turned a profit. In fact I worked another job in order to stay afloat. This college student perhaps should eat his burgers a McDonalds. I have been to your restaurant several times and thought the venue was well done and the food was very very good. The chef Jed is amazing. The problem with our world is that we are all so spoiled and think that we deserve things for free or at least discounted while we enjoy a high end atmosphere that cost money.
    You pay for service and quality period!

  141. Greg Stefiuk on March 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Wow! Fantastic! Bet that guest never responded.

    Our restaurant makes almost everything from scratch and we support local businesses and farmer’s markets for our menu items. We have had someone post on our community facebook page how are all of our prices are so expensive. After responding to her post, turns out she ordered our coffee (which we get from a “fair trade” local coffee company) that she didn’t care for and we took it off her bill. Yet, she complained that it was too expensive at $3 for a large mug of coffee (which is the going rate at most restaurants). So she’s complaining about our menu prices being expensive on our local social media page because we DIDN’T charge her for a cup of coffee that she didn’t care for. Okay.

    The next day she posted how wonderful Denny’s was and how it was the best restaurant in our town (a population of 50,000 people).

    My wife again responded to her how we stand by our menu prices and mentioned that some people care about the quality of food they are eating and they prefer if it is sourced locally. Not shipped from a Mexico food factory full of pesticides and hormones and delivered by a multinational company from a huge warehouse in a semi truck.

    People on the community facebook page then defended us and laughed at her for her Denny’s comments.

    It used to be the customer is always right, but with social media – as long as you are courteous and professional – it’s game on for restaurant owners to speak up and educate the public!

  142. andrew gruel on March 27, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Amazing. Just simply well-put. I wish I could cut-copy and paste this for all my yelp reviews (but my revenue is lower..ha).

  143. Con Gubser on March 27, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Chef John, I am not in the restaurant business, however I do appreciate the costs and effort it takes to maintain a good/great place of business, that serves quality food and drinks to your clientele. As you are obviously aware, it is costly to follow all the laws of business, and provide a quality service, and survive at the same time. So to summarize, I support your position, and only hope that the public realizes the rising costs of doing business, and being fair, and surviving all of these obstacles to making a 2% profit !
    Hopefully, in the future, that 2% can rise a little, by tweaking a little here and there, a with a little luck, you can maintain and prosper ! Good luck !
    I live in the Midwest, however I hope someday I may be able to visit your establishment! Thank you, for trying to educate the public about the reality of doing business !!!

  144. Aaron Glugover on March 27, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Amen brotha

  145. Kathy B. on March 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Bravo! Someone who has never worked in the food industry has no idea of the struggle.

  146. Tanya Huggins on March 27, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Well said Chef. You are a credit to our community, thank you.

  147. Dr. Russ L'HommeDieu on March 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Well said, sir. The struggle is real. Carry on.

  148. Kevin B on March 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Props to you chef. As a lifer in the biz I know where you are coming from and love it.

  149. John K. on March 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    That. Is. Beautiful.

    Thank you especially for the reserved tenor of your response, for taking care of your employees, and for having the temerity to mention that local businesses often pay deep into six figures for credit card fees every year.

  150. Chef Miriam Russell-Wadleigh on March 27, 2017 at 12:41 pm


  151. Bob on March 27, 2017 at 12:44 pm


  152. Bruce Watnem and my wife Dorothea on March 27, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Well said We realize how much it takes to run a business I have no problem with the cost of good food and we always tip 20 – 30 % depending on the service we have grand children that work on the food industry and my wife used to be a waitress

  153. Rick Harter on March 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    The Owner is right in every sense of the word! The misinformed customer should now over a sincere “I am sorry”.

  154. Bruce Watnem and my wife Dorothea on March 27, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Keep up the good food and service chef John.

  155. Chen-Chen on March 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    LOVE your response, Chef John Howie!

  156. Debbie on March 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Bravo. Chef John. Our family all too well knows the struggles you face every day. We too are in a small business, while it is not food it is a small furniture business that gets the same type of remarks about cost and pricing. Due to the internet, our business try’s to eek out a small profit but people just don’t realize how much it cost to run a business. They get upset if you make a dollar, but still want the luxury of being able to sit on and try out furniture that doesn’t have to come from a box that you assemble yourself. This is why so many small businesses go under, they just can’t make ends meet. I applaud you for standing up and letting your voice be heard and I wish you nothing but success. Just imagine the loss your community would experience in so many ways if you closed. I wish you success and a good life.

  157. Sandy Morgan on March 27, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I myself had no idea of the costs of owning a restaurant. I myself do realize the costs of foods, supplies etc are rising and that is usually the reason restaurant prices go up. I appreciate this article. It informs people of the costs. I’m sure most people don’t realize the costs are so high. I feel kind of sorry for you trying to make a living at something I’m sure you love to do. I wish you the best.

  158. Mark Spivak on March 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    I didn’t eat in places like yours when I was a student, at least not on a regular basis—maybe times have changed. Putting that aside, $14 for a high-quality burger sounds pretty reasonable.

  159. Sterling on March 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    No one cares….the bottom line is if u r to expensive your customers will go somewhere else. Good luck.

    • Adam Bartels on March 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Poor grammar and a me first attitude. Sterling comes to us from millennial HQ in his mommy and daddy’s basement.

  160. Deborah Peterson on March 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Excellent response. I have just launched a catering company. I’m not the least expensive in town. I can’t be if I am to provide quality food. My goal is to be profitable in a year. I look forward to having your $14 burger and fries along with beer or wine. And we will tip our waiter well. College student may gave to live on Ramen and hot dogs for awhile like we did.

  161. Paul on March 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Safe to say I’ll never try to open a restaurant now.
    15 for a burger still sounds like a lot and saying you pay much of the staff minimum wage followed up by we pay our employees well doesn’t make sense.
    But it’s still a good eye opener for people thinking every business is making millions.

  162. Chris on March 27, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Bravo sir, next time I am in the area I will buy burgers for the family and leave a nice tip for your staff.

  163. Jeremy Stocker on March 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I went to John Howie in Bellevue. My first expierence with any of your establishments. I went there for Valentine’s Day with my wife, I must admit when I first saw the menu I had a little sticker shock. However after the service, the food, and the atmosphere We absolutely loved it. After reading your response I love it even more. I plan on trying out all your restaurants. Thank you for providing places for good food and helping our community.

  164. Mark Glass on March 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Here, Here, Once again John takes the high road, provides all the facts; we are very fortunate in the Greater Seattle Area t have such a Fine and Creative Chef and Owner. mtg.

  165. Pat Fuller on March 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    When I was very young salesman, a older salesman told me that everyone knows what they are worth and should charge accordingly. If not, they are out of business.

  166. Lynn Phillips on March 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    That was a great response Chef John Howie!

  167. Lubia on March 27, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Very well said Chef John Howie.

    I owned a business at one point, hardly paid myself. The customers that left us due to a few increases over the years, had no place in my business, that is how I saw it. They were replaced by the ones that appreciated my friendly attitude , and could afford good service.

  168. Tom Tiffany on March 27, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Chef John-Totally get it. That’s a lot of work to explain yourself to one customer. Well done! Tom Tiffany Owner The Scotch N Sirloin Steakhouse since 1967, Syracuse NY

  169. rick waldron on March 27, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    “But I think most people will realize that this is a cost of doing business the right way at a high level” – well, I hope you’re right, and I hope your place survives, and eventually turns a big profit.
    But that’s still too much for a burger and fries. ‘family-friendly?’

  170. Judy seely on March 27, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    If they went to any other restaurant in our area, besides McDonald’s , Burger King and Jack in the Box they would find your prices reasonable. I have lived in Bothell for 40 years and never knew you were there. I just may have to visit your establishment.

  171. JoAnne Dolan on March 27, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    14.00 for a good burger and fries is quite the average these days for a good burger and fries. I have not eaten at this establishment, but will. I think if you want to go out and enjoy good food, then stop complaining of higher cost and stay home and cook your own meals. And by all means. tip good!! or stay home. I’m not rich, but we enjoy eating out and prefer to be generous and not stingy.

  172. Adam rosenberg on March 27, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I’d like to know what your landlord’s profit margin is on the $600,000 in rent. $50 grand a month is obscene in any city. It’s about time we forced landlords to respect the community NEED for businesses and prevent them from being the only ones to make any money.

  173. Kathryn Pacana on March 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    As a restaurant owner myself, (Clarks) I totally understand how some may not understand the costs of bringing really good food to their customers. It is becoming more difficult as the minimum wage rises and the tips are not being included in that wage. The public doesn’t realize the cost of putting out quality. I appreciate this article.

  174. Eric Fouch on March 27, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Well, you sound greedy.

  175. Tom on March 27, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with everything you have to say…. aside from your “fair and livable wages.” I’ve been in the kitchen for over half my life. And minimum wage plus tips is nothing close to a fair and livable wage. On that. The person that tore your place apart has clearly never worked in the service industry before and probably gets all of their info from competition cooking shows on food network. People need to inform them selves before publicly tearing into a place like that.

    • Audrey on March 28, 2017 at 6:35 am

      Do you not know servers at high-end restaurants ( perhaps even some big chains where they “turn ’em and burn ’em”) that have made upwards of $60,000 a year or much more? ( disclosure, I am in Nor CA Bay Area) However, the kitchen staff disparity is a problem, huge! I think it’s changing… Slowly?

    • Mariah on March 28, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Hear-hear on that man. I’m really tired of the complaints from business owners regarding the minimum wage. I get it, times are expensive all around, and complaining customers are jerks, but people have to live and eat. Unless all restaurants are going to be staffed with highschool students in the evening and retirees during the day, your pesky employees are going to need to have shelter and food when they aren’t actively working for you.

  176. Vanessa on March 27, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Dear Chef Howie, a friend sent your story to me because I had a similar situation (I too am in the restaurant business.) After 20 years we raised the price on one of our dishes from $10 to $15, that’s a 50% increase. It was long overdue, but the necessary. We got two complaints. You have to love this business to stay in it, and the incredible, supportive people and friends you meet, make up for the soul sucking Yelper’s. If I’m ever in your area I will visit you for sure! Before I started to type this, and after I finished reading your response – I was giving you a standing ovation! Keep up the good work.

  177. Jeff Peters on March 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    The customer is not always right and this is an excellent response to one who was completely wrong.
    Glad to see a business owner standing up to an entitled patron who thinks they know the cost of doing business in a responsible, ethical, and fiduciary way to the community, the employees, and the business owner.
    Props to the chef for his thoughtful and respectful response. Perhaps the complaining customer will learn a lesson.

  178. Ryan Rowe on March 27, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Well said, Chef. Very well said. My wife, Karen, and I own a small, intimate wine bar in downtown Aberdeen, about an hour west of Olympia. Since opening our shop 4 years ago, we have had very limited opportunities to make the drive to King County, even for industry-sponsored events. After reading your response to your former customer, Karen and I plan to make a trip up north for the sole purpose of dining at your restaurant. I am a former Marine and Karen spent the weekend experiencing Fire Ops 101 in Richland. We both FULLY understand how meaningful it is when people step up and provide selfless assistance to first responders. Thank you for all you do. We will visit your establishment soon!

  179. Gianni Pietrella on March 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    If this Che’f numbers are right he’s the worst managed restaurant on the planet.

  180. Ben on March 27, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing you reply. I don’t live in the area, but wish you the best of luck. I currently run a small business, a farm to be specific, but I’ve worked in restaurants and retail for years. I briefly worked at a butcher shop in CA where I started up a small lunch menu focusing on burgers. $12 each, not including fries. Something about the burger makes folks get super sensitive on price. For every raised eyeybrow I got on price, I got just as many “wow, that burger was the best I ever had.” Quality costs!! And honestly, I have say to the college kid – if you think you’re entitled to go out to eat all the time, suck it up. Stock up on ramen noodles like the rest of us did, and go out when you can afford it. Or, maybe you could get a job as a cook or a server to help cover the cost of your burger cravings!

  181. jennifer on March 27, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    My husband and I own a restaurant, farm and bakery in Northern, MI. Same goes for us. We are “farm to table” and go to great lengths to help support area businesses and our employees. My husband could have left college for Wall Street earning 6 figures at 21 years old but chose to be a farmer. I’m an artisan baker who loves my staff and feeding people well. We’re 8 years in, have over 40 employees in our busy season, have a cult following, but still we barely scrape by. Thanks for sharing Chef. I will share and share again until folks have a better understanding.

  182. Terri Tarrant on March 27, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Thank you for your clear and concise answer on the necessary price increase to continue to operate at your current level. It’s a known fact that most restaurants fail and it’s not hard to see why. Being a part of a college community isn’t about making the food affordable to just students, but you are giving these students an opportunity to work in order to help supplement their ability to continue their education. Scholarships, loans, parental assistance and savings only goes so far and your establishment gives them a place to work that they can make decent money. I understand a fixed income may challenge a persons ability to pay even a small amount more, but in that case instead of eating there a couple of times a week then maybe you come just once a week and still get to enjoy food you love. Thank you for your tact in not trying to embarrass this customer and explain the reason for the price increase, wish our government took a page from your wisdom. This is what a working dialogue of different opinions should look like and what could actually lead to a satisfactory conclusion for both parties. So nice to see a disagreement not lead to just a bunch of idiotic name calling and that is evident from your many comments that were intelligent and informative without resorting to lunacy. If my family and I are ever in the area we will be honored to patronage your fine establishment.

  183. ira g barrows on March 27, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    SIgh. I used to be in the business and my brother still is. A certain percentage of customers have no clue that it is a bleeding business! The fast food places selling burgers for(I have no idea a buck or two?) make money hand over fist. If you don’t want to pay $14(or 18 or 25) then go to effing Mcdonalds!

    Menus are posted so you know what you will spend before you order. I know prices go up but that is because so do food costs, labor, taxes etc. Give it a rest!

  184. Bobby on March 27, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    My deepest respect Chef. I look forward to have the opportunity to visit your place , have a cold one and shake your hand.

    From an Island in the Caribbean,


  185. Martin Allred on March 27, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Bravo Chef!! Bravo ! Well said and well written. I owned two restaurants for several years. For me I get it exactly as you wrote it! .. Every word! I just found it to hard to make a living with such small profit margins and all the other requirements. Sounds like you know the game well and it’s still very tough way to make it. One commit I have is, “This customer can go to a fast food joint, like Burger King, Mac D’s, Wendy’s and will pay 7.00 for a meal, a meal that is no where near the quality, especially the beef. You offer three times or more of the food quality, the service and the ambience. That’ should price out at 21.00. I think 14.00 is more than fair.

  186. Clyde Ito on March 27, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Coming from the tech industry here are some tips for cutting prices:

    1. Operate at a loss, but install adware and spyware onto phones and PCs via your “free” Wi-Fi.
    2. Have you ever heard of interns?
    3. Cool marketing terms for cheaper cuts of meat. I-Burger anyone?
    4. Charge extra for antivirus food protection.
    5. I’m sure you’re heard of robots.

  187. Corey Zimmerman on March 28, 2017 at 1:07 am

    Chef, …..great respect. I am beginning a blog/podcast and would love to share your most articulate response. It will be a revelation to the viewer.

  188. Josh Armour on March 28, 2017 at 2:02 am

    Well I think you just won my business. I’m only exit north on 405 and could use a good burger once in a while.

  189. Larissa on March 28, 2017 at 3:35 am

    I’m a fan of you as a community leader. I enjoy your restaurants yes, but it’s your generosity that has made me a fan. Of course it’s hard to be a struggling student, a lot of us have been there but isn’t that what Ramen is for? I believe we go to school so we can afford luxuries like going out to eat and drink with friends.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Chef. There’s a reason people know your name.

  190. Ryan on March 28, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Well said chef. Average joe has no idea the costs of running a business and the stress that goes along with it.

  191. Bill Weaver on March 28, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Before I retired at the end of last year as CEO of a company with 400 plus employees, I spent months before the election making presentations to various groups about the effect the minimum wage hike would have if passed. This just the opening impact, remember it will go to $13 over a three year period and does not allow the sharing of tips with the “back of the house” to be counted. The bigger impact is wage compression which he addresses in his remarks, over time when the bottom goes up, it all must go up. There is no real gain in purchasing power over time as all goods and services increase in price. Then there are the lost jobs that will result from employers finding ways to reduce their reliance on human labor. I know the average voter doesn’t fully comprehend the consequences but the laws of economics will not allow us to escape the consequences!

  192. NW Libertarian on March 28, 2017 at 4:59 am

    As a small biz owner in Bellingham, I think you must be crazy to have a biz in Seattle but I hope your biz thrives there. I will make a point of checking out this Bothell location next time I’m on the Eastside.
    It’s stunning that those who have never signed the front of a pay check have all sorts of advice about how to run a biz and what compensation should be paid. It’s really none of the government’s biz to be involved in the employer/ employee relationship.
    My biz is, for the most part, servicing companies like yours and I have had to raise rates to implement a large raise for my employees to try to keep them a similar amount above the min wage as before Jan 1. Next year I’ll have to do it again, but then the sick pay kicks in. I pay 5 days, but the new law requires 7 and a carry over of up to 5 to the next year. I will have to decide if I will ignore the law, raise prices even more or cut out 2 of the 7 paid holidays they get. When the min wage goes up the price of EVERYTHING goes up.
    The citizens who voted for this initiative either don’t like small biz like mine & my customers and would rather support big corporations OR are economically illiterate and don’t have a clue of the harm they have done to their favorite businesses.
    I suggest that all small biz owners consider joining the NFIB and help with the law suit against this new law. Your biz may depend on it.

  193. Audrey on March 28, 2017 at 6:31 am

    If only the unwell wisher had known the press this would stir up for you! If ever I am in your area, this veteran of high-end (and some not so high-end ) restaurants will pay you a visit indeed!
    Also, however unrelated, I’d like to add that it was my chef/ restaurant owner friend (formerly a “cook” 😉 at Chez Panisse among others) who posted this. He has been largely unavailable for social activity and friendship maintenance since he opened his restaurant in Santa Rosa California. (The occasional times I get to see him is by dining at his restaurant!) The very few days he decided to close up shop for the holidays were spent with close family, naturally. I feel it appropriate to add that there are additional sacrifices to embarking on such a difficult and uncertain business venture, are there not?

    P.S. $50,000 a year on custodial services? Really? That must be because you are a brewery? I was going to say… make the teenagers scrub the joint! JK (?)

  194. Jamison on March 28, 2017 at 6:36 am

    My first reaction was that price was pretty standard with what your type of restaurant charges. I have been out to eat many places, and I have spend more and less than this amount at several places. And at a fast food place, it is easy to spend over $10 on a meal these days. As a person that has a portrait business, I feel that this is right on and not unreasonable. At first I thought this was in a place in a small town somewhere, but no, this is in my area that I work in! It is not a little small town. It is in a nicer area I am guessing within the Bothell/Mill Creek area. The prices are actually in line with all of the other places I have bought a burger and fries. The people that complain about prices often are people that want deals or don’t value the service and quality and are better off buying something at a fast food place like Jack in The Box. This isn’t small town USA where the overhead is cheap! This is a major suburb of the urban area that has normal houses that sell for $500-1mil for starters. If you are mad, consider that and that it is standard. Even places like Colorado Springs area in another state not so expensive has prices that are not to far off from yours. As much as we would all love a burger to cost $.25 or less, we simply don’t live in that era anymore. There is the $15 burger and there is the $1 or less burger. Along with that is an environment, quality, and service difference. People that don’t value the extras should go to those places that holds the most value. Or even better yet, eat at home. Because when you grill it yourself, it is cheaper!! Yet I still buy the expensive burgers and even the cheap ones at times. It all depends on the type of service and experience I hope to have when I do it. *mic drop*

  195. K.m. on March 28, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Well said chef but being a negative person I I would have to question 60 k in give away’s and 130k in advertising . Not good cost, people should be paying for food and advertising should be social media. Wish you all the best and I will show up to support you.

  196. Raymond on March 28, 2017 at 6:57 am

    John, your response really is beautiful as it is concise. I’m only a coffeeshop owner, so I can only imagine the extra care and attention that goes into all the extra dynamic of perishables and quality. Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody worked in the industry at some portion of their life?

  197. Edward on March 28, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    A good thermometer is what kind of vehicle (s) they have and where do they live? That can tell you if they are making a lot of money.
    I know some restaurant owners here in texas and they live very comfortably. Just saying.

  198. Tammy Yousif on March 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Very well said. I wish you continued blessings. Keep doing what you do. It’s a hard profession. You are a class act! Cheers!

  199. JC on March 28, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Your response is another fine example of the problems of owning a business. But, I cannot be on “your side”. First you mention your cash flow and profit. You disclose numbers that lead the reader to be able to determine the line level employees wages but you do not disclose management and owner salaries. Is that intentional? You also did not go into detail about your staffing model. Are you using the traditional diner/family restaurant model of no host/hostess, a solitary wait person/server assigned a reasonable area to service versus the current upscale model of host/hostess, wait person, drink server, food server and bus person? You note that you are paying your staff the current full minimum wage for your locale of $11.00/hr and not a “tipped employee” rate that other states offer. This means there is no reason your customers should feel compelled to tip, especially at 15-25% as the restaurant associations suggest. Your customers should be made aware of this and therefor paying 10-20% more for their meals is offset by not needing to tip to ensure your staff receive a decent wage. There are also other matters that can be looked into, such as your costs for the build out. Choices you made may be unnecessary when you weigh the options of the atmosphere you wish to create, especially for a diner. I was also surprised that you did not mention your percent of alcohol sales. This is important as their are added business expenses associated with such – higher insurance and inconsistent margins being important to consider. Then there is a breakdown of other costs that may be out of control that are more manageable – food waste, over staffing, inadequate staffing – not putting the right person in the right place at the right times. Then there is the consideration of how much of the associated costs are legitimate business expenses. I mention this as it is not terribly uncommon for small business owners to load in genuinely personal expenses such as cars, clothing, travel and such to the business but not consider the personal use as being income from the business. I knew one such business that the children’s private boarding school, 3 luxury cars and 2 homes were part of the “business expenses” and paid for 100% by the business income while the owners took 6 figure salaries – needless to say that business is now closed. Also, how hands on are you with your business? Are you the active manager on duty and working the necessary long days, nearly every day to not only ensure the success of your business but to fully earn your salary or are the the restaurateur that hangs out when it’s fun, entertaining friends and family with comp meals and drinks and not digging into the minutia of the business? Not being accusatory but that is a common situation. Any profit is good and as long as your cashflow increases with your expenses you are golden. Yes, huge profits are awesome but most service industry businesses don’t see double digit net profits after taxes. Profits are what you use to grow and expand your business, not a measure of your day to day success. It’s what allows you to bank for a rainy day – like when the city decides to put in new water mains and customers can’t get to your location for a few weeks. Optimize your staffing, look at your pay for managers, strike things from the menu that are not giving the return you need (sales vs costs) and assess your accounting for irregularities and potentially illegal activity. If you still can’t get it together then you may need to close your business. It’s sad, it’s scary but it may be the truth. If you can’t properly run your business with everything streamlined, by charging a fair price for your goods and services and maintain and fill the tables then you should not be in business. This is why 90% of small businesses fail! Sadly, too many small business creators are in it for them selves. They are seeking to be their own boss and often to work less, or less hard. They don’t know that it takes working harder, for less money for quite some time before you get the payoff. And, that payoff may never happen. Awesome restaurants open with great atmosphere, menus, staff and a bright future but due to over-extending the costs of the build out, going for pretentiousness over authenticity – yet using authenticity as a word to expand the pretense. They get rave reviews and praise for the chef, fill the tables nightly with lines on the weekends and suddenly they close. Maybe after a 2 year run… sometimes less. This happens most in major markets with a desire to be the new trendy joint. You can bring really good food to the table, pay your folks a decent wage, bank a few bucks for yourself and your business and not gauge the pocketbooks of your customers that will enjoy their visit, give you 4-5 stars on a review but not come back because they moved onto the next new joint. It’s amazing how many restaurants I see with 3 stars that offer good food, good service and have been in business over 20 years as all these other places can’t make it. I think you and some of your contemporaries need a reality check on what a QUALITY restaurant is.

  200. Robin Reddy on March 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Also of note: A burger at *Red Freaking Robin* (which I love, don’t get me wrong, this is not a dig at them) is about $11.00, so…

  201. Brent treadway on March 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Its a passion business. Can you imagine the comments from the sharktank pitching a business that has less than 25% gross margin?

    I constantly get asked to cater big events for $8.00 a head. I usually send them the arbys price menu and they quickly realize beef bourguignon for 500 isnt going to be on the menu

  202. Karen on March 28, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    People in this state need to stop voting for people that are going to raise our taxes, and thus, raise our cost of living. Stop voting for ballot measures that raise taxes or regulate wages. These things will only bankrupt our society. It’s time that the government learns to live within its means as we as individuals are required to.

  203. Gregg Sourbeck on March 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    You have a responsibility to run a profitable restaurant. It’s not an option, not a hope to and not a wish. It’s a must. You have a responsibility to run profitably to your customers. They walk into your restaurant because you fill a need in the community. You have a responsibility to your employees so they are gainfully employed and can feed their families. You have a responsibility to you, your family and any investors you may have.

  204. Bethany on March 28, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    You may have lost one customer, but now I’m going to have to head up to Bothell to taste one of those USDA Prime burgers. Who knows? I might just become a regular.

  205. Mason Irving on March 29, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Great response Chef……after thirty plus years at the stove, some as an owner, most as Chef, it’s clear that this devoted customer was what my partner and I used to call the “kiss of death”….a good regular customer as long as you are inexpensive based on his needs. Ah but when you take care of your business appropriately, properly, to keep it thriving he’s gone over three bucks, twice a week. Too bad. Theres cheaper eats and beer nearby I’m sure….he’ll find a home and your loyal folks will stay with you.

  206. Tiana Lyn on March 29, 2017 at 2:09 am

    being a dick to your customers in an open letter doesn’t make you “smarter” or a bigger person for “educating” a customer. It makes you a jerk, and shows poor customer service, perhaps your lack of customer service might be part of the reason you can’t make more money. I won’t frequent a business whose chef feels necessary to ridicule a long time customer. Congrats on being an a$$hole.

  207. Denise Bremner on March 29, 2017 at 4:04 am

    We have been to his restaurant in Bellevue and in Bothell. His food is excellent – very fresh and high quality. I always say – you get what you pay for.

  208. Tony Oung on March 29, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I’m from the SF Bay area where everything is expensive. $14 for a burger is quite expensive! Maybe your profit margin isn’t that great but I bet your salary is. You are just excluding yourself from the average Joe customer. To each their own but there’s a reason why sit down restaurants nowadays arent doing well around the country. Enjoy the fortune now because it won’t last!

  209. Robin on March 29, 2017 at 4:54 am

    Just like this diner, Chef, you had a choice what business you wanted to start. You made your choice, they will make theirs. You have a responsibility to keep costs down and there are many ways to do that. If you are not able to do that and you then pass on the cost to your consumers, it stands to reason they will not like it. If you wanted to charge high end prices, then you put your establishment in an area that is frequented by high end consumers who have no problem paying $14 for a burger and fries. It sounds like it is your bad choices that require you raise prices and now you want to whine to your patrons that you can’t make a big enough profit, so they should pay you more. Then get out of the business. How utterly arrogant and smug your response was. I would never ever eat at your restaurant simply because of this article. I am not going to help some whiney douchebag make a profit.

  210. Victor on March 29, 2017 at 6:03 am

    I don’t know why everyone’s so quick to jump onto John’s bandwagon. The college kid was out of line with the community comments, but does have a point. What’s wrong with pointing out BPH’s prices are high for those of modest means? And it’s ironic since BP is supposedly a “family friendly” place in a college town. The truth is BPH isn’t for those who can’t afford a $30 burger and beer. I don’t know if that’s the image BPH wants to project, but let’s just call it what it is. There’s no need to write an essay about your financials to justify your prices. Justifying higher prices with “because my expenses are too high” is stupid anyway. Did anyone force BPH to take out a huge loan and then spend $4.42 million a year to sell burgers and beers? Anyone with any business sense knows restaurants are hard work and low margin. It’s no wonder why so many fail.

  211. Desi on March 29, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Glad this person is not coming to your establishment anymore because that is one more extra seat for us who wait in line. And, they probably were a lousy tipper anyway based on their comment.

  212. Faye on March 29, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    We live nearby and absolutely love the food at Beardslee. In fact, before the UW took over the entire neighborhood (including dorms for what was originally intended to be a “commuter campus”), we had limited restaurants to choose from. You want an expensive burger? Head down to the Ranch, and you’ll likely get sick from the grease as well as your overpriced burger. BPH makes delicious food with attentive staff and a welcoming atmosphere.

  213. Shannon on March 29, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Hmmm…. I think a stop at Beardslee in Bothell is a must on my next trip to the Seattle area! I will definitely support a place that supports their community! Thanks for taking the time and writing this response and sharing it! Peace!