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Trials and Tribulations

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10 Ways to Run a Restaurant with Evernote by Chef John Andrews

chefblogpic Website: Victoria Station
Twitter: @vicsboathouse
Facebook: Victoria Station
Victoria Station Blog

Where I use Evernote:

Part of Evernote’s Food Month

John Andrews is a chef and manager of Victoria Station in Salem, Massachusetts. Over his fifteen years in the restaurant business, John has figured out many ways to deal with the immense organizational challenges of operating a restaurant. With Evernote, John has created a system that keeps him sane and keeps his restaurant running smoothly.

Why Evernote Works For Me

Evernote has become a critical tool for running my restaurant, Victoria Station. Operating a restaurant is so much more than cooking the food–it’s a huge juggling act. My biggest challenge is dealing with the sheer amount of information being thrown at me from every possible angle. I need a place to put it all, and for me that place is Evernote. Getting that finished dish onto the table takes tons of coordination. Here are some of the ways that Evernote helps the restaurant function.

1. Coordinating food vendors

In any given week, I might interact with 10-15 different vendors and purveyors, each with their own product guides and point of sale flyers for any new items. Multiply this by the hundreds of products from each vendor, plus the need to maintain a fully functioning kitchen seven days a week and you can see how it could easily get out of control. To keep it under control, I throw everything into Evernote.

2. Finding new ingredients, creating new recipes

Today’s culinary consumer is well-informed, which makes my job of coming up with unique dishes on a daily basis a challenge. Since I don’t like to limit myself to one style of cooking, I tend to do a lot of research online, especially for new products and ingredients that I haven’t used before. With Evernote, I can clip or email ideas into my “Recipes and Food Ideas” notebook from my computer or phone. Then, whenever I do a search, not only does Evernote display the product, but also any related ideas, along with information on which vendors carry that product. I have also shared this notebook with some fellow chefs so that they can contribute their ideas, as well.


3. Keeping everything organized wherever you are

I spend most of my time in the kitchen, which means that I don’t always have access to a computer during the day. Having Evernote on my phone is a big deal because it allows me to stay on top of things wherever I may be. If I get an email from a vendor for an interesting product or an important proposal, I just forward it along to my Evernote account. Then, later when I get back to my desk at work or at home I can pull it up in Evernote.

4. Getting rid of paper clutter

As a chef, I work long hours and the last thing I need is to waste time reorganizing paperwork (receipts, bills, etc) or spending additional time trying to locate loose papers that become lost in the clutter. With Evernote and my scanner, I easily convert the paper mess into digital notes that are always available whenever I need them.


A sampling of some of the vendor flyers and product sheets

5. Staff training

I have specific notebooks for Wait Management and Service Training. I keep all relevant training documents and information in these Evernote notebooks. Whenever I find something new, I simply tag it (waitstaff, kitchen, management) and then add the name of the restaurant. This way, I can pull up specific information for my current restaurant or establishments that I have managed at in the past.

6. A complete backup of my Food Life

Having all my information backed up and available on multiple computers is an essential feature for me. I ran restaurants in the past, and whenever I left, I lost years of specials and ideas that I would love to have back. Now that I have Evernote, I have everything backed up and available in my account. I’m no longer tied to a single computer that I may not have access to forever. Now, wherever I go, my ideas stay with me.

7. Keep track of your ideas for a website redesign

For the redesign of our website, I created a Shared Notebook to share ideas and inspirations with our graphic designer and webmaster. I clipped images and pages that I liked from other restaurant sites. I also saved all the graphic work that my designer created. The three of us are able to access the shared notebook at any time to pick and choose what we need for the project regardless of what computer we happen to be using. I can also remotely check the progress of everything using my phone to make sure things are being handled efficiently.


This photo is on the home page of our website. Evernote allowed me to save a high-quality image, and then share it with the designer without worrying about email restrictions.

8. Collaborative menu creation

The shared notebooks work great for collaborating on creating a menu with other managers and chefs at my restaurant. I also take pictures of finished dishes with my phone, pop the pic onto my desktop, add descriptions and recipes, then share with the others. This way everyone can know exactly what the finished dish should look like, and have a record of each dish.

9. Catering projects

Whenever I need to work on catering projects and functions menus, I use Evernote as a way to keep the menus organized with my function coordinator and day manager. If they have any questions about what type of event it is, how the event should be set up, or how the food should be presented, they can go to my Functions shared notebook in Evernote. There they can access the contract, menu, table setting, and food instructions. I keep everything tagged with the name of the event for easy searching.

10. A system designed by Me for Me

The best thing about Evernote, is that the system is completely open. It is really only limited by your imagination. Evernote is so flexible that I was able to adapt it to work specifically for me. Once I came up with my system it was able to do everything I needed. As a chef, I was able to integrate it into my work-flow and perfect it, rather then having to adapt my work-flow to fit into an already established system.

Food Month posts

I feel like a Rockstar!!!! I was featured on Evernote!!!!!!


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