The Power of Pancakes

Following is an excerpt from Chief Cook & Bottle Washer: The Double D Diner’s Unusual Menu for Success & Happiness at Work! You can buy the book by clicking here!


Chapter 11

Feed Your Cooks & Wait Staff


Over the next week Terry ate a lot of pancakes. Blueberry. Ginger Snap. Butterscotch. Mango-White Chocolate Chip. Pumpkin Ricotta. Did Clyde really have fifty varieties? Would he actually feed Terry all fifty varieties? Was Terry going to gain a hundred pounds as a result of his car turning around that fateful morning just a few weeks prior?

It was raining on Tuesday. It had been raining for two days. It was 5:45 AM when Terry pulled into the parking lot of the Double D Diner. The lot was empty.  Terry chose his usual parking spot rather than picking one that might have kept him a bit drier.

He walked inside and found Clyde eating breakfast with two of his cooks and two of his waitresses. They were laughing and discussing last night’s college basketball game. Quick assessment: these people seem to really like one another.

“Come join us Terry” motioned Clyde. “There’s always one extra seat when we sit down to eat. First come. First serve. Looks like the rain was your gift this morning.”

In the center of the table were two stacks of pancakes. This morning’s choices were peanut butter-raisin and butternut honey. For the next thirty minutes Terry watched in amazement as Clyde and his team laughed, talked, bonded and made decisions together about diner operations. They talked about successes, customer compliments, customer complaints, and Clyde’s pancakes.

Too much peanut butter. Not enough peanut butter. How come you didn’t try any with crunchy peanut butter? Would golden raisins be better than dark raisins? The butternut honey wasn’t a crowd pleaser to the staff.

Terry looked over at the Specials Board and took note of today’s Menu For Success:

feed staff



Clyde noticed Terry was looking at the board. Today’s success tip went a bit deeper. It wasn’t just a line.

“Feed them respect. Extract ideas from them to feed new creations and decisions. Feed them love. That’s my employee engagement plan” Clyde told Terry. “Is that the latest term you folks are using these days?”

“These people make me look good. They make this diner look good. They make my customers feel welcome and appreciated. I owe it to them to make this the best place to not only work, but to be a customer as well. Whenever possible, we spend time together. Around a table. You know about tables, I’m sure you do Terry. Big conference room tables. With egos and lack of decisions. With people who fight to feel important.” Terry smiled and thought about how he recently made a few people feel a bit less important when he suggested a meeting start before their grand entrance.

Clyde went on with his thoughts. “No one at this table is more important than anyone else. Their decisions and ideas matter and I take each person seriously. Remember, I’m a business guy who likes making pancakes. But this group of people, and the ones not working right now, are my creative team, my business advisors, my marketing arm, my customer service department, my new product development inspiration and so much more. They’ve been cooking, plating and serving food way before I arrived. Without these folks I am screwed. I trust them with my life Terry. They are not my staff. They are not my employees. They are my partners. But most importantly, Terry…….They are my family. I value everything they do and say. My real family thanks them too! My real family even gets a bit jealous of this group. So whenever possible, we sit down and break bread together. Or should I say, we break pancakes together. It’s usually to try my new creations and get their thoughts.”

“And you shoulda seen his face when I told him we needed to hold a cremation for his cranberry-pickle potato pancake idea” said DeeDee, one of the waitresses at the table.

A roar from everyone, including Clyde, erupted. “Yeah, not one of my better ideas. They were ruthless in telling me so. Ruthless. But when you take opportunities to spend time with your staff, include them in decisions, listen to their ideas, include their ideas, and then break pancake with them, you know that even the harshest of criticism comes from a place of love, respect and a great customer experience.”

Then Jesse, one of the cooks, shared a story. “One night I didn’t call Batter Boy back into the kitchen when a potato pancake order came in. He was off giving one of his pep-talks to a newbie so I thought I would……well you know…….. be helpful. Clyde walks through the swinging door and sees me mixing pancake batter. I just laughed. Then I saw the sparkle in his eye and boom…….He didn’t push me away. He didn’t yell at me. The guy stepped into high gear, stood alongside me at the griddle and started cooking. He was actually racing to see if he could cook an order before I did. And damn you Clyde, you did! You had those things on the griddle before I could even mix the ingredients.”

Another roar from the team.

Terry’s initial assessment was correct. What a great group of people. They are mutually supportive of one another. They could be a textbook case in teamwork and collaboration at a leading business school. But most importantly, they were keeping one another out of the “rut” that any job can often become.

It was 6:45 AM and the rain had finally let up. People started arriving for breakfast. The staff stood up, each grabbing some of the dirty dishes. Terry stood up and went into his pocket to get some money. “Put your money away” said DeeDee. “Clyde’s buying today. AND he’s tipping me!” DeeDee looked over at Clyde with a big grin. Clyde just smiled and cocked his head to the left a bit.

“Listen to the boss” Clyde told Terry. “Get your butt outta here before I make you do some dishes.”

6th Annual Thanks for Giving Thanksgiving Fundraiser


(Formerly known as One Less Meal Today. One Huge Meal Tomorrow)…..

November 25th is our An2015 Thanks for Givingnual Thanks For Giving Virtual Dinner – held the day before Turkey Day (aka Thanksgiving) in the US. It’s our 6th Thanksgiving Fundraiser!

And with Nutrition Assistance continuing to be reduced, those struggling with food insecurity need your help more than ever!

November 26th is a day for giving thanks. It’s also a day of gluttony. We invite you to eat one less meal the day before Thanksgiving in the spirit of uniting with hungry people and donate a meal that allows soup kitchens and food pantries to keep doing their great work!

Plz visit our Specials page at (or any page) and donate a “Thanks for Giving Plate” for yourself. Or maybe, just maybe you’ll gather three friends and donate a “Thanks for Giving Dinner for 4″

Help us feed the hungry.

Oh and you don’t have to wait until the day before Thanksgiving; you can do it today! And if you don’t give up a meal but still give up some of your money we will still love you!

The Double D Diner is operated by 501(c)(3) Inc

Customer ideas cost a lot less than consultant ideas

Too many businesses refuse to listen to their customers. They think they know what you want, when you want it and how you want it. We’re not like that here. We do our best to honor everyone’s request.

Well recently a favorite customer, Sally Shortbread, stopped by and asked me for a special order. She wanted a pancake burger. Yep, one of my greasy burgers slipped between two of my awesome pancakes! I liked the idea so much I just added it to the menu! We’ll see if it becomes popular. Got nothing to lose. It’s not like I’m making pancakes and burgers already.

What crazy customer ideas are making you roll your eyes when maybe they should be bringing dollar signs to them?

You’re The Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

I think sometimes people forget that most of us have created the life we live – whether you’re happy or unhappy. You created it all on your lonesome. No one did it for you. You chose and stayed in the job or relationship that doesn’t fulfill you. You ran up debt assuming your situation would change soon. You continued to make poor food choices, didn’t exercise, were a boozer, and a walking smoke signal.

You did it. No one did it for you!

But may I remind you that you are The Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of your life. No one else but you. And each day you have choices. You can remain unhappy. You can fix those circumstances and create a situation that you love. And in some case, like jobs, you can go off and do something completely different.

And how do I know this? Because I was you. I went to school and got some business degrees. And then I worked for a whole bunch of big companies to use those business degrees to……………………………remain unhappy. Then one day I decided to open The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to do something to give back. I wanted more. Just like many of you reading this right now.

We live in a world where there is help and resources abound. There are professionals to help you. There is education to help you. There are self-study opportunities to change what bothers you. There are networks of people to tap into working on the same types of issues. There’s a buffet of ways to fix your life. And all you have to do is pick one (maybe two) and put your heart, soul, sweat and tears into motion.

You are The Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of your life. If you’re not happy about it, maybe today is the day to take a step towards creating something better? Now don’t think it’s gonna be easy, cuz it ain’t. But I’d rather be happy trying to change something than remain unhappy doing nothing.


I gotta get back to the grill,


A message to our political leaders on President’s Day

Dear Elected Official,

I wonder if George Washington is rolling in his grave today. I cannot imagine George thinking that the leadership of our country would be about money, power, and re-election bids; with agendas that stop progress rather than move us forward. I cannot believe that George’s vocabulary excluded the words compromise, teamwork and solutions.

You asked the American People to put their faith in you when you asked for our vote. We did and you have failed us; Republican and Democrat.

  • You have taught us to divide from one another rather than unite.
  • You have shown us that not getting your way means not getting anything done at all. You haven’t even considered the possibility that we don’t agree with you – both Republican and Democrat
  • You, and many you serve with, took your promises and ideals and sold out to pressure, money and who knows what else.
  • You have heads shaking all around the globe as you act like children. As a man in South Africa once stated so matter of fact…..”The world does not hate Americans; we hate your leaders.” I think George Washington is looking down on you ashamed and shaking his head too.


Today is President’s Day – a day we honor people like Washington and Lincoln. We don’t have a Kennedy, Bush, Reagan, or Clinton Day. And probably for a reason.

  • Don’t you think it’s time you looked to the history books and learned what great leaders of our Democracy were able to accomplish?
  • Don’t you think it’s time that the elected leaders of this country start working together – and stop telling us how the other side is getting in the way?
  • Don’t you think it is time put your ego aside and make this nation great again?
  • Don’t you think it is time that you start showing up for work?
  • Don’t you think it is time you took a page from the corporate world about not going home, vacation, or on recess when a job is not done?

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to sleep tonight knowing you did what was right and not what was right for your career?  It is time for Democrats and Republicans to stop the games, put aside their egos and fix our great country.

Today would be a great day to begin the process of making George Washington proud. You owe it to us!

Clyde Sdale on behalf of the American People


It’s how you thank your customers

Today’s post written by our founder, Rich DiGirolamo

At the Double D Diner: The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger, everyone gets a personal CUSTOM thanks when they make a donation. Everyone. Whether that donation be $1.89 for a cup of coffee or several hundreds of dollars by ordering a virtual feast or banquet of desserts. Every customer gets treated DDequally.

Thanks come in the form of poems, revised lyrics written to an old favorite tune, a twitter shout out, a Facebook mention, a handwritten note, a pin, or in some other surprise manner. You’ll have to make a donation and see how Clyde Sdale thanks you in that surprise manner! Every donor gets a personal thanks. Every. Single. One.

Does it take time? Of course it does. But it is one of the things that sets The Double D apart from other charitable organizations. It’s just one of the things that The Double D is doing to break the mold of boring, old archaic charity business models. It’s the reason some donors, so they say, continue to come back and donate over and over and over and over again! For the fun!

Every business has an opportunity to set a standard, to set themselves apart from the rest. Some do it. Some don’t. Others could care less. What about your business?

When was the last time you were personally thanked by a business you frequent? How did they do it? Now sure we get the obligatory thank you right as the transaction comes to a close, but frankly, I can’t remember the last time I received an after-the-transaction thank you for my purchase or my loyalty. Like when I got home? Or the next day?

In this connected world that we live in it should be so easy for employees and business owners to thank customers. And I think if you’re a smart business owner you and your staff should be striving to do just that!

Often I ask myself why do we keep going back to those places, when let’s face it, there are probably so many other options; perhaps even with employees and owners who are ready to appreciate your business – and your loyalty…………..




Our donors are just the best

Today’s post is a letter written by our friend and regular diner donor Kris. She sent this to her email address book.  After you read the letter please see what The Double D Diner is working on.


Dear Friends,


Last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School touched everyone.   Many of us have been asking what we can do.  There are numerous sites set up to donate funds to the families of the victims.  There are also many other suggestions for how we can honor the victims.  I ran across a unique way of paying it forward that I want to share with you.


There is a non-profit organization called One Less Meal, Inc. that runs the Double D Diner.  The Double D is a virtual diner where you select menu items and pay for your virtual “meal”.  Clyde, the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, collects your donations and selects a worthy food pantry/shelter within the U.S.  to surprise with the Double D receipts.  The donations are delivered by HungerMan, in full cape and mask.  Videos of the donations are posted online so you can see where your contributions are going.  I’ve been donating to this organization for years and can vouch that 90% of your donation goes directly to the worthy do-gooders.


What a unique way to pay it forward:  to donate in honor of the victims.  The Double D founder relayed to me that someone donated 26 virtual milks and 26 virtual cookies the other day – that made him cry.  I’d been struggling with what to do and realized paying it forward this way would work for me – what a legacy for these angels to leave behind!  I’ve been looking at the unique menu trying to decide between the kid friendly options such as the Peanut Butter and Cake Frosting Sandwich, Grilled “Say Cheese” Sandwich,   Milk and a Gooey Chewy Cookie, Chicken Fingers and Toes, and Double Dutch Hot Chocolate, just to name a few.


So if you’re still struggling with how you can honor the victims, feel free to check out the Double D Diner at or


I hope you receive this email in the spirit it was intended.  I’ve been overwhelmed with grief and honestly didn’t know what to do; there were too many suggestions and I couldn’t bear wading through them online or listening to them on the radio/TV.  I heard this idea and it left me with a sense of peace – for me it felt right.  I hope you have found or are finding your sense of peace with this tragedy.  If not, maybe buying milk and cookies or a grilled cheese sandwich might provide some for you.


Warmest regards,



We think you’re awesome Kris. And just so you know, we at the diner are attempting to reach school officials to do something. An anonymous donor has offered to provide REAL milk and cookies to the students when they go back to their new temporary school and share the work of HungerMan with those kids.

HungerMan visits Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia – video

A few days ago HungerMan visited the Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, PA. Why we chose this site? Because of their model. Broad Street shared about mental trauma  that is associated with people who use their facility and how standing in a line waiting for food can be quite traumatic for someone with a mental impairment. So Broad Street, which serves meals three days per week, provides waitstaff and bussers to keep everyone feeling comfortable. We love when people break a traditional model!

Helping Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Here’s what our Founder Rich DiGirolamo is doing tomorrow. If you’re in CT and can stop by, please do.


From Rich’s website:

When I decided I wanted to fill a bus with supplies for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, I turned to a company I have had the privilege to work with but more importantly a company which believes in doing good and putting people first!

I’m working with the folks at DATTCO to help fill a bus with relief supplies for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the NYC area. We are working with Catholic Charities in Queens, NY to get those supplies to those who still most need them.

We need your help!

On Thursday November 8th there will be a DATTCO bus collecting relief donations in the parking lot at the following three locations:

Help us fill this bus with supplies for Victims of Hurricane Sandy

  • Newington CT 7:30-8:30 AM Stop & Shop Plaza, Berlin Tpke
  • Southbury CT 10:00 -11:15 AM Kmart/Stop & Shop Plaza, Exit 15 Rte 84
  • Danbury CT 12:30 – 1:45 PM Walmart, Newtown Rd


Here’s what is needed:

  • FOOD (canned goods, coffee, pasta, bread & sandwich materials, snacks for kids)
  • Water
  • Flashlights and batteries (AA, AAA, D)
  • Hand sanitizer, towels, toilet paper, toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, feminine products, etc.),
  • Baby items (diapers, wipes)
  • First aid kits
  • Hats, gloves, blankets, coats

Clothes (shirts, pants, etc) are NOT needed.

Tell everyone you know to come by. I’ll be there with a team from DATTCO.

Thanks Don DeVivo and the entire DATTCO team who are making this possible and didn’t think twice when I approached them with this idea!

Eat this and only this

Imagine if the picture below was all the food you had for one week!

Take a close look before you read on. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

What if this was all the food you had for the next seven days?

Could you get through the week?


Some Canadian friends of ours, Bill and Sue Brooks, recently entered a Food Basket Challenge. The basket of food above was what each of them was given. In addition to the basket they were given $5 and allowed to choose 5 staples. They chose coffee, oil, vinegar, salt/pepper & spices. That was it for the week.

I had the opportunity to interview Sue about the challenge – and I encourage you to take the time to read about their experience here. But since most of you reading this have no idea what it is like to be hungry or to wonder where your next meal is coming from, I thought I would just comment on some of the highlights that Sue shared with me during our discussion. Truth is I could have just read the link I gave you but I wanted a chance to Skype with Sue. She’s a fun lady.


So here goes:

  • Planning was key to survival of the week.
  • Most people don’t realize that having, as Sue called it, infrastructure, makes a huge difference. We have a car to get to the local markets and places where deals can be found. Some pantry users have to figure out how to get to and from the place that will nourish them. We have well stocked kitchens in terms of cooking utensils, pots/pans, etc that allow us to get creative.
  • It was a good thing she likes soup because a lot of the food got thrown into a pot.
  • All of a sudden measuring your food is not just for overweight people; it’s also for people dealing with food insecurity.
  • Family and friends become a source of your mental survival.
  • It’s not just about hunger. It’s about poverty.
  • There was light at the end of the tunnel for Sue & Bill. That’s not the case for so many.


But I think the biggest takeaway from my conversation with Sue was she kept circling back to the “physical effects” she was experiencing of being hungry. Tired. Irritable. Cranky. Grouchy. (Be sure to read Bill’s comments to her.)

So do you think you could survive for one week? Do you think you could go with one less meal without saying you’re hungry? Our work and your donations help a few more people eat. Remember, Don’t Eat It! Donate It! Right Now!

Sue & Bill are Innovation and Creativity experts. To learn more about them, visit Eclecthink Intl.