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Highway 99 Revisited: Q&A with Rick Mossman
Nearly 10 years ago, we started our first publication called The Scoop (now fondly known as The Dish). We have always had a special place in our hearts for Mossman’s Coffee Shops who was our very first customer spotlight article. So after all these years, we sat down with Rick Mossman, owner of Mossman’s Coffee Shops and Catering Company, to catch up.
THE DISH: HOW HAS BUSINESS CHANGED OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS?
RICK MOSSMAN: Our business has almost doubled and Jordano’s has grown with us. It’s like we build and cross the bridge, and then we keep going and look for the next spot to build a bridge. As we progress, we take all that we have learned with us to the next challenge – together. There have been so many changes in laws and regulations - labor and handling food. We use Jordano’s as a resource that we can’t afford to hire ourselves. Jordano’s helps me to pay attention to my customer’s needs when frankly I might have been too busy to notice.
WE DO WORK TO KEEP OUR CUSTOMERS INFORMED AND STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME.
Seriously, other company’s systems change and come and go, but at the core of the Jordano’s philosophy is the care and nurturing of their customers. I distinctly remember that cool morning in October last year. In three short hours, Mossman’s Catering would be serving over 7,500 people in less than thirty minutes. If you thought that I had gotten a full night’s sleep, you would be wrong! Believe it or not, that next morning, I looked over my shoulder and saw both Allen Hamblin, Regional Sales Manager, and Ernie Veloz, Account Executive, there at the event. Their explanation was simple, “Rick, you talked these people into using a local caterer with local people (usually the buses show up from the big city and do the event), we are here for you.” The feeling of not being alone and all of us working together was a great and comforting feeling. You can’t teach that loyalty and dedication. Either you have it or you don’t.
WE HAVE SEEN YOU AT A COUPLE OF OUR GOLF TOURNAMENTS. IS THERE A REASON YOU ATTEND BESIDES IMPROVING YOUR GOLF GAME?
Allen Hamblin insists that I attend golf tournaments - would you believe it? I enjoy myself and even notice myself being more productive the next day when I go back to work. At one tournament, I made a point of asking the other restaurant owners about the new sick leave policy. I learned so much. My people are better off because of that learning experience.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND BUSINESS IN 10 YEARS?
I’m not sure where I’ll be ten years from now. Wherever I am - there better be a Jordano’s presence there, and I can bet you that there will be! Jordano’s has earned that position and deserve our gratitude and respect not just today, but each and every day of the last 3,650 days.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
When customers leave the coast and travel inland for the area’s best-tasting fish and chips, the destination must be Mossman’s Coffee Shop, the oldest coffee shop in town. The restaurant and catering service proudly cooks up a 50-year-old tradition of made- from-scratch food served by people who love you like you were family.
That’s because everything at Mossman’s centers on the family. Founder, lovingly called “Gramps,” took a divergent path from the oil business in 1960. He birthed - what is today - the best bowling alley restaurant around when the family-owned business took roots in Bakersfield. Now owner, Rick Mossman – a third-generation offspring of Gramps – credits the restaurant’s success to its people, its food and its partnerships.
The reason Mossman’s is synonymous with the popular take-out combo of fish and chips is because they insist on using the highest quality cod loin and sticking to a breading recipe honed from the handwritten instructions of Gramp’s earliest chef. “A lot of restaurants in the last years have sacrificed quality to stay afloat in this rough economy. But we believe in never compromising on our quality,” says Rick who discovered the best cod swim in the north pacific, but had to reinvent Gramp’s strategy for bringing the more than 100,000 pounds of cod he serves annually to the customer’s plate.
“We learned that our United States importers weren’t doing the job, so we took matters into our own hands. Now we have a direct connection to our fish and purchase 40,000 pounds at a time. The fish are from the Pacific Northwest, processed in China and shipped to California,” Rick says.
He turned to his sales representative at Jordano’s, Ernie Veloz, with a business idea. Jordano’s picks up the fish at the dock, keeps it in cold storage and delivers on demand to Mossman’s two locations. The partnership allows Jordano’s to sell a portion of the quality fish at better price points to their customers, too. Rick’s overseas negotiations guarantee him the consistently high-quality cod for the next 10 years. “It’s a win-win, but I couldn’t do this without Jordano’s – they foresaw my vision and have literally written the book on how to do this. Mossman’s can provide guaranteed quality at a price no one in town can match,” says Rick who, despite the price- pinching pressure from the economy, hasn’t had to raise prices.
TAKING IT ON THE ROAD
Mossman’s takes their homemade dishes on the road, providing catering services to all of Kern County. Whether Mossman’s is serving parties with guest lists topping 7,000, orchestrating food and drinks for high-profile events or entrusted to run 35 holiday parties in 10 days, the restaurant’s personality is infused in every dish and every movement. “We rely on Jordano’s pretty heavily for these events. When a client asks to have a last-minute change, we can call our contact at Jordano’s and they make it happen,” says Rick.
A LITTLE ADVICE FOR BIG SUCCESS
Rick will tell you he’s learned much working alongside his family over the years. But the best advice Gramps imparted was delivered on his death bed. “He asked me if I knew how I was going to run the restaurant. I told him ‘no sir,’” though I had some pretty good ideas of what I wanted to do. He told me, ‘you keep your mouth shut and let the employees teach you how to run the place.’ He was right, some of those employees had been there when I was in diapers – they taught me some of the best lessons and gave me perspective,” Rick recalls.
Early days when he was behind the counter preparing chicken fried steak in the open-view kitchen, he struggled to find the ingredients. “A customer at the counter piped up and coached me through it. He had been there so long and so many times, he knew the recipe and where the ingredients were better than I did,” says Rick.
Today Rick’s advice to restaurant owners is as simple as the words imparted by Gramps, as he kindly reminds others to value the relationship. “A lot of people have limited resources to spend their money, so treat them like they are your family.”
“Jordano’s goes out of their way to give very personal attention to us. I believe they genuinely want us to succeed.”