Monday, May 17, 2010

The Rollercoaster Ride of Being a Restaurateur Begins…

Very few people know what it takes to be a restaurateur. From the outside looking in one sees only glamour & notoriety. Unfortunately, I was one of those people. I had been friendly with the owner of a small byob restaurant for years. While designing his restaurant's website he confided in me that he wanted to sell. After days of husband / wife negotiating ("you're a dumb ass but you're gonna do what you want, so I guess I am behind you") & with some trepidation, I decided to take stupidity to a whole new level. I was going to be a restaurant owner.

This was it, my big moment. In 2002, I gave up my web design business, re-mortgaged my house and bought the restaurant. My father in law had been in the business for years, his valid warnings of long hours and hard work with little reward fell on deaf ears. With lawyers papers signed, keys in hand, doors open and me knowing absolutely nothing about the business, I could say I was a restaurant owner.

I was married just two years, with two older daughters from a previous marriage and a one year old in hand, our new adventure began. My wife and I, and our very limited palettes set out to find ourselves a new chef. Being naturally inquisitive I started asking everyone who knew anything about the restaurant business, what type of cuisine should I serve. Suggestions ranged from American continental to fine French. A big night out for me was Filet Mignon and mashed potatoes, so when one chef wooed me with prosciutto wrapped figs and a simple balsamic glaze, I was sold. Being an unseasoned restaurant owner, it never crossed my mind to inquire about his ability to manage staff, control food & labor cost, cross utilize product or write a menu. I just hired him, put the fate of the kitchen in his hands and started learning as much as I could about service and ambiance.

…and so began my roller coaster ride of being a restaurateur.