“You should own a restaurant…” Somewhere around the end of August during one of our usual after hours conversations. “Really?” I said, why would I want to do that???”
The next thing I knew it was October 17th 2016 opening day. WTF (what the fudge) happened??? Opening week for me was crazy, at the time I was stranding two jobs – opening the bistro and catering support for Emelle’s Catering. This particular week we were catering the International Fungi & Fibre Symposium and it was a big deal! There were 130 delegates from around the world in the community for a week exploring our region’s mushrooms and dying fibre with what they found. A story all in itself that I invite you to watch the video created from this event when you have a moment, you may be inspired to attend the next one! My involvement, as part of the catering team, was to prep 130+ picnic lunches for 5 days and serve 3 distinctly different dinners for our guests. Did I mention this was the bistro’s opening week? I spent each day working with new staff and menu at the bistro, interspersed with prepping for picnic lunches and dinners, then spent my evenings working the catered dinners! All I can say about that is thank goodness for fabulous staff and guests whose patience and understanding made it possible for me to stay on my feet for the number of hours I put in that week.
I am grateful for them all!
From that week on I have been on a crazy rollercoaster ride called “own a restaurant”.
There were a lot of decisions being made on the fly, some of which worked and many that didn’t. All of them made sense at the time! I started this adventure scouring craigslist for used equipment because buying used would be less expensive than new right? Wrong! If I could go back and start again I would seriously look at leasing new equipment for the first year. At least the chances of new equipment breaking down would be minimal, reducing the cost of repair. I purchased 5 pieces of equipment with only one in good working order, the rest cost $1000’s of dollars to make work! If I knew then what I know now I would have chosen a different path with equipment. One memorable day I had while ‘working’ on the bistro included paint, multiple service people, an overwhelming number of questions being fired at me demanding immediate answers and a trail of issues that were being created faster than being solved. It felt like I was standing in the middle of a war zone with bullets whizzing past my head from all directions. Get the picture? At the end of that day I was shell shocked and left wondering what the heck I was thinking? WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?????
Thank goodness for ‘another day’.
Here we go… another day! Despite being warm & dry inside I am still amazed at how the weather impacts the restaurant business. We have had our share of ‘weather’ this winter, completely out of the norm for us in Pender Harbour. So many snow storms! Each one adding a level of difficulty for getting around the community. How does this relate to the restaurant business? Significantly, so I have experienced! Snowy days = no guests for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I can tell you it’s really hard to appreciate the beauty of a blanket of snow when you have a restaurant full of fabulously prepared food and no one there to eat it. I can tell you that it’s hard to keep your optimistic outlook in life when you watch perfectly good food go to waste because no one is there to eat it. There are days I find myself struggling between loving and despising where I have chosen to own a business. I know I am not alone here and sometimes it feels very lonely.
I have learned valuable lessons over the course of this winter and some of them have changed my views of what’s possible for sure. I do believe things happen for a reason including the lessons we experience so my experience is not a bad one, in fact I can honestly say I have no regrets for taking this adventure on. I will say that I am the wiser and each day brings clarity around what works for me and what doesn’t.
I’m not ready to answer the question, “would I do it again?” Mostly because each day my answer would change, some days I can’t fathom why anyone would want to go into this business and then I have the days where I get it! The answer lies somewhere between those extremes and I think is related to how many days of each I experience. Time will reveal I expect. Spring is around the corner and Summer hot on Spring’s heels where are is forgiven and forgotten for another season.
I’ll keep you posted…