Red Truck is unique place to find a different perspective on restaurant consulting and restaurant operations. As a restaurant owner for ten years, I know what it feels like when you want your business to succeed but you have no idea really what that means. Are you just buying yourself a job, as my father would say in those early years. Or do you want to thrive, make your creative ideas come alive, create community, maybe even open more than one location?
After being in the food business for more than 25 years, first as a pastry chef, then as an instructor, then as a business owner, and then as a consultant, I have found a few things to be true.
- The food business can ruin your life if you let it, physically and emotionally. I was struck one day by two articles I read in the New York Times . One was about Mark Piel, the renowned chef of Campanile fame in LA, and how at 57, his body shows all the breakdown symptoms from years of work in the kitchen. He has had surgeries to repair the damage and can’t work, physically, the way he used to. The second, sadly, the story of a NY restaurateur who committed suicide. A restaurant closing, money issues, a strained marriage as a result of money and neglect…whatever. I was saddened but I wasn’t surprised.
- Most people who open their own place for the first time don’t really know what they are getting into. No judgement here, it’s just alot like having a baby. You really can’t describe the experience accurately, you just have to go through it. And like children, every one is different. For those of you who have had ink done, it also is a little like having a tattoo….hurts alot while you’re going through it, but in the end, you’re happy you did. With a restaurant, there’s so much you don’t know you don’t know. Always.
- Restaurant consultants would be great to have but you may not have enough money to hire one right away. I really wish I had been able to hire someone to help me at different stages of running my business. Just someone to hold my hand who had been there.
My husband and I opened our first place when I was 36 years old. Today, most chef-owners are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. And for good reason. Younger people can devote the obsessive time required to make it work because they don’t have families yet. And they have the boundless energy required to work 7 days a week for months on end. I started Red Truck to guide young restaurant owners through the pitfalls of opening and maintaining a business without the high cost of hiring a consultant. As the site develops, look out for online interviews with guests from labor law, real estate, finance, and other areas that can improve your business and answer some key questions along the way.