Once again I find myself alone on a late afternoon after sending the staff home early to enjoy the holiday, so I turn thumb through the iPod wheel to Music>Artist>Miles Davis>Album> Kind of Blue, pour myself an Anchor Steam and write down these thoughts.
Less than a week ago, our meager little restaurant was chosen by the Omaha World Herald as a top ten spot for food in 2008. I don’t know that I took time to let this sink in until now, but in this year end, melancholic moment of reflection, I am trying to remedy this by letting it serve as a reward for the countless hours it took to get us here.
Seventeen months ago, we opened our doors and invited a whole new world to enter in. Having no experience in running, let alone owning, a restaurant, we were armed with little more than a dream, a commitment to work hard, and a small crew of people, most of which we hired right off the street. Who would have guessed in such a short time we would turn our inexperience into a place that merits such an award?
Notoriety can never be our deepest goal, because what happens when the next best thing comes along? I always think of this when I see former rock bands that once filled stadiums and are now playing open air pavilions at state fairs. They were once household names. Now they are only known to a favored few.
Sure, I would not deny that I like the feeling of affirmation I get when people drop by a copy of the article or mention they saw us in the paper or give me a thumbs up on the way out the door and say, “great job!” It’s a pretty good drug, for sure, but like most drugs, the effect wears away and you’re still left in the same condition as you were before you medicated yourself with it.
Which is where I want to try and stay, regardless of whether we get noticed or not. If I remain committed to finding joy and satisfaction in my work, then the euphoria of recognition will be less addictive, because I’ve already found something pleasurable that doesn’t wear off quite so quickly.
I told myself this as I strolled through a packed dining room today, picking up empty plates and conversing with customers. The buzz was palpable, the noise level of laughter, conversation and jazz playing in the background at competing decibels.”This is my job.” I mused. “This is what I do.”
And how lucky I am to get to do it.
Happy New Year 2009