It’s a known fact that restaurants fail frequently. The banking industry will tell you it’s about an 80% failure rate. The restaurant industry will temper that by half to around 40%. Both groups will tell you their number one reason for why doors close so often. I will offer my theory.

We got into this business with an awareness of two sides of the coin. On one side is the Idea of the Restaurant. Food carries a romance and charm with it. It’s a very social industry. It sounds cool to tell people, “I own ________ restaurant.” You get to meet a lot of people and make most of them happy. I’ll be the first to admit that the positive feedback is a pretty good drug.

On the flip side is the Work of the Restaurant, which encompasses about 99 percent of your time. Planning, training, prepping, baking, simmering, washing, cleaning, ordering, serving, sweating, and so on. This is the side that will kill you if you don’t figure out how to enjoy it also.

To be successful, you have to love both aspects equally. Sure its great to stroll the dining room and hear folks laughing and talking and watch them enjoy the food and space you’ve created for them, but if you don’t love those hours leading up to that, back in the kitchen, your place isn’t long for this world.

If you are able to see the wonder in the mundane, you are on your way. If proofing dough is magic, or if assembling a soup is transformation or if whipping an emulsion is metamorphosis, then you will do well. If it’s just grunt work, watch out. It will wear you down and out and leave you tired, irritable and with nothing to offer but food that matches that attitude.

Two sides of the coin