I had an unusual grief to get over when the doors of my restaurant opened three and a half years ago. For so many years, the idea of bread&cup existed in my thoughts and mind and on a few pieces of paper sketched out here and there, tucked in this folder or that drawer. There was a security to the idea, mainly because it was the impetus that moved me forward and out of the funk that I was in. At most any time of the day during that season, the restaurant was what occupied my attention.
In this way, I was in control of the idea and its development from the very beginning, but it all changed the day we served our first customers their food. Our restaurant was now a living, breathing entity and there was no turning back. It was outside of me and now dependent on many others, both customers and employees, to see the vision fulfilled.
Obviously this is the way it is supposed to be. But conception and germination are quieter processes than birthing and nurturing, and I was jolted into the latter in one fell swoop, and it took a while to adjust to being a new dad of a new, infant restaurant.
But there are times that I like to slip back and reflect upon the former, and there is no better place to do it than sitting in my restaurant, quiet, alone, and remembering what it took to get us to this point.
With our long hours, it’s seldom that I get the opportunity during the week to be quiet by myself in the restaurant. But if it happens, it’s usually on a Sunday morning or afternoon, when we are closed, and I end up taking that time to give attention to some detail that was put aside for a later date. There is always something to be done, always something to be fixed, to be cleaned or rearranged. My OCD tends to kick in and if I’m not careful, my whole Sunday is shot.
But on those rare occasions that I don’t feel compelled to straighten all the chairs and adjust the wobbly table legs, I like to have a seat at my bar, pour myself a pint and take a visual inventory. I work to get past all that’s wrong, like seeing the flour sacks that aren’t stacked neatly or wondering why I didn’t do something different to the floors in the first place. I see the nicks in the wall that need a little touch up paint. I hear the compressor kick on under the deli case and it prompts a question of when the last time I cleaned all the refrigerant compressors in my kitchen and what I need to do to schedule a regular maintenance on those things.
Once I fill my list with the half empty items, I now can move to the half full ones. I look around and marvel that this is my little kitchen, my little dining room, my little corner of the world at the intersection of 8th and S Streets. I remember what a hell of a ride it was to get here, but how privileged I am to own a business, one that is working, and even enjoyable to boot.
I think of all the people it has taken to get to this point, both employees and customers, and seeing the enjoyment on their faces to have a place to work and a place to eat that is a pleasure in both rights.
I enjoy being alone in my restaurant. It gives me a good chance to take a breath and make sure I am enjoying this road upon which I am traveling. What’s the use of success without the license to enjoy it?