I can mark eras in my life by the music I listened to during those times.  The dark, brooding sounds I gravitated toward in the early 2000’s reflected the state of my troubled personal life.  There are certain songs that I can still return to and remember what life felt like back then. They serve as milestones to help me mark my journey.

In 2001, Jack White wrote and recorded a little :50 sec song titled Little Room, on the album White Blood Cells that remains one of my favorite and most important songs on my personal Top 10 list.  Its message floats back up to the surface now as we transition into a new phase of growth in our business.

“When you’re in your little room, working on something good…”

Why in the world did we start this business?  What possessed us to open a restaurant, one of the hardest of businesses, in the worst of economic times?  “What caused us to take such a huge risk to leave our 18yr career and embark on something we knew little about?  These were the questions we would have to ask and be able to answer, not just at the onset, but down the line when the going got tougher.  The short answer is that we believed in our idea.  We believed we had something good planned, and that drove us to bet on the come.

“And if it’s really good, you might need a bigger room…”

And gratefully, the dice came up with our number showing.  The bet paid off.  Guests were happy. Our menu expanded.  Our staff grew.  It felt good to see these results.

But we wanted more; more satisfied guests, more staff that enjoyed their work.

Eventually the opportunity came to multiply, so we took it.

“And when you’re in your bigger room, you might not know what to do…”

Our second concept opened less than two weeks ago, and I am reminded once again how much a new business demands. It’s been very difficult, just as it was in the beginning of our first restaurant.  I keep reminding myself that progress takes time and that it took years to refine the concept of bread&cup.  We’ve had some big strikeouts, but it’s because we are swinging for the fence.  It’s a horrible feeling to let a guest down, one that leads to endless self-doubt and loss of sleep.  Rationally I know that mistakes are going to be made; but they are extremely hard to accept.  I constantly come back to Danny Meyer’s advice, “Nobody is perfect. The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”

“You might have to think about how you got started in your little room.”

Despite the size of our new space now, with the increased number of staff, and the shiny new features and multiple rooms with distinct designs, the core of what we do must remain; to make people happy.  This is the essence of hospitality.  It doesn’t matter if you own a food cart or a 3 Michelin star destination.  If people aren’t happy, the work is for naught.

This is how we got started in the little room.  May we never forget it.

The Little Room