There comes a time in your life and career when you realize it’s okay to just do your absolute best. It’s okay to try as hard as you can to reach perfection, to cross the finish line, to accomplish all the goals you set out to do, and not end up reaching any of this.
Opening a restaurant is one of the highest risk-lowest profiting businesses you can open. To put this in perspective, here are some stats:
- Seventy percent of those that make it past the first year close their doors in the next three to five years. Ninety percent of the restaurants that are still operating past the five-year mark will stay in business for a minimum of 10 years.( https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/average-life-span-restaurant-6024.html)
- Entrepreneurs interested in opening a restaurant may think that an experienced cook and a good location will undoubtedly bring in huge profits for their business. In reality, the restaurant industry is characterized by small profit margins — around 2 to 6 percent on average according to the Restaurant Resource Group (https://www.nav.com/blog/96-profit-in-the-restaurant-business-5342/)
And here are some top reasons why being a Chef/Restauranteur is so stressful:
- Relationships are really tough. Family dates are extremely rare.
- Holidays are work days.
- Don’t even think about sick days.
- Twelve to sixteen hour days, just hurt after awhile.
- You probably won’t get famous or rich. Ever.
- Pressure. Pressure. Pressure.
From my experience thus far, coming up to our second-year anniversary, there have been more learning curves, experiences, and down right breakdowns that I could ever have imagined would be part of my day-to-day activities with opening my café. Never in my wildest dreams, could I understand the stamina and pure self-sacrifice it would take. These are not complaints, these are the realities of being a restauranteur. It is an absolute cut throat business, where the smallest of factors can upturn your entire entity you’ve worked so hard for. The following is a list of things to contemplate the next time you enjoy a well-deserved meal at your favorite restaurant:
- Many of us wake up at 4am to ensure our ingredients are on hand, fresh, and always prepared just right for our dining guests.
- We no longer have a personal life. It’s always about work, no matter how much you try to live outside of your business. If you do manage to escape it for just a moment, it usually comes back to bite you because something won’t be ready, or some major emergency comes up, like all your staff is sick on the same day.
- The adrenaline it takes to ensure your menu is executed in a timely fashion and that the food and presentation of each dish is impeccable takes an enormous toll on your physical and mental state, day after day, hour after hour.
- The fatigue that threatens to take you down is real. The one thing I have personally experienced scared me, for real. I’ve never felt mentally and physically drained like that in my life. It has brought a new, respectful appreciation beyond words for the chef’s life. You cannot, simply cannot, understand what this feels like unless you experience it first hand. Period.
There are many things that make this profession questionable to most. So you’ll ask us then….”Why do you do it? Why would you put yourself through such anguish and stress for minimal profits, if any?”
The answer is because we love it.
We love to give. To serve. To make something from scratch that someone else, a stranger can experience that brings them back to their childhood, or to another country, even just for a moment. We love to create and to experiment. We love to be challenged. We love to be busy. We love the control we have over our own destinies. We love our customers and their comments about something we did. We love the rush. We love the team. We love food.
There is a passion that chefs and restauranteurs have that keep them going every single day, despite the odds against them. As a newly found restauranteur, I wanted to bring some light to you, the serviced customer, so the next time, the kitchen is out of pasta, or the server brings the wrong plate or drops a fork, or the scones and muffins aren’t quite ready yet, please be compassionate and mindful of the grueling work it takes to run an establishment of this sort. Just be kind and wait patiently for your experience to be enlightened by the gift of a wonderful meal placed before you that was, undoubtedly, prepared with more love than you could ever, ever know.