To Own Or Not To Own….Is It Even A Question?

| March 5, 2012 | 4 Comments

It’s amazing how much ammunition I’ve been able to gather in the past several months of hiatus from my blog! What an interesting ride it’s been: three different restaurant jobs in the past six months and I finally truly think I may be one of the most qualified people in town to write this blog.

I worked for one of the new restaurant/bars downtown and it just reinforced the fact that not everyone is cut out to own a restaurant, especially if you have no previous experience in the field. I will always applaud an entrepreneur, but most of the people that have experience will probably tell you its way too much work and very little reward.

Restaurant owners come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve worked for owners who have built an empire for the past 70 years and now spend their time traveling with their kids and grand kids. I’ve worked for the struggling, but very involved owner who barely scrapes by but somehow finds a way to keep on chugging. I’ve also worked for owners who are never around and probably can only name a third of their employees’ names, as well as the employer who is so ego-centric and arrogant that he thinks the world revolves around him and cares more about his employees knowing his accolades than knowing their names. The last kind of owner is the worst, and maybe because I just came from an environment with an oppressive boss, I can speak volumes about “this guy”. Nothing is ever good enough and no matter how many hours you put in or how dedicated you are, you will never be appreciated. Businesses that are run like that will never survive.

One of my co-workers said to me one night, (and I wish I could take credit for it) “Opening a bar is the new over priced sports cars for men with mid-life crises.” In our case, it could not have been any more true. I mean, I love pineapples but you don’t see me moving  to Hawaii to compete with the Dole Plantation, do you?

My favorite story about one owner I worked for was his take on his personal alcohol policy. He told me one night when the restaurant first opened that he would never get drunk at his own bar. He never wanted his customers or staff to ever see him in that light. Respectable, right? But every single night after that comment was made, the guy never was without a glass in his hands. The bar would be packed, standing room only, and he would be sitting on a bar stool. Rule #1 in owning a bar: let your paying customers have your seat. Rule #2: put your glass down and see what you can do to help your employees. One night after drinking way too much, “this guy” got so hammered he blacked out. He had no recollection of grabbing the flag from out front and sprinting through the busy restaurant waving it around like he was on the Raven’s flag squad. Watching that clip over and over again on the surveillance cameras and showing all my coworkers was hands down the most rewarding part of that job.

My advice to restaurant owners–as an employee, treat people as you’d want to be treated, it’s the golden rule. Don’t be hypocritical and don’t act so high and mighty. Humble yourselves a bit and it will do wonders for your business. Always remember: Karma is a bitch, and so am I.

 

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Category: OPINION

About the Author ()

I graduated with an Art degree from a small liberal arts college, did a bit of traveling and moved to Annapolis from Baltimore about seven years ago. I currently manage a well-known Annapolis restaurant, serve and bartend. I live downtown and I like sunsets and long walks on the beach :)