That old adage, the grass is always greener, holds especially true in the restaurant business. I have never known anyone in the business who doesn’t constantly think that the restaurant down the block, or across the street, or around the corner is doing more business than they are. It is the nature of the beast. We are constant checkers. Spies in the night, looking into the windows of restaurants in the neighborhood doing quick glance customer counts in an attempt to compare who is better off or closer to closed door demise.And, while we often long and linger to be the busier guy down the street with the seemingly constant packed house, each of us at one time or another, suffer from vendor envy.
We look at those invoices, with the big numbers at the bottom, and casually ignore the past due column, and think to ourselves how wonderful it must be to make so much profit on a tiny chicken, or something as simple as leasing an Espresso machine.
When the produce shoots up in price, for whatever the story, whoever has come up with, we surely think that there is no reason in the world Sal should be charging so much for head lettuce.
And, how about that ice machine we rented. Now there´s a guy who must be making a fortune.
Well, think again. Vendors are working people too. Think about financing every restaurant in the city. We all know we are all slow pay. We all know that most of the time we are teetering on the brink of financial disaster juggling between the chicken man, the produce guy, Bobby Linen and Jackie London. But yet, we look at our vendors and wonder why we are not in there shoes.
One of my best friends is a vendor. He is a big vendor in the city who does more to help restaurants than any other vendor in town. He´s got in his blood. He would never own one of these money eating beasts, but he enjoys the mystery, and the turmoil, and the challenge.
Last week he was out collecting from a list of friends who owe him invoices from weeks, and months, and in some cases I would imagine, six months past. He´s out in the morning, and at night, and on weekends.
He does a great job of helping restaurants in the city. He is a leader in the vendor squad that helps keep the restaurant business thriving in a city that claims to know more about food that Julia ever did.
And, as we share stories, and laugh, and joke about the business I am sure that there are owners who envy him and others who wish they had his energy, personality and business skills. But, remember, the grass isn´t always greener. Especially if you are a vendor-seliing to restaurants.