Next week, right after New Year’s Eve makes its momentary appearance in restaurants and households across the country, hunting season begins in earnest. It’s not your normal big game or small bird season. It’s the time of year that summons restaurant owners with an urge to expand. It’s the call heard signifying the neighborhood tour in search of those properties gone dark. Most will have a note on the door announcing a “remodel”, a “vacation”, or an emergency. But down deep inside, we all know what these signs mean.
January is the month of closures in the business. Those limping properties that struggled to get through the holidays, in an attempt to recoup some cash and a portion of investment grasp the busy holiday season as if a lifeline on a sinking ship. Only to bail out as soon as the last helium filled balloon hits the floor, the desperate restaurateur exits quietly, often in the dark of night leaving the closed doors temptingly beckoning operators with visions of expansion.
It is that perfect time of year. Everyone passes through it as though a right of passage, going from bit player to big game. With eyes set on multi unit management and ownership, restaurant fanatics keep their eyes on those neighbors who were slow during the fall, and almost empty during the snowy and cold months of winter frigidity. The eagle eye operators have had their sights set on their prey as though Turkey Vultures flying high above the meadows in constant search of a fresh kill.
I see it every winter. A changing of keys and concepts takes place throughout the urban landscape allowing for a new taste of culinary offerings come spring. Yet those new concepts will face the same struggles as the ones before them. For it is not the faint of heart that can make a multi unit group succeed and soar.
Recently I had the opportunity to stop into a restaurant that I frequent when on my way back o
However, a new restaurant opened on theCarneros Resort Property and with the opening of Farm the resorts high-end eatery, the more casual Boonfly has begun to sputter. On the particular evening I decided to dine at the Boonfly, the manager was sitting at the bar talking to three other employees.
When I walked through the door, the manager looked over and didn’t move from his barstool. Eventually a waiter played host and asked if I would like a table. Intrigued by the manager’s inability to move, Kranston and I decided to dine at the bar, within earshot of the conversation. For the next 45 minutes I listened as the manager complained about how tired he was and how the job was just getting to him. He paid little attention to the customers or the food that was being served. The food was as tired as the manager. The Boonfly had taken a nosedive.
While listening to the perils of barstool management, I couldn’t help but think about the upcoming hunting season and all of those unemployed managers who once held the reigns of eateries in their hands while owners struggled to turn a profit. Would a little spark of professionalism help those struggling owners become profitable? Who knows.
It’s an interesting time, restaurant hunting season. Be careful. It’s the big game that could kill you.