Ah, summer. Lazy days spent lolling around the pool at The Club, or jaunting to the beach just over the dune in front of the house. Yeah right. Sorry. Restaurant owners are running the club, we seldom see the pool, or the beach from anything other than a kitchen window. But, it may be time to change that a bit. At least for a day or two. I found that nothing clears the head faster than a day at the pool. I would often spent my day off near the water, with paperwork near-by so as to not get too used to the serenity of the setting. It was a very effective medicine.
Obtaining the balance of life between work and family, toil and leisure is more difficult for restaurateurs than any other professional group. It is imperative though, that we tear ourselves away from the daily grind and take a break from the stress.
Since summer is the season of the casual read, I´d like to suggest a few books to pack in amongst the invoices or letters of praise from customers. These won´t help in taking your mind off work, but they will introduce you to other´s who share the lifestyle.
When Ludwig Bemelman writes about the rogues, con-men, geniuses, craftsmen gypsies, lunatics and thieves, you know he ain´t talkin "bout Starbucks.
Bemelman spend the 1920s and 1930s in the passageways and banquet halls of The City´s major hotels and the twenty-six stories that comprise Hotel Bemelmans is a humorous joust with society within the walls of any eatery.
It is a wonderful book to keep poolside or bedside- a quick read that delights and makes one realize we are all in the same soup, it is just made with different stock.
Luncheonette, A Memoir
When Steven Sorrentino moved to New York City to find his love on Broadway he thought he had left his dad´s luncheonette, in West Long Branch, New Jersey, behind forever. Luncheonette´s have a certain appeal to those of us in the business, and when Sorentino returned home for Christmas in 1980 he found his father almost paralyzed and the family business in tough straights.
Luncheonette, A Memoir, is a humorously written tale of a small town diner and the characters that congregate along the way. Covering the ups and downs and sideways of the biz, Sorrentino touches the soft spots of restaurant owners everywhere while dealing with the day to day struggles of life.
The Restaurant Dream?
And finally, Lee Simon has recently published a design insight bible. A business book, you say?
All right. You can´t get away from it. Hotel Bemelmans was humorous. Luncheonette, touching. But you can´t get the idea of the dish room being moved out of your head. The service station just isn´t working. And, the plans for the new place in Denver are not completed because the architect is having a problem with the walk-in. Maybe Lee Simon can help.
Simon has recently published The Restaurant Dream? on restaurant design that has first time developers in mind. Notice the question mark in the title? When has an owner never not questioned what he´s doing in the business. That should be enough info to make everyone thinking about building a new a restaurant or designing a remodel too pick up a copy.
I have yet to read the entire book. However, According to Simon, after reading the book you will be able to make a well informed, educated decision on whether or not you want to really go into the business. Here´s what some industry veterans are saying about the book.
"The Restaurant Dream? provides a rare and realistic look inside the restaurant development process, from start to finish. Lee offers a wealth of useful information for restaurant developers of all experience levels."
– Patrick Hynes, Senior Director, Purchasing, Darden Restaurants
"Lee provides you with everything you need and then some. His insights into the nuts and bolts of restaurant concepts, design, equity structure, marketing, and opening are unparalleled. You won’t eat in any restaurant again without thinking about the tough decisions and banter that went on behind the scenes to determine every specification and detail that you see, touch, and eat."
– Scott Uehlein, Corporate Chef, Canyon Ranch
"Opening a restaurant is probably one of the most difficult undertakings that any sane person will approach outside of scaling Mount Everest. The Restaurant Dream? provides those who are interested in approaching this restaurant design summit with a concise but incredibly thorough sherpa-like approach to realizing this goal. While it may not guarantee a successful restaurant, it will certainly prepare you for the climb."
– Larry Traxler, Vice President Architecture and Design, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
That sounds like a must read for anyone with dreams of grandeur and dishwashers near a stove.
Summer reading. A tremendously relaxing way to pass the time and keep your mind off the business. Did I mention not to bring your cell phone to the pool?