I received an email last week from a two-time failed restaurateur. The woman’s sweet disposition jumped off the screen of my laptop. She wanted to know when to “throw in the towel” on the restaurant business. Having had a couple of major financial failures, she was leery of another venture and although she promised herself and her family to never enter a professional kitchen again, as a principle owner, she was wavering. She had come across a space that fit here concept, “perfectly”, and she had a friend who wanted to be her partner. Her need for advice teetered on a culinary intervention. But, who are we to say when it’s time to toss the towel out the window instead of into the laundry bag?
There are limitations though, no matter how passionate we may be about the business, an available space, or a location that we know we can “turn into a gold mine”. Financial needs and one’s ability to struggle through the lean times often dictates whether another venture is feasible or personally realistic. Speaking from experience, one of the toughest endeavors I ever encountered was the undertaking of a new culinary enterprise after crashing and burning in one only moments, earlier.
Everyone has an opinion on when to leave the business. I know operators who have mortgaged their homes, sold their cherished possessions, and borrowed from friends, family and fools in an attempt to keep a guaranteed losing property alive.
The realistic way to know whether a new restaurant is feasible is to seek financial advice from a trusted accountant. By working out the numbers- costs and expenses- against projected business – a person will know immediately if the project has any possibility of success. However, that’s not the course most restaurateurs take.
Having two failures in succession makes it difficult to acquire the confidence needed to endure the stress, struggle and daily decision making that is so important in a restaurant’s infancy. On top of that, accepting the financial assistance of a partner who wants to be a restaurant owner is always a double edge sword. It can cut very deeply.
It may be the perfect time to pursue a position with another restaurant or food establishment, build up confidence, let wounds heal and find out how life outside of culinary ownership really is. Once one tastes what other plates have to offer, then making the decision to go back on the promises to never go into the business again may be more realistic.
We have all been in sweet disposition’s shoes and it’s a tough place to stand.
Does anyone else have advice for this passionate culinarian who is trying to decide on where to throw the towel?
Let me know. Send me an email with your advice for “Sweet Disposition”.