My first month as a restaurant owner.
Hello, dear friends!
It seems I have been “MIA” from all things blog and social media related the past 4ish weeks. You could say I needed a little break from it all - or you could say I was busy putting all of my energy into plant, my new restaurant that opened on August 5th. Both statements would be accurate.
Today starts my first day “back.” It’s my first day back on my exercise regimen, it’s my first day back to my normal coaching schedule, and it’s my first day back to creating balance. You could say I am excited : )
If you want to know my experience as a brand new restaurant owner - you’ve come to the right place. Because that’s what we are diving into today. It seems to be a hot topic around my peers, as everyone wants to know “What does it feel like to have your own restaurant?” or “Are you miserable, yet?” It’s quite funny the comments and projections from others that come my way.
Let’s just start with this - Restaurant ownership is not for the weary.
Going into the opening of Plant, I felt good. Never stressed, always excited, and felt as prepared as I think someone could ever feel going into their first restaurant. I had been warned, on multiple accounts, of why the restaurant world “sucks.” But that never scared me. I had listened to the podcasts, read the books, studied the reports, and prepared as much as I thought I could. I was ready.
Fast forward to the opening week. We averaged 22 hour work days, were extremely understaffed, continuously ran out of food, and were in complete survival mode. I’ll never forget opening day. I was working the register when all of a sudden I looked up to see the fire alarm going off, a fed ex delivery coming in the front door, a food delivery coming in right behind them, a mechanic working on our broken freezer, a line of at least 35 people out the door, a full dining room with standing room only, and a staff that looked as if we hadn't had AC in days. I couldn’t contain my laughter, and I’m pretty sure the people trying to place an order thought I was on something a little stronger than matcha. It was complete CHAOS - but I loved it.
This chaos lasted about 2.5 weeks, and was truly so much fun I would do it again tomorrow if I had to. It is what I had been working towards in a way, and nothing could possibly dampen my mood when my very own restaurant was hustling and bustling the way it still is today.
During week two of restaurant ownership I began to realize just how much our mental capacity affects our physical being. This is definitely not a new concept, but it still blew my mind. I had still been running on 2 hours of sleep per day - but I felt just fine, I would dare to even say great. Adrenaline was definitely my friend, but I think it was more than that. It was the fact that I was now realizing that all 32 employees were counting on me. Their livelihoods depend on us, and that is something I can’t take lightly. Not only are our employees counting on us, but the community is counting on us. We had guests who broke out in tears because they were so grateful to finally have a safe place to eat in their own city. One sweet couple had their first date night in 5 years due to food allergies and not being able to eat out. Another family came in from the children’s hospital and was able to eat as a family for the first time since their kid started treatment. These moments mean EVERYTHING and more. These moments are why we exist.
Week three of restaurant ownership brought forward a whole lot of compassion and gratitude. As things started to settle down- our team was able to breathe, to catch up, and to love on one another. Seeing this team form such a strong bond after a few weeks of chaos is truly the coolest thing. I’m pretty sure I cried happy tears on multiple accounts when I tried to put into words how grateful I truly am for these people.
Week four of the restaurant world finally brought forward my sleepiness. It was as if I finally knew that my team was strong enough on their own, and my body let go. I slept, I napped, and I slept some more. These may be the deepest sleeps I have ever experienced, and I’m sure there’s more coming my way! I won’t say I am caught up, because that will most certainly take time. As for everything else, we are still learning, still growing, and still trying to figure out just exactly what we are doing. Everyday is a new adventure, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
So, to answer the most popular question - it feels surreal to have my own restaurant. I still feel like I am living in a dream. Maybe one day it will hit me, or maybe it won’t. All I know is that here is no way I would still be standing if it weren’t for the team of people who helped us get through the past month. Friends who showed up, family who called to check in, customers who showed so much grace, a community who supported, and the best team imaginable who made it possible. Plant is everything I dreamed it would be, and this is truly just the beginning.
So, although restaurant ownership is not for everyone, I am pretty convinced that it is for me.
Here’s to creating balance, having fun, and living out your dreams!