My daughter and I own a restaurant. Or rather, it owns us.
It's not fancy. Probably more akin to a "greasy spoon" diner.
My father managed restaurants, my mother was a bartender. I remember growing up I thought having my own restaurant would be marvelous. Creating exciting flavors, and serving them on pretty plates. Having the happiest customers ever.
I'm just about over that now.
My daughter and I own the restaurant my parents bought in 1984. We have inherited it. We have a love/hate relationship with it. Some days? A lot of hate.
Owning a restaurant means you are on call 24/7. The phone ringing at 3:30am is a given. We are not only restaurant owners, we are cooks, dishwashers, servers, cashiers, bookkeepers, maintenance men, and social workers.
If someone calls in sick, we are very likely the ones to cover that shift. If a piece of equipment breaks down, we try to troubleshoot it ourselves rather than call the real (overpriced cause you have to have it) repair services. We do most of our own bookkeeping to keep down the cost of having an accountant to do everything. We mediate differences between employees, between customers. between employees and customers.
Some employees feel as long as they show up and clock in, they have earned pay. Honestly? Standing around watching the clock is not what I pay people to do.
Some feel that it is our job to arrange around their family life, social life, and appointments. We try to be flexible. We are at the bottom of the food chain is the retail world. Minimum wage. So flexible schedule is about the only "perk" we can offer. But, really? If one only works 3 days a week, can one not schedule their dental cleaning on one of the days they have off?
Some employees think employee meal is taking enough food home to feed the family. Some think the coffee sale they put in their pocket instead of the cash register isn't going to hurt anything. Some think we are making a fortune. Hah!
Some customers seem to think we acquire the food we serve for a reduced price or even for free. They don't understand why we want to charge for extras. I want to go to a hardware store, buy a hammer and ask why the nails don't come with it.
Some customers think that if they eat 3/4 of a meal and decide they don't like it, they don't have to pay for it. Why would someone eat most of a meal they didn't like?
I have listened to the medical woes of customers. The marital problems of employees. Tried to help out employees that are short on cash before payday. Refereed the spats between servers. Assured customers that to the best of our knowledge the eggs don't have salmonella. Explained to customers and employees we HAVE called the soft drink machine people 5 times and they keep saying it's fixed every time and I can't FIX THE DAMN MACHINE MYSELF!!
I have explained to customers, more times than I can count that replacing hash browns with corned beef hash on the breakfast special for the same price just cannot be done. That we use lemon juice packets, we are not upscale enough to keep real lemon slices on hand as I would throw out more than I served. That we are a little bitty place without the space or equipment to do things like the high class place down the street does. That's why our dinners are less that $6.00 a plate.
This business is not for the weak hearted. It eats you alive. Even for owners the pays sucks. I'd make more money at Wally World.
Yet, in the end. I'm still here. Cause it's what I do. And really?
Because I love it.