Ahh, don’t you just love a great restaurant? Especially when you go to one and they treat you with the utmost care. Your food is excellent and the bar is pretty neat too. And for some reason it just seems like the owner of the establishment can’t wipe the small grin from his face due to his or her overwhelming feeling of pride. You even think to yourself. Wouldn’t it be great to own a bar, or a great restaurant? They must have a great life. Well I have a little secret that I’d like to share with you. That plate of perfect food your eating, may have took weeks, months or even years of work to come up with. The perfect staff that is waiting on you is a work in progress and was painful to create. The kitchen in which your food was prepared was painfully bought with blood money from the owners life savings, loans and lots of prayers to God. And the owner that you see in the corner proudly smiling at his customers eating at his restaurant. Well, he or she is not smiling because they’re happy. Their actually insane. And their smiling at you because it’s better to do that than to cry. They can’t believe that it’s taken them so long and they had to endure so much pain to finally open the doors of their restaurant. Ok, I’m exaggerating but sometimes I feel that way.
Right now I’m in the process of getting a few investors for my restaurant and it’s not easy. I’ve already obtained a small loan and I’m in current talks with someone else who would like to become a partner. Like I mentioned before this business is not for the timed and it will make you feel low at times. Personally I feel that it shouldn’t be too hard to open a place that caters to the people in the area. So many times you get chefs and entrepreneurs who create restaurants that cater to themselves instead of the people in the area. How else would you explain fine dining establishments in areas that are not able to support it. Just because an area is up and coming does not mean that it’s there yet. A buddy of mine was baffled by the large number of fine dining establishments that were popping up in the wicker park area and else where. He didn’t understand why would someone solely focus on a fine dining establishment even through there were a few in the area already, or were in areas with lower income. From a business perspective he made a lot of sense and I agreed, but I’ve also worked in a lot of restaurants as well as owned my owned café so I had a hunch why some of the chefs chose to push for fine dining. Instead of feeling out the area and demographics a bit more in order to make a sound business decision when creating the theme/menu of their restaurant.
I told him that I believed from my experience most chefs go through rigorous training on how to make gourmet meals some of them even have experience at upscale restaurants and after training on how to create a fine dining experience the last thing that they want to do is open up a hamburger joint. I mean honestly, if you just got out of school as a top senior designer would you want to create graphics for Wal-Mart or work for that cool Australian or Italian based Graphic design company where minimalism is the law. I personally know this because I was a designer for years. Which leads me to this point. The chef’s and entrepreneurs end up cooking for themselves instead of the demographic.
Just like designers sometimes design for themselves and not the client
Sometimes we have to make due with what we have. And if those chefs don’t want to compensate then maybe they shouldn’t be opening a restaurant yet, until they find the right area where they can use their skills. Another problem is so many people are trying to make a fancy version of a traditional dish when they can’t even make the traditional dish correctly. A true chef should learn how to make due with what he has. Use various techniques to make a great dish out of little resources. Restaurant owners should have the skill to scope out their area and cater to the people. Not their own egos. If we are in a recession, your menu should reflect that. Understand that everyone may not make fifty thousand dollars a year but those people still can recognize what tastes good. I’m planning to do that in the restaurant. I’m opening and personally I’m frustrated with the food scene in my area. Seems like the only places that are doing cutting edge things are in different neighborhoods. I was told that I was beaten to a piece of property that I wanted to get, and the realty broker claimed that the people moving in were bringing something unique to the area. Come to find out that it was an Italian restaurant. Did I mention that I live only a mile away from Little Italy? Here’s my point. If your going to do Italian food near little Italy it better damn well not only be good but the best. I love Italian food. And there are only a few places in Chicago that do it well. Very well.
I just hope that people start pushing the envelope a bit and bring newer things to the table. There are too many nationalities in the US to only create a handful of ethic restaurants. Lately I’ve been reviewing the demographics in my area, and asking people what they would like in the area. Not only that, I’ve spent time talking to distributors, bakers and other restaurant owners who put a lot of pride into the ingredients they use. Most of there focus is on American cuisine. And they pride themselves. My belief is if I’m going to make you a burger, salmon or a vegetarian dish. You’ll be hard pressed to try to duplicate it at home. And I want you to look forward to coming to my place. I want you to know what sets me apart from others, that I use local produce, free range poultry and biodegradable too go containers and I want you to know why I’m doing it. I also would like for you to know why I think that a kids meal should be much more than just a hot dog and fries. All in all people should do their homework when opening up a new place and when you come to my place (if an when it finally opens) hopefully you will know that I did my homework when you taste the food