Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Road Less Traveled...

The Road Less Traveled

It’s at times like these that I’m remembering a poem written by Robert Frost – “The Road Not Taken”.  Here is a portion of that poem…basically, the last stanza:

The Road Not Taken
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

Why do I feel this way at times? – well, let me tell you…

As you know, I’m in the process of starting up my own restaurant and when I say ‘starting’, it’s from the ground up…including concept.  Well, ok, not ‘literally’ the ground up, but close enough.  I’m located in the brand new Zion’s Bank Financial Center building, so the actual building itself is there and in place.  The space that I’m occupying is, for the most part, just a shell.  I’ve got four walls, a floor and ceiling – what more could a guy ask for.  I also have HVAC, Power, Gas, Water, and Sewage connections.  Now when you think about it, that’s actually quite a bit and helps out tremendously cost wise (vs. brand new construction from the dirt up).

However…and this is where the ‘road less traveled’ comes in to play.  What I have listed above on what my space currently is, it means that I must build EVERYTHING…as in booths, kitchen, interior walls, bathrooms, dishroom…everything, everything, everything.  So as I got to thinking about it, and then thinking about restaurants in general and the perceived “high” failure rate of restaurants, my belief is that most ‘independent’ restaurant owners tend to go into some type of ‘existing’ space.

Now, let me back up just a bit…’perceived high failure rate of restaurants’.  I kind of say that sarcastically but then again, there is a bit of truth to that statement.  Here is ‘more’ of the truth of the matter…yes, many restaurants do fail – no doubt about it.  However, it isn’t quite as high as the ‘90%’ rate that many would have you believe.  In truth, it’s more like 65%-75%.  Is that still high? – unfortunately, yes.  Why is it so high though – here’s my theory…who wants to open a hardware store, or a retail store, or a used car lot (or brand new dealership), or a grocery store, or a……well, we could state a lot of other types of stores.  There are more people that open a restaurant than almost any other type of store.  Many of those people don’t have any experience in the industry at all – they just want to open and own a restaurant.  Being a good cook at home or enjoying going to restaurants does not translate into being a successful restaurant owner.  Now, when people go into existing locations…locations where other restaurants have been before and didn’t make it…well, because another restaurant had been in that location and failed, the incoming restaurant already has everything in place that they need.  So other than some remodeling and such, costs for them are not as nearly expensive as a new construction startup.

So, back to ‘my’ topic – the road less traveled.  I don’t think that there are too many ‘independent’ restaurants that are going into ‘brand new spaces’ such as mine.  Most independent restaurants are going into existing structures, where they have more than just the four walls, a floor, a ceiling, HVAC, Water, and everything else I mentioned.  What they have that I don’t have are hoods, some equipment, lights, bathrooms…basically, with very little effort (well, ok, more than just a ‘little’) they can open their doors for business.  Me? – did I mention already that I need to build ‘everything’?  Also, not only do I need to build ‘everything’, but ‘everything’ needs to be built according to code…codes that are in place ‘today’ and not codes of 2 years, 5 years, 10 years ago.

The road less traveled…I find myself wondering at times if I should have looked for an existing location.  It may have made my life a bit easier (maybe) and it certainly would have been a little better on my pocketbook.  Still, as Robert Frost put it in his poem, “…And that has made all the difference.” – Taking the road less traveled can be a great thing…difficult yes, but a great thing.  I’ve got great support, I have what I believe is a great concept, I have the skills and experience to take on this project…it’s just a lot of work to get where I want to be.  Will it be worth it?  I agree with Robert Frost – “…And that has made all the difference.”.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

How did I get here...really.

I do wonder that did I get here.  No, not 'that' "How did I get here...Where did I come from...", but really - how did I get to where I'm this point in time.  Sometimes I look at this project of mine and begin to realize that hey, this is a pretty big project...a pretty big undertaking here (you do know that I'm talking about my restaurant...right?).

You know, when I first thought about running my own restaurant, I can't remember if I really had any set plans on how big/small it would be...I just knew that I wanted to create and run my own place and that I would be successful at it.  I also seriously didn't think that I would be doing this right now, I mean, I didn't lay plans down years ago saying that I'll have my own place in the year 2011.  Don't get me wrong...this isn't something that I'm just trying to throw together hoping that it'll work - I've been working on plans and details for over a year now, but did I get here.

When I was young and growing up, I can tell you that my dreams were not to grow up and be a cook.  I didn't want to be a Dr. or Lawyer either, maybe a cowboy...  Actually, what I really wanted to be was a baseball player.  I loved baseball...and was pretty good at it too.  Well, the baseball route obviously didn't work out...but good things happened along the way.

One of those good things was meeting my wife LuAnn!  Had I made the baseball team at Ricks (now BYU-Idaho), or had I decided to go to BYU (Provo) in the first place, I don't think I would have ever met LuAnn...that would have been a mistake.  I can't imagine my life without her...she's my friend, my biggest supporter, my everything!  No, we haven't had the 'perfect' lives as we've had our share of ups and downs with layoffs, moving around a lot, different jobs and such, but through it all, it has been a GREAT life!!

Still, how does that get me to where I'm at today?? - simple - it's with the Love and Support that I receive from LuAnn and the rest of my family!!  Early last year, 2010, LuAnn really did not want me to get to serious about starting up my own, she's asking me how come it's taking so long to get open (I know..others of you are asking the same question).  So again, the answer is simple.  With the Love and Support that I have from LuAnn and the kids, and with the knowledge set that we have through our life's experiences, we're not looking at this venture as a 'challenge', instead, this is really just another day for us.  Yes, going through all the construction and building process is new to us, but the closer we get to opening our doors, that's when we are in our comfort zone...that's when we can role up our sleeves and dig into the work!

So with Faith, Knowledge, Love, and Support, I continue to move forward.  Everyday is a new experience in this do I want my floor to look, what kind of lights should I have, what color booths do I want, what kind of kitchen equipment should I have, what kind of bacon do I want to serve...and the list goes on and on and on.  How did I get here? - actually, I'm still getting there but I'm enjoying not only the ride, but the company too!! - 143 Honey!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

As Time Goes On...and on...and on...

Well, it's been a bit since I've updated you on anything.  Not that I haven't had anything to say or show, but I've just been soooo busy.  I try to be at work early and am at work all day long.  Then, since March starts up High School Softball, I've been umping games in the afternoon/evening.  Once I get home, I'm working out various details for my restaurant...changes in floor plans, changes in my bathrooms to meet occupancy and ADA requirements, looking at various bids for my equipment, working on funding and financing...time has just marched right on by without my permission.

So, I signed my lease at the end of Feb (Feb 28) - THAT WAS A GREAT DAY!!!  I mean, I was really going to do this - no backing out now.  I wasn't thinking about backing out at all - I wanted to keep moving forward!!  I ordered a 'coming soon' sign - it took me a week or so to do that...I was initially thinking that I would go through my Coca Cola rep to get a banner (I could have gotten one for free through them) but decided that I wanted to use the banner just for me and not to take part of it up with a Coke logo.

So banner ordered...we were so excited and couldn't wait to put it up!!!  Well, it still isn't up...I know I know.  Actually, we do have a fairly good reason, and a strange one at that.  In order to put the banner up, we'll need to actually attach it to the building...screw it into the stucco on the front of the building.  Well, with the Zion's Bank Building being a Brand New multi-million dollar building, I don't want to be the one that just screwed up their building so I started the process of getting bids for my logo.  So here's the strange part of the issue - I put out three different bids and not one of them responded in over 1 1/2 weeks.  I would have thought that with the economy, any potential lead for a sale would be welcomed! - I had no responses.  Anyway, I finally contacted someone else and they had a bid back to me the next day - way to go!!  So now, I know where I will be putting my outdoor signage so I can finally put my banner up...pending all this crazy weather we are having.

I've also had to go through my plans again and again...and I think we finally have it nailed down:

Pretty exciting stuff - huh?...well, I think it is.  However, we still don't have everything needed to submit all the plans to the city.  We still need Mechanical (Heating and Air) plans, Electrical plans, Plumbing plans, and Hood plans.  So really, the phase that I've been in during this last month has been one of 'hurry up and wait'. 

So, not much has 'visibly' gone on over this past month, but plenty 'behind-the-scenes' work has been taking place.  To me, all of this stuff is new - I'm not a builder or planner.  My specialty is running the restaurant and cooking and meeting my customers and such.  That's the part I can really sink my teeth into.  I understand all this other stuff (to a point) and realize why it needs to be done - in fact, I had fun doing the actual floor plan as the plan above really is my design (with varying input and mandates like ADA requirements).  But in the end, let's just get my doors open so I can do what I wanted to for some time...let me get into that kitchen and start cooking!

The good news? - I think we'll see some good movement on a lot of things this month of April.  In fact, I'll go as far to say that by the end of this month, things will be looking good and I'll be well on my way to opening my doors...and I'm still hopeful for the end of May.  I have more pictures to post so I'll try and keep this more current from this point on.