Restaurant Owners Are Crazy

This is a truism I’ve discovered in my career. I’ve worked for, let’s see, four independently-owned (non-corporate) restaurants. Corporate restaurants are another topic for another set of posts, and a rich topic indeed.

I believe owners are crazy because they’ve chosen this business. But also, they’ve chosen the business because they’re crazy. It’s impossible to separate the two. Further, elements of their business make them crazier.

Paranoia. Imagine owning a business where every day, on multiple ocassions, you have to witness your supplies and product being ruined. Broken glasses, silverware thrown in the trash, returned entrees, mis-poured cocktails, items being left off checks, guests returning food and drink just because they ‘didn’t like it,’ etc.

The voices in their head (and they all have them) are backed by a sound effects track of a chiming cash register, marking every dollar and cent that is being wasted or thrown away. This is a day-after-day reality for them.

And what about their overall financial condition? Three of the independent restaurants I’ve worked at were quite successful. Two of those I happen to know have nevertheless had problems on ocassion meeting payroll. Perhaps the third did too, but I wasn’t close enough with him to find out.

And the drinking. Half of my four independents were alcoholic owners. I’m talking serious, every-single-day drinkers. It definitely affected their behavior.

There’s also constant theft. Everywhere, in every single restaurant in the country. The most ‘honest’ restaurants will still have employees eating forbidden food, or getting free drinks from the bartender, or servers ‘forgetting to ring’ coffees and salads and other items they prepare themselves if waiting on friends or good customers, they’ll also clock-in early and clock-out late. And these are houses whose employees are predominantly ‘ethical.’

Of course the other group goes from bartenders scooping cash checks straight into the tip jar, all the way to cooks leaving through the back door with hundreds of dollars of product.

It’s no wonder they’re crazy. I would be too.

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