Tonawanda News

Columns

March 21, 2014

ADAMCZYK: Running a restaurant is tough

Tonawanda News — I like asking the young about their aspirations. Their plans for careers, and how to achieve them, sometimes stun me. A restaurant serving person once told me his goal was that of biologist/astronaut, a first for me. None tell me they want to open a restaurant of their own.

That goal seems to be the province of somewhat older young people, those who understand and have endured the ups and downs of business and finance, hard work, luck and whatever else it takes to succeed in the restaurant business. And some have got it all wrong.

Oh, it looks like fun, if you’re idea of the matter is standing around in a tuxedo like Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca,” nodding hello to people and doing little more than assuring patrons there won’t be a brawl tonight. It’s not like that at all, but perhaps you know that already and that’s why you’re not in the restaurant business.

Half of all adult Americans have worked in restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association (mostly invoking phrases like “You want fries with that?”). It adds that 10 percent of the national workforce is currently employed that slice of the economy (see previous parenthetical wisecrack).

Clearly, running a restaurant is hard work. Intense, worrisome, demanding work, with long odds against success, plenty of competition, workforce turnover, arguments with governments and suppliers, risk galore and hours that --- well, every hour.

This is not the place to be if one wants to be well-read, well-informed on current events, well-traveled or live a life with anything resembling balance. This is the place for you if you’re as focused as a race car driver and can stand similar peril.

Yet there always is someone standing ready to dive in and work like hell to build or maintain customer loyalty, quality, an appropriate rate of return for whoever has invested, neighborly relations and everything else on a restaurateur’s, uh, plate. And like the post office, hockey goalies and other endeavors in which one slip-up means a net loss, it never stops: tomorrow’s obligations will look a lot like today’s.

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