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So you want to own a restaurant....

this originated from my Monterey Herald Column, Dishing it out, June 25, 2008. It got more conversations started than any other column I'd written til that point. Of course a few things have changed, industry-wise, but most of it rings true.

Give it a read;

Wanted: a people person who is reliable, passionate and a self-starter, with a great work ethic and tremendous stamina for a 7-Day a week, 14-hour a day operation.

You must be well skilled in the area of finance, with several years of experience planning budgets, forecasting and working within a “No” profit organization. You must establish and put into action systems of control, understand purchasing and its relation to food cost and its effect on the bottom line. You must develop an innate and effective marketing plan with virtually no budget, and drive sales with a creative and tactical approach that has no associated cost, as you will be expected to be the creative force behind the business.

You will be responsible for creating a database and keeping guests informed of upcoming events - which requires thinking further ahead than next week.

Human resource skills are imperative; you will be responsible for all hiring of staff their training and disciplinary actions up to and including termination if necessary. You must be a team leader, with in-depth understanding of labor laws and problem solving.

You will be required to speak at least two languages, understand the dynamics of working with other nationalities who are not required to speak two languages, have very thick skin and very shiny armor. Be pleasant when you are frustrated and smile when you are discouraged.

You will be forced into awkward situations that will usually require you to accept blame, even though you were outside of 20 ft from the situation when it occurred, all while keeping everyone else around you unaware and happy. You will be verbally abused on certain occasions with no one to register a complaint with because it all rolls uphill and you will be asked to be at the top.

You'll be required to work with young, inconsiderate adults who can go find a job somewhere else so they have no real reason to listen to you, yet you will be asked to depend upon them, day in and day out and work with their individual needs and circumstances.

Other qualifications are the ability to wash dishes, peel potatoes, sweet floors, clean - as well as repair - toilets, wash windows, change light bulbs, water and maintain plants and flowers, fix miscellaneous items with duct tape and a hammer, and do light painting - All while answering the phone and greeting guests with a smile and remembering that he likes two olives in his martini and she wants a table without a view of the TV so she can have his full attention.

You must be able to do heavy lifting of more than 50 lb several times a day, and once in a while hold up an overindulged guest for whom you have called a taxi.

You must be able to be on your feet for extended periods of time and function under extreme pressure and with little rest.

You'll be required to be up to date and informed of the latest industry trends and Health Department requirements and educate your team of those same requirements. You will need to know basic CPR, included but not limited to the Heimlich Maneuver and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A deep understanding of food-related allergies and ingredients in each menu item is imperative.

You may be called upon to refuse service to an individual not wearing a shirt or shoes as well as an individual wearing only a shirt or shoes. You will be expected to work holidays and on those days multiply your abilities two-fold.

And most importantly you will need to do anything and everything within your power to create a great - no, and exceptional - guest experience. After all, you want to be a restaurateur. Think you can handle it? it really is a sickness, an addiction that no one can shake if it is part of who you are.. and you LOVE it!

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