Hey there— Alex here,
The restaurant industry has the tendency to romanticize long hours and normalize the idea that you should live where you work. I fell into this way of thinking early on in my career. I used to wear my 80-hour work week on my arm like a badge of honor. The long hours I put into Purgatory were fundamental to getting it to function as healthy as it is today, but it probably cost me 2 years of time with my wife because I couldn’t let go earlier. I didn’t know how to take a step back. Something fairly simple, as usual, took me a very long time to figure out. The answer: You must build a team you believe in and trust that they care enough to follow through.
I used to take other people’s mistakes personally. As if they didn’t clean a garbage can or cover their prep line on purpose. It took a while to come to the realization that if those are the biggest problems, then things are going pretty well. I think sometimes owners may even overvalue themselves in the kitchen setting. There is a lot of other stuff to worry about with growth and sadly your time is more than likely better spent on those things instead of yelling at someone for not cleaning the fryer the right way or hitting your team up on WhatsApp at 6:30 a.m. about their close. For the record, it’s been years since I’ve gone full-psycho.
Having a normal-ish life in the restaurant industry can be simple. Build yourself a team that you believe in and then let go—let go of a bad yelp review, a bad close, a missed order, or a failed communication and always use those things to create an opportunity to do it better the next time.
Shout out to Kasey Polizzi and Ryan Ruoff for teaching me that I didn’t have to be there every day. Love you both.
“Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.”
– Jackson Kiddard