Bristol, Rhode Island, United States
As a restaurateur, I get to create a new experience every day. If it is a good day or bad day, it all ends at closing, and I get to start all over tomorrow. The restaurant business is unique in that it encompasses so many skills. One has to be a teacher, a designer, a host, a repairman, a craftsman, an accountant and a “rock”. You may not use every skill every day, but the over-used term “multi-tasking” must have been coined about a restaurateur.
I own Le Central, a French bistro in the midst of an Italian-centric neighborhood. We have 15 employees, 100 seats and annual sales in the high six figures. The restaurant is open six days a week, 52 weeks a year. We have a small (30 seats) private dining room for events, as well as off-site catering capabilities. My first restaurant, Aperto, is still in operation in San Francisco after my former chef took it over in 2002.
Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to love and embrace the chaos of this business.
• How to get started if you've never done this but think you would like to.
• How to look at the small picture and not get overwhelmed by the myriad of aspects of the business.
• Where the money is made and lost.
• The importance of being focused and unique.
Over the course of 38 years, the most important skill I've mastered is how to maintain the profitability of a restaurant. I understand what goes into the creation of a restaurant from the construction, to the day the doors open. My expertise is a clear understanding of how to get from concept to opening within budget; operate as tightly as possible; and weather the highs and lows of a fickle customer base and economy. I have weathered major economic downturns as well as boom periods.
I started washing dishes in a restaurant when I was 13. Other than a brief period in construction, I've always been in the restaurant business. I loved cooking from a very young age and that first job washing dishes was the clincher.
The chaos of the kitchen had a calming effect on me. Then, there was the creativity, the pace and the camaraderie. The timing couldn't have been better. I got into the profession just when chefs were becoming super stars. I had dinner at Julia Childs’ and met Alice Waters, Paul Bocuse, and Joel Robuchon. It was a thrilling time to be in the business. I worked my way up to Chef de Cuisine at a three star French restaurant by the age of 23. I traveled extensively and trained in France.
Early in my career I worked primarily in the kitchen, but went on to build and open three of my own restaurants, as well as four for other corporations. Since opening my own restaurants, I've become more involved in the front-of-house operations.