So I guess I’ll start with the hard part.
You may remember back on January 16th, I recalled a friend telling me, “I think 2013 is going to be a hard year. A transition year. And then 2014 will be a great year.”
Sarah is very wise.
Brad and I put all of our eggs in one basket. We took a giant leap of faith toward what we thought was going to be our future. We were being set up to basically take over running a great new Los Angeles restaurant. Once we had been taught everything we needed to know, Brad would be in position to take over the back of the house and I would handle the front of the house. It was such an awesome opportunity, everyone said. What could go wrong?
*slaps forehead with palm*
Brad and I worked our hearts out. We treated that restaurant like our own. We spent most of our days wrapped up in it, and spent our days off talking about it. Brad poured every ounce of his being into learning that kitchen and working with the guys in the back to get up to speed. I was constantly creating new ways to interact with guests on all of our social media sites.
But the situation turned sour pretty quickly. Without getting into details, it became blaringly obvious that the chef/owner was not interested in teaching either one of us what we needed to learn to be successful. And before a borderline abusive situation got even worse, we decided that our lives and time would be better off spent elsewhere.
Ha. That is the simplest and nicest way possible of describing all of the ridiculousness that happened in that restaurant. But I will leave it at that. We worked hard. We were loyal and excited. We tried something new and big, and it didn’t work out.
On to the next one.
Brad quickly found an amazing opportunity at a restaurant opening in Manhattan Beach, but he’d be out of work for about a month until it began. It was worth it. A Michelin Star chef. An awesome concept.
We would make it work. We always did.
When he started at the new restaurant and left me carless all day, I decided to focus mostly on my music. While I looked for a job in the music industry, I started taking the bus to my new job at a restaurant on the hippest street in Venice with a well known chef. My paychecks were about a quarter of what they were before.
We were constantly reminding ourselves that the hard times were temporary. That we would get back on our feet. That these couple of tough weeks scraping by were worth it to be rid of everything we had just left.
We would make it work. We always did.
A month into my new restaurant, and no positive outlook on a music job, I started seeing servers eating off of customers plates. I started to ask questions and get answers that didn’t add up. I started to see the way the kitchen was run. I started to see how the management and ownership was stumbling over itself to keep things going.
And then I started asking around to see who else was hiring.
I ended up back with the Hillstone Group and my old manager, Lauren, over at Bandera. It wasn’t the easiest decision to make, considering how happy I was when I left R+D last year. I feared going back to a corporate structure, to food without creativity and to the type of people that those places attract. I feared getting sucked back in to working insane amounts of shifts and having to cover any days I needed off.
But, ultimately, it was the right decision for my family (and for my bank account). So I used an old Macy’s gift card I had, bought myself a black shirt, and signed back on to the Hillstone Family. I haven’t regretted it once. In fact, I’ve been reminded of how many things the company does right, and how – at this point – it is a great place for me to be.
And here we are now. It feels like its been a million years since all of this happened. It has felt like a struggle to get back to stability every single day. But it feels like it all happened in the blink of an eye.
There have been hundreds of conversations this year between Brad and I about the hard decisions we’ve made. Early on in the year, they involved tears and exhaustion and a lot of reminding each other of the temporary aspect of it all. There are still tense moments, still recovery moments and “oh my god, we are so poor” days. But there are mostly “I’m so proud of us” texts and long hugs. There are a lot of motivational pep talks and glimmers of the success to come. There have been new traditions created and new promises made. There are even hints of a light at the end of the tunnel.
I don’t ever regret trying. I haven’t lost any faith in mine and Brad’s potential to have our own restaurant and make it great. If anything, I have seen our strength shine through this year. If we weren’t sure we had tough skin before, if we weren’t sure of our ability as a team to deal with any situation, we are absolutely sure now.
Because we will make it work. We always do.