It’s been 25 years since I first tied an apron around my waist. 25 years of dishwashing, bussing, serving, bartending, baking, cooking and managing. 25 years of greasy spoons, independents, banquets, fine dining and hotels. 25 years of mornings so early it’s late, and nights so late it’s early. 25 years of unpaid overtime, 20 hour days, sociopath managers, drunks, addicts, perverts and assholes.
Owners that refuse to listen to logic, that can’t understand why 100 plates isn’t enough for a 112 seat restaurant. Why a 15 year old slicer needs to be replaced. Why a four burner rangetop, a 12” flattop and one deep fryer aren’t enough to service 5 flips of 75 seats in a 6 hour period. Why 32 hours labour isn’t enough to service the same.
Customers that simply seem to get ruder and angrier and more entitled as the years pass.
I’m tired. Really tired. I gave this career everything I had. I walked up to the altar and sacrificed my friends, my hobbies, my family, my house… all in the pursuit of being the best I could be. I climbed the ladder hard and fast, with blood, sweat and tears, in the most literal sense.
And I’m done. I’ll be back… but when I am back it will be on my terms, in my name, in my place, with my hands. I simply refuse to give any more to thankless, greedy, profiteering businessmen who owe more to their shareholders than their employees. I will no longer cut the hours of employees who make barely enough to live on, so the owners can make “more” profit than they already do. I will no longer face ever tightening budgets in the name of fat cash for fat cats. There is never an end to their greed. Give them a 32% food cost this year, they want 30% next. Give them a 27% liquor cost, they want 23%. Explain to them that it takes X amount of labour just to meet the bare minimums, they tell you to fire someone and take their place while still somehow managing your own 10 hours of work a day.
This business is beginning to suck. I look around and see hotels shutting down their F&B operations and bringing in chains. I see chains cutting staff down to part time hours to cut benefits. I see vendors that are losing interest in the little guy, and prices that steadily climb.
I love this business. I’ve given it my entire life. I lied about my age to get into it, and I have never looked back, I have ALWAYS been in it. Always. I love it. But I’ll be f*cked if I give another drop of blood to suit and tie leeches who could give a rat’s ass whether or not their employees can pay rent.
F&B needs a reset. Badly. From the top down.
So I am out. Nothing but love for the people who bust their ass every day in the trenches… to you I say, give it what you can, but make sure you get yours too. I also say… take it easy on your managers and chefs, they’ve been there, and they shield you from a TON of shit that you will never see. To the managers, I say this… remember where you came from, and never forget how you felt when you were there. To the BOH.. you aren't shit without a good FOH, and the same goes for the FOH. The crap you each deal with is unique to your position, but it's still crap and stress and hard work. Neither of you gives more than the other.
Goodbye. It’s been an exciting, depressing, wonderfully shitty rollercoaster ride. But dammit, I need to do something else for a while.