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Conversations in the Community

In: Business and Management

Submitted By bambers
Words 849
Pages 4
When I was a child I eagerly watched my parents in the kitchen, fascinated by the way they would make something delicious out of what seemed like nothing at all. This frequent observation sparked something in me and from that moment forward, I knew I was born to cook. In speaking to local restaurant owners about their businesses, my initial awkwardness and apprehension towards approaching unfamiliar people faded away. I found that conversation came easily when discussing ones passions.

I first met with Cindy, who owns Paddy Cakes and Candy. She has owned and operated the shop for several years, and has been expanding it slowly. What started out as a simple candy store has now grown to be so much more. There isn’t a need for specialized equipment in her shop, as she has all her tempered chocolate products premade, but they make all the items that require melting chocolate in the store. Cindy assured me that while no culinary or business management degree is necessary, it would certainly be helpful. Despite seeming content in the busy atmosphere of her store, Cindy confided in me that this was nothing more than a convenient opportunity. She had lost her previous business to bankruptcy after 9/11, and this store just “fell in her lap.” Although she loves what she does, she’s bored and has put the store up for sale in order to pursue another business venture – Cindy would love nothing more than to open her own craft store.

Shane, owner of The Pizza Man, had little to offer in the way of advice. When I arrived at his establishment, he was shorthanded and extremely busy. When I explained why I was there he told me, “You’re crazy – you don’t want to do this.” The rising costs of food make running a viable restaurant near impossible, especially when your restaurant is one of many of the same type in a given area. We parted ways, and I had learned that finding a niche is of utmost importance.

I then met with Nate, who owns the recently opened Grindstone Café in Lyndonville. He has worked in the same coffee shop if New Hampshire for the last 6 years, and continues to do so even after opening his own store. All of his training has been hands-on, and he has had no formal education in business or culinary arts. To keep costs low, he and his business partner did all of the construction themselves. He works six days a week, and hasn’t hired any help. The only serious competition they have is The Lyndon Freighthouse, which contains a Starbucks, but through keeping their prices low they’ve been able to draw customers in. When asked whether this was something he enjoyed doing every day Nate initially said yes, but added that his true passion was creating musical instruments.

Lynelle at Lyndonville House of Pizza was an absolute delight to talk to. She was eager to answer my questions, and I found that she has been in the food service industry for at least 20 years. She began her journey much like I did, in her parent’s kitchen, and from there began working at in country club kitchen. She eventually moved to a bartending and waitressing position in the same country club, and realized she loved interacting with the customers. She attended college for business management, which has helped immensely in keeping the finances in order. They use industrial kitchen equipment, and she learned how to operate it all in the shop. She married into the business, and genuinely enjoys it, but would love to open her own restaurant someday.

Through talking with Matthew I learned that nine out of ten restaurants fail in the first year. He opened Tim Buk Tu’s with a culinary degree, and extensive hands-on training. Having a solid business plain is essential, but it is crucial that we see the bigger picture when opening a restaurant. For instance, there will be long days and nights and we should expect no profits in the first few months. Our income will be unstable, and there are no benefits. A fast paced environment is a recipe for abundant stress and a need for multitasking. There are licenses to obtain, zoning laws to research, health inspections to pass, as well as accountants and employees to hire. For Matthew though, all of the stress is worth the end result. Owning his own restaurant has been his dream since he was in elementary school, and that dream is finally a reality.

I spoke with new business owners, and some who have been doing this for years. I found people who love what they do, and people who would love to do something else. In every instance, their eyes lit up when we touched upon the one thing they are truly passionate about. These conversations have opened my eyes, but have not deterred me from pursuing my goal. That spark I felt as a child has reignited and I look forward to my journey.…...

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