My name is Greg Thompson and I’m a retired restaurateur and entrepreneur.
I reside in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A detailed timeline of my path to become an entrepreneur is on the
DUCK SOUP…The Restaurant Game website.
Experience the foodservice world
Now, I don’t claim that my foodservice experience is vast; indeed, it probably pales in comparison to many restaurant entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, I’ve worked in all positions of foodservice (upscale, bar, nightclub, fast-food, catering, school cafeteria, room service) and even created a board game about restaurants. I was a “jack-of-all-trades.”
I have the scars to show for it, too, both financially and mentally. The hurt never goes away. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of exciting and gratifying times. Even though I’m no longer involved in the foodservice industry, I still have the appetite that initially got me into this business.
That said, I wonder why others take the leap. It’s not for the meek. It involves a volatile product served to the masses on days, nights, weekends, and holidays. It made me want to reach out to these individuals, to gain a greater perspective of the community of foodservice operators and share it with this blog. There are so many talented people with incredible energy and creativity, it’s a group like few others.
Don’t expect me to lecture anyone
I won’t tell you how to lead your life or how to make it more fulfilling or how you can become a better entrepreneur. But I will share my views and experiences to possibly make some sense of what being an entrepreneur involves.
The Jobs & Business Undertakings
I’ve been a dishwasher, pot-washer (this job has its own story), prep cook, line cook, kitchen manager, server, busser, host, front-end manager, bartender, designer, project manager, and bookkeeper. (Did I forget any job?) My guiding principle is that the owner should be able to cover any position. You never know when you need to pinch-hit. This game doesn’t slow down when you’re short-staffed, it speeds up.
After just three years doing a diverse array of jobs in the late 1970s, I jumped into my first venture: renovating an old 10,000 square-foot bottling plant. I owned, designed, built (project manager), and managed a 120-seat full-service restaurant.
Plus a 60-seat bar.
“Run before you can walk” best describes it.
On top of that, I added a 60-seat bistro on the second floor a couple years later.
After four years, creditors pushed me out.
After that restaurant, my brother Martin and I opened an independent fast-food outlet, rounding out my foodservice experience in the ‘80s. During the ‘90s I operated a school cafeteria (my only successful business) and did some catering off-and-on until 2016.
Finally, my brother and I created a board game about restaurants in 2011. We sold about 300 games in stores and online before it was retired.
The end…or so I thought
After investing in a few foodservice ventures before eventually going bankrupt in the 80’s, the restaurant board game was my last gamble. I lost. My wife said, “No more!”
I paid my dues both financially and mentally. I’m not sure which one stings more.
I recently retired from my day job as a school district business manager after 33 years which had allowed me to recover financially and still do part-time ventures in foodservice.
Diving in again
This blog has allowed me to slide, or should I say dive, back into the entrepreneurial pool. Even though it’s not that deep, there are financial commitments such as legal, accounting, IT, hosting, etc. And the work to build the pages & posts is time-consuming while feeding my creative appetite.
Now I want to impart my experiences, understanding, and knowledge in the hope that it will inspire—or console—restaurant entrepreneurs everywhere. Hopefully, past, current, and future restaurateurs will find it insightful, informative, and entertaining.
I sort of have a plan where I want the blog to go, but I expect it to evolve on its own, sort of like a restaurant. I may be a little stiff at the start but bear with me while I find my voice.