My most profound sentiment just before the doors opened was, “At last.”

“At last”

“At Last” by Etta James

All the work I invested over the last few years was ready to be utilized as a functioning restaurant and lounge. Although I thought I was working hard before, a rude awakening was on the horizon.

I ran out of money…again

My construction funds had finally been depleted with the smallware purchases, and I still needed inventory. Food and beverages would cost thousands. Luckily, an associate would come to the rescue with a line of credit. This type of scrambling so close to opening was more than stressful and revealed my inexperience.

This is for real

Like a sport, all the practices and exhibition games (tests with family & friends) were done, and now it counted.  What happens now would impact the standings.

Serving staff were trained on the restaurant’s specific procedures and menu offerings. The kitchen staff had their own training. There was a playbook for both sides, but the scope was beyond what I had ever done. Luckily, this great venue that had been constructed along with good basic food would carry the day.

The serving staff uniforms were black/navy blue pants, white shirts, and a vest. The vests were a rich navy-blue paisley fabric and were manufactured by a local company (Hallmark Garments) owned by a childhood friend. Personal connections were a bonus.

A hard landing, but I had a parachute

We didn’t do a soft opening. First mistake of many. I realized quickly I wasn’t ready for what was still to come. The first few weeks were a blur. I was sleeping on the couch in my office when I could. Feeling punch-drunk was a constant. To slow things down would have been so helpful but obviously impossible. In addition, there were further numerous bugs that surprisingly surfaced once we began serving customers.

My saving grace was I now had a strong revenue stream to counter the new expenses of supplies and payroll. It quickly became a busy full-service dining room and lounge without any advertising. The restaurant scene in Edmonton was just starting to burgeon, and the Old Strathcona area was on the cusp of becoming a destination for food & drink. The location was going to pay dividends.

Don’t take your eye off the ball

Unlike construction, running a licensed foodservice establishment would demand my constant attention from morning to night. Welcome to the restaurant business.

Next post in this series – Part 7 – Add a Bistro.

Part 1 – The Building

Part 2 – The Architect & Contractor

Part 3 – The Construction

Part 4 – The Kitchen

Part 5-1 – The Fixtures

Part 5-2 – The Furniture