I often have people call me for advice on starting a deli or food truck. Since there’s nothing I like better than blathering on and on about myself (this is true: ask any girl I’ve dated) I always make time for the opportunity to blather some more. In fact, just this week I met with a fellow who’s interested in starting a smoked meat business in London, England. Last week it was a chap in Halifax.
Following my meeting with Colin Cook, the London guy, one of my team asked what the meeting was about. “He wanted advice on how to do something similar to what we do in London,” I said. ”I hope you tried to talk him out of it,” Craig said with a laugh.
People often ask me how I got into this business. “Mental illness,” I sometimes say. You have to be a little or a lot crazy to go into the restaurant business. The hours are long. The stress is high and the chances of failure even higher. The fact that I love this business is evidence that my head just isn’t right.
Some people are just driven to the hospitality business. We love to feed people. We love to drop off food to the sick, celebrate with the newly married or bar/bat mitzvah’d. We love to laugh and cry with our customers who become our friends and sometimes our adopted families.
Some people love numbers or filing or writing. We love serving. It makes us feel good to know that you came in hungry or tired and left feeling better. We take seriously the idea that “you are what you eat” which is why we put our hearts and souls into our work.
Did you ever see or read “Like Water for Chocolate”? I believe that what is in your heart goes into your work. This is the second biggest reason we make everything from scratch at the deli. If you’re just reheating what someone else made, your customers may be full but they’ll also be emotionally deprived.
People have pointed out that I may have started the pop-up restaurant trend in Toronto when I operated out of the Monarch Tavern. I’m far too modest to claim any such thing but not too modest to spread that notion around a little. Turns out the new owners of the Monarch want to give others the chance to operate the kitchen at the Monarch just like I did.
Evan and Michael are good guys. They recognise that the room is special and want to give crazy people who love hospitality the chance to be part of a legacy that began well before I arrived. For all my kvetching, I maintain a love for that room and still return regularly as a customer.
Got a restaurant idea you want to try out? Love serving people great food? Go in and see Evan or Michael about taking over the kitchen.