Most everyone knows that J.I. and I are opening a new restaurant space, complete with a lot of new bells and whistles.
Over the past few months, our lives have been consumed by this huge, amazing project. As the time ticks away, I can’t help but really begin to think about what all this means. Other than the obvious…..we’ve again signed our lives away, (happily I might add).
Seven years ago when we had the opportunity to purchase our existing location from our mentors and dear friends, we knew we would be working day and night until…forever. Obviously, we had a few days off along the way, but at the very least the first two years were pretty flat out work, work, work. It was a challenge for us, and we were ready to attack it together; super excited for such an awesome moment in our lives. We felt like we were on top of the world. I remember it all so vividly.
Fast forward seven years and things are different this time. We are different. There isn’t much that surprises us in this business anymore. We truly feel we have seen it all. We’ve had so many times of celebration and more than a handful of horribly stressful situations. We’ve never been fully staffed. Nope, not once. We’ve trusted people that burnt us. We’ve tried to give the fruits of our success back to the community and to causes we care about. We’ve tried to mentor our staff; sometimes we failed. Sometimes we felt like we wasted our time. Mostly though, we’ve built a family at Blackie’s that we think can’t be beat. I think for us, it drives us more than we know. There really is nothing like the feeling of 8p.m. Saturday night, but only with the right team. Anyone who works in my business, or played team sports, will tell you the same. It’s the exhilarating feel of winning, but only when everything is aligned.
You see, it’s not about the food, vibe, or location (that’s for sure!) It’s about our team -the people who have had our backs, day in and day out. The same people who have worked in a building much too small, with not enough tools and more challenges than we can count. All of those people were crucial to the momentum which has brought us here. When I say “our team”, I mean much more than our restaurant family. I also mean our families, friends, regular Blackie’s guests, our marketing and brand management team, and our trainer, who keeps J.I. and me from knocking each other’s heads off when times get squirrely.
Our crew. Just ours. No, you can’t have them.
For me, it’s been a dream from the time I was about seven years old. I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to own my own restaurant. I didn’t care how many people tried to talk me out of it. My journey to this point has always been one of commitment, pride, and a real respect for hard work. My partner fell in love with this business ten years ago, and if you ask her, she’ll tell you that it changed her life. The addicting restaurant business wins again. It chooses you, not the other way around by the way.
This time around, we are going to own property, which means so much to us. We secured a commercial bank loan solely based on the merit of our business and the work we have put in, building things from the bottom. We were able to start from scratch and design our own space, build state-of- the- art kitchens (yes, kitchens) and make the new environment really fit our vibe – things most chefs like me thought they would only dream of.
My dream coming true is only a few short months away. I still can’t believe it’s actually happening, and I’m sure there is nothing I can do to prepare myself more for opening night.
All I keep telling myself is that we went after what we wanted, and we made it. It’s a new beginning, an opportunity to do things differently and keep them the same all at the same time. It’s a chance to introduce our new passion projects and show everyone that all the hard work is always worth it.
It’s my dream come true, and it starts soon.