14-hour days… again.

A restaurant won’t show a profit for the first three years.

This was the sage advice given to me over and over again by those in the business. I didn’t believe it, of course, because who goes into business to lose money?

Turns out – every dollar of profit that we’ve made in these eight months has gone right back into the business. We’ve discovered kitchen items that we needed, a lot more advertising than was expected (Yell-OW pages with emphasis on the OW!), a new roof (over $5,000), and a delivery van and insurance for delivering (almost another $5,000).

I read with some interest the article in The Bulletin recently, talking to restaurant owners about their profit margins and how they have been affected by the rise in gas prices & food costs. The quote that got to me was this:

At Decoy Bar and Grill, which opened in December, monthly sales are off about $7,000 from early projections, said Jonathan Bohn, executive chef.

“Everyone had high hopes, but I’m a realist,” Bohn said. “I take what comes.”

Bohn has cut costs by keeping a lean staff, reducing waste in the kitchen and keeping an eye on prices, he said.

“There’s no waste, but quality remains the same,” he said.

It’s not a make-or-break summer for Decoy because the owners are able to finance the restaurant through lean times, Bohn said.

You don’t open a restaurant without deep pockets,” he said.

Deep pockets? Wow. I’m reaching into US Bank’s pockets, but not without being swatted firmly with paperwork and signing over my first-born as collateral.

We’ve been pretty accurate with all of our projections on costs, but not as accurate with our projections on sales. Add this to the unforeseen expenditures of a new roof and implementing delivery, and we’ve got what the bank types like to call a “deficit”. We’re certainly not making money hand over fist, but we’re not losing money either.

To combat the over $10K in unexpected payments, we’ve tightened our belts the only place we can; payroll. Whitey and I are back to working 14 to 16-hour days until the Summer is over. I deliver pizzas 5-days and 7-nights a week. Whitey works 8am until 11pm in the kitchen 3-days a week, and does full-time shifts another 3-days a week. We’ve kept our strongest employees on their regular schedules, but those that are just working for pocket change (and don’t have bills to pay) have had their hours cut. Why pay someone to stand around when we’re not busy in the late afternoon? I’m just as capable, and won’t spend my time reading a magazine.

We’ve got some ideas in the works for building our business, and I just need to find the time to implement these ideas. Time has become something I don’t have a lot of.

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2 Responses to 14-hour days… again.

  1. Shannon says:

    This explains why I haven’t heard from you much. We’re missing you in Bend. Brian is trying to talk me into driving over with the baby. I think it’s going to make a long trip.

  2. Kasey G. says:

    did you see the article in today’s paper about Ernesto’s closing their doors yesterday?

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