A lot of people, in and out of the food industry, dream of opening their own restaurants one day. It’s an incredibly difficult pursuit, one that requires a deep passion for food and an array of skills almost no other profession does. Successful restaurant owners must have superb people skills to manage the people who help run the restaurant as well as the patrons who dine there. They must also possess bargaining and negotiating prowess, accounting abilities, a clear-cut vision for their establishments, boundless creativity, a take-charge, can-do attitude, and endless energy. They should also be good with a mop. Seriously. Owner-operators have to be willing to do anything and everything to have a successful lunch and/or dinner service each day, no matter what that entails. And most are.
So, why, then, do restaurants fail? Some may be ill-conceived or simply cursed with a bad location. Others may be run by people with a lot of heart yet not enough experience or financial backing. But a lot of restaurants get everything right and, still, things go wrong. To understand how this happens, read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Samin Nosrat, former sous chef at the now-shuttered Eccolo in Berkeley. Across the coast, the famous Café des Artistes has also shut its doors after more than a half a century. Theirs is a slightly different, but nonetheless sad, tale.
As a diner, it’s truly important to support your neighborhood restaurants on a regular basis. When local favorites close their doors, the effects, as Nosrat points out, are far-reaching.