A Day in the Life of…A Restaurant Owner

There are so many types of people in the world, but we have to make a choice about who we become. This new column gives a glimpse into the typical daily routines of local people, their average days and the lifestyles they have been called to lead.

After dumping all his early morning groceries into the trunk, Brandon Cassidy climbed back into his still toasty car and headed for his restaurant, Food Freaks and Beer Geeks.

Li was already inside prepping the assembly line and whistling softly into the still kitchen.

“Traffic ok this morning?” Li asked, piling fresh cheese into a chilled container on the counter.

“Atrocious, but I did get the sweet onions you needed.”

The lock clicked at the front of the restaurant, and the little bell chimed as JD, Nate, Katie, Tom and Josh hurried in from the cold.

“I didn’t see your car outside, Daddy.” Called Tom. Brandon smiled at the nickname.

“I had some extra groceries to bring in this morning; I parked around back.”

“The life of a business owner never slows down does it?” smirked Tom scrubbing his hands in the sink.

“You see the reviews on Yelp for the food truck this morning?” asked Katie. “You guys killed it Wednesday. The Elvis got a shout out too; no surprises there.”

“Katie,” called JD who had finished cleaning his hands and was pulling out peelers, “I hope you haven’t gotten too cocky from yesterday. Because today I am going to make fries so mouth-wateringly delicious they’re going to make customers cry.”

“Please, everyone agrees that I make the best; it’s a delicately balanced combination of perfect timing, a steady hand and pure talent,” she retorted.

The whole kitchen was engaged in an enjoyable debate when Marie unlocked the front door. Brandon went over to help her with her load. She had brought new napkins and straws.

“Hey honey,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “It’s almost 11:00; I saw our first customer pulling up.”

“Ok, can you check the POS machine before they come in? We don’t want another opening night debacle.”

“Hear, hear,” called Tom.

Brandon remembered the soft opening of the restaurant a few months ago.

As the customers were pouring into the newborn restaurant, the Point of Sale machine had jammed, and all the orders had to be written out by hand. Brandon had learned a lot about his employees as their true characters manifested themselves through the stress, and he had not been disappointed. The incident had brought the team closer together, and they could now work like a well-oiled machine in any circumstance.

“Remember, Brandon, tomorrow is Wednesday 11:00 to 2:00, you, me, Nate, food truck at Wake Forest Park!” reminded his wife from the refrigerator.

“Yes, thank you, and I got the drink lids at Sam’s this morning.”

“Perfect, I think we should head out a bit sooner this time to beat the early lunch traffic; we just managed to get the kitchen prepped in time last Wednesday.”

A memory of lunch traffic flashed across Brandon’s mind. A minivan had cut the food truck off and, as he slammed on the breaks, the bungee cord strapping the frig shut had snapped. Sauces, apple ring batter and seasoning had flown everywhere.

“Yes,” he said grimacing, “let’s try and miss the traffic.”

The bell tinkled cheerfully again as the first customer of the day swept in.

Brandon and his staff tensed as the cash register clicked, the POS system hummed and they were off like runners at the sound of the pistol. The stove crackled to life; the bacon sizzled, and toppings were piled high as the stuffed burger was escorted down the assembly line. The fries were loaded on and “order up” echoed through the newly scented kitchen.

Marie and Josh, the kitchen manager, high-fived; first order, done!

Another popped up on the POS screen, and they were off again.

It was business as usual until a woman carrying a clipboard, wearing a neat black suit and a foreboding look entered the restaurant.

Brandon’s stomach lurched with excitement.

It was a surprise inspection!

The team stayed calm as the inspector examined the kitchen; Brandon had taught the entire staff firm habits, and the kitchen was in ship shape.

The inspector left 10 minutes later, satisfied.

The 5:00-to-closing-time shift, Gabby, Mia, Grant, Toni and Selena, arrived shortly after.

Gabby was humming a tune as the dinner guests began to arrive and, before long, the back kitchen was filled with a chorus of voices.

Finally, the last “order up” was called, and the final impressed and contented customer exited.

Brandon was telling Marie about a new burger idea called Blue Mad Goon, and she was saying it sounded fantastically unique and delicious just like everything else they served.

As he tucked in his four children later that night, Brandon thought with anticipation about the day to come; he was sure it would be filled with inspirations, surprises and, most importantly, the people he cared about because that is what running a business is all about.