Sitting down to a meeting on March 23rd in what we have dubbed the “Tuxedo Room” upstairs at the Ivy, one of our restaurant/bars, we had a decision to make. A decision we thought we’d never have to make. The weight of that decision being even more substantial since we may not reopen. A decision to CLOSE our restaurants down. All 4 of them! The restaurants are my primary gig, and I handle all of the marketing for them. This year has not been very friendly to people who own or are in the hospitality business across the board.
We decided that while not knowing what the future held, but knowing that these were some of the strangest times we’d ever face. Then the following Friday, a mandate established that all bars and restaurants plus pretty much everything else but Large Box Stores (which I still don’t “understand”) close. That following week I had one of the most anxiety-riddled, sleepless, and downright depressing weeks.
At the time, we were on pace to have the best year we have ever had at all 4 locations. We had nearly 150 team members and were focusing on dialing in a concept for scalability. We were poised to finally take the leap we’ve been working towards for almost 10 years. And in a matter of 2-3 weeks, we were closed. No income, no plans, no idea WHAT IN THE WORLD WE WOULD DO!
So, after that week, we pulled our corporate team together and said we could either choose to look at it like we are doomed or decide to look at it as an opportunity. Of course, when everything we had just known a few weeks prior was potentially gone, it’s incredibly hard to look at it as an opportunity. But that’s the decision we made, to look at this as a huge opportunity. All the things we had neglected in our business because we were all so busy would be the focus until we could safely reopen.
The plan was to come out of this thing (if we could make it out) better than ever. Our management team worked THEIR ASSES OFF on putting together new food and cocktail menus. We completely gutted and rebuilt the 100’s of pages of our HOOTS (Hiring, Orientating, Onboarding, Training, and Sustaining) program. Took on and managed a complete renovation of two of our spaces. We rehired and retrained our front-line staff. All of this was about two months’ worth of work, and we did it without knowing if or when we would be able to open again.
I say all that for two reasons. 1) I want to brag on the team I have around me for believing that we could come out of this swinging and better than we’d ever been. They put in countless hours with constant uncertainty. 2) Choosing a direction, putting a plan and purpose behind that direction, and executing is often what makes the difference between success and failure.. The keyword to that second note is CHOOSING. Every day we have to get up and choose: Are we moving forward, or are we moving backward? There is no in-between, so yea, those are your only two choices.
So stop thinking, start doing. You will learn, and you will grow along the way.
GO and GROW!