We’ve Been Here Before

And we may be again. Here's some of what we've learned.

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Glass door of shop with closed sign hanging in it.
You've done this before. You can do it again. / dolgachov ©123RF.com

This week brought news that everyone dreaded and no one wanted. The effective shutdown of restaurants and bars in a large swath of the state is the worst-cast scenario for the affected—and it casts a pall over operators who aren’t staring down the prospect of shutting their dining rooms for the second time in a year. The knot in your stomach, the pressure behind your temples, the nights you spend staring wide-eyed at your ceiling instead of the inside of your eyelids: Those are a real result of losing employment, income, insurance, business, security.

But we have also been here before. That was back in March, before odious words like, “pivot,” and “the new normal” were everywhere. It was before anyone thought an entire industry could be shut down overnight. We were wrong then.

We were also wrong when we (all of us—owners, operators, servers, FOH, BOH, bartenders, distributors, suppliers) said to ourselves, “There’s no way I’ll make it through the next 10 weeks.” We did. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t simple, it wasn’t painless or without sacrifice. But we are still here.

Here are just a few of the words we’ve collected over the last few months that had power after the last shutdown ended. They will still have power when this one is over—and all of us are still here.

One of my favorite quotes is, “It’s not survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most adaptable.” It’s very easy for our minds and psyche to go to the negative. Surround yourself with positive people, Instagram, podcasts. You need to brainstorm with your friends instead of complaining and wasting time. I tell my employees, “If you’re going to throw up on my desk, bring your rag.”

—Kyleena Falzone, The Secret Stash and Bonez

We are stronger than before, for sure. I feel so much stronger, have so much more knowledge.

Lorena Cantarovici, Maria Empanada

Disregard what you have been doing and to figure out what you can be doing moving forward. The restaurants that will continue to thrive will be able to pivot as things change again, because they will change again. Lose the ego and really ask yourself why you are in the business. Money? Fame? Fancy food? Making people happy?

Karin Lawler, The Truffle Table

One hand can’t clap, one wing can’t fly. When we clap together, fly together, we’ll get to new levels.

Taj Cooke, Ms. Betty’s Grandson

Our customers have been jaw-droppingly incredible. You know that first week or two when dining rooms were closed? We’d get calls daily from our regulars asking, “Hey, I just wanted to see how you were doing.” And my thought was that would die off, but it hasn’t. It’s transferred into support. 

Giles Flanagin, Blue Pan Pizza

I remind myself that I’m only composing a chapter and not the finale. 

Brother Luck, Four by Brother Luck and Lucky Dumpling

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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