For the majority of my working career, the food and beverage industry was my primary source of employment. The progression from bussing tables, to later opening my own restaurant, certainly had all the ups and downs that you would expect.
Once I graduated from college, I swore I would never go back to the restaurant industry. I took a job as a recruiter for a healthcare staffing company. We had to be in the office at 7:00 in the morning, and rarely left before 7:00 at night. Needless to say, that gig lasted about as long as my dating relationships at the time. I moved to Vail later that year, and needed to supplement my income from Vail Resorts. Naturally, I looked to the food and beverage industry that I knew so well, but landing a bartending job in a ski town is surprisingly difficult. The opportunity to ski all day, then make several hundred dollars at night, was a pretty sweet gig. Most of the guys and gals in these positions were lifers, and weren’t about to let a newbie take their spot.
Fortunately, one of my college roommates had been bartending at the Tap Room in Vail for two years prior to my arrival. Although there weren’t any bartending positions open, I was able to start at the bottom of the ladder and be a bar back. To my good fortune, one of the other guys flaked out, and I had impressed the management enough for them to give me a shot. I made it! Roughly four weeks later, I broke my ankle snowboarding and was out for the season. The circle of life in a ski town.
The next year I moved back to my hometown, Lake Lotawana, Missouri, and had the idea to open a restaurant of my own. For five months, my business partner and I did a majority of the manual labor on our own, converting a former salon into a replica of an original lake cabin. The time had finally come to open our doors…only about two months later than projected. We had a full house, every seat was full. About an hour into the dinner hour, the whole restaurant goes black. This was the first time we had all of the power on at once, and the electrical box was completely overloaded. I had been stressed in this industry before, but this was a whole new level. We turned off the air-conditioning, opened the garage doors, and were able to salvage the night. The next morning, we were installing a new electrical panel at 5 a.m.
After five fantastic years, my family was growing, and it was time to say farewell to the restaurant business, and hello to a new chapter in Colorado. I’m proud to say that the Canoe Club Restaurant is still going strong, into it’s ninth year. Always a blast to go visit the crew when we are back in KC. As challenging as it was at times, the restaurant industry taught me some invaluable life skills – and my wife can attest that none of those have to do with cooking!
Looking forward to a fantastic 2016!