Black CoffeePosted: 2011/06/11
For the past several years, I’ve been pre-occupied with the thought that owning my own restaurant would be something I’d like to do. It might have been the act of dreaming-up, designing and renovating the awful kitchen at 394 Fifth St that cemented my passion for food, entertaining, hosting and preparing a meal. About the same time that kitchen was transformed, things began their slow deterioration at work and my therapy was found behind the green slate island, cooking, listening to music, drinking, planning meals and hosting my friends. It suited me and most certainly still does.
I don’t know, but maybe in a move to legitimize my move up here, or to maybe actually pursue something different, I’ve thought that the next logical step would be to open my own place in Provincetown. Doing that here, much more that other places, is chock-full-of-challenges: Zoning rules. Sewage (outflow) capacity issues. Real estate costs. Quality staff. Seasonal vs. Year-Round. The list goes on and on and on. But what the hell, I’ve never been completely rational about my choices.
And so I came here, on a hunch that a newly-opened place needed a manager. I’ve managed a wildly successful breakfast and lunch spot in Atlanta and felt somewhat confident that I could parlay that to the next level, managing a dinner spot under the guidance of a hands-on owner. I thought I had found that place and was completely honest when I pitched the owner on my motives, my goals and where I was in my life. It worked and I was basically offered the position (I was on the schedule before I walked through the door that first trial night).
But, because of a string of bad circumstances, the owner wanted more from me than I was willing to give. 50 stated hours a week, all evenings, would be my schedule. A previous manager’s poor performance meant extra effort up front so in reality I would have been looking at 60+ hours a week, living and breathing someone else’s dream. Part of this motivation for this move was to figure out what it was I wanted to do and this job most likely would not allow that. It was a tough call, but I declined the offer. We parted professional ways but since have developed a really nice friendship which, most likely, would not have been so had I been managing that place.
So the job with the red-hot Boston restauranteur was passed on. I was completely honest with the owner and myself. My conscious was clear but the silence in my head was numbing. Had I really just been so dumb, so stupid as to pass up this career-making chance?
Then, that afternoon, on the street, a friend ran up to me and said “Devon needs help! Go speak to him, I told him you’d stop by.” I love Devon’s, a standby on the East End that serves an excellent breakfast and a fine dinner. So I caught him painting his front porch, introduced myself and mentioned that I’d like to help out, wait tables, host, whatever.
And here I am, working mornings at his place, consistently charmed by its small size, amazed at the chef’s tenderness and nurturing nature, so interested in watching the team develop. I immediately see each and every person’s importance to the operation of the whole and am impressed by Devon’s attention to everything and his genuine goodness. It’s gets a bit crazy in a way that only breakfast service can get, but I’m happy at where I’ve landed. And mostly, I like my quiet bike ride to work, glancing over to the left at the ever-changing harbor, not really minding the early hour.