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Nick Powills: Why You Should Not Own a Restaurant

Restaurant experience goes a long way when investing in a food-focused brand.

For years, I have heard our clients talk about their ideal restaurant owner prospect: simply put, someone with restaurant experience. Well, and money, of course.

I think I may know why.

For years, my fascination with restaurant operations has been, well, deeply interested. When visiting a client, I have requested restaurant brands to show me the back of their houses (for which my team has made fun of me). I have been super fascinated by the operations of a kitchen – every part of it. From the order to the ordering system to the cooking process to the refrigeration. Part of my curiosity stems from the fact that I have never worked at a restaurant.

I want to learn. I want to know. But for me, learning and knowing are definitely not considered “having restaurant experience.”

I have never professionally made a pizza, and frankly, the pizzas I make on my own are not restaurant quality.

I have never professionally scooped ice cream into a cone, and frankly, the cones I have made never look like the pictures.

I have never professionally grilled a burger, and frankly, no matter how many hours I put into grilling, I seem to never have the ability to make the perfect burger (although I am getting closer).

There is this saying that it will take you 10,000 hours to be successful at anything. While I am confident that I have spent that much time trying to learn on my own, I don’t have that coveted restaurant experience our brands desire in an owner.

And I understand why.

On a cold December night, I played restaurant operator in my kitchen. Focused on creating an awesome veggie-only pasta dish for my wife and I and a true pasta dish for my children, I went to work. Chopping, sautéing, seasoning – I was on fire (literally).

In the final stretch of the kids’ pasta bake – I recognized it was time to pull the boiling pot of pasta off of the stove to put in the strainer in the sink. Trying to multi-task the two dishes, unfocused, I moved the boiling water across the small opening between the stove and the sink – and swooshed (or swished, tomato/tomato) about a cup of water out of the pot, into the air, and directly onto my foot.

Lesson one, only multi-task in the kitchen if you have restaurant experience.

Lesson two, wear shoes.

The water fell directly on my foot. About three seconds later, tremendous pain hit as I lifted my leg into the sink under cold water.

Staying committed to the gig, I didn’t scream or inform my family of my injury. Instead, I fought through the completion of the cooking process for 10 more minutes. Then I yelped (I’d have a bad Yelp! review if I were a restaurant). Then I went to the hospital. Then I was told I had second-degree burns on my foot.

I think I now understand the importance of having restaurant experience. Now, I’m back to studying the back of the house, and I’ll forever wear shoes when cooking. And I think Grubhub will be a better use of my skills than the back of a house.