Thursday, August 16, 2007

In The End, You Create Your Own Luck

Of course, the reality is that there aren’t three more events "just like that." That’s why we decided to go for the restaurant in the first place. We ran the concession trailer for five years before we bought the café. We searched high and low for profitable events. County fairs, art festivals, craft fairs, "taste of" events, all over northwest Oregon. We changed, we shifted, we adjusted, we added and subtracted menu items. And still, the BIG events eluded us.

We grossed over $20,000 at our one big event this year. Our next highest-grossing event, ever, was our own local five-day county fair, where we endured long hours, dust, late nights, flies and cowboys to top $4000. Once. In subsequent years, sales were eroded by things like terrible weather (triple-digit temperatures and/or rain), presence or absence of decent entertainment, location within the fair of said entertainment and our proximity thereto, the addition/subtraction of other vendors, and declining attendance at the fair itself. All things completely outside our control. And those same frustrating conditions applied to every event we did. One year you would have them eating out of your hand; the next, you felt as if you were trying to peddle the vilest poison.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that a $3000 event was a good one, and an event that grossed us over $10000 for a weekend—besides our beloved Scandinavian Festival—was an impossible dream. That, and the frustrations of all the uncontrollables, are what sent me in the direction of a stationary, consistent, open-every-day restaurant under a solid roof of my very own.

So, we’re not going to cash in our hand on the restaurant yet. There’s no going back to the concession thing, since it was the concession thing that pushed me into the café in the first place. I’m bound and determined to solve this damn labor puzzle; I need a decent, dependable staff so I can detach myself enough to become full-time captain of the ship, rather than the jack of all trades (master of none…) I have some ideas up my sleeve. And I’ll just have to indulge in some creative problem-solving. I can do that. Just let me get a couple extra hours of sleep under my belt…


  1. I am sure you will achieve what you set out to do ~ good Luck with the staff search ~ there must be some reliable people out there looking for work ~ I hope you find them ~ Ally x

  2. Oh, Lisa, labor woes are something else, and I'm sending you good, motivated, easy-going employees available now vibes.  You know you've made the right decision here, and it is worth it.  Keep on hanging in there.

  3. I wish I could send my daughter to you!

  4. It is, without a doubt, the best thing in the world to own and operate your own business.  That being said, I am not ignoring the labor force woes (we've had our share) the IRS woes (those too), the long hours and what's going on woes....

    You are in the right place at the right time.  Try your unemployment office or your welfare office .... you might get lucky.