I was saddened to hear of recent closings in the restaurant game here in Bend, mainly Robbyj's and Dennys. I wondered if there was trouble at Dennys a couple of days ago when their kitchen manager called and asked if I had any openings. Then a person called today and asked the same thing saying they were from Dennys looking for spots for a couple of their cooks. I asked why and was told that the local Dennys was closing down.
Now I know from experience that many people believe that the restaurant game is a real money maker but from the inside let me fill you in on something. The bottom line percentage in this business is not that great. I am told that the ones with liquor license or lottery can do pretty well, but I have neither so can be no expert on those. Don't get me wrong, this is not a complaint, just a fact. The bottom line is don't do it unless you love it.
I never really started out to be in the business, my degree was in Computer Science and Accounting and I honestly thought that was the direction that I was going to take. But working in the game while going to college, I learned to love it and after graduation turned down a IT position to stay in it. I must admit that there were times along the way when I regretted that decision but I believe that I have always realized that it was what I was meant to be. And my college was a huge help in many ways. My business classes helped me make smart decisions, my computer classes helped me in in menu design and spreadsheet analysis, and the accounting helped me keep the numbers all in perspective (and believe me, numbers in the game are very important.).
I was also blessed by having a few mentors in the game that helped me out in so many ways along the years. Those being Dan Boone (from the old Tom Tom restaurant), Jack Mangin (Founder of Pilot Butte Restaurant), and Steve Martin (a savvy local businessman with restaurant background and lots of great ideas). I see all three of them from time to time and really appreciate their friendship and knowledge that they have handed me.
They say that the majority of new restaurants close down in the first few years. The reasons, usually are from either trying to do too much too quickly or from not realizing that only a small amount of the money that comes into your till really belongs to you.
As far as Robbys and Dennys, only someone from within could answer why. They were both well established and in Dennys case, had a national marketing assistance. I can only say that I am sorry for the them and their crews. I am sure that the Dennys shut down will give Cheerleaders a boost but from what I hear of that owner, he won't be gloating about it either. Good people never get a kick out of others demise.