Familiarity Is Not Knowledge

We live in a world where fast fingers and the assistance of Google can give you the answer to anything. Long gone are the days, where youth is inspired and driven to learn a craft, by pursuing education, whether in a class room or traveling the world. Nope, Google it, get your answer and now you’re seemingly smarter than the individual who’s worked their entire life in a field.

Because you know how to drive a car, and how the car “works” and moves down the road, does not mean you know how to build a car, or repair it, you may barely know how to change a tire. Familiarity is being able to recognize something, due to association. Knowledge are facts, information and skills acquired by a person through experience and education. Familiarity is not knowledge, especially in the realm of restaurants. We’ve all seen it, a restaurant closes and social media blows up with “they should of done this” “they shouldn’t have done that” from individuals with absolutely no skin in the game, and the closest they come to having a horse in the race is dining in restaurants or maybe knowing the Chef. Familiarity with how restaurants “work” is not knowledge on how to run and keep them open, or any small business for that matter. Food, beverage, hours, decor, service, location… are only a fraction of what goes into a restaurant sustaining itself over any period of time. Taxes retail establishments pay would make most people’s heads spin. Not to mention, license fees, insurance, reservation systems, rent, maintenance … we’ve replaced an HVAC and hot water heater in less than five years, if it ain’t cheap in a house, imagine the cost in a restaurant. Restaurant owners deal with so many facets of the business, which have nothing to do with actually serving guests. This is not a complaint, it’s a statement. I love my job, I love the work in getting ready to throw a party every night, and then actually throwing the party. All of the business points, don’t even get into the attention restaurants are fighting for every night. I’m not talking about competing restaurants, I’m talking about fighting for attention against everything … weather, good or bad, World Series (the Cubs fan in me was beyond ecstatic, the business owner in me got crushed, as did almost every other restaurant), theatre, vacation, home entertaining (because in Chicago, residents have space to entertain at home and aren’t forced to go out, as they are in cities such as New York), family obligations, tax season, elections, protests … the list goes on, but you get the point: restaurants are vying for attention against everything which takes customers out of our restaurants for days and sometimes, weeks.

So, the next time you think you’ve got the knowledge about out why a restaurant isn’t doing well, or closed, or “re-concepted”, please know there is much more than meets the eye to keeping the doors open. And to those hard-working individuals who choose to own and operate restaurants, every night, and risk it all … I raise my glass to you!

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