I knew when I was looking for a retail space and writing my business plan that when I opened my bakery there would be sacrifices. One would be taking a risk and investing our life savings, two would be working long hours and three would be the toll it would take on family life at least in the beginning.
Risking our money obviously still makes me nervous but I'm too focused on being successful to give it too much thought. The long hour are grueling but I love cooking/baking so much that I can handle 90 hour work weeks (hopefully not for too much longer). The strain comes from the little time I have with my wife Jill and especially with my son Jack, the original Little Buddy.
I've been with Jack every day since he was born. I took him to all of his doctor visits, on play dates and birthday parties (I think I missed 2 out of 20 plus), picked him up from school and summer camps, and every other important early childhood step. The reason I wound up in this business was because I was a new chef and stay at home dad that wanted to spend time with his toddler son, yet wanted something to do while spending time with him. I never could have imagined I would someday own a bakery.
There is no doubt that this has been a tough summer on all of us. Jill and I haven't had a day off in so long I can't remember what we did when we had one. But the impact has been great on Jack, or at least I think it has. He was used to certain routines, like me picking him up from either school or camp, going to the playground together, going home and he'd watch tv while I made dinner (I miss my own dinners as now I have no time to cook or even go food shopping).
His world changing has come out in odd ways. Last Friday night I got home at 7:00 pm and Jill had spent a couple of hours with Jack and our neighbor Carmen doing art projects with Bendaroos. So neither of had time to make dinner or energy left to do so. So I suggested we go out to SideCar which is around the corner and a restaurant we all like. They have great cocktails, burgers, veggie tacos, club sandwiches and for Jack grill cheese and fries. Jack seemed disappointed and asked if I would make Daddy Mac, mac and cheese from a NY Times recipe. It takes a long time to make/bake and rest Daddy Mac, so I told him that it would have to be another night. He started to cry about it and I realized that it wasn't the mac and cheese he was upset about but the fact that we haven't been spending enough time together and our routines were gone. It made me feel sad too.
Funny thing about this is I've been reading blogs and hearing comments about the store and reading people's complaints about the fact we aren't open late enough or on Sunday's. What people don't realize is that at this point in the business I have to be there every hour the store is open because number 1. I'm the only one at the moment that has a NYC food handling license (soon one of my employees Tim will have one) and number 2. I'm the only one who can make all the food that we sell. That will change at some point but it might take a while.
Even though we are closed on Sunday's I've been working every Sunday running errand for the store I can't do during the week, fixing things that are broken, getting recipes ready for the week, and a long list of other things.
Anyway my original plan for our store hours were that we could always add hours or change them as we add employees, as the need dictates, and to match the season (think fall holidays). It's easier to add hours to make people happy then it is to take them away if you think you can't fulfill the schedule.
Bottom line is I can't wait for school to start because I think Jack is going to be happy to be back at PS 10 and maybe we can find a new routine that suits us both and the business too.
Epilogue: The Sunday after Jack cried about Daddy Mac, after spending the day going to Jetro (for ingredients and supplies), Ikea (for assorted things for the store) and working 4 hours at the store I managed to make dinner that night for us and I made Daddy Mac for Monday night's dinner too. Jack (and me and Jill too) really enjoyed his Daddy Mac. But what is up with the jarred tomato sauce you might ask? Well the first thing I learned to cook when I first lived on my own at the age of 19 was "all day sauce" (with meatballs, sausage and neck bones). I also can make a great marinara too. Jill recently told me that with our current schedule I should relent and buy jarred sauce. I shuddered at the suggestion so she went ahead and bought 2 jars. Guess what? I made dinner on Thursday with the sauce she bought and added fake veggie sausage (another great concession), realizing it wasn't the worst thing in the world, considering I had been on my feet for 14 straight hours baking for the neighborhood and it was better than nothing.