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A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

Old Apr 2nd 2007, 9:38 pm
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Default A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

Hello helpful people,
Since reading this most excellent forum, I've seen many a request for information needed by total N00bs wanting to open a bar/restaurant/fish and chippie.... Well, some years back I took the plunge.

A little background.
In the year of the Barcelona Olympics I offed at the behest of some glossy magazines and set up shop (I'm a photographer) where I worked like a demon and partied like a pill. And I met my American wife who was working as a cook for all those NBC newspeeps. She loved Spain with a passion that only new world people have on seeing anything older than thier country. Alittle later we went to the US and had a very successful food photography and styling business. But she pined for vino, the sound of a thousand mopeds racing away from the traffic lights and the blood and macho grunts of gored matadors?! Having some savings I agreed to return and finance the opening of a restaurant for her. Oh dear.

The Blind Leading the Dumb
We paid a huge trespasso for a space only licenced as an art gallery! No chimney! No food/drinks licence. In the end we had to drop the cellar floor to conform with EU workers height requirements (it was used as a store). A chimney was installed but required the signatures of all the tenants in the building, who then tried to use their power over everything from the menu to the interior design. Later the local government inspector measured this chimney and pronounced it too narrow. Meaning that we couldn't cook using a fryer. Used Brit builders/destroyers. No obras work permit...work stopped by police, who thoughtfully taped the doors to stop anyone entering the locale. For 2 months. With all tools,machinery and plans inside. Later Fin de obras not granted because the work sucked to the point that we were ordered to knock the bar down and start again. Builders had agreed to be paid on completion, so weren't, and as a result, all plate glass windows broken one night. Ahhh, did I mention..no insurance!!
But I had money (though rather alot less than I started with), patience and faith. And so, one year later, after one thousand and one inspections, she opened a pizza bar. Now, recognizing some of my talents and lack of others, I had always told my wife that this was her dream being fulfilled and I wanted nothing to do with this business...just 14% of the take each month to repay the initial costs. Some peeps work as waiters or cooks and dream of one day having thier own gig. But many should just leave it as that, a dream. That is, after all, why they are waiters or cooks. Anyway, when you place the possibility of the dream into the hands of the dreamer, look out!. What seemed like glamour is actually just plain, boring hard work, with long, long hours, and worse, a responsibility that your previous employer shouldered. Well, my dear wife reacted by stopping cooking, as opposed to actually cooking and thereby saving money, dressed up as the owner and micro-managed the placing of the napkins. Now Spanish workers are not cut from the same clothe as US ones. They have rights which they ae not afraid of exercising. Every time she argued with one, they offed to the doctor and got a written excuse from work. She had to pay their wage, social security and those of the new person enlisted to take their place. I later discovered that ghost to real workers was a ratio of 2:1. Plus she later employed using black money for wages, meaning that the workers could denounce her at any time. Not good.
None of this really bothered me. I was frying my own fish and doing lots of photography again. Until that one fateful night with Santi the cook outside shouting up to my balcony for me to come to the bar pronto. They had decided to lock my wife out of her own restaurant! Well, as I patiently listened to both sides (all the while feeling the gradual realization that MY life was going to change horribly), it became obvious that a choice had to be made. Yes, (after a stiff brandy) .....I fired my wife!

Things that might of proved foolish (with hindsight): neither of us spoke the language, knew anything about running a restaurant/bar, knew nothing of local/city/employment and employers laws and bylaws, and didn't realize that we were both wearing t-shirts that said "please bend me over and insert **** here".

To be continued.....
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Old Apr 2nd 2007, 9:49 pm
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

soon i hope.
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Old Apr 2nd 2007, 9:54 pm
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

Are you still with your wife or did she fire you
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Old Apr 3rd 2007, 12:27 am
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

Astonishing, and far be it from us to gain pleasure from your pain, but please continue, I am enthralled!!
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Old Apr 3rd 2007, 12:37 am
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

Originally Posted by littlelambfound
Hello helpful people,
Since reading this most excellent forum, I've seen many a request for information needed by total N00bs wanting to open a bar/restaurant/fish and chippie.... Well, some years back I took the plunge.

A little background.
In the year of the Barcelona Olympics I offed at the behest of some glossy magazines and set up shop (I'm a photographer) where I worked like a demon and partied like a pill. And I met my American wife who was working as a cook for all those NBC newspeeps. She loved Spain with a passion that only new world people have on seeing anything older than thier country. Alittle later we went to the US and had a very successful food photography and styling business. But she pined for vino, the sound of a thousand mopeds racing away from the traffic lights and the blood and macho grunts of gored matadors?! Having some savings I agreed to return and finance the opening of a restaurant for her. Oh dear.

The Blind Leading the Dumb
We paid a huge trespasso for a space only licenced as an art gallery! No chimney! No food/drinks licence. In the end we had to drop the cellar floor to conform with EU workers height requirements (it was used as a store). A chimney was installed but required the signatures of all the tenants in the building, who then tried to use their power over everything from the menu to the interior design. Later the local government inspector measured this chimney and pronounced it too narrow. Meaning that we couldn't cook using a fryer. Used Brit builders/destroyers. No obras work permit...work stopped by police, who thoughtfully taped the doors to stop anyone entering the locale. For 2 months. With all tools,machinery and plans inside. Later Fin de obras not granted because the work sucked to the point that we were ordered to knock the bar down and start again. Builders had agreed to be paid on completion, so weren't, and as a result, all plate glass windows broken one night. Ahhh, did I mention..no insurance!!
But I had money (though rather alot less than I started with), patience and faith. And so, one year later, after one thousand and one inspections, she opened a pizza bar. Now, recognizing some of my talents and lack of others, I had always told my wife that this was her dream being fulfilled and I wanted nothing to do with this business...just 14% of the take each month to repay the initial costs. Some peeps work as waiters or cooks and dream of one day having thier own gig. But many should just leave it as that, a dream. That is, after all, why they are waiters or cooks. Anyway, when you place the possibility of the dream into the hands of the dreamer, look out!. What seemed like glamour is actually just plain, boring hard work, with long, long hours, and worse, a responsibility that your previous employer shouldered. Well, my dear wife reacted by stopping cooking, as opposed to actually cooking and thereby saving money, dressed up as the owner and micro-managed the placing of the napkins. Now Spanish workers are not cut from the same clothe as US ones. They have rights which they ae not afraid of exercising. Every time she argued with one, they offed to the doctor and got a written excuse from work. She had to pay their wage, social security and those of the new person enlisted to take their place. I later discovered that ghost to real workers was a ratio of 2:1. Plus she later employed using black money for wages, meaning that the workers could denounce her at any time. Not good.
None of this really bothered me. I was frying my own fish and doing lots of photography again. Until that one fateful night with Santi the cook outside shouting up to my balcony for me to come to the bar pronto. They had decided to lock my wife out of her own restaurant! Well, as I patiently listened to both sides (all the while feeling the gradual realization that MY life was going to change horribly), it became obvious that a choice had to be made. Yes, (after a stiff brandy) .....I fired my wife!

Things that might of proved foolish (with hindsight): neither of us spoke the language, knew anything about running a restaurant/bar, knew nothing of local/city/employment and employers laws and bylaws, and didn't realize that we were both wearing t-shirts that said "please bend me over and insert **** here".

To be continued.....



looking forward to the next installment
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Old Apr 3rd 2007, 12:53 am
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

When shall I tune in?
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Old Apr 3rd 2007, 1:00 am
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Default Re: A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to open a bar....

I loved the phrase.. "the blind leading the dumb"......must remember to use that sometime *lol*

Thank you for sharing your experiences.......can't wait for the rest

Martha
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