The Build: Laughing, Crying, Making Burritos
The Build takes a deep dive into the process of building up a new restaurant, from signing the lease to opening day. In this episode, not only do you get more glimpses at the fun aesthetic bits, but you’ll also hear about the processes and systems behind making sure customers feel taken care of in the space that Eric and Team Ursula are in the middle of creating. Between architects pointing fingers at plumbers, and deciding on plate ware, you’ll hear about the nitty-gritty required to build up (and out) your brick and mortar world.
LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE PODCAST HERE
Last time you heard from us, we talked to Eric and his collaborators who together are building menus that support the communities they're part of.
What are we doing today?
As you heard earlier, we're talking about mental health and self-care today.
Maybe a cry? I don't know.
How are you? How are you managing your stress and anxiety level and your task list?
Breathing. Trying to be at the gym to workout. That's a really good. Stress. Stress reducer for me. And I haven't been drinking all week. That helps.
There’s a lot, there’s a lot to share
So that was the second spot that I had spent months working on and a lot of money. And there was the rug was pulled out from underneath me. I almost gave up on that one.
Was I thought about texting you guys a couple of weeks ago. I mean, like, listen, I don't know if this is going to work out here compared to your schedule. I don't know when you're trying to wrap this recording out, but we might need another six months.
How are you? I know we were supposed to catch up earlier this week that you were literally, like, elbows deep in stuffing cookie boxes.
Yes. And I totally forgot about the recording until you text me. And we had like 2 hours til UPS showed up to pick up all those boxes.
We've been there.
I'm good. This has been like a physically and mentally draining week for me, so I'm hanging on by a thread till the end of the weekend. When we get a break.
Not yet? And I've got to They're supposed to be reaching out to my lawyer today with those other two touch points and hearing back from the insurance. Especially for the liquor liability. If my if all these expenses like taxes and insurance and stuff are going to really make this unattainable, then that would be a kill point. If they're not going to move on any of that. And sometimes they also just need to step away from my computer email for a few hours so that I again can remove my business interests from my ego and not react because I'm upset about the way that he communicates with me.
These are the concepts for the drinks that I like to look at. Textiles for the furniture is exciting. But also all this stuff costs a lot of money, too. And that's I'm like being pulled from both ends because it's exciting, but it's like money, money, money, money, money. That's all that we're talking now.
At 3:00 every day beating my head against the wall.
I'm trying to get back to the gym regularly because that's a big part of my mental health journey. Like I have to go to the gym or work out or do something. Otherwise I just I can't concentrate. So I did make a very concerted effort to go today, but I haven't made time for that in the last two weeks and it starts to take a toll on. But we're doing it.
I was really nervous about presenting it to everyone and I was like, I didn't sleep the night before.
And so even in that moment, right after it happened, everybody was kind of laughing about it and commiserating when she finally left. But then after it set in and it was like, oh, damn, I feel very violated and vulnerable by that, then you start to think about it more and you're like, more upset.
Are you seeing a way of getting breaks for yourselves in there and how are you? How are you managing that physical labor and mental and emotional and all the good things?
I have been I've still been sticking to my making my time or the gym, as we've discussed in the previous episodes. And now I've been able to come in a little bit later. I'm still coming in earlier than I want to each day, but I'm not here 6 hours every day where we were last week because we had one staff member who is out of town on a prearranged trip and then we already have a tight staff. So with that person out, we had somebody else call in sick. He got really sick. And so then I had to cover shifts at two 16-hour shifts this weekend. But Mondays I've been pretty diligent about not touching work related stuff. This Monday I did come in because I'm too far behind on emails and event requests and menus, and I knew that it was going to be better for me to start the week by coming in and spending some time here. Last Monday I went to Bath House, thanks to Jenny and Alex.
Had a little massage scrub and hung out trying to relax over there. Took myself out to the movie theater. That was a big thing that I missed. Once we started opening, I love going to the movies and I love going by myself to the movies. And I hadn't been on for months. And so that was my first treat, was taking myself to the movie. [00:11:26][23.4]
So as we listen back to Eric's journey up until this point, it's pretty fair to say that when you're in the middle of doing a million things during a build, it can be really hard to see the big picture and all of that coming together. I always like to say it's really hard to see the forest through the trees, but you can also attach your mental health to this process and the progress of tax or the lack thereof and really get down on yourself and feel like things are not moving forward with the momentum you would like.
And despite, you know, Eric going through, you know, obviously a stressful time and trying to build this this thing up and just, you know, all the finances and things that go into it. And juggling his responsibilities from one restaurant that's still open and another one that's trying to get open, it's been really impressive that he's, you know, stayed really positive throughout the process and really optimistic about getting it done on time and and on budget. And again, very impressed with how he's done that.
It's a huge undertaking. And Eric has remained really committed to his vision, his values for the project, for his community. And he's also remained pretty true to taking care of himself. You'll hear him talk about going to the gym and all sorts of things like that, and you can't really help others if you don't help yourself. So that's why we're all in hospitality, right? And you really see the community and come together. So I like to say, and building businesses and child rearing, too, it takes a village.
How great so tell me how you're managing your. Like energy around it. You're managing your stress around it and how you're helping Eric manage.
I feel like it's like my niece. It's not my baby, but it's like my. My boys baby. Right. And so, honestly, I feel like that takes a lot of the, like, anxiety. It's not even pressure or stress, cause I have pressure. You know, when I have like, I know I have to get all this shit together and it's, you know. They're all important things and we have to really just keep on top of everything. And that's a lot.
But like we're in it together. We understand each other's working quirks too. Like he walks in the door and I can kind of get a gauge of like where he's at mentally. I'm like, okay, it's physical task time or like, it's mental tasks time.
So if I needs a call, I'm gonna step outside or I'm gonna do this.
And it's like, we really understand those those really tiny things about each other that you really need to work seamlessly and harmoniously and making sure you're adding in that smoothness as much as you possibly can really goes a long way I feel like to just keep the stress away. and, you know, we like you have to go get a massage, all do this, you know, really sharing the load when we can really recognize like. He works more than me.
And, you know, it's about relationship. And that's again, it's very much like we're both very oriented to each other. You know, like, I went through this fucked up, horrible breakup and he was like sending me. And then I had to rebel accident and he was like, sending me stuff like, he's covering me, like liking patches and flowers and snacks and, like, you know, like, notes, like, like, So can you love, like, all this stuff? And it's just like we really put in a lot there, and we know that, like, stress is going to run high and we just kind of like, take it one day at a time. I mean, it's, you know, we laugh a lot.
Laughter is the best medicine.
We laugh a lot.
So if you've been follo wing along with this season, you might notice a little bit of changes in our format today for this episode because we are getting closer and closer to the finish line the moment we've all been waiting for that opening day. And as you close in on a deadline, stuff gets pretty wild.
We really appreciate that Eric has been so willing to share his experience with managing his self-care and his mental health journey with our listeners. So we just want to give a big shout out there. Thank you.
Thank you, Eric.
Opening a restaurant is stressful, and closing your restaurant is stressful and heart wrenching. Let's talk a little bit about what that all felt like. Do you remember?
Do I remember I still. Yeah, I still feel it. No, I still feel it.
I still feel it. I remember your mom saying to me at Christmas, I'm sorry you guys had a closed restaurant, and I just, like, broke down crying.
This past Christmas.
Now, right after we close.
I think my mom still sees it as a failure. Closing a restaurant is stressful. Opening a restaurant is stressful and exciting. Closing a restaurant is stressful and not exciting. So I think that that's like the biggest difference. I think that for me personally, it was it was pretty tough. There was you know, there was a big part of me that was at the point where we had gone through so much struggle of like continuing to put every last time in that we had. And we were at this point where I think we sort of knew that the business wasn't going to work, but we were still, you know, fighting for it. And so that, you know, once you pull the plug, it gives you a sense of relief. But at the same time, this was my career journey. You know, this was like my goal when I started cooking and, you know, a chicken finger joint in Kansas City. And this was my goal when I went to, you know, fry fish in Louisiana and then, you know, move my way on up every restaurant. I pushed myself to get up to the next level as fast as possible and learn as much as I could so that one day I could open a restaurant and be a world famous chef. And so, you know, the idea that that came tumbling down in a matter of six months at the very height of my, you know, personal career journey, it, it was slightly soul crushing. That's a fair way to put it. And it's much easier to talk about now ten years ago. But, yeah, I don't I don't think there's any like way to sugarcoat that. I mean, it certainly was a learning experience that translated into a more successful business until it. But it's essentially I'm a I'm a runner now for anyone that cares and probably doesn't, but it's essentially running a marathon and, you know, falling down and breaking your leg at mile 25. It's fucking sucks. You do all this work, you get to the journey. You get all the way to the end, to the finish line, and then something just doesn't work. And that's, you know, happens to a lot of people. It happens all the time. It's certainly not, you know, um, an isolated incident, but, um, yeah, it's tough. Stressful. Not exciting. Was that great? Good, because I might cry.
My pleasure. Jen, how did it feel? I know that, you know, you had not been in restaurants for three years building up to goods. You were, you know, in pharmaceuticals and then departed, you know, with with experience of restaurants to, you know, help us try and put the business back together. How did it hit you? I imagine it hit you a little bit differently.
I mean, I think any failure can be can feel pretty embarrassing or like, oops. Not to mention that you evaporated money, which also sucks. But I think hindsight's 20-20 and you learn a lot from your failures. So and I still think we try to do that any time we have a failure issue at work and we try to iterate on it and learn from it. Yeah.