Welcome to the third installment of the new Food Republic serial, The Worst Idea Ever?, in which chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan set out to open a restaurant in Houston, Texas as Pilot Light Restaurant Group. The serial will continue every Monday until they get a restaurant open, hopefully by the end of the year.
Cooking is the easy part. We’ve been doing it for a long time; it’s all we really know. The talking, the meetings, the endless stream of conscious-like conversations, that’s the hard part.
First and foremost if you don’t like meetings, get the hell out right now or hope to God that someone will be attending them on your behalf. The feeling of leaving a meeting utterly deflated — I’d equate it to getting sucker punched by Mike Tyson while Ralph Macchio performs the flying crane kick on your skull. Second, if you are adverse to giving what feels like evangelical stump speeches, forget it. Lately, I’ve been speaking for such long lengths of time, I’m actually conscious of how nauseating it is to hear the sound of my own monotonous voice.
Case in point, our first real estate meeting. We were talking to a real estate agent whose number we had called off a building that we had been eyeing for weeks. So there we sat, our grand vision for the space and our impending total world culinary domination about to be laid at the feet of this person whose name was plastered on a poorly constructed sign on the side of our future culinary castle.
First question out of the landlord’s mouth was, “Do you have the financing?” We lie and say yes. The rest of the conversation is a blur, the amount of acronyms this person uses, you’d think they were passing codes to Russia. I make mental notes for all of them and spend many hours that night on wikipedia finding definitions that lead to an endless amount of real estate knowledge, but which will nonetheless take the majority of my adult life to truly understand.
On the drive home from this meeting, Terrence and I didn’t talk much. Instead, we said what we experienced were a lot of “blow-outs” — a kitchen term used to explain the feeling when words can’t describe the frustrations, disappointment or just plain exhaustion of the situation. We also like to use a similarly pungent word to describe this feeling, just a simple, “Boo” will usually get the point across that we are feeling like the world is about to end – Boo-ing not to be confused with something a ghost might use to get his point across, either way this first real-estate meeting was a nightmare. Definitely a fucking boo.
We’ve learned the error of our ways from that first meeting. And though we are still finalizing the hieroglyphics and spiderwebs that seem to equate the financing side of this business, we’ve quickly learned what all those acronyms mean and the questions that need to be asked when walking a space for the first time. But meetings still make me feel dead inside.