For those of you dreaming about opening your own independent restaurant some day, I say: Make sure you have lot's of money, an incredible desire to work long hours, tons of patience, few vices, no need for an immediate return on investment (figure 5-7 years min.), incredible handyman skills ('cause you'll be plumber, electrician, roofer, HVAC, sound technician, equipment repair etc. 24/7), the sleuth skills of a detective to stop the internal theft, a background in psychology to deal with certain elements, a great passion to strive for service excellence and a really, really understanding family.
Like us, you'll be faced with the 20 (and growing) BIG CHAIN restaurants storming your area with huge buckets of corporate dollars and a percentage of area consumers that will only buy from these faceless giants (regardless the reason). Your place will be affected by every major disaster, industry bumbling, foreign and domestic conflict, local economic swings, competitor rumors, small minded-small town jealousy, and the local government more concerned with parking meter and parking ticket revenue than the vitality of their dedicated independent business men and women.
You'll be the one with the mop, plunger and rubber gloves on when the bachelor/birthday party guest has too much. You do it so as not to demoralize your employees. Forget about wearing leather soled shoes, only rubber bottoms for you pal.
When you're standing still for a second, with the ginger ale in the rocks glass, surveying the crowd while making it look like you're socializing, someone will invariably comment, "Hey, do you ever work?". This after the 12 hours you've put in today ... with only 5 or 6 more hours to go! Ahhh, it's a glamorous life! But I wouldn't change it for the world...