Nov. 6, 2020

Silver Linings in the COVID Crisis

The pandemic has decimated many industries. Taken and destroyed lives. Thrown us into an economic crisis. For those of us clinging on, trying to find a way through, it can seem like there are no silver linings at all. Our world has crumbled. We have to claw our way back.

I could never argue with an out of work restaurateur who feels that way. It is a devastating thing to lose your business. I’ve gone through this myself and it’s been the most challenging point of my career.

And yet, I believe in positivity. As entrepreneurs, I think we are the most positive creatures on the planet. We are constantly staring into the void and creating in the darkness.

There has got to be some small thing we can take from all this.

A lesson? An opportunity? A sign?

I’ve reflected on this over and over. Many industry leaders have also told me their thoughts. Here is some encouragement I am taking from such a destructive time.

Family First

As hospitality pros, when do we ever get a real break?

Sure there’s vacation time in theory, but in practice did we ever really switch off?

I’ve never heard of another industry where an 80-100hour workweek is totally normal.

During this state of pause, we are forced to stop for once. I was forced to stop for once.

And sure, I started a new business, but this time has given me so much clarity on what’s truly important to me. My family. I’m making up for lost time now with my wife and daughter. It feels like I have been away from them so much running my restaurant. When the rush of hospitality starts again and the doors fly open, crazy work-life imbalance could happen all over again.

But this time gives me the opportunity to think of what my work-life balance could be.

How can I create a business that allows me to spend quality time with my family?

What would the business model look like to make room for that?

Is that balance possible as a restaurant owner? Only time will tell.

Fear. Feel. Reflect

So many of my industry friends have told me how they cope with fear right now. Barrie Schwartz, incredible entrepreneur, and owner of My House Catering chooses self-care when she feels the fear. “There are days when I’m really afraid so I’m very gentle with myself. I go camping, live in the moment, and cook a really good steak.”

Steve Schwartz, insightful founder of Art of Tea (and no relation to Barrie), stares fear in the face and pushes through. “If it freaks me out and gets me excited at the same time, then I gotta move forward at full speed. I thank my brain for the fear and then push - really leaning in hard.”

I think there is someplace in the middle. Who isn’t afraid of the future right now?

The world is going to change in unknown ways in the coming months. But with that fear of change comes an opportunity to reflect. An opportunity we have never been given before because we were blinded by the work train.

I made Full Comp to give a voice to the industry. Share our reflections and ideas we have for the uncertain future. With all the talent and innovators we have in this amazing business, maybe we could drive the change. I’m so thankful for the opportunity we have to rewrite the ancient scripts.

From the ashes

When I spoke to famous Chef Andrew Zimmern, he quoted Churchill:

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

This could be the most pivotal point in our careers - maybe even in our whole lifetimes. I could easily choose to sulk and watch the world fly past me with all its pivots and changes. Or I can grab the bull by the horns and ride this wave.

There is so much innovation and conversation that has never happened on this scale before.

It’s an equally exciting and terrifying time. We can completely rebuild the industry into the one we have always wanted with better margins, better working conditions, better pay, better lives.

We can either rise from the ashes or sit in the dust.

I know which path I’m choosing...