2011 has been a roller coaster of a year.
It started out with Shawn getting laid off from Microsoft in January 2011. But since I.T. had been tearing him up inside and things were pretty stable with my teaching gig, I told him that I would be happy to support him while he chased a dream… We both have this little fantasy of owning a bed and breakfast when we ‘retire’ so I figured that owning some kind of restaurant would be an important stepping stone to that dream. So Shawn started researching and planning. I keep doing my teacher day job and training with the dogs.
We adopted Frankie in June of 2010, and he turned out to be an anxiety ridden spaz! He was supposed to be part English Mastiff and Part Great Dane. This would, in theory, make him big, slow, lazy and loving. BUT after getting to know him, training with him and watching him RUN… we discovered that he must be at least 1/3 Greyhound! Tearing up the house, destroying furniture and driving us crazy also led us to believe he might have some separation anxiety. Luckily, I discovered Jennifer and the Dog Spot. She examined his issues and felt that it ~might~ be separation anxiety but was more likely a lack of confidence and too much energy.
So Frankie and I started with Basic Training Classes, then moved on to some Fungility Training and finally a class called Games and Tricks. The physical and mental stimulation was so helpful, and the daily homework kept us both on our toes. Charger even got to learn some new things too.
Speaking of Charger, he turned 14 years old yesterday (December 24th is his birthday according to his adoption records.) When we got Frankie, it was because Charger had slowed down so much we thought he was on his last legs… Frankie was going to be an “overlap” dog for us. Charger had put on a lot of ‘old man’ weight and was up to 145 pounds. The vet had told us to put him on a diet. Luckily, Frankie and him have been really bonding and getting along great. Charger has lost almost 20 pounds chasing around the little guy and acts much younger than his 14 years. We are so lucky to still have him with us. (age expectancy for his breeds are 9 or 12 at most)
In April, I went to my usual art retreat, Artfest. Pretty much the only time this calendar year that I made any (non-school related) artwork. and it was great to see many of my online artsy friends in real life.
Meanwhile, Shawn made his restaurant plans. At first the plan was small, food trucks were all the rage and that looked like a good one man operation. But looking into all the details it turned out that doing a truck would be much more complex and expensive than a basic brick and mortar store (or so it seemed.) So after several months of researching the truck idea he shifted to looking for a good location for his restaurant. He found several different “turn-key” locations that were for sale for what seemed like reasonable prices… but there was always something a little weird or fishy about the situation. Unfortunately, one too good to be true location ended up talking him out of a couple thousand dollars. Small claims court and a counter-suit followed and added some stress to our already difficult year.
In August, the Gaub family rented a wonderful lodge in Leavenworth and we spent a week away from the stress relaxing in nature and living like the rich and famous.
Summer arrived and we found a promising location. While we negotiated with the landlord and tried to secure funding from the banks is was a big, long, hurry up and wait situation. Finally after signing the lease we found out that the banks were just not in the mood to loan us ANYTHING! But we forged ahead anyways. We had the restaurant BUG and were too excited about the possibilities. We spent a couple of the summer months CLEANING, painting and remodelling the space to fit our needs.
We hired some staff, worked on the menu and recipes, ordered food and began with a Friends and Family “Soft Opening” in the beginning of September. Then after a week of low key service and some tweaking of our processes, we finally did our grand opening along with the Everett Gallery Walk On September 19th. Showing Adrien’s latest photography for the first month, relaunched her artistic career.
Planning and running a restaurant is a prety time consuming endeavor and along with the dog training it didn’t leave mush time for my other pursuits… like triathlon and artwork. My plans to do the Seattle to Portland bike ride fell through due to lack of training time. But Mom and I supported Brad and David as they did it in the usual ONE day. This was a good choice, as I discovered that the STP is not really the type of riding that I enjoy so that is not really a goal I am interested in keeping on my list. I did manage to do the Danskin triathlon though no personal bests this year.
The rest of the year has been consumed with working essentially 3 different jobs… teacher by day, then waitress at the new restaurant by night, and bookkeeper and marketing queen in any of the spare time that I may have. Plus keeping up with daily dog mommy tasks, like walking, feeding and taking the boys to day care and the parks. Luckily, I have a fantastic Student Teacher this year. Kevin has been making the newer, larger class sizes manageable. And his presence alleviates the extra stress from the restaurant that brings me to work a little more tired everyday. Plus it has been a professional joy to share my knowledge with him, and to be seen by him and get feedback has been invaluable. We teachers usually work in such isolation that we don’t get a lot of feedback for how we do our job unless it is something that makes a BIG slash. I have to avoid getting a big head this year as I get daily compliments on how I do my job. It has been perfect timing though, since after 10 years of doing the job I was beginning to get a little burnt out and ready for a change. This year with Kevin at my side will be a huge blessing in so many ways.
We proudly had the entire family at our new space for the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the best celebrations that I can remember, it was the highlight of the season. Having full use of the restaurant kitchen and dining space made for a relaxed event. The huge turkey cooked in just 2 hours in our gas oven and was juicy and delicious due to Alton Borwn’s brining recipe. Shawn’s mom and brother Josh even drove up from Portland to join us, and his brother Dean brought his fiance’ Linh. The full Gaub family was in attendance too… Grandma and Grandpa Gaub shared photos and stories from their recent month long visit to Australia.
There is never anything BORING about being restaurant owners. Most of the time we are feeling very blessed. Many little happy accidents have occurred in the process, including getting just the right people to help us at just the right times. We have felt God’s guiding hand during most of the process. But because the bank didn’t want to give us the loan we really needed, and there are a million hidden expenses in owning a restaurant… money has been tighter than ever before. So this holiday season finds us in a not very festive space.
The few days we have closed the restaurant to relax finds us staying at home, and quietly celebrating with our dogs and counting our blessings. We have a wonderful roof over our heads, loving and supportive friends and family, cuddly dogs that love and need us, and are healthy! The people we serve at our restaurant enjoy our food, our employees are loyal and happy to help us build our dream. Although, we have both found our bodies retaliating against the stress with the worse than usual winter colds, we do have health insurance and can see a doctor when we need to, so this too is a blessing. We have met many wonderful people as we get to know the community we live in better than ever now that we are local business owners. We have both found a new exciting passion for food and experimenting with new ingredients. We have big dreams and plans for where the restauarnt can go, we just hope and pray to get enough business, recognition, regular customers and therefore INCOME to keep it all moving forward. If you are ever in the area, please come by for a visit because we would love to share our passion with you!
Who knows what the next year will bring… but we are sure that it won’t be boring! I hope your year was full of blessings and excitement too.
May you never be afraid to follow your dreams! Happy Holidays!