Pearls of Restaurant Wisdom from Christopher Myers

1) Drink more. Use Uber.

2) Know if you are doing it for love or for money? If it’s love– you’re crazy; if it’s for the money you’re an idiot and you might be crazy. IF it’s for both, then educate yourself about the economics fully and with enough passion and love for what you’re doing you have a pretty darn good chance to succeed.

3) Oldest Saying out there about hiring: Hire Slow Fire Fast. Check references. Interview two or three times. Are they on time each time? Are they clean and presentable each time? Are they getting impatient with YOUR process? Watch how they move around your space during their stage. Every day you put into employing someone is an investment in your own future. And when they walk, or prematurely figure out that it’s not the right environment, I see every penny I’ve paid them walking right out the door with them. They got paid, I got nothing.

Hire slow fire fast. Except when you don’t do either. Because sometimes good people can take some time to be great employees. Always look first for grace, kindness, and a smile you could grow old with. I always try to make someone a little bit uncomfortable in an interview just to see how they deal with awkward moments. IF they’re still smiling they’ll be smiling on Saturday night when they’re getting their a*s handed to them.

4) Don’t ever tire of asking questions. Ever. No matter how much experience you have, no matter how old you are, and no matter how awkward it might make you look or feel. Better to look a little dumb now than the expression you’ll have after you’ve blown your relatives’ money on a bad deal. We have a saying at Myers+Chang–better to be awkward than absent! It came from a server’s tendency to avoid tables that are unhappy about something. It’s natural to want to stay afield from someone that’s unhappy, but it’s a formula for failure. Stay close, take your licks, fix the problem. Better to be awkward than absent. It applies to so much more than just table service.

5) Expansion brings many challenges most of which can be predicted. You’ll sleep less, drink more, and ask yourself over and over why. But the biggest surprise is always how far you get from what got you there in the first place. In other words, if you’re a great cook, you probably won’t be doing much cooking. Great with accounting? Someone else will be doing that too. You get away from what you were great at but you learn new skills every day. It’s a constant evolution and if you don’t evolve, well….seen many Hawaiian crows lately? (I had to google this! But it’s extinct and that’s a bummer!)

6) Know who you are. Know who you are. Know who you are.

7) Know what you don’t know and what you need to learn. And learn it dammit!

8) Never count anyone else’s shekels. They’re them and you’re you-em. Define what your version of success is and keep it stamped to your forehead. Otherwise, we all get jealous, we all think someone else is getting more credit, making more money, moving faster and making wiser decisions than we.

9) Give EVERYONE ELSE the credit for all the success and take all the blame for the losses. Best fortune cookie I ever got. I still have it in my wallet. (Well, I lost the wallet but I still have it in my head’s wallet!)

10) Fill this one in on your own with the best idea you have about business. You are more than likely the best teacher you know. And the most trustworthy.

11) Before you sign on the dotted line, with a landlord, with a business partner, an investor, with someone that wants to use your name to sell a product, know accurately how you’re going to get out of the arrangement. It’s always so darn nice in the beginning. Having an exit strategy makes endings so much easier. Be precise about this.

12) Many say “location location location” is the formula for success in our business. I like to think it’s great food, warm and earnest hospitality, and obvious value even when it’s a higher end concept. But when it does come down to choosing a location, and you’re between a smaller location and a bigger one–I’d choose the smaller one every time. If you’re busting out of it then you’re successful and everyone knows it. Nothing better than that line at Cinnabon! You can always move to a bigger location once you’re an established entity and people are nuts because they can’t get in to your bursting at the seams boutique eatery. Better to buy a shirt that fits and wear it a bunch until you grow out of it than buy one too big and look like a schlump all the while hoping that you’re going to work so hard at the gym that you’ll be busting out of it. (This might have more to do with my lack of success with gym memberships? I’m not sure. Maybe it has more to do with Cinnabon? Number 12 needs more consideration at this time.) In fact, Joanne disagrees with me totally on this entire line of thinking.

13) Have a clear vision of what and who you are and make sure that everybody on board knows it. DEFINE IT AND POST IT AND REPEAT IT AND WRITE A SONG ABOUT IT AND GET A TATTOO OF IT ON YOUR FOREARM NEXT TO YOUR I LOVE MOM TATTOO! But above all let everyone that works for you know what it is at all times. And it never hurts to change it and then change it again and again until it’s working. And then change it again. Just let everyone else know where you’re going.

14) Go to medical school.

15) Treat your staff better than your guests. It’s the only sure fire formula for insuring that they’ll treat your guest’s better than you treat them. Kindness is infectious.