The Restaurateur in the Arena

by steve on April 8, 2016

Influenced by Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote.

Steve Coomes. | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

Steve Coomes. | Photo by Nancy LaRocca

It is not the restaurant critic who counts; not the man or woman whose poison pen points out how the restaurateur stumbled, where the chef could have seasoned the food better or the bartender stirred the Old Fashioned colder. The people who count are those actually in the restaurant business, people with faces marred by flour and sweat, hands scarred by burns and cuts and minds muddied by the myriad demands of hungry customers.

They strive valiantly, yet err, for their efforts will always yield some shortcoming in the minds of self-appointed experts given the power of the press. They strive to serve guests as best they know with great enthusiasm and devotion, and spend themselves in a worthy but increasingly unprofitable cause. They know their best gives only a fleeting feeling of triumph and high achievement on a 14-hour day—yet they live haunted by the thought that a critic may deem it otherwise and say the restaurateur failed by daring greatly or playing it safe.

Such cold and detached critics haven’t the knowledge of the operator’s tiny victories and agonizing defeats. They know nothing of the hard times hunched over a stove or bar or dish tank or the endless job interviews required to find just one skilled and loyal employee. They know only their solitary views writ large as if gospel.

Their opinions should be ignored.

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