So the good news today was that there is an interested party who wants to take over the shop from us, including our license and everything in it. The questionable part is that its the landlords henchman who has brought this to our attention and when asked how much this interested party is willing to offer us for the license and the shop with everything in it, the dude was all, "oh...there was no mention of anything" and then went so far as to jokingly say that if I wasn't keen to strike a deal with the interested party the landlord would expect me to return the shop in "bare shell condition" as previously agreed. He wrote this with a "laughing until I cry" emoji, so what do you think he meant by that? Hmmm....I'll tell you what I think he meant.
For those who don't understand what that means, let me enlighten you on that empty threat.
The crazy train wants the shop to the condition below! Which I guess they are assuming will be a bigger seller than if the shop still had walls and a toilet bowl to pee in while working!
The landlord has been wholly unhelpful at the worst of times, and now they bring me this? Pshh, yeah, sure. I told him to just get the interested party to contact me direct because I was already mentally and financially prepared to break the damn place down to bare shell condition, but if someone is keen to start their own restaurant and expects to get it all handed to them for free, they got another thing coming.
I couldn't care less about leaving the place not bare shell, but the cost of a restaurant license alone warrants a price tag if they want me to transfer mine to their name, not to mention a fully furnished, kitted space.
Its the principal of it, there is a value to be had in a license transfer vs going through all the cost of getting a license from zero. Restaurant license applications go through an intermediary such as a "Restaurant Consultant" which, if you ask me, is just a means of extortion because they cost an arm and a leg and somehow they get shit done faster than if you were to apply for it personally. You can apply in person, but then somehow, by some kind of voodoo, it would take you almost 6 months, but if you pay through your rear to a "consultant" then you could get your license sooner! Yeah, beats me, if you ask me it sounds mighty similar to some form of graft.
You know what I take issue with? Frikken buzzard mindset! Vultures!
I know, I was actually upbeat when I got the news this morning, but since it was coming through the landlords henchman (one who I have had serious back and forth shit slinging matches with on Whatsapp over the past year) vs the actual interested party, I can't help but have a sneaky suspicion the landlord is somehow trying to profit from the whole damn thing. Trust, you may say, nah, I don't trust them worth a damn.
Am I cynical? Yeah, sure, I am. I have been dicked over enough times to smell something being "not quite right" when I encounter it, and this one stinks. In my three years of running the restaurant I have encountered people who on the surface have been very friendly and down to earth only to realize later that they expected special treatment because of their proximity to me socially. Bizarre, but nah, I ain't as trusting as I was when I first started.
Everyone from the person who helped me when I was setting up the shop to the restaurant consultant I was recommended, everyone got their claws in me with a smile on their face, and I saw it for what it was, a necessary evil, but it also taught me that in the game of commerce, the only ones who win are the sharks.
I was having this conversation with my husband this morning when I woke.
I have a tumultuous relationship with capitalism. I see this hunger for money, this drive for more, this insatiable greed, its so destructive. I have seen it within my own family, and its taken me much mindfulness to come to understand that although I may not have that same hunger or greed, I can still earn the money and distribute it to those that need it more than I do. I figure, if it hadn't been for the protests and then Covid-19, we would have been on the up and up, but you can't change the circumstances by some sort of magical sleight of hand, it is what it is, it was what it was, but I know I am ending with my integrity intact.
I have seen money destroy my family, my mother having come from a home where gambling changed their financial security so drastically overnight, was very anxious about money all the time, so she brought that insecurity into her marriage to my father. Its because of this constant fretting about money and having more of it, that many of the arguments between her and my father were born.
We as their children grew up with very skewed views of the value of money, my sister, brother and I.
My father came from abject poverty, the usual "no shoes, one meal a day" story, my father grew up in Kerala, India, and it was by sheer luck that my grandfather got my father and all his siblings into Lawrence School, Lovedale, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, as merit scholars.
Merit scholarship is given to those too poor to afford to pay their way through school. Lawrence School was founded by Sir Henry Lawrence III, and it was a former military asylum, a boarding school for the children of those in the British Military and such, by the time my father got his merit scholarship, it was under the express condition that these were given to people of "Anglo-Indian" heritage, meaning that it was understood that somewhere up the family tree, we had colonizer blood in us.
Truth be told, we now know that was a lie, my Grandpa lied, or maybe he didn't, but we certainly know from my uncle doing genetic testing through 23&me that we are 95% Southeast Asian from India and 5% Pacific Islander (!) yeah, again, beats me!
Dad was one of the first Merit Scholars to graduate from that school to send all three of his children back to the same school, paying in full. It was a source of great pride for my father, as boarding school is not exactly a cheap thing, but he was insistent that he would educate us the same way he had been, what he saw as a great place for discipline, fraternity and building lifelong friendships.
I loved boarding school, but I would never send my kids to one, its great for making friends if you are socially gifted, but its terrible for your relationship with your parents.
Anyway, where I was going with this is that my father grew up dirt poor. He was educated for free and he loved the school as he finally got three meals a day and a uniform, which meant he had his own clothes and shoes on his feet. Because my father grew up poor, he always looked at his accumulation of wealth as being something he was gifted with and that it was not really his to keep. He was generous to a fault. He would help a wayward brother who squandered money on drugs or alcohol. He would help his father who would then squander that on whoever was currying favor with him. He also helped to educate my cousins when times were tough. Many of these efforts of fiscal help went through me and behind my mothers back, and one day when we got caught, I got in so much trouble with my Mum, like I was this liar when in reality we knew how she felt about giving money, hard earned, to others who needed it more.
I had forgotten how I helped my father spread the wealth, honestly, it must be where it came from, my mindset about money, skewed as it may be, sometimes I would try to talk my father into being more mindful about how hard he worked and how he truly did need to know he was deserving of it, but he would say, "What am I going to do? Take it with me to my grave? While I can, I should help those that need my help!"
Yeah, so you had my Dad who was always, "I can earn more!' and my mother who was all about, "Save every damn penny and don't squander it!"
Very different people, very conflicting approaches towards the earning and hoarding of money as well as very different mindsets about who deserved money and for what.
From when I started, it was important for me to have a team built on equal pay for men and women. I wanted everyone to feel they were equally valued and invested in the shop. That worked, for the most part, but then you realize that sometimes some people understand the concept of gratitude and others do not, its not a fault of their own, maybe they just didn't grow up in an environment where they learned that, and how do you teach them that in the time you have, all while running a busy restaurant?
For the first 6 months of the running of the restaurant I didn't take any salary. I had to claim I was paying myself, but I didn't. Then I gave myself the lowest salary of the whole team, and it was just so I could cover my outgoings, the cost of commuting and such. My first real salary was at the 1 year mark, and I paid myself the same salary as everyone else, but the very first salary went to pay someone we were letting go. Somehow everything I was doing was in the hope we could build the place up to be something bigger than ourselves, something that would be profitable in 3 or more years. Eventually my entire salary was allotted to us maintaining an apartment above the shop so I was always close to work.
You know what? I don't regret a damn thing. I will cherish the memories because my husband and I have become stronger together through the experience of me running this restaurant. He has learned how to be there for me when I am at my weakest and rejoice with me in my strengths. My children may have complained about me not being there as much, but my absence helped me appreciate their presence in my life more, and they have had the positive experience of building a strong bond with their father, my husband. Boys need fathers, they need a good father figure, and my husband has been there even for my oldest son, Jake, ever since he was 8 years old. I could not have asked for a more supportive, patient and kind father figure for my son from my previous marriage, honestly, I know Jake knows that now. My husband is a good man, I truly am blessed in so many ways.
I have learned so much about myself through the building and operating of Confusion. I have learned how nothing is impossible if you have the will to make it happen. I know everything I have done has been with others in mind, and now as I sit on a couch in the Netherlands, jobless as all hell, with a life passing at a crawl, I can relish the experience without guilt or anxiety, because I know I am exactly where I am meant to be.
I have watched my team flourish, as individuals, in their communication, their inter-personal skills, their mindset and their camaraderie, and I take great pride in knowing that I took time to nurture that mindset in them. I have always maintained that I am their equal even if I am their boss, and I have, for the most part, succeeded in earning the respect I have been given, not once taking that respect as my birthright.
No matter what comes, I have no regrets.
If someone wishes to buy us out of our license, they can pay a price that is fair, I myself paid 128K for a bare shell space with license and one fridge we have called "the shitty fridge" ever since day 01! Do I feel I got a bum deal? Hell yeah! Hey, I didn't know any better then! Do I expect that money back? Not at all. But when you know that you've got about 800K worth of renovation, equipment, furnishing and fixtures in there, someone saving you the cost of breaking the place down to bareshell is the least of your problems, the bare minimum they can do is pay for the license, coz a transferred license is a quick pass to opening doors for operation!
I know this, I assume others in the business also know this, so in the end, its going to be up to this supposed "interested party" to get in touch and make me an offer, coz I am open to whatever is fair.
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.