Tomorrow marks an auspicious occasion in the life of Hartsyard. We turn one year old. WOO HOO!
That’s right, 365 days ago we pulled the newspaper off the front windows and opened our doors to a dining room full of guests including four bloggers and three reviewers.
Here are a few things we’ve learned in the last 12 months. In no particular order…
- You can exist on 3.5 hours sleep for more than 8 months. It ain’t pretty and your hair will fall out, but unfortunately, you won’t die.
- Do not get me to do your accounts. I will have fantastic relationships with all your suppliers but this is likely because I will overpay them.
- Naivety will carry you further than you think. I reckon our secret weapon during our 8-week build-out was that we had never done anything like this ever before in our entire lives. Gregory had opened 14 restaurants back in the US, but had always come in from kitchen build-out and beyond. I had spent my first 6.5 years in NYC subletting, too commitment phobic even to rent. My, how far I’ve come!
- Naivety is fine as long as you’re smart enough to surround yourselves with a fantastic crew and an enthusiastic support team of family and friends who offer their time, skills, labour, energies, experience and most significantly, their encouragement. NB. It is quite unlikely you will ever be able to replicate this experience to this degree ever again. First restaurant is a novelty. Anything beyond that and your support team are gonna wanna get paid!
- Check your opening budget daily. Be up everyone’s nose with a rubber hose, remind them daily whether they have exceeded or come in under budget. Every dollar you save is a sweet, sweet victory. Because…
- No matter that you think you’ve covered every angle possible, there will be expenses hidden in the most innocuous of places.
- The reviewers will give you no quarter. Expect them the second you open the doors. And FYI…a lot of them do not resemble the photos that appear in their respective journals. Very misleading indeed, particularly when you’re looking at them through severely sleep-deprived eyes.
- Hire people who believe in you and your vision, who have a passion similar to your own and whom you fundamentally like. That way, when the going gets tougher than you could ever imagine, the tough don’t get going to the next new restaurant, but rather get in the trenches with you and help dig.
- There is a difference between someone’s advice and someone’s opinion. Be very careful which one you’re listening to.
- You would be amazed at how many different shades of grey paint there are on offer. You might not think it, but the subtle differences will become horribly evident when you whack ‘em up on the wall without thinking.
- Soft openings are crucial. Invite people who love and support you and ease yourself into the madness as gently as possible.
- You will be so consumed with the restaurant will forget everything else. Your fridge will look like a bachelor’s, you will clean your clothes but never, ever fold them and you will completely forget all other life administration that is required to keep things like electricity running in your home.
- From tradies, to guests who become loyal regulars, to journos, photographers and fellow chefs and restaurateurs, you will meet some super excellent people and become part of a community that is exciting, evolving, passionate and largely tattooed.
- When we moved to Oz, my American chef husband knew no one in the industry. Opening our own place provided him the opportunity to meet his fellow late night, tattooed, Jack Daniels drinking brothers. I know it’s gone a long way towards helping Gregory feel like Australia can be his home.
- It’s pretty cool to be able to live your dream. And that’s exactly what Hartsyard is. One of Gregory’s dreams. So thank you all, most sincerely for whatever role you’ve played in our little venture, it is most gratefully and deeply appreciated.
- To our staff, particularly those who signed on from the start, your commitment, belief, passion and stamina were critical in helping us bring our vision to life. Thank you for your significant contributions to our urban homestead.
- To our family and friends, you all know those doors are only open because of your generosity and unwavering belief in our idea. It’s unlikely you’ll ever know just how much that has meant to us both. Thank you just doesn’t come close, but it’s the only word we’ve got.
- And finally, to our guests – locals, regulars and those who bring their passports and travel from across the bridge, thank you for filling our little dining room with your enthusiasm and hungry bellies. We hope to be filling them for many more years to come…
Happy Anniversary Hartsyard. 365 days old and counting!!!!