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Please Stop What You're Doing And Read This Failed Restaurateur's Batshit Story

"I was a foodie with a boring day job who figured he could run a restaurant." BRUH.

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This is Robert Maxwell. He recently published an essay on Toronto Life titled "A Restaurant Ruined My Life."

Maxwell, who had no experience in food or business (!!!), decided to open a restaurant and, well...it didn't go as he'd envisioned it would. Because of course it didn't!!!

Without even reading a word, you can probably guess that the endeavor was a HUGE money pit — because all restaurants are, even for seasoned pros! So why Maxwell — who (spoiler alert!!!) begrudgingly did the bare minimum required to open his "dream" restaurant — thought he would be any different is beyond me.
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Without even reading a word, you can probably guess that the endeavor was a HUGE money pit — because all restaurants are, even for seasoned pros! So why Maxwell — who (spoiler alert!!!) begrudgingly did the bare minimum required to open his "dream" restaurant — thought he would be any different is beyond me.

The whole thing is stunningly, breathtakingly arrogant, and made me yell, "THIS GUY!!!!" and "OH MY GOD" and "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" repeatedly. And because I don't want to experience alone, I now give you some of the most holy shit lines:

1. "I was a foodie with a boring day job who figured he could run a restaurant."

First line of the dek and I'm already mad!!!!

2. After he discovered Michelin chef Marco Pierre White on YouTube: "I soon joined the burgeoning ranks of the know-it-all gourmand. I owned fancy knives. I photographed my food. I had a subscription to Lucky Peach."

3. "What I lacked in experience I could make up for in enthusiasm."

NBC

4. After he decides to operate a food truck at a local event, his first real experience cooking professionally: "I slogged through each step of thrice-cooked English chips, my fingers cramping so severely from peeling 100 pounds of potatoes that I almost called 911."

Almost...called...911...from...peeling...potatoes...

5. "It was an adrenalin rush like no other. I lost money, but I didn’t care."

RECURRING THEME ALERT!!!!

6. "Eighty per cent of first-time restaurateurs fail. I knew this."

AND YET.

7. "To qualify for a liquor licence, I needed at least three months of experience in the industry. So I arranged to work in Jameson’s restaurant over the summer of 2013. My shifts consisted of a few leisurely hours chopping veg and prepping salad dressings. His chef, a hotshot Grand Electric alumnus, was probably not happy to have a home cook screwing around in his kitchen, but he tolerated my presence and was pretty good about the whole thing. My role was largely symbolic anyway, and after a few shifts stretched over a three-month period, I checked off that box."

Largely. Symbolic.

Disney

8. "I looked into a few angel investor groups, but it turned out that they didn’t 'do' restaurants."

WONDER WHY!!!!!!

9. "I realized [the location for the restaurant] was far from the downtown foodie scene, but I figured if diners made pilgrimages to Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm all the way up in Singhampton, surely they could trek east for 25 minutes to enjoy the city’s finest thrice-cooked chips."

BRUH.

10. After he found a potential location for the restaurant that had rats and was in SERIOUS disrepair: "I wanted it so badly that I convinced myself it was the perfect fixer-upper."

11. "Among other things, I needed to repair some water-damaged walls, lay new subfloors, level out the hood, replace some shoddy wiring, install new bathroom fixtures, and rebuild the front façade and those dangerous stairs."

THE PERFECT FIXER-UPPER!

12. "Once [the cleaners] finished, they handed me a bill for $475 and informed me that they’d had to scrape an inch of bat guano off the top of the hood."

13. "We had started with $60,000; after six weeks, we were down to $3,000, and there was still so much to do."

14. On the two people who showed up to interview to be line cooks: "One was a Chinese exchange student who spoke almost no English, the other a tattoo-covered trans woman who dressed like a vampire."

"Ha ha ha get a load of THESE clowns, amirite?"

(Like...even if you're writing a troll piece, editors matter!!!!)

Hulu

15. "The stress was getting to me. I looked haggard, with a grizzly beard and dark circles under my eyes. I had lost 20 pounds. I rarely smiled. Since the beer kegs could be bought on credit, I drank lustily from them. I found myself pouring my first at 11 a.m. and continuing steadily throughout the day."

TBH, I'm about to start drinking lustily myself.

16. "Six weeks after I had signed the lease, my bank balance had withered to just $6 and I had yet to pay a single bill. I owed Jamie [the chef] two weeks’ pay. We had no food at home, and our mortgage payment was due."

17. Of course, he handled this setback well: "Unsure of what to do, I sat alone at the bar of my unfinished, unopened restaurant and drank myself to oblivion."

AMC

18. "My old friend and long-time colleague Debra called. She had always been supportive of my crazy dream and was checking in. That morning, feeling like a failure, I told her we were broke and had to shut down. She offered to invest $20,000 into the restaurant — the riskiest of ventures with a bumbling amateur at the helm."

Debra, noooooo!

19. "Between my pension money and cash that people had lent me, I was $80,000 deep, with no profit in sight: For every dollar I made, I was spending three."

20. At the end of the second month, when they are out of money yet again and he can’t make payroll: "Out of desperation, Dorothy [his wife] invited her mother to the restaurant for dinner, where we sheepishly explained our problem. A sensible woman, my mother-in-law was always convinced that my restaurant was a stupid idea. We were handily making her case. Nevertheless, she agreed to lend us a few thousand dollars to cover payroll. But her loan was eaten up so quickly that by the next payday, I was short again."

21. "I was honest with the staff. I assumed they would walk, but they didn’t. The servers were happy with tips and an IOU."

Please see #14 and rage all over again.

22. "I looked into my remaining pension of $70,000 and learned that I could unlock some of it due to 'financial hardship.' I just needed a lawyer’s notarization. So, I cashed out the annual max of $25,000, which, after tax penalties, came to $18,000. I caught up on payroll and made my mortgage payment. I wrote Jameson his first rent cheque. But within six weeks, I had burned through all $18,000."

23. After anxiety about the restaurant starts keeping him up at night: "Dorothy had had a temporary bout with anxiety a year earlier, and she still had a half-full prescription bottle of sedatives in the medicine cabinet. In the thick of one of these night terrors, after a difficult, understaffed service, I knocked back four or five pills. They sloshed around in my gut with gallons of booze—probably a bad idea, but I didn’t care."

OF COURSE HE DIDN'T CARE.

24. "We were living like paupers, putting $4 of gas in the car at a time, mining for loose change among the couch cushions and living off Kraft Dinner. Then the final insult: with a cart full of groceries and two cranky kids in tow, Dorothy’s debit card was declined at the local Loblaws."

Netflix

25. "I had one last option. ... We could sell our small Upper Beach semi, which we had bought in 2006, use some of the money for the Beech Tree and bank the rest for a down payment on a new house when business picked up. My kids cried when I told them we had to leave our home."

26. After the restaurant got a good review and business finally picked up: "I was even toying with the idea of expansion."

*breathes into a paper bag*

27. But things are good! Finally! So then he decides to close the restaurant for a week for a vacation: "In those seven days that we were closed, supplier cheques continued to clear and salaried staff continued to get paid, but nothing came in to replace that money. It was a novice mistake. I didn’t have the savings to warrant closing. Cutting off cash flow devastated our account within a week."

28. "To make matters worse, a $4,000 utility bill was waiting for me when I got back, our air conditioner the culprit. How was I to know that the dining room AC unit that came with the building pumped thousands of litres of municipal water through its pipes?"

HOW INDEED. HOW. HOW. HOW DOES ONE EVER REALLY KNOW ANYTHING REALLY?

MTV

29. "By that point, I had dumped $170,000 into the restaurant, and to keep our head above water, Dorothy had to turn to her mother again for more money, another blow to my already bruised pride."

My kingdom for an essay from Dorothy's mother.

30. After the restaurant begins to flood during an event: "I entered full panic mode. I fled downstairs, locked myself in the walk-in fridge and poured six cans of cider down my throat. I had run out of pills a couple of months earlier, so booze was my last refuge. … I eventually emerged from my hiding place, drunk and cocksure, grabbed a guitar and attempted to play along. It went as well as could be predicted: badly. Then I gave a rambling, incoherent speech to the guests, including Mary-Margaret McMahon, our city councillor. I staggered home and passed out."

CEASE. AND. DESIST.

Bravo

31. "Today, It pains me to look at that damask wallpaper. Every corner of the Beech Tree — every floor tile, shelf, chair and church pew is my blood and sweat."

Fox

32. "I will likely never own a home again. I borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from friends and family that I must somehow pay back. I promised Dorothy riches and instead gave her poverty, but she stuck with me through everything."

33. On their current rental apartment: "We can barely afford the place, but I wanted my daughters to have their own rooms — like they did before I sold our house. I may have to moonlight as a bartender to make sure the rent gets paid, but my girls are worth it."

STOP LIVING BEYOND YOUR MEANS!!!!!!

34. "I regained my love of cooking and started a YouTube channel — a low-cost, low-risk outlet for my passion that Dorothy can live with. I am going to try and make good on my debts, and I will spend a lifetime making it up to my wife."

Just what the world needs: more YouTubers!

35. "I have a newfound respect and admiration for those in the restaurant business."

*throws phone into a volcano*

  1. 36. What do you think about this story?

    What do you think about this story?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Hey, he's just a guy trying to make it in this world and achieve his dreams.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    HIS POOR WIFE AND KIDS.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    THIS FUCKING GUY.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
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36. What do you think about this story?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Hey, he's just a guy trying to make it in this world and achieve his dreams.
  2.  
    vote votes
    HIS POOR WIFE AND KIDS.
  3.  
    vote votes
    THIS FUCKING GUY.

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