"I witnessed Chuck hustling and moving all the time. There were lines out the door, and I saw Chuck as a rock star."
One of the ultimate joys in life is when something you love and are passionate about connects with someone else. How many times in life do we meet someone who subconsciously/consciously connects with us and inspires us to do something better in our lives? How often are we aware of our actions effects upon another person's life? Granted, these moments happen millions of times a day across our planet and none of us are any the wiser.
The restaurant industry is no stranger to this particular lack of knowledge on how our service, decisions, or choices effect our clientele. When restaurant owners get into this industry it is for one reason alone...to share our passion for food to others. If a store is lucky enough to thrive, the weeks of work turn into months, months to years, and years to decades. We ultimately find our simple dream becomes something more complex. Most of our decisions are focused on how to provide great food, but throughout this process the decision to cut costs arises. Letting go a guest's favorite staff member must be made due to a multitude of reasons. Some decisions can be downright unpopular. Not to mention, finding yourself attached to many of your staff like family. These decisions can be overwhelming. Some days, you wonder whether your original reason for doing all of this is worth the struggle.
This is the plight of every restaurant owner. Some succumb to the overwhelming pressures as they weren't built for this business, rather they should've just stuck to cooking great food at home or doing what they love for someone else who can deal with the unsavory stresses.
However, every once in a while a person comes along and bucks the system. This was Chuck Rossler, Founder of Celebrity Delly. Our Father.
In his new book The Food & Beverage Guide to Restaurant Success, Michael Politz (author, founder and publisher of Food & Beverage Magazine) serves up a wonderfully detailed "from experience" guide into the foray of restaurant ownership. Politz, a seasoned restauranteur and entrepreneur, talks a bit about his early life and watching Chuck being in his element and his influence onto Politz's future plans. "I witnessed Chuck hustling and moving all the time. There were lines out the door, and I saw Chuck as a rock star. He was one of the many restauranteurs I observed celebrating the joy of owning a restaurant, regardless of it's size and scope.".
What truly is the story here was Chuck's ability to live his passion effortlessly. He could have done many things in life and would have been successful, but the moment he began Celebrity Delly was the moment he embraced who he truly was destined to become. TODAY, As restaurant owners, we spend most of our time not being as involved with our guests as we originally intended. Public image, social media presence, online delivery, web development, marketing, etc...all on top of running an establishment are just a few of the added duties which were not apart of the lexicon of restaurants during Chuck's time. But even without those tasks, the everyday needs of a store can be enough to pull your hair out...and that is if everything goes to plan, which it never does.
Chuck didn't have the education, foreknowledge, nor the financial practices many at that time knew they needed when he opened up in 1975. He just knew good food and how to connect with people. This was his gift. As Politz astutely notes, he "observed [Chuck} celebrating the joy of owning a restaurant.". Like a duck on a pond, Politz couldn't have seen underneath the surface...running a mile a minute, was Chuck doing what he did best. You couldn't even tell how much he was responsible for because to him, it was his passion. His heart was open to what could happen and 45 years, his ideas and heart live on with every item on our menu. No one could've predicted this amount of success.
The Guide and What it Means
The book, which I highly recommend reading, is filled with honest self-experience and ego checking. "In my own experience, the glamour dissipates very fast after opening a restaurant, especially if you're working with friends. If there are no customers, your money dissolves even faster. You are on call 24/7 (regardless of the hours the business is open), you clean bathrooms, you take out the garbage, and you cover shifts while cash and products walk out of the door.”
The book goes on to explain, in blunt-force Politz fashion, all of the pitfalls one can experience when taking on an endeavor such as opening restaurant. This is but a glimpse of the first part of the book and is an excellent read if you're an entrepreneur or thinking of starting your own restaurant. Many of the anecdotes are beyond universal in business and should be taken verbatim, as Chuck's own experience would attest.
Chuck would’ve been proud of Politz and his accomplishments. In truth, by mentioning him for just one sentence would’ve made Chuck laugh. He above all knew how hard this industry can be and knowing how he inspired someone else to go out into the world and live their best life would’ve made all the hard work worth it.
*Excerpt From: Michael Politz. “The Food and Beverage Magazine Guide to Restaurant Success.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-food-and-beverage-magazine-guide-to-restaurant-success/id1515607821