Dear One Tough Muther,

I am a woman in my late 40’s, married for 19 years and have been a teacher for 18 years. My children are older and my last one is being sent off to college next year and I am ready for a change in my work life. I’ve loved teaching for almost the past two decades but I think now that my children are leaving the nest, I want to focus on more of a passion of mine than teach anymore. I love to cook and create large, extravagant meals with my own recipes, it’s always been a true fit for me. So, I pitched to my husband that I would love to pursue a life in cooking, or possibly open our own restaurant. He shot the idea down with a laugh, no support whatsoever. If I even bring it up, he tells me I’m too old for the industry and for such a huge jump in careers. I know we could financially handle it, should I follow my heart or my husband?

Dear Linda,

You most certainly should follow your dreams and to your hubby who says “you are too old”, I’d say watch me.
Linda, there are so many ways you can test the waters before you open a restaurant, I suggest you try them. Maybe you should start by taking some culinary classes or going to culinary school. There are also courses that offer hotel-restaurant-and-institutional-management which may help you understand the business end of owning a restaurant. I believe learning after watching my friend that understanding the business end of owning a restaurant is very important to the restaurant’s success.
For example, I have a friend who purchased a very beautiful, high end restaurant, overlooking the ocean. My friend always loved to cook and thought he’d love owning a place he could occasionally go to and cook as well as entertain. I believe he thought the restaurant would be a hobby, because he also owns other businesses, boy was he wrong.
In fact, his restaurant has been a money pit. He’s found out that owning a restaurant is not a HOBBY, it is a very labor and time intensive business.
He’s had a very difficult time with theft and alcohol abuse by the employees, menu changes to build a customer base, pricing issues as well as empty tables with a full staff. Even the most “loyal” of employees were pouring heavy drinks for friends and the bar’s alcohol bills grew astronomically.
So this year he has changed everything. He now only caters on premise event, such as corporate parties, weddings, seminars, birthdays and anniversary parties. In doing so he now has a limited menu and he doesn’t have to keep the lights on and the place staffed unless there is an event happening.
Linda, please understand I’m not telling you this to discourage you, but to help you look at your dream with both eyes open.
I suggest you do some research, talk to a some restaurant owners, as well as a few caters and wrap you mind around the huge commitment that owning your own restaurant will be. If cooking for special occasions is what you like to do, maybe you would like to become a caterer as well.
As for making a “life change” at your age I say, hell yes! You only get one life so Honey love it, while you live it!

Good Luck,

One Tough Muther

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