• Mike Hughes

The Crossroads

Being a musician and a blues fan, one may think that to me, the Crossroads is about Guitar legend Robert Johnson meeting the devil at Dockery Station and exchanging his soul for Guitar mastery…In other times, it may be this I am referring to.

However today is a different crossroads that is often times placed in front of a long time restaurant manager.

This crossroads is about what do we do, when after years or even decades in management operations, we either want to, or are forced…Out of the business.

Why get out? I mean, we all know that to manage a restaurant on a single unit level for 30 years takes tolls…Sometimes it’s our body, or our mind, or our family and even all of the above. So it is no surprise that as we age…get wiser, and more tired, we sometimes reach that enough is enough moment in our careers.

So now here I am. Standing at the crossroads with a decision to make, and while there isn’t a devil waiting for me wanting my soul in exchange to guitar mastery, which frankly I would do in a second…There is a big decision in my future.

The biggest question we face is... What next?

What is there to do that a lifetime of food and beverage experience will allow us to do without driving us straight into the poor house?

Do we stay in the food game somehow? Use our bank of knowledge to leverage another side of the business? Or do we simply abandon the industry all together?

I would guess that there are some folks who would admit that this is their passion and that they are happy to spend some 50 years in food and beverage and retire as they approach 70, as a beaten, crippled example of what a life in the business can do to you. But after you find those 10 or so people, there are thousands of the rest of us that want out while we still have our sanity and health.

So now we are searching for that career that is the one that if you were paid nothing, you would still love. There is an old saying that goes something like this; do something you LOVE and you will never work a day in your life!

So now I am writing lists of things I enjoy, trying to match a career to those interests.

Guitars, motorcycles, classic cars, writing and mountain biking. As I look at those interests, the first thing that comes to mind is the THOUSANDS of dollars I have spent over my life on these “hobbies”. Not exactly the formula and fix for my next job. I love food and service too as how could you not after all these years managing restaurants. I like to write and offer advice, as is evident on my Blog website.

So within these passions of mine, there is a career move somewhere. It’s not exactly biting me in the ass, yelling, “This is your next 15 years of work”, but there is enough there to pursue.

The reality is this…There are a number of reasons I am leaving my current GM position at the place where I have spent the last 7 years. You read that right; I have given notice and literally don’t know what my next move is. Being the lawn service and pool boy at my house is enticing, but my loving wife of 31 years will only allow a certain amount of that before getting sick of me catching rays while she is busting her ass to continue to support us. (Thank you Sheryl)

While I am able to stay at my role if I wanted to, the contract food service mega conglomerate and I are worlds apart in management style. I suppose I am set in my ways a little and while I have never been put off by change, this change is not best for me and in many ways not best for the restaurant I have built over the last 7 years. I am leaving with a great reputation and on good terms. I wish them the best and truly hope that they don’t experience the shit show I envision. I leave behind a solid legacy and I will miss dearly the people I worked with. I had the best boss and staff a guy could have.

So what does a 55 year old restaurant “lifer” do?

Here is what I have narrowed it down to; Consulting in the restaurant space, furthering my writing career in some way, upping my band gig schedule to make a living playing guitar, or joining the pro mountain bike circuit…The last 2 by the way are a HUGE stretch.

I know one thing for certain. I am going to make the most of the next 60 days in beautiful upstate NY and reconnect with myself and my family. The lawn and gardens will be perfect, and I will enjoy some time with my Wife, my street glide, my 73 Mach 1 and my mountain bike…I will write and consult…I will live.

As the summer comes and goes, and after my batteries are fully charged, I will do something I love…If I am picky and take my time, there is a 99% chance it won’t be in restaurant operations.

Thank you for reading and See you at the pool!

#crossroads #bluesguitar #foodmanagement


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