THE RESTAURANT BIZ: LIFE LESSONS

Down and out with a nasty case of flu for the past week, it’s time to catch up. Writing deadlines first, and what’s been going on with the local restaurants and chefs second.

It took two minutes for me to find this post in Red Bank Green about a local pizza joint recently taken over by two local restaurateurs. Both having experience in running successful restaurants with loyal customers, they should have a good idea of what is needed.

The commentary on the news of Mr. Pizza Slice getting a bit of a makeover and menu upgrade is pathetic. People miss the point. They miss their glory days and harp on the idea that this faux paneled hole-in-the-wall restaurant offering pizza with or without pepperoni is akin to the end of days. It might serve them to look back on the good times they had there and be happy that they were a part of the history of this restaurant.

In my opinion, the place can only be improved. We wish the new owners all good things and look forward to trying their pizza in hopefully more sturdy seats at less rickety tables.

082715harrys

On to the second bit of news and in this case a bittersweet story. Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright is closing. The history and nostalgia will be missed. There are very few restaurants in the area that can produce a classic French dish cooked by an experienced chef who was educated in France.

This brings me to why you need to learn to roll with changes and have an open mind. Putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward is what life is all about. You can’t let yourself be stuck in the past and it’s not fair to others to expect them to stay stagnant either.

DSC00160One of my favorite dishes of the year…lobster cooked in copious amounts of butter by Lou Jacoubs at Harry’s Lobster House.

I will always be grateful for having food writing opportunities. Getting to know chefs who have been willing to share their life stories and kitchen techniques is priceless to me. Learning about new spices and flavor combinations keeps things lively and interesting.

Add to that the adjunct food people who I’ve met — the bartenders, musicians, and professional servers at so many bars and restaurants…and we can’t forget the bouncers and trivia masters who have befriended me. The farmers and farmers market sales people, who are happy to share tips on growing and preparing fresh food, and I can honestly say that I may have the best job.

The food industry is tough. It’s a lot of hours of hard work where few actually make their fortunes. There has to be an element of personal satisfaction for a place to last. There might be an aspect of burn-out coming with any job, but with food you can tell pretty quickly whether a kitchen is on auto-pilot or not.

Along with that, there have been several restaurants that I’ve had to watch close their doors. Some I miss (Sal’s in Red Bank) and some that just didn’t make the cut. Some that couldn’t figure out how to reinvent their menus, kitchens, or decor, and some that just threw in the kitchen towel.

In the end, I’m looking forward to what 2016 has to offer. I’m excited to try new places and report my findings. Let’s all hope for a tantalizing culinary year while lending support to those who are moving forward.

Stuffed artichoke photo was taken at Puglia, another Red Bank Restaurant that folded this year.

 

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