All Fired Up for the 2020s
Why Do You Do It? Careers forged in the embers, strengthened in the flames...
I recently attended a panel at the FOG Design+Art Fair at Fort Mason. For the unfamiliar, FOG is an annual creative showcase, and consists of art galleries from around the world curating some of their more interesting creatives and works. There’s photography, furniture, sculpture, installation and programming. It’s really well-executed, and features nibbles and drinks from A16 and Jane Bakery. It’s that vibe. You get the gist. I was thrilled to see client Corey Lee [Benu, In Situ, Monsieur Benjamin, the forthcoming San Ho Wan] featured on a panel with fine artist Rosana Castrillo Diaz, along with the owner of March, Sam Hamilton, moderated by gallerist, Anthony Meier. It was a thoughtful panel with insights about creativity, inspiration, finding one’s voice and what guides people in their work. It's fascinating to hear these creative minds, some of the best in their respective fields, discussing their process. But the dagger moment came when Anthony asked the panelists: What would you say to those coming up who aspire to a career similar to yours? Corey’s response was one I’ve heard many chefs say: “Don’t do it. If you have any other options, don’t do this.” If the chef/owner with a restaurant inside SF MoMa, the coveted 3 Michelin stars, utmost respect from his peers and a seemingly endless supply of deep-pocket investors is saying that, what hope is there for everyone else? There’s no doubt that running a hospitality business in 2020 is extraordinarily difficult. There are countless balls in the air and moving parts and people. It’s expensive. The work is never ending. Expectations are high and payout is relatively low and the number of hoops you have to jump through just to get open is mind-boggling. Staying relevant is its own irrational experiment. But for whatever reason, whether it’s obsession with the craft, respect for the community, the act of nourishing patrons, or just that rebel blood that keeps kitchens wielding sharp knives and playing with fire, we still have the most incredible group of owners showing up day in and day out to run these businesses. We just want you to know how inspiring it is to work with hospitality professionals, with you, as a whole. Your creativity, tenacity, masochistic sense of humor is incomparable. It’s hard to recognize it in the moments when staff quits unexpectedly or a neighbor protests or a concept isn’t quite hitting the mark, but there are reasons you ended up where you are, and we hope those are clear to you more and more often in the coming decade. If you forget, we're always here to remind you that your work matters. (As well as handling anything alcohol-license-related, of course.) In that spirit, we are going to use our unique vantage to share more hospitality stories, provide more guidance to help your businesses succeed, and show ways that this industry makes a difference in the world. We’re starting that project on Instagram. If you’re on the platform, let’s connect. Paola's curating it and she makes everything very beautiful. @abclicenseco
And as the meme says, if we don’t make this the roaring twenties, that’s on us. We’ve got the fire. We've got the spark. Let’s forge a new era.