I can list the number of days The Porter has been closed since we opened on one hand. Thanksgiving, 08,09,10. Christmas 08,09, Christmas Eve 08, Staff Party Day, 09, 10. Once in April 2011, when the power went out for 24 hours. Ok two hands, but still, 9 days in almost 3 years is not bad. So why are we closing for three days to fix our kitchen floor?I only have two words for you: Health Inspection. Our floor in the kitchen is cement, which is fine in the health inspector’s eyes. But after repeated attempts we could never properly seal with due to a minuscule amount of water that always seemed to get under the seal and bubble up.So eventually every seal would flake up and degrade until the floor was not “an easily cleanable surface” which is key in the health inspector’s book. Now with new inspection rules and reputable restaurants failing their inspections right and left, we decided we could not risk losing a single point on something we could fix. Thus we had to close, move all the kitchen equipment out of the kitchen, level the floor and tile, then move everything back in and prep the entire menu!
Whew! I get tired just thinking about it.
But back on track, why I hate to close. First of all there’s the customers to consider. Every time a customer shows up and you’re closed, you risk permanently losing that customer. It’s also the reason I insist businesses keep regular hours as consistently as possible. Yeah sure, it’s nice to close Sunday & Monday and give yourself a restful two days off. But it makes it that much harder on the average customer to remember when you’re open. (Side note, this works for restaurants/businesses that require reservations and appointments, but it’s a killer for the casual concept) The Porter is like many of my regulars’ home away from home. Closing that home risks those regulars finding another home away from home, which we just can’t have!
The 2nd reason I hate to close is lose of momentum, closing means throwing away food, or running it really close down to the wire. Your staff also have too much time to get drunk, arrested or find another job. So many restaurant employees live paycheck to paycheck so a loss of a couple days of pay can be devastating. (I am praying all my staff show up on Thursday alive, intact, and still wanting towork at The Porter)
So closing is a major risk, but sometimes it’s worth it. Just wait until you see the new kitchen floor, it’ll make your Belgian fries taste that much better!