Chapter 5

Brant Rock

One chapter closed and another one began.

Paul entered into an agreement to lease a restaurant and inn in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield, Massachusetts. The original restaurant was built in the 1800s and was totally destroyed by a fire in 1998. The building was re-built and opened in November of 2001. Paul, his wife Betty, and his daughters Lindsey and Lauren operated the restaurant and inn. The opening of the restaurant was a much bigger deal than Paul had anticipated. He thought the opening in November would not be very busy and it would give him a chance to get things in place for the anticipated busy summer season. Paul was wrong. The first unannounced opening Thursday night drew 200 people, Friday drew 300, and Saturday had 350. Things were off to great start.

In January, Paul had to have double hip replacement, so he was not very mobile for a while, but the worst was yet to come. The chef that Paul had hired for a three-year stint came to him in April to say he would be leaving. Things were about to change. Paul decided to work with the existing kitchen organization. Because the summer season was about to start, he did not want to disrupt the kitchen with new leadership. Everyone in the kitchen worked very hard that summer, but he did not have the people with the experience to handle the volume of business they would have. Long cook times, inconsistent food, and unhappy guests made for a long summer and would ultimately make for a long three to four years.

Paul realized he was in financial trouble. All the financial knowledge he had acquired at Back Bay Restaurant Group was not relevant.  Back Bay Restaurant Group did not have one restaurant on a dead-end street, on the open Atlantic Ocean, in a short, seasonal market, with a triple net lease, with a % rent factor. Paul was in serious trouble.

There was only one person to call and that was Paul’s brother Peter. Peter was a very successful businessman who had several successful businesses including five car dealerships. It was now November of 2002. Peter and his son Ellis came to Brant Rock and tried to help Paul turn the situation around. Peter not only invested his time, but he also invested money to keep the restaurant operating. In March of 2003, Peter called Paul from Connecticut. Peter asked Paul to go to the office. Peter explained to Paul that, based on the projections that he and his son Ellis had put together, the operation could not support the overhead. An exit strategy would have to be put in place.

It was not what Paul wanted to hear, but Peter was much smarter and more experienced in these matters. Peter said he would continue to work on the situation, but he did not see much hope. Paul sat with Betty in the apartment and they agreed that if they were going to fail, they would only fail knowing they did everything in their power to succeed.

Paul took over the kitchen and Betty ran the restaurant and started developing the function business. Paul and Betty were in the restaurant day and night and, slowly, things started to improve. The restaurant was becoming a local restaurant, not solely relying on the short summer season. By 2005, things were improving and progress was being made. The restaurant was now an established local restaurant and inn where you could get quality and consistent food, service, value, and atmosphere. Each year’s sales and profits continued to grow. Unfortunately, Peter’s initial business anaylsis finally became a reality. Paul & Betty could not fulfill the finacial responsibilities of the business.  Again, Paul called his brother Peter to tell him it was over and it was time for Paul to find a job. There was silence on the phone.

After a few minutes Peter said, “You are not finding a job, we are going to find you a restaurant. I will get back to you.” CLICK.