One year ago today Merc’s Bier Cafe opened its doors to the first paying customers. It was a fairly long road getting there with a variety of speed humps, hurdles and difficulties to work around but we got there. I still remember the very first customers coming in – well the first customers to sit down to order and eat my food – it was like jumping off a cliff for me, all the hard work to open was done now the real work and test began….would they like it….would people come? It was a resounding yes!
The next two and a half months were crazy – crazy busy, crazy hard, crazy exciting and ultimately crazy disappointing. It was certainly a baptism of fire on many levels and sadly a fire in which my dream of having my own place would be burnt to the ground not literally but figuratively. Two and a half months of crazy and I had to walk away – not from my dream because that had already gone by this time, but from the business. Put simply it was devastating, I walked away from some great people – my kitchen team that worked so hard and were so committed to my food and our customers.
Stories of business partnerships falling apart are a dime a dozen and my business partnership breakdown is by no means unique it is, in fact, as mundane as all the rest of them. I won’t bore you with the details but I will say I never lied to anyone, I never lost the vision, I treated everyone with respect and at all times endeavoured to act with the utmost of integrity. Along the way I made a few mistakes and learnt from them however the biggest mistake was to believe that everyone else involved in the business would act and behave in that same manner as me.
I effectively left Merc’s Bier Cafe on the 13th December and put in my written termination around the 20th of that same month. I have often said I walked away with nothing which is not true at all. I did walk away without any payment for all of my work or any thanks for that matter. I did walk away with a debt that was promised to be repaid and still hasn’t been in full. I did walk away with some new friends and a raft of experiences that over time I have come to learn some invaluable things from. As Richard Bach wrote in (I think) Illusions of a Reluctant Messiah – “there is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hand’. The problem that was Merc’s Bier Cafe most certainly held a great gift for me and I have gradually over the course of the last 10 months unravelled those gifts and count myself lucky to be the recipient of them.
Merc’s Bier Cafe ceased to be in the first week of February – although some say it ceased to be the day I left.
So today I thank all those involved in those early days for the effort, commitment and passion you put in to making Merc’s happen. I also apologise for the hurt caused along the way – I tried to put that right as best I could. I know there are still a lot of us hurting and I am angry about that – some say “that’s business” but that is not how I will do business.
Merc’s will live another day, I will do it my way with the lessons learnt and with the friends I have made.