Burning Q: Work-Life Balance Is a Real Thing, Right?

Real, maybe. Elusive, definitely. See what this chef makes of it.

August 3, 2016 ‚óŹ 2 min read

Q: What does work-life balance look like at this stage in your career? 

Sarah Simmons || Birds & Bubbles, New York City:

Short answer: I consider myself to have work-life balance if I get to the gym every day and find time to have one meal outside of our restaurants at least once a week.

Long answer: At this stage in my career, I dream about work-life balance. We work a minimum of 100 hours a week. We've only had nine days off so far in 2016. Having the luxury of finding balance isn't an option for us right now. We have to keep on keeping on because our life's savings are in these businesses, our investors are counting on us, and our employees have worked too hard to help us build these great restaurants for us to take our eye off the prize. 

It's funny that many people think restaurateurs open multiple restaurants so they can get rich quickly. Believe me, there are much easier ways to make money. In actuality, the benefits of having multiple restaurants are two-fold: it allows us to provide our employees with better benefits and gives them a better opportunity to grow within the business. And it also enables us to put the necessary resources in place to build a strong foundation for our company. 

On average, a "successful" restaurant operates with a eight to twelve percent profit margin. Therefore, very few single restaurants can afford an HR administrator, comptroller, operations manager, a PR & marketing team, and a business development executive, on top of the managers required for running the day-to-day of service on the floor and in the kitchen. 

Because the duties falling under these jobs still have to be completed whether you or not you have someone officially in that role, managers are stretched too thin with owners stretched even further. As owners, we have to work to fill those gaps to relieve some burden off of the managers we've invested in training so they can focus on managing and leading our employees and don't burn out too quickly. 

At this point, work-life balance will only be possible when I'm no longer the CEO, HR administrator, operations manager, financial analyst, on top of managing business development and marketing, working the line/counter, busing tables, playing host and all of the 100 things I do that no one thinks about when they make the decision to become a chef.

Photo of Sarah via Brent Herrig Photography