How a Restaurant Successfully Opened After an Unexpected Accident | Food Newsfeed
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Stacey Sprenz, Tabletop Media Group
Since its opening, Whiskey Kitchen has more than doubled what the team calls its “wildest dreams” for year-one sales.

How a Restaurant Successfully Opened After an Unexpected Accident

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Right before Whiskey Kitchen opened, one of the owners was seriously injured. Assistant general manager Aaron Lambert says it took a village, but the restaurant not only opened—it exceeded expectations.
By Laura D’Alessandro July 2019 Executive Insights
Stacey Sprenz, Tabletop Media Group

Right before Whiskey Kitchen Opened, one of the owners was seriously injured. Assistant general manager Aaron Lambert says it took a village, but the restaurant not only still opened—it exceeded expectations.

The Tipping Point
Restaurateurs can cross all their t’s, but a catastrophic accident isn’t necessarily something they plan for. Lambert says the Whiskey Kitchen team did everything they were supposed to. “Bank accounts. Lawyers. Contracts. Scheduling. What hours should we be open? Are we a late-night spot? Do we run specials?” But when co-owner Mike Thor was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, little of that seemed important.

No Turning Back
With Thor sidelined, his friends and family filled the ranks where they could. “No one more so than Jonathan Botta … lifelong friend of Mike and not only a chef, but the chef that I came to know and work with to get Whiskey Kitchen opened. He became the embodiment of his best friend’s dreams and took the reins of the culinary side.”

Road to Recovery
The team pushed back Whiskey Kitchen’s opening due to Thor’s accident and in the meantime, everyone picked up new roles to make the opening a reality. Since its opening, Whiskey Kitchen has more than doubled what the team calls its “wildest dreams” for year-one sales.

Lessons Learned

  • Trust your team—which can sometimes mean trusting strangers.
  • Separate emotion and business when going through a challenging time.
  • Let go—things can’t always be done the way you want them to when others do them for you.