Friday, 24 August 2007

Shattered Dreams

A year & 3 months later of a quiet & boring life as a shopkeeper working full time from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM....

One day in April 1991,hubby asked my opinion what i think about having a restaurant in the same shopping center ( oh no! )I told him this.." I know it has been your dream to have one but the problem is,can we afford the "trespasse"? (the right to continue w/ the same business)and "how much is the rent"? The restaurant occupies 2 shop, one is for the service area where kitchen & a coffee & pastry counter is,the other bigger area is for dining with a seating capacity for 36 people. Therefore, we´ll be paying rent for 3 shops and what more, we dont have any experience in food industry.

Professionally speaking hubby is a ship captain & my experience was in sales & marketing of cosmetics & perfumes.He said, it was a good offer & we can start immediately as soon as the contract is signed & transfered to our name & the legal register of business permit is done.We shall keep the same employees but I was againts it, i prefer to close the restaurant for sometime, clean, redecorate & employ new people that we can train to do exactly how we want the restaurant to function.Hubby did´nt listen, he does´nt want to lose more time & money. We only closed for the week end to clean & organize the things,redecorated a bit to for the restaurant to have a new presentation and we´re done!

The restaurant opening day was a sucess! New owners,new menus, new look, same old employees! Everybody was curious & happy with the food & service.I being at the kitchen service side to control & hubby at the dining side.I say curious because even the shopkeepers they all went to eat in our restaurant.

Our joy was short lived, we have´nt had a single day rest for ourselves covering for the day offs of our employees, we have neglected the gift shop but still paying for the rent,employees started giving us problem especially our cook a native fron cape verde,at first she requested if she could work straight from 10:00 to 6:00 PM. I gave her the permission because dinner service was a bit slow and for that I could do the kitchen service myself with the "ajudante" helper. Alas! as if I was being provoked & punished! We started having more clients at dinner time,than during the day! The days work started giving more, I never enjoyed being in the kitchen due to the pressure of being rushed to serve the clients order faster but being aware that good service keeps our client happy i have to endure the hardship of working in the kitchen serving orders that must be prepared right that moment. The worse clients are the shopkeepers knowing that i am the one cooking they would demand a quicker & well served plate for their orders. Then that is where my cook started giying me problem, if i call her attention about something she gets annoyed and one day when she came late for work, i told her to at at least try to come on time, she told me off..That was the last straw, hubby fired her the same day! One by one , the older employees started showing their true selves, a blond young waitress that i like was also fired because we caught her stealing money from our cash machine, followed by her sister that became very agressive when reprimanded with her mistakes, one guy that eat & drink so much beer whenever we are not around ( hubby & i rest from 4:00 to 7:00 and let the employees in charge of the restaurant on their own) Anyway with in a year time, all 7 employees that started with us were all fired paying all the benifits due them since their previous employer. With that situation we started having financial problem, we reduce our employees to 5 + 2 of us now working full time, hubby now serves the table & myself still manages the kitchen. Arriving home exhausted, complaining jokingly to hubby that before i always smell good using only the best& latest perfumes and now those perfumes can no longer hide the smell of food & fats that is within my skin , hair & clothing!

To augment our income,hubby started accepting jobs by embarking again on board of a ship, the first was 2 weeks absence,i did´nt mind so much because it was only a short period, I did´nt have problem with it as I drive & have an international license so, I can still do the same daily monotonous task we use to do together like shopping for everything we need for the restaurant and for the gift shop as well. I dont have anyone to rely on but myself.No help from my hubby´s family as he is the only son. That was the time when I really felt all alone in my stranged world....My Dad already passed away a month before i came to Portugal and it was him who had given me company during my solitudes. When Im om my own, he comes to my dreams right here at home in portugal and it comforts me to know he´s was there for me.Had several problems on my own either from our , employees, clients & others.

Everyday, hubby phones me to ask if everything is alright with me, I dont want to give him any problem, so i never told him anything.Hubby´s trip started getting longer,came another contract for 3 weeks, another 1 month,then came a good contract where he can take me with him in Singapore.He must be there to bringback to Lisbon one ship that was being build in there.But first we must plan what we should do , we cant just leave the restaurant with out anyone we trust to take charge, First option was to close and give the employee 1 month holiday and the 2nd option is to keep it open and ask my hubby´s eldest son to managed it for a period of 45 days of my absence.We decided for the 2nd option so off we go, took the opportunity to spend a much needed holiday and work holiday for hubby until the tug boat that was being built in Singapore is ready to sail.I spent 10 relaxing days in Singapore,and from there i´m so anxious to go to Manila.It will be a relief! Although I love eating chinese food,I started longing for steaks,which we eat at the hotel from time to time. I could´nt eat anymore chinese, malay,vietnamese or japanese food! And much more,I would like to go home & be with my family again after 3 yrs of absence!


My experience told me that, i guess the portuguese( CANT SAY TO ALL,a few of them showed me also genuine affection especially the older people ) cannot accept an asian or "chinoca" (chinese) as they often mistake me for, to be more superior than them. Our own employees, some shopkeepers attitude towards me prove that. They said they are not racist and i guess they are not really! But subconsciously they dislike being inferior to some "estrangeiros" foreigners especially to blacks, asians or even brazilians.

My husbands dream of going into a restaurant business became a NIGHTMARE for both of us! A "SHATTERED DREAM" I must say!

Have to stop from here.. its a long story, maybe i´m boring you with my blah, blah blahs of the past..but i will continue for the next part later.
Thanks for reading !

1 comment:

gracita said...

what happened after? was the son able to continue the business and kept it afloat?