Flirting with a Bad Idea
We have a dumb idea, the really bad kind that we will likely regret. It’s hard when you know your idea is probably terrible but also think that it there is a slight chance that it might be really good. Why fight it, you reason, you will probably do it anyway, so you should just enjoy it.
It's a lot like dating the wrong guy - there is a sort of magnetic attraction, and you think there may be some good times to be had. But you might also derail your life in the process and head you off in the wrong direction.
Our idea is to rent (or even worse, purchase) a building in the tiny town of Lovilla to use as a restaurant and market. The place in question is currently a sad little eatery, the kind that is sort of trying, but has terrible reheated-from-the-freezer food, bought from Cisco or some other such distributor and thrown into the deep fryer.
It was apparently first a feed store in the 80s, then a fairly successful but short lived bar/restaurant in the early 2000s. It was bought and sold a few times, then during Covid, it has sat mainly dormant, officially a restaurant but more like a shell of a business that never quite thrived enough to survive a pandemic.
They are now open only Sundays for brunch; I can picture the five or so regulars sitting around drinking bad coffee and eating soggy toast, bringing in barely enough business to cover the cost of the food, let alone the building. Word on the street has it that the current renters have not paid said rent in a long time too, and John and I can’t stop talking about the idea of making it into a market and restaurant of our own.
And yet we both know better. The town has a grand total of 600 people - most of whom are either too old, or don't make enough, to really eat out all that often. And John knows very well after going to culinary school and spending years as a chef that the restaurant business is more than difficult. It’s the kind of business that consumes your life so that you spend all your time on it. We already have one of those businesses (aka - the farm) and not a whole lot more time to dedicate to some thing else.
But we can both picture what it could be like. The wooden interior space is decorated with white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, and picnic tables out back for BBQs and small gatherings. The side room that currently holds a few antiques could be a small market with local produce from our farm and from gardens around town and a place to sell our meats. A restaurant (maybe initially with just burgers and veggie sandwjches) only open Thursday through Saturday. A space for meetings, a commercial kitchen for making tasty things, and a big space where John can teach butchery classes like he did in San Francisco. A place where we invite people to congregate, make presentations, maybe we could even show a movie or two on a hot summer night.
In other words, even though we know better, for some reason the whole thing sounds like fun. There’s an allure to it, not because we think restaurants are sexy or because we are addicted to TV shows about chefs (we are not), but because we love food and community and dreaming about what things could be.
The optimistic side of us says that we want to play a part in creating a place where people gather to watch movies and drink a beer. A place where people get to know each other and maybe even have differences of opinion. Maybe there could even be a civil political discussion or two in such a place. So unlike dating the guy who is bad for you, it might actually get us headed in the direction we want to go.
But this idea, like our ideas for the farm, takes people - in this case, the local community. It is impossible for us to create all of this on our own. So it’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem: people don’t want to live in a place where nothing is going on, and yet to get things going on you need people. If we build it will they come? That remains to be seen. Maybe it’s just something we need to get out of our system - very, very far out of our system.