Rafael Mateo, the owner of Pata Negra, an under-covered but excellent little wine and fancy ham bar sandwiched between the two SMAC storefronts, publishes an excellent read on his personal blog this week about the trials and tribulations of running a small restaurant in New York. It's a long one, but it's well worth a read for those who have time. He writes:
Despite what people may think, the restaurant business is not a cash cow, although I know many owners who do well for a variety of reasons. With respect to my business, I am simply having trouble making money. Blame the economy, people are just not spending as much money any more or going out as frequently. Except that I go out to eat and drink quite often and always assert that some place, somewhere in NYC is full right now.
More compelling—and heartbreaking—is his Sisyphean battle with the Dept. of Health as it slowly sucks away all of his funds, in $1000 installments, his tale of hiked up property taxes in the midst of a recession, and his absurd fight with the NYS Worker’s Compensation Board.
He concludes on a sad note: "It leaves me wondering if I have the stamina for this 'business'. It gives me cause for testing my resolve and conviction in this profession...Time will reveal what my next moves will be. In the meanwhile, come down for a plate of ham, while supplies and my stamina last."
· Boss Tweed [Chef Mateo via Diner's Journal]