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Tom Mylan on the Hellish Opening of The Meat Hook

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All throughout Shitshow Week 2012, restaurant industry professionals will be sharing stories about working in shitshows, and the shitshow moments that they've experienced in otherwise solid establishments. Right now: Tom Mylan, the head butcher and proprietor of The Meat Hook.

2012_shitshow_week_logo_2012.jpgOpening the Meat Hook was a fucking nightmare.

We were exhausted from months of demolition and painting. The project was two months behind schedule because of lease negotiations, so we had to open while we were still under construction with drilling and hammering and dust everywhere. We were undercapitalized so we had no staff except for the three of us butchering, washing dishes and scrubbing the floors.

We opened in November and, because of Holiday season, we were having to work six and seven 12 hour days a week and so we developed a pretty good sized appetite for Adderall. I started to have hallucinations. Sometimes we'd take too much and just end up, literally, running around in circles. Everyone was cutting themselves in stupid ways because we were so tired and hopped up on pills. I buried a knife into my thumb and cut half way through the tip of my finger with the bandsaw.

Then there was the heavy drinking and, well, crying. Lots of crying.

Brent and I cried on each other in the dish pit just before Christmas. After that Ben and I would listen to Fleetwood Mac's "Storms" on repeat until we cried because it made us feel better. I watched Almost Famous and cried through the whole 122 minutes. It was just fucking silly, like the touching scene in a war movie where the survivors have a total breakdown but it's not like we were taking Iwo Jima, we were running a fucking butcher shop. Very embarrassing.

When three people spend every waking minute with each other they get really, REALLY annoying. We started making in-jokes that were based on a dense weave of in-jokes. No one that isn't you or the other two guys can understand anything you say. We were like three kids that grew up locked in a basement listening to Tobacco records, taking MKUltra drugs and watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Completely fucked.

Anyway, we made it through the holidays and slowly things slowly started to get better. Sara Bigelow, now our General Manager, started working for us for free. We hired a really slow porter that was into stuff like the "Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)" song by King Kobra and the Rocky III soundtrack, so that was good.

Now everything is great. We can afford a full staff. We can do stuff like take vacations and buy a 12 year old 4Runner company car. You know, living the dream. Was it worth it? Maybe. I think there are still some people that won't talk to us because of the way we were those first few months. I'm sorry we were such assholes. We just didn't have a choice.
· All Coverage of The Meat Hook [~ENY~]
· All Coverage of Shitshow Week [~ENY~]

The Meat Hook

100 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY

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