Watching the Mistake


Maitre d'

Guess who is selling his bar and buying a 5 star restaurant” Tommy, my Sales Manager said to me. I was the General Manager of Deasy & Co at the time, a subsidiary of Guinness.

Oh My God, you can’t be serious” I said to him “That will be a total disaster“. “I know, we all know ….it will never work

One of our loyal customers who was running a good solid suburban bar had done a decent job with the place and he was made an offer to sell up. The offer was “too good to be true” and our customer was going to make a clear profit from the deal.

His plan was to buy and run this very successful five star, fine dining restaurant whose reputation had been built around a well known chef. He reckoned he could manage the purchase with the windfall from the pub sale and even be in a position to upgrade the restaurant premises with some support from the bank.

The problem as we all saw it was that our guy wasn’t exactly Mr.Sophistication and in truth he was the last person that we could imagine operating this 5 star restaurant. He always did well in the pub but that was with a very different, country type crowd.

My buddy Tommy was really close to him – should he have a strong word with him and advise him against his dream?

Our customer was determined, full of enthusiasm so maybe we were the ones that were wrong – who were we to say anything? If Tommy said something to him it could backfire and damage the professional friendship they had.

Shortly after the restaurant opened under the new owner we went there for a meal to support him. Our worst fears were realised as we had a poor meal and you could see that our customer, who was a really nice guy just wasn’t able for this level of fine dining. Maybe he was on a learning curve and it would get better?

Unfortunately within a year the place was shut, the “fine dining” reputation in tatters, he had lost huge money and the building was handed back to the bank and our customer had lost everything.

The crazy thing was that we all saw it coming ….

Would you have said something ?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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4 Responses to “Watching the Mistake”

  1. James O'Reilly Says:

    A few years ago a good friend of ours decided he wanted to open a coffee shop franchise outlet on a major street in Cork. We knew the location, as it had hosted many prominent food brands previously, but that was the thing, they had all come and gone and not had sustatined success in that particular outlet, for whatever reason. Our friend also wouldn’t be the greatest ‘front of house’ individuals, though a trojan worker, so again we had reservations about this carreer jump. We discussed talking to him about our reservations, but we bottled it, and of course this story didn’t end up with a happy ending.

    So I’m determined to speak up in the future and i’m sure our good friend wishes we had done so 4 years ago.

  2. Maurice T Corrigan Says:

    Hey Greg
    Tony De Mello tells a story, maybe you’ve heard it?

    Guy sitting alone at an empty bar, sipping a drink with a banana stuck in his ear.
    Another punter comes in; orders a drink and sits on the third stool down from the guy.
    As the punter starts his drink he notices that the guy has a banana in his ear. What to do? “Should I, shouldn’t I, ought I tell, e.t.c.” and on goes the internal debate.
    Eventually the punter turns towards the guy and goes “Psssssst”
    No response from the Guy.
    The punter slides over to the next stool and once again goes “Psssst”
    Again no response
    The punter waits a little but then slides over to the bar-stool right next to the guy with the banana in his ear and goes “Psssst”, this time a good deal more loudly.
    The guy turns, “Please speak up, can’t you see I’ve got a banana in my ear”.

    People are going to do, what they have to do.

    Why waste time and energy telling guys they have bananas in their ears?

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Thanks for the story Maurice – you are so right. It’s a bit like “love is blind” !! At times we wish someone had told us what we didn’t want to hear ….. would we listen maybe not?

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