Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Morning Star

Just in case you're wondering what I've been up to since April when I last posted, well, it's been a busy time. We (Jen and I) went to Hawaii for the first time. Wow, what a place. We stayed at the Marriott Ocean Beach Club timeshare resort. Scott and Kathy went with us, and we all had a great time. So great, in fact, that Jen and I bought into the resort.

But that's not the real news. After returning from Maui, we finalized the purchase of The Morning Star Cafe in downtown Portland. We took over from the previous owners on September 1, 2006, and we've been pushing the rock up hill ever since.

By far, the most difficult part of owning a cafe is dealing with employee issues. The previous employees, save one, decided that they didn't like the regime change and all quit. This seems to be due in significant part to the previous owner being absent from the scene for most of the last year, leaving the Morning Star to run itself. It did so well enough, but having managed the place by themselves for some time, the employees didn't like Jen's hands-on, "I bought it, I'm going to run it" management style. Well, good riddance to them.

We've got a new crew now. The one employee that came along with the purchase that's still with us had only been on board for three days when we took over, so we count her as new. She stuck with us through hard times when she was the only employee and we had so much business that we turned some away. We gave her a fat bonus for that, and a raise to boot. I can't help wishing she'd cut off the dreadlocks and get rid of the pierced lips, but her performance so totally overshadows those negatives that they hardly blip on the radar.

One issue we can't seem to get past with all of our employees is timeliness. There's not one of them (four total) that shows up on time consistently. When they get there, they work hard and work well, but the place opens at 6:00 a.m., and showing up at 6:10 or 6:30 doesn't give us the confidence we need let go of the responsibility of opening. These are the travails of small business ownership, though. With luck things will get better. Without it, well, we'll never get to use that timeshare we bought.

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