Not quite my dream…

There is a significant area of my life that I am subconsciously blocking out for reasons I’m not totally comfortable coming to terms with yet. Dave’s Burger Joint.

I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant of some sorts. Back in my late teens I had ideas of trying to open some sort of night club or ‘hang out’ place. I run in to many people that have at least formed opinions on how any given town needs ‘one of those places.’ I had a little more than a dream though. I had a viable goal to begin the journey someday.

The real reason I decided to join the military was that if I dared to ever expect any sort of respect from anyone else, I needed to prove my worth to a level beyond ordinary life experience. The day I woke up and decided to sign the dotted line, I had a definitely fuzzy vision on exactly what I wanted. Throughout my military career I was poked and prodded by different fates. I could go the whole twenty, maybe try for special forces, flight school… The possibilities were endless. The deciding factor in my decisions had roots at something that I’ve managed to accomplish incompletely.

Confused?

I got out of active duty in 2008. The money was in the bank and I decided to make a cannonball run back to the west coast to begin what I was hoping would be the start of what I’d always hoped would come true. My own place.

My mom had opened a hot dog shop with remnant ideas stemming from a hot dog cart that me and her ran years and years ago. The family dynamics of this plan are being filtered out of this story as much as possible. Anyone who gets to know what kind of person I am, realizes that it’s a very hard topic for me to deal with. Anyways, I sort of re-opened a shop under the foundation that she had laid for the previous four years in that town. Peculiarly, I wanted to serve hamburgers instead of hot dogs and the name would eventually change to ‘Dave’s Burger Joint.’

Initially I wanted a simple place. Low overhead with more emphasis put on the food and service rather than ambiance. Influential input changed my vision more than I admitted to myself back then. I made myself be O.K. With that. I started to build out the new space with my own two hands. My father was in the hospital dealing with cancer and my mother was preoccupied taking care of him and other family affairs. I felt good about building this on my own and actually appreciated that some people kept a certain distance during this process.

It became a faux 1950’s themed quick serve restaurant. Neon accent lights, checkered floors, a vintage jukebox that still actually played 45 rpm records and an overall atmosphere that was clean and inviting. The burgers were damn good as well. In fact, just the other day at work I helped a couple that had moved to Moses Lake from Port Orchard. I asked if they had ever been to Dave’s and they lit up and said “oh yea, that place was great! Awesome food! We loved going there.” I then told them that it was me that opened it and eventually sold it. It felt good hearing that even years after selling what I created.

I discussed a bit of the catalyst behind my decision to sell it in a previous blog ‘Consumption’ but there is a part of the story that is quite unfinished. Essentially building a business from scratch and being able to sell it in this market environment is quite a feat. Especially for someone without deep pockets. With everything that happened in those two years I feel grossly unaccomplished. It was almost nothing of what I really wanted. I burned out on trying to uphold expectations for people that ultimately didn’t care what happened to my business if it didn’t benefit them. I know this because as soon as I sold, I lost about three quarters of people that I considered friends. That fact doesn’t bother me though. I’ve learned time and time again that so many people are only out for themselves.

I tried and I succeeded. I succeeded at something that wasn’t for me. I spent my financial and emotional resources on something only to learn a hard lesson. Money aside, there’s nothing worse than taking on a monumental dream with no one at your side. Not just anyone though. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would have loved to been along for the ride, but I’m tough to please. If I sense any sort of disinterest, I usually find a way to push you aside unapologetically.

I not done with this dream. I’ve learned hard lessons and I’m hoping to tackle this again someday. Hopefully sooner than later. The obvious hurdle is finances in several aspects. Proper allocation of funds is paramount aside from the actual raising of money. Though it would be nice to work with a lump sum of cash, I have no problem working my ass off raising the money by the sweat of my brow. The hard part is finding the motivation to carry through with it. It’s not about the money, it’s about creating something greater. Fully realizing that fact makes all the hard work seem like child’s play. Until then, I find myself wanting to crawl in a hole and do things like look for a career instead of living a life of accomplishment.

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