THE STEREOTYPES about the restaurant world are true.
It’s crazy, chaotic, and stressful—and because of all this there’s a gamut of temptations.
Six years ago, a restaurant I was partnered with in Vegas was going through tribulations. My partners bailed and I was left paying vendors out of my personal account. I liquidated every asset I owned. I had to give up my apartment. I was repeating this cycle of working 12 to 14 hours, going out for a couple drinks, getting home really early in the morning, sleeping a few restless hours, and then going back to the restaurant.
Work became a compulsion, an obsession.
One night, my finances running dry and the restaurant hanging on by a hair, I watched the sun setting in a parking lot from my car.
I started asking myself: “Why is this happening to me? How can I take responsibility for myself?” I woke up the next morning with something I hadn’t had for years: clarity.
It was like a lightning bolt in my mind and heart—I was built to be kind, loving, and giving. Anything that wasn’t serving my higher purpose, I had to change. Drinking wasn’t serving me.
Staying sober, I came to realize, brought me more awareness and energy to make other changes in my life. I went dormant for a while and looked at who was rooting for me, and I tightened my circle around those people.
The Vegas restaurant closed and I left knowing in my heart that I did the best I could and never lost my integrity.I eventually decided to move to California, where I could be closer to my son, who has special needs. I became a better father.
My current mantra now is “lead with kindness and compassion.” Sobriety brings me the honesty to help me do that. By not drinking, I’m calmer, kinder, and more compassionate. I’ve learned to listen.
At my restaurant, Small Barn, we work as a team. My work and life are simpler because of this clarity. And not only simpler, but something even more fulfilling: balanced.
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