So I just started watching Eat This New York, a documentary about the restaurant scene in New York. The movie starts with the statistic that four out of five restaurants in New York fail within five years.
Cut to two guys in Brooklyn who are buying a derelict space to open a diner/cafe. Within a few minutes, they say two seemingly important things: 1) Neither of them have any experience working in the food industry; and 2) They aren't sure how many people from the neighborhood will become regulars, as "Maybe we'll price them out of coming here."
This got me to thinking: is there any industry that has so many people jump into it with no qualifications? I don't think so. I mean, I can try to get a job as, say, a governor, a logger, a machine press operator, NFL linebacker, porn star, whatever, but I'm not going to get any of those jobs. With the restaurant business, if I have a rich, dead relative, people that are inexplicably willing to bankroll me, or a winning lottery ticket, I can buy my way into the club for six months or so. What's so seductive about it is that, if you enjoy cooking and eating, you've probably thought, "Yeah, I could make a go of that" (I've thought so), because it's one of those jobs that 1) is enough like what you do that you don't think about it ("I know how to cook! I cook good!"; and 2) is way more complicated than it you think.
(As a side note, the documentary starts in the summer of 2001—one successful restaurateur talks about knowing he arrived when he could walk out the front door of his first restaurant and look at the Empire State Building down one side of the street and the WTC down the other—so one would imagine that this is about to turn fairly dark.)