When I left corporate America in 2000 to be a cook, many friends and family thought I was insane. I knew if I went to culinary school the goal was to be a chef, to open a restaurant and to eventually own a restaurant. I’ve never been good at not having goals and officially I’ve met all of them as of today.
Eighteen months ago, I began this blog and had no expectation anyone outside my mother or close friends would give a shit what I had to say or how I would say it. Personally, I never wanted to be the boring guy at the party with one story or soapbox idea that people thought, “Ugh, here comes Joe. I’m going to have to hear about another restaurant adventure.” The writing is a true catharsis for me. I’ve found my own rules and path of ethics because I have a unique connection to many of those in the restaurant world. I can’t dine anonymously all that often but when I do I find the dining experience difference fascinating.
The one item I’d had hanging on my restaurant bucket list was to invest in a restaurant and be a part of the partnership group. I wanted to ‘sign the line that was dotted’ and handover a sizable check so someone I believed in could open a restaurant. I was never personally invested in my earlier openings.
An opportunity arose earlier this year, when I was at a friend’s restaurant and heard they were looking to close the funding on their next projects. I simply asked, “Could I look at the business plan and projections? What is the opening investment amount?” Over the next week, I completed various non-disclosures and was given the business plan and financial projections. After careful review and a few nights sleep, I knew the concept, numbers and team were worth the investment. What felt surreal during that process to me is thirteen years earlier, if you would have said, “One day, you’ll be an investing partner with the chef de cuisine on his newest concept.” I would have said you were insane! But it’s true…
I’ll never be able to write about A10 or Yusho in Hyde Park because I’m part of the investor group. I honestly don’t know if many writers even have that conundrum to deal with, but for me it is a true completion of a journey. I may have thought, thirteen years ago, I would be investing in my own project but I can’t think of a better group to work with. When I say work, I mean show up to eat (and pay for it), provide insight (when asked) and encourage all my friends to go and eat there (offline!) I knew chef Matt would always be a teacher and he still is in many ways but it’s great to call him partner and friend, as well.
I hope you all get the chance to enjoy the dining room and experience the A10 team provides. They’re a committed group and one I applaud for their success in opening of the new restaurant. I’m excited to be a small part and I’ll be their biggest (silent) cheerleader! Ethically, I know I can never write about them again. I look forward to my next restaurant adventure because the ride so far has been awesome!
By the way, try the pasta and soft serve.
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org