Chapter 5

Brant Rock

One chapter closed and another one began.

Paul entered into an agreement to lease a restaurant and inn called the Fairview Inn in the Brant Rock section of Marshfield, Massachusetts. The original Fairview was built in the 1800s and was totally destroyed by a fire in 1998. The Fairview was re-built and opened in November of 2001. Paul, his wife Betty, and his daughters Lindsey and Lauren operated the restaurant and inn. The opening of the Fairview was a much bigger deal than Paul had anticipated. He thought the opening in November would not be very busy and it would give him a chance to get things in place for the anticipated busy summer season. Paul was wrong. The first unannounced opening Thursday night drew 200 people, Friday drew 300, and Saturday had 350. Things were off to great start.

In January, Paul had to have double hip replacement, so he was not very mobile for a while, but the worst was yet to come. The chef that Paul had hired for a three-year stint came to him in April to say he would be leaving. Things were about to change. Paul decided to work with the existing kitchen organization. Because the summer season was about to start, he did not want to disrupt the kitchen with new leadership. Everyone in the kitchen worked very hard that summer, but he did not have the people with the experience to handle the volume of business they would have. Long cook times, inconsistent food, and unhappy guests made for a long summer and would ultimately make for a long three to four years.

Paul realized he was in financial trouble. All the financial knowledge he had acquired at Back Bay Restaurant Group was not relevant.  Back Bay Restaurant Group did not have one restaurant on a dead-end street, on the open Atlantic Ocean, in a short, seasonal market, with a triple net lease, with a % rent factor. Paul had signed a bad deal, but he had signed it. He was in serious trouble.

There was only one person to call and that was Paul’s brother Peter. Peter was a very successful businessman who had several successful businesses including five car dealerships. It was now November of 2002. Peter and his son Ellis came to Brant Rock and tried to help Paul turn the situation around. Peter not only invested his time, but he also invested money to keep the Fairview operating. Several meetings with the landlord did not provide the needed relief. In March of 2003, Peter called Paul from Connecticut. Peter asked Paul to go to the office. Peter explained to Paul that, based on the projections that he and his son Ellis had put together, the operation could not support the overhead. An exit strategy would have to be put in place.

It was not what Paul wanted to hear, but Peter was much smarter and more experienced in these matters. Peter said he would continue to speak with the landlord, but he did not see much hope. Paul sat with Betty in the apartment and they agreed that if they were going to fail, they would only fail knowing they did everything in their power to succeed.

Paul took over the kitchen and Betty ran the restaurant and started developing the function business. Paul and Betty were in the restaurant day and night and, slowly, things started to improve. The Fairview was becoming a local restaurant, not solely relying on the short summer season. By 2005, things were improving and progress was being made. The Fairview was now an established local restaurant and inn where you could get quality and consistent food, service, value, and atmosphere. Each year’s sales and profits continued to grow. The next project was to get a “fair and equitable” long term lease for both Paul and the landlord. Paul continued to provide the landlord financial information to show him the financial challenges the business faced. Peter again involved himself, trying everything in his power to help in getting a new lease. Finally, after almost two years, the landlord came back with a proposal, but it wasn’t one that would work. Again, Paul called his brother Peter to tell him it was over and it was time for Paul to leave the Fairview and find a job. There was silence on the phone.

After a few minutes Peter said, “You are not finding a job, we are going to find you a restaurant. I will get back to you.” CLICK.