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Kitchen Nightmares

I've been catching up on episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and it's made me sort of wistful. I was reminded to take a look after seeing Hell's Kitchen and there were 6 new episodes I hadn't seen before. As I'm watching Gordon Ramsay trying to turn these restaurants around, I almost wish that my family still had the old restaurant, just on the off chance we could get on the show. I know it's just a pipe dream, but it would have been super spiffy to have Ramsay running around screaming and giving advice. Of course, in the end it was all for the best that it sold. I think around a quarter of the restaurants featured on the show have shut down despite the millions of dollars worth of free advertising. Many of them were in dire straits to begin with and then they had to face the economic downturn just as their episodes were airing. We were lucky to get out of it when we did before things really got grim.

I just find it amazing how many people seem to go and open restaurants without any real idea of what they're doing. The debt they can amass is really staggering. We're not talking about chump change when it ranges from half a million on up. If the business dies, not only does all of your investment go up in smoke, but chances are you lose many of their other assets as well trying to pay off the debt. It's hard not to come to the conclusion that only the rich or the stupid should even attempt to open a business nowadays. How does that old chestnut go? 59% of new restaurants close within the first three years of operation. That's a better statistic than the often quoted figure of 90%, but it's still pretty grim. Do you know anyone who would gamble on those sort of odds? Wager your entire life savings and quite possibly your home/car on the 40% chance that you won't lose it all in three years. The sad thing is that even success, defined here as not being forced to shut down, doesn't mean you've hit the mother load. Most people probably just make enough to keep things going with a little salary and profit on the side.

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