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After Twenty Years...I Just Did This


Jason Rimbaud

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So I’ve been in the restaurant/hospitality business for over twenty years. And I can’t believe that after twenty years, I just did this. And before I go into what life changing craziness I just decided to embark on, let me tell you about my writing.

Some years back, I lost the memory stick that contained all my writings for the last thirty years. And yes, not only did it hold all my stories, notes, outlines, it also contained all my work notes that I had gathered over the years. I’m not sure which hit me harder, the writings or all the content I had created that I used on the daily for work.

So I decided to gather all my writings into google sheets to ensure I never again lose my tattered attempts at writing. I have already lost way too much due to losing memory sticks, crashing computers, and random acts of god.

And in this attempt to make sure I got literally everything I ever wrote/posted online, I went back to 2002 and took everything I wrote for Nifty. And as I was copying those stories, I made the mistake of actually reading them.

Have you all seen this trend of people reacting to things on YouTube? If I wasn’t so bald and fat I would so do a reaction video of myself reading those “stories”. Talk about bac, I can’t believe I once thought those stories were gold.

In my defense, at the height of my online posting, I was getting up to fifty emails a day with these little stories. So more than a few people fed into this delusion. I even won a few readers choice awards. 

Trust me, in no way am I defending these “stories”. Trust me, I won’t even tell you the name I once wrote under. That’s how embarrassed I am about the words I wrote and posted all those years ago. And it wasn’t Jason Rimbaud so don’t bother checking. 

I’ve been in the restaurant/hospitality pretty much my whole life. I started as  a bartender at twenty-one in a redneck bar in the backwoods of Pennsylvania and somehow moved up over the years to where I’ve worked for several celebrity chefs and amazing start-ups that are still flourishing even through the pandemic. I’ve opened seven restaurants for other people and have been on the ground floor of one of the fastest growing brands in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

As a writer, something I love doing, I’ve only really attempted to write full time back in the early 2000’s. I took four years and all I did was try and get published. And yes, I managed to get my stories in a few anthologies, a few poetry books over the years but I was never really good enough to break into the big time. I think my biggest issue, at least back then, my stories had such a small targeted audience.

I write gay fiction. Well, I once wrote slash gay fiction but that’s another story all together. Gay fiction isn’t really burning up the charts and unless you manage to find work at a streaming service. But I never really wanted to write for a show, my love has always been books/novels.

I will admit for the last fifteen years or so, I haven’t really focused that much on writing. A few years ago, I had almost finished a book about an alien invasion in Washington State, real end of the world stuff. And then my memory stick fell out of my shoulder bag and I ran over it a few times.

I have since tried to recreate the story but I could never get it right. It was over five years work lost in a single moment. And that bummed me out. I thought I was destined to work in a restaurant for the rest of my life. But then something happened a few weeks ago that would change my life forever. 

Some of you know that I’m married. And “N” is also in the restaurant/hospitality industry. But he hates it. So two years ago he started going back to school to get a degree in accounting. And he did, a month ago he graduated with honors with his bachelor degree all the while he worked a full time job. 

And once he graduated, “N” and I were talking about the next steps. We spend a boatload of money on his degree and he really wants a job where he can use it. The biggest problem we both face, we have been successful in restaurants. And for those of you that don’t really understand what that means, let me explain. 

When you reach a certain point in your career, no matter what your field is, you have a track record of success. And people pay extremely well for that track record. I know people are complaining about the restaurant/hospitality industry not paying well. But if you have the right resume, you can make really good money. Especially when you’re offered profit sharing. 

Both of us have been wanting to leave the restaurant industry for some time. But we had been so successful that if we were to make a move on a fresh career, we’d have to take a dramatic pay cut. As much as fifty thousand a year. And we have worked way too hard to make a life for ourselves, that going back isn’t a viable option.

We aren’t rich by any standard. We live in the most expensive city in the country, so if you don’t make at least one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, you’re living paycheck to paycheck. But we are comfortable. 

In my spare time, I have been collecting all my old writing. An hour here, an hour there, while maintaining a very stressful opening for my restaurant group. One of my old stories caught my attention. It’s a love story set on St. Martin, with a small little hook that I thought wasn’t that bad. Not the writing, it was horrible. But the overall plot was kind of cool.

And in my reading, instead of copying and pasting, for some reason I decided to transcribe it instead. This led me to actually rewrite the entire thing from top to bottom. It was around 120 pages originally and now it’s a bit more. I am working on another draft as we speak so I don’t know where the final word count will end. But I’m having the time of my life. 

After one stressful day, I was complaining to “N” about how much energy I’m putting into this latest opening. And how I’m getting frustrated in making other people money. And yes they pay me for all my energy, but at the end of the day, the owner benefits way more than I do when I successfully open a new location.

“If you don’t like it, why don’t you quit.” That was “N’s” sage advice. So I replied, “And do what? Go work for someone else?”

“You’ve opened a billion restaurants for other people, why don’t we open our own?”

For anyone who has read my musing, you know that I love super spicy hot wings. I have been known to drive 45 minutes to San Jose so I can get my 4 Alarm Hot Wings from SmokeEaters. I have literally been to every wing place in the San Francisco Bay Area trying their “hot” wings. And besides SmokeEaters, I have always been disappointed. 

So over the last ten years or so, I have been creating my own spicy wing sauces. I have perfected that art of cooking chicken wings and have some amazing sauces that I think are better than anyone’s currently in San Francisco.

“Why don’t we open our own?” Fuck yeah, so that’s what I did. As of June 1st, we are now business owners. We have been opened for the last three weeks and I’m having the time of my life. “N” and I have decided to take our future in our own hands. So now when I’m working eighty hours a week, it’s at least for myself and our future. Life is good.

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Best of luck to you both on this new venture.  I’m sure having an experienced owner with an honors accounting degree is not a bad thing! But when the time is right, share some of your writing again. 

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Good luck in your new venture and this new chapter in your life, I wish you every success. This may even act as your muse for new stories in the future, it's possible. 

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Sitting around alone in a kitchen doesn't make for compelling reading...but I am wearing my fuzzy bunny slippers so who knows!

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