2016 started off pretty hopeful. Andrea and I were coming off a rocky 2015 and looking forward to having some good times. We had the ultimate geek vacation planned (a week long cruise with fellow geeks), tons of fun events planned at the bar, and an action plan to finally have someone in place to help us run our pub so we could take some much needed time off.
Unfortunately, everything started going down hill from there. We had a fabulous time on our cruise and came back refreshed and ready! Then our dog Seattle (who Andrea had since a puppy), started to take a turn for the worse. Andrea ended up taking about six weeks off from work to spend time with her, which put a lot more stress on me than I could handle for the business. Don’t get me wrong, I never complained or said a negative thing. But I didn’t realize just how much of a toll it had taken until months later. That’s also when the person we’d started to groom to help run the pub took another opportunity, just weeks before our two year anniversary. Combine that with having to decide to put down Seattle and you have probably the worst summer of my life. Unfortunately, when you run a business that primarily deals with people you can’t just take “personal time”. This summer led to not only our potential Manager leaving but also several good employees. In less than a month Andrea and I went from a future of working more from home to focus on growing our business to working 80 hours a week, often 12 to 14 hours a day doing the day to day operations.
After the summer things didn’t improve much. I felt like the past six months have had me working more as a handyman than anything. It seems like every night something at the bar would break. Whether it was a broken toilet in the women’s room (or several), a broken AC unit, broken hood system, broken draft system, broken sinks, or any number of small things I have to say a large portion of my time was spent “fixing”. This really took away from being able to manage and think about the overall business. Bless Andrea for coming up with over 50 events last year. That’s a huge factor in us not being closed right now. BTW, that’s definitely a huge weight on our shoulders.
See, our building was just sold to a new landlord, one that doesn’t seem to care much at all about the property. Our lease is up in one year, so it’s very likely we won’t be given the option to renew if another potential tenant comes in offering more money. There have been four bars in our immediate area that have closed, so we have staying power. But, this area is also growing and landlords are wanting to take advantage.
Positive: We don’t have any loans! Truthfully, we are scraping by the skin of our teeth. Hurricane Matthew combined with Christmas and NYE being on weekends has really put a dent in our reserves. BUT, we have just enough money in the bank to pay our staff and the bills. And though we didn’t meet my goal of hitting $1MM in sales, we DID increase our sales this year.
Unfortunately, we also had a lot more expenses that I would have liked. Taxes KILLED this year. We had to get new insurance as well due to our last insurance agent creating an error that led to us losing about $1800 a month for most of the year. And, we are currently undergoing an audit by the Florida Department of Revenue. So, despite making more money we spent way more money than previous years. The bonus is we should be able to claim a loss and get a return on our taxes. Here’s crossing our fingers!
Personally, our house is a wreck and we have no social life. Only having one day at home (not even off since we do event planning and work with beer reps on Mondays), means we have barely enough time to do the required chores. Things around the house are just everywhere, which absolutely stresses us both out. I know Andrea wants to just purge everything, and I as I realize that we won’t be moving to Orlando any time soon I’m committed to making 2017 much more pleasant in my home. I’m hoping in the coming weeks we can get some new bedroom furniture, and I’m committing to organizing one new area a week. We also have annual passes to Universal, which we used a whopping three times in 2016. We are constantly having to tell friends “No, sorry, we can’t make that this weekend” including missing our favorite res faires and events. That alone has taken a huge mental toll for us. For a full year we’ve pretty much been wake up, workout, go to work, come home, clean up dog messes, go to bed.
Health wise, well, I’m not where I should be. My goal was to be back to my pre-bar shape (210lbs of muscle, 36” waist, 15% body fat). I’m currently 234lbs of hidden muscle, 43” waist, and 30% body fat. The positive here is that I’m 2.5lbs lighter than I was at the start of 2016! And I’m finally getting back into the groove of helping others get in shape. Andrea has lost 13 pounds in just about two months and she’s been doing so well. Time for me to step up my game.
Lastly, I lost my last grandparent just before my birthday. She was my Nanny, and fought until the end. They actually had to put these boxing glove-type things on her hands as she lay in the hospital bed. Unfortunately, this has led to my entire family shunning each other because she didn’t have a will. It really showed how petty people can be about “stuff”. My mother, myself, and my two sisters are all that really remain in my immediate family. I haven’t talked to my father in over a year, which is ok with me because he’s not at all the same man I knew. I’ve resolved myself to the fact that Thanksgiving 2017 It’ll be 10 years since he passed away. My father never woke up from his coma back then, and the person that did wake up is no one I want to associate with.
So that’s pretty much all the shit-tastic things that happened in 2016. BUT, there were some good parts, too.
First and foremost, puppies! The only fortunate side effect of Seattle passing was it opened up the opportunity to adopt two abused pitbulls found on the side of the road. One was abused so badly that he is missing an ear and most of his tail. We named him Frodo : Both of our dogs are now happy and healthy, and despite the added dirt and dander, as well as time and money, every time I see them play I just know we did the right thing.
I also started playing D&D again! We started opening at 2pm on Saturdays, which has led to increased business, more flexibility for gaming, more hours for our staff, and more stress for us lol! The campaign ended up not working out, but I was rolling dice and that alone was worth it.
We’re now an official sponsor of the JoCo Cruise! That’s really awesome and something we really enjoy. We also upped our charity game this year, doing events for Sniffing Snouts Pitbull Rescue (where we met Frodo and Sirius) and for Pulse.
Finally, all of this hardship and general fuckery has led to me to see just how much people do care about us and our business. My Father-in-Law, Tom, has really stepped up to help us fill in and handles our big Friday beer orders. Our Kitchen Manager, Rob, has taken the pressure of a kitchen off our shoulders, and though we can’t pay him what he deserves we absolutely are grateful for that. Though we haven’t found anything yet to fully step up and take over, we do have a small core group of staff members that are there when we need them (like a last minute invitation to see Moana in advance at Disney!).
And our bar regulars are the best. I admit, there have been several times this year Andrea and I have toyed with the idea of getting other jobs. There is more and more work for Engineers at the Space Center, and Andrea could easily find free lance work doing event planning or social media. But, our regulars keep us going. They remind us that we’ve created more than a bar. We’ve created a unique space where people belong, where they can come and be absolutely relaxed and fit in. And though Andrea and I can’t make it out much outside the hours we work, it’s always great to have a friend or two across the bar so we have some semblance of normalcy in our lives.
2017 is already shaping up to be a tough year again. We have the same cruise in the spring and this time we don’t have a fully trained manager in place to cover. We are sorely understaffed and just can’t find the kind of employees we want. We’re still working with the audit and looks like we’re already going to start the year with a $2000 bill. But, I’m determined to make 2017 better. I’m going to focus more on soft things I can do rather than what I’ve been focusing on. My goals for the past few years have been to make a certain dollar amount, weigh a certain amount, etc. This year I’m going to work more on myself. I have an awesome journal and new pen that I received as Christmas gifts, and intend to journal at least five nights a week. Rather than focus on my weight I’m going to focus just on being healthy. Instead of obsessively checking our sales numbers every night (actually, I check them at 8pm, 10pm, midnight, and close and if we’re not at a certain sales number it kills my night) I’m going to focus on our monthly growth and spending more time out with guests. Andrea is doing a cool meditation thing, and I think I’ll join that, too. Overall, I think these things will lead to a much better, more fulfilling, and stress free 2017. Speaking of, it’s almost 11pm and we need to workout. So see ya!