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In their own words: Rich Rosendale

Owner: Rosendales, opening spring 2007, in Columbus, Ohio

Back story: Rosendale, 31, an award-winning chef and team captain of the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team, has spent most of his career in hotels, working for the Ritz Carlton, the Duquense in Pittsburgh and holding the titles of sous chef and chef de cuisine at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. But now the young chef is venturing into foreign territory: he’s about to open his own restaurant.  

The world is saturated with restaurants, but I don’t think it’s saturated with great restaurants.

This area and space picked me as much as I picked it. I was driving down High Street, the main street in Columbus. Came across this building and it just kind of grabbed my attention right away. The problem was I didn’t have the money. I had to do some soul searching. I new it was going to take a big commitment. Before you move forward with something like that you need to make sure you’re truly onboard with the commitment.

Part of you always wonders, can you do it? And the thing is, when you look at your life, how many opportunities are you going to have to go out and take a crack at it?

If you worried about all the things that could go wrong you wouldn’t get out of bed.

I’ve got to say that it’s different once you venture out on your own; it’s a real paradigm shift when you see things through the eyes of an entrepreneur. Maybe I’ve talked to somebody who had their own business, but I never appreciated the leap of faith and sacrifice to go out and do that. It was a wake-up call: Hey, you’re part general contractor, part architect, banker. Throughout this process you wear a lot of hats. It’s a different animal.

You’re really on your own. That’s been a challenge. Not a lot of people to turn to. There’s been lots of help out in the community and with friends and family. But at the end of the day, when you’re racing from appointment to appointment, you’re the only one in the car.

A lot of time people take their eye off the ball, off the little things. Many times in conversations with guests, sometimes they would make a comment that was negative, but you would never think about: “Oh, I hate when the butter is rock hard like that.” I think that’s what makes a great restaurant, the sum of all those little things stacked on top of each other. Sometimes little things like leaving the butter out to get soft makes the difference.

I thought all you had to do was have great food. But the more I am in touch with the clientele and understand the business in general, I realize it’s far more than that. At the end of the day it’s a business, money in money out. You have to be profitable to keep the doors open. The food is the easy part.

I guess just in life in general everything costs so much. Controlling costs has been an ongoing challenge. And making responsible decisions. Going into something like this you have a budget. You’ve got to look at everything you spend money on and say, What’s the return on this, how many dinners do I have to serve to pay for this? Doing this alone, knowing decisions I make are decisions I have to live with. You know, let’s choose this color for tile, these partitions for restrooms. Once it’s in you don’t have a lot of wiggle room.

Everyday through this process has carried a lot of weight. I have people moving in from all over the place, several coming from the Greenbrier, one coming from Hawaii. Since day one I’ve carried with me that weight, that pressure and anxiety, hoping I’m making the right decisions. Not so much for myself but for everyone who has a stake in what I’m doing here. They all trust me. I think all the days have just been very high stress. I’ve tried to use that to my advantage. Fear and stress are big motivators.

This entire year, ironically, what I do for a living, cooking, I really haven’t done.

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