I’m not sure this is the message of the gospel. It did make me laugh, though.
I don’t know about you, but I always start my day out and “address Powerful Goodness.” In all seriousness though…this is my exact schedule. Up at 5am, at work by 8am and in bed by 10pm. Maybe I should go fly a kite!
Our favorite local restaurant just closed, dammit.
The place that introduced us to “pumpkin pie stuffed cheesecake” is no more.
We have dined many nights at September’s in Hendersonville, TN. We loved that restaurant. It was our favorite spot to bring out of town guests and to celebrate special occasions. I thought that the story from the owners (it was an independently owned place and not a chain) about what led to their demise was especially telling. I have read no better article about the peril of the age of financial ruin and decline we are currently living under in America. As one poster to their Facebook page said best, “we can bail out the banks, but the banks and our government can’t seem to help the very people who make America strong and (make us) the envy of the world – the people who risk everything for the American dream.”
Here is the entire sad tale in its entirety. Read it and weep.
If you have not heard, September’s Restaurant is closed. I want to share our story with you.
When we first opened in Spring 2008 the nation’s economy was booming – or at least so we thought. The housing market was at its peak, people were dining out in droves and Hendersonville was set to grow by 12%. We were right on target with our business plan. Then came $5 gasoline and we all know the rest. The new neighborhoods, office buildings and hotels that were being designed and built came to a halt – these were all part of our model to being successful.
Being an independent business we were able to make adjustments pretty quickly. We cut the expenses we could control, I gave up my paycheck. We offered discounts and coupons. We paid our talented chefs and kitchen crew less than what they were worth. But they were eager to work for us because they believed in what we were accomplishing – bringing fresh, quality food to Hendersonville. The quality of our food is one area where we refused to compromise and cut expenses. We continued with our grassroots philosophy of making everything we could in-house. This quality and the level of service we strived so hard for everyday has lead September’s to being voted #1 restaurant in Sumner County 3 years in a row. A title I can take with me. So what happened?
We looked to the government, the state and to the banks for help. Kirk sat down with every banker in the county. Despite all the ads out promoting help for small businesses, no one was willing to help us. They knew we were of value to the community and to the center – but their hands were tied. They had no money to lend us. The shortfall we were seeing every month had to come from somewhere. So we made some tough, personal decisions. We cashed in all our retirement and our son’s education fund to help keep the doors open and our employees paid for over two years now.
We even had a restaurant analyst come in and look at everything we were doing. His final determination was we were doing everything right. Our pricing, our menu mix, our food and labor expenses, even our overhead was all right. What was lacking was the population base in the Hendersonville area to support the business. And every time a new restaurant opened – it cut away at the piece of pie all of us were sharing.
With predications of another 12-18 months before the economy turns around we just don’t have the funds to keep going. We hung on as long as we could, plus some. We are spent mentally and physically, lying awake at night wondering how we were going to pay our employees, vendors and rent.
We as a family moved to Hendersonville 11 years ago. We put our roots here. We opened September’s Café in 2003 and made an investment in this community and the future of Hendersonville. September’s has been a viable business in this community for 7 years now, paying taxes to the city and employing people from Sumner County. We have 40 employees that now have no job. One of whom has been with us since the Café and has been diagnosed with cancer. I wish I could help her – but I have nothing left to help her with. I want to thank all my employees for their dedication and hard work. Hopefully they, along with me, will find another job soon.
Our restaurant was not always perfect, we had nights where we were not always at our best and sometimes menu items needed adjustments. Over the past 3 years we have grown and evolved into the restaurant we were, and it was because some of our guests helped us change. We did not meet the expectations of some of our most loyal guests when they first dined with us in our infancy. We stopped, listened to them and made the changes. This turned them into repeat customers and helped us become better in the kitchen and better as owners. But many of our loyal customers are not just customers. I was not prepared for the many amazing friendships our guests have returned to us along with their loyalty. We are sad we will not be able to sit at our tables anymore with our friends, chatting and sharing a glass of wine. But we have truly been blessed with so many happy customers and support from our community. And we want to thank all of you for your help, thoughts and support.
We live in Hendersonville and will continue to support this community. We will not walk away with our tails tucked between our legs, but with our head held high because we tried hard…every day. And to quote an old cliché “It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.” Failure is nothing to be afraid of. We walk away, not looking back, but forward, searching for the next opportunity. Tough times never last, tough people do.
Thank you again for all your support and friendship.
Kirk, September & Landry
I am so sad that we can no longer dine at September’s. I’m sadder still that to feed us some great food they had to cash out their retirement and son’s education fund. It’s so important to support small local businesses. I know that my conviction to do this has been strengthened through this closing. I wish the September Norman and her family the very best and thank them for some great memories and meals that will stick with us forever.
In the late 1700′s John Adams had this to say about the people of New York City …
“They Talk very loud, very fast and all together. If they ask you a question, before you can utter three words of your answer, they will break out upon you again, and talk away.”
Also before 1800 French exile Duc De La Rouchefoucauld-Liancort observed of Americans …
“(they seem to cherish) the project of making an ample and rapid fortune … few of them are content with what they have.”
These are both observations from a totally fascinating book about Cornelius Vanderbilt called The First Tycoon by TJ Stiles that I am currently reading. A ton of information and fun facts about the early development of New York City, trains, steamboats and other fun reading.