The past couple of weeks have been a time of centering and refocusing for me. Summer has gone by so quickly and so many things have taken place, that I needed some time to gather my thoughts, sort through my emotions and face some of what the past 3 years have meant with a clear head and honest heart. Many folks have been asking questions about the restaurant closing. I have remained uncharacteristically quiet on the subject. Not because I am hiding anything but because there is so much to sort through. So many emotions, so many logistics, so many decisions and most of all so much sadness.
A Good Run
We have had a fantastic time at The Kangaroost. I have learned so many things about restaurants, the restaurant business and people. Much of what I have learned are things that I will take with me for the rest of my life …. in all my ventures. I have made friends, acquaintances and met some downright fantastic human beings. I have fulfilled bucket list wishes as well as had many opportunities I never even imagined could happen to me. I am a humble quiet person, with a phobia of public speaking. This time has brought me out of that. I could talk about the Kangaroost and Kangaroostaurant all day to any group who will listen. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished here in three years. To think that two folks and their kiddos, could have the impact we’ve had on the Fox Valley is remarkable. It has taken a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication from both Jay and I as well as our children Emma and Loudon. We have all given so much of ourselves.
On the flip side, much of what I have learned, I don’t want to take with me. I have learned how to live with and work under so much stress and pressure that I can’t even begin to tell you. For those in this industry (and certainly many others), you will understand. The countless sleepless nights, and anxiety filled days. I feel like I personally have reached the point in my life where it is not only unhealthy, but not at all sustainable to work as hard as we do, and continue being happy, healthy human beings.
Aside from the physical toll, the financial toll has been daunting. We’ve have so many people believe in us. And we had the belief that this would some day turn into a sustainable business. But, between our lack of business knowledge, cash flow and reserve cash and many expensive lessons, we have put every single penny we have, and many from others, into a business that can’t go on.
Before starting the truck, Jay and I lived with very little debt. We spent money when needed and enjoyed a good life, but lived within our means – intentionally. Since starting the truck, we have not only used up all of our future reserves, but we have added up an insurmountable amount of debt, both as a business and personally. Because of high credit scores and plenty of savings, we were at one point approved for a Small Business Administration loan. Now, 3 years later, we are unable to cosign a loan for our daughter’s college education. This is not only humbling but speaks to the fact that we really weren’t in it for the money. Every penny went back into the business, to pay employees, vendors and other folks a living wage while we were struggling. We never talked about it, because deep down we always believed it would turn around.
We’ve finally had to face the truth and realize that we were not going to make it, and that we didn’t have what it would take to make it. Jay and I are tired – physically, mentally and empty of all desire to continue with all this stress. We’ve both made decisions in the past few months that have impacted our health and our mental well being. As we work to get back on a path of healing and taking care of ourselves, we look to move beyond these poor decisions and strive to be the people we once were. It just got to be too much.
Wouldn’t Change a Thing
Now, as I say this, I want to tell you that from the depth and breath of my soul I am grateful for having had the opportunity to live out my dream. The Kangaroostaurant is a culmination of my dream and a lot of hard work and preparation. I absolutely love the food truck. Each time I am on the truck, I feel a sense of being in the right place. The past few weeks, I have been heavily focused on catering – which I really enjoy and feel that I am really good at. Sometimes finding out what you are not good at is as important as knowing what you are good at. As we continue moving forward with the truck and catering, I am grateful and happy to be a part of so many things happening in our community and celebrations in folks lives.
I’ve had the privilege of serving food to Will Allen and have the truck be featured in an episode of Wisconsin Foodie. Who could ever have imagined, that I ….would be cooking food for the person who launched the Urban Food Revolution and changed the way we all look at the food we eat and how it is produced. Or, that one day, I would have Arthur Ircink following me around with a camera asking questions while I cooked and served food to folks on a farm. These things alone, are proof that we don’t always know what are dreams are until they happen!
This summer we have had the privilege of catering nearly 20 weddings and other celebrations. Each one has been breathtaking in it’s own way. From beautiful décor, to stunning brides, being a part of these days will forever remain etched in my heart. I have seen so many first dances, father daughter dances, and glass clinking kisses. Love truly is a precious and delicate gift. I wish I could tell you all of the stories of love that I have heard, but, there are too many to even begin. From New Mexico to New York, we’ve catered wedding for folks from all over. As we wind down this fall, we look forward to catering our first same sex couple wedding. It seems a very befitting end to a wonderful summer and fall of celebrating.
Grateful For Many
Aside from the celebrations themselves, I am extremely grateful for and impressed by the folks who have worked so hard with us over the summer to make all of these events happen. From formal plated dinners to casual picnics by the lake, so many people have put everything they had into making them happen. I especially want to thank Chef Lindsey for all she did this summer. In August, she decided to accept a sous chef position and return to Bon Appetit at Lawrence University. This was a fantastic opportunity for her. We haven’t talked about it, mostly because, like many other things the last year, it made me sad. She is so talented, and such a hard working, creative, dedicated chef, a fantastic mother and down right fantastic human being who never pulled punches. I am thankful for her commitment the first part of the summer and all of her help in organizing and preparing for the second half of the summer. She is missed deeply and appreciated greatly.
You may also have noticed another one of our longer time employees had been absent lately. Katie, who along with her husband had a small CSA Farm as well as supplied us with micro greens, decided to move on to pursue her passion in farming with Olden Produce CSA. She has been helping them work the farm as well as learning all the ins and outs of farming. We miss her. Every day, I think about how much I miss her kindness and gentle spirit. She worked so hard here and was always willing to go above and beyond.
The past couple of weeks, I have seen the strength of character and the commitment so many have shown to making things run smoothly around here. Your kind dedication is greatly appreciated. You’ve seen me through a lot of tears the past few weeks, (which we don’t pay extra for) and have quietly listened as we reconciled the events happening.
This summer has been a time of heart wrenching change and surrender to many unknowns. As we move forward, we are grateful for the opportunity to continue being a part of this community.
We still have many decisions to make, and things to decide, but one thing is for sure – no matter what we decide from here on out, it won’t be easy. Please be patient with us and know that we are doing our very best to make things work for as many people as possible. Please know, that we are not being intentionally evasive. We just don’t know what the future holds right now.
So, thank you to all of you for your support and encouragement as we continue down this road. At the end of the day, it’s the relationships we’ve formed and the people that we have met that make this all worthwhile.
And, as always, thank you for your continued patronage. We look forward to seeing you on the streets!