Bossing the Virgin

By: Lila Younger

“Give it to me straight Sean,” I say to my best friend in college, who happened to major in accounting. I pulled him into this as soon as I found out what was happening. I knew that he would do a thorough job, and he wouldn’t try to sugarcoat things. That’s the last thing I needed right now. I am too tense to even sit down, and instead I pace at the front of the room.

“It’s not good Logan,” Sean says, looking down at his papers. “You’re hemorrhaging money left and right. There have been, shall we say, discrepancies in how things are being handled from restaurant to restaurant. More than one manager has been ordering more food than necessary to keep up with appearances. I even encountered a staff member who’s been selling off the excess to put in their own pocket. Stuff like that has gone unchecked because there was only one person to answer to: your father. And I got the impression from the staff that they were too terrified of losing their jobs to speak up.”

“How could this happen?” I ask, turning to my father’s oldest employee and friend, Kevin.

“Things slipped through the cracks. Your father was a stubborn man. He didn’t like to be told that he was getting old and letting go of his power,” he replied, giving his bony shoulders a shrug.

“There are other things too,” a woman says quietly. Her name is Linda, and she’s in charge of the advertising/marketing side of things. “Your father was against social media. Thought it lowered the brand in the eyes of the public. We still run full page ads in newspapers. Our clientele has aged, but we haven’t been able to bring in a younger crowd. Red Canyon Steakhouse should be the place for business lunches and dinners, and yet, it isn’t happening. One of the firs things your father slashed was the advertising budget. He thought that everyone already knew Red Canyon.”

Up until now, I haven’t told them what my plans are going forward with the company. I’ve been busy restructuring, hiring and promoting people to fill in the gaps. I don’t want to be my father. I don’t want to handle everything myself. Not just because it put him into an early grave, but because I know that my time could be spent much more effectively if I’m not bogged down in the minute details.

“Oh people know about Red Canyon all right. But that doesn’t mean they want to come in. There are too many restaurants doing exciting things. The scene has changed,” I say. “We need to make some changes too if we want to keep up.”

It’s as though I’ve set off a bomb in the room. Everyone clamors to talk. I expected this, but I’m prepared and ready to field their questions. After two hours explaining both my vision and receiving their input, I finally call an end to the meeting. We have a plan in place, and I’m tired, but feeling hopeful. The most important thing to do of course is to streamline. We can’t have any more wasteful spending. The second thing we’re going to do is to rebrand the menu. Once we stop flushing money down the drain and we’re bringing people back through our doors, then we can look at rebranding everything else. So far we don’t need to close any restaurants, but that possibility remains open. I hope I don’t have to, and I argued against it because my employees don’t deserve to be out of a job. They put their trust in my father, and now me. I won’t give up on them without exhausting all my other options first.

“So,” I say to Sean once it’s just him and I left in the room. “Think we can make this happen?”

“I hope so,” he says. “You’re getting awfully close to bankruptcy. But if there’s anyone in our business school who could pull it off, I’d put my money on you.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I say, clapping a hand on his shoulder.

“Are you done for the day?” he asks. “There’s a game on tonight. Feels like forever since we’ve watched one together.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. There’s a million and one things I’ve got to do now that we’ve hammered out a plan. At least we won’t have to worry about the menu. The new chef, Mikayla, is brimming with ideas.”

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