Restaurant visionaries

Praise for Barry Watson, Deanna Bender, Janna Zimmerman and Dave Meconi.

By Sandee Glib on February 28, 2008

Early this morning I jumped onto the Internet only to discover there is no such thing as National Restaurateur Month. My inquiry stemmed from a strange dream the night before, so I had to find the truth. I have a terrible time sleeping sometimes because my head is always swirling with “to-do” lists and obsessive thoughts. If you own your own restaurant or small business, you understand. Your head can be a terrible place to live, especially at night.

In my dream last night (I was thankful for a few minutes of sleep), visions of my fellow, independent restaurant/pub owners danced in my head. Unless you have walked in our comfortable shoes, you have no idea what we go through on a daily basis. This is a conscious choice we have made, but somehow we think we will do better than the other café/bar down the street. When at least half of all restaurants fail within the first two years of operation, how can WE go wrong?

Some of you owners have accepted your fate better than others. You love the business and you thrive on the chaos and unpredictable nature of dining patrons. I raise a mighty, frothy pint to you in admiration. For example, Barry Watson of Rosewood Café in North Tacoma. Barry, you are a rock star. Not only are you blessed with a lovely family at home, you suffered a heart attack in the not so distant past and you STILL want to expand your empire and open another joint. I want what you’re having.

Here is another owner worthy of praise, Deanna Bender of Over the Moon Café in Opera Alley. I believe she is working on year six in her space, and from recent chatter the cafe is doing better than ever. Deanna is a single mom with a teenage daughter and pre-teen son. That has to be a handful, and she still manages to run a successful restaurant on top of it all. I am sure she has had her hardships, but Deanna always finds the strength to persevere.

Moving on to another single mom, Janna Zimmerman of Café Divino is one of the smartest women in the business. She’s a tough cookie with a reputation for running a tight ship, and she knows exactly what she is doing. Janna rides the trends and understands this business from many years of working in it for someone else. I don’t think any problem could fly at her from left field that she couldn’t handle. Do you want to open your own restaurant/café? Talk to Janna, because no book learning will prepare you better for this business than her LIFE experience.

Next on my list of heroes and crazy entrepreneurs is Dave Meconi of Meconi’s Pub and Eatery. Now this man left a cushy job as an aerospace subcontractor for Boeing and opened what has become an extremely popular hangout for the who’s who of downtown Tacoma. Dave has literally worked his finger(s) to the bone (hope it has healed by now) in order for his pub to thrive and be successful in a difficult area of downtown. Dave and his girlfriend, Renee, are expecting their baby any day now, and this leads me to believe that Dave’s plate is officially FULL. Congratulations and go home!

Here is my point, oh gentle readers, there should be some type of recognition for these hard working restaurant visionaries. I apologize for not being able to highlight more of you hands-on owners. Just know that you are dearly appreciated by many of us. Independent restaurant owners are a driving force behind Tacoma’s renaissance. You have no idea of their sacrifice until you walk a mile in their Skidbuster S5075, black athletic slip resistant shoes.  I wish you all nothing but a good night sleep now and always.

Eat out Tacoma. We need your love.