When I think back while growing up in south western Connecticut I can’t remember a time when my father “Pop” wasn’t in business or wasn’t starting a business.
I only remember him having a job or working for someone else when he got into his 60’s & 70’s. You see “Pop” was a terrible employee, he knew that he usually forgot more about the restaurant business than the people he was working for… and most times he let them know it.
“Pop” was a typical French Chef, very creative, hardworking and at times was known to rival Gordon Ramsey while teaching his staff. Many a waitress cried, but they all loved “Pop” and respected him.
In my early years I never saw him except if I woke up before he went to work. I finally got to know him when I turned 12 years old. You see, in the Dube family when you turned 12 you were now old enough to work at the restaurant.
At first, I loved working because I was getting to know my Dad, but as I got into my teens I resented the fact that I was unable to do things with friends… It didn’t kill me, but at the time I thought it would.
Even though I was a teenager with a bad attitude I was smart enough to learn from my father’s example.
A typical day for “Pop” (and my mother) was about a 15-hour work day. They were always tired but didn’t complain much that I remember.
When I was 12 or 13, one night I watched him crawl up stairs to bed because he messed up his knee at work. “Pop” was on crutches for weeks, but he still went to work and made sure people got fed.
Even though it was 40 plus years ago, I remember one day I asked him why he didn’t stay home and rest his knee. His reply… Joe, I have 11 kids. Who is going to take care of you guys if I’m lying in bed?
I guess that’s where all 11 of us got our work ethic, our parents taught us by example. It’s much more effective than preaching or a lecture, by the way all 11 of us have owned a business or two at one time in our lives.
My “Pop” was old school, he never minced words…you always knew where you stood and what he was thinking. His dedication to his family and business was something to behold.
“Pop” was the epitome of an entrepreneur, nobody worked harder than him. He was always looking to improve his business and his craft by constantly studying cook books and trying new recipes, then putting his own flavor on them.
“Pop’s” been gone now for almost 19 years. I miss him terribly each day. I’ll never forget the last time I saw him, he was telling me about a restaurant he was going to open once he recovered from his knee replacement…
I remember the last words I heard him speak were this %#^&&#^ walker isn’t worth a @$&^%$ as he tried to get into the bathroom.
Same old “Pop”, dreaming about starting a business at 79 years old and still using that colorful language when he got pissed off.
My takeaways from my story…
• Owning a business takes hard work & dedication (Thumb Suckers need not apply)
• “Pop” would go over, through, around or under any obstacle that was in his way of achieving his dream which is the epitome of an entrepreneur.
• Learning to work while I was a young man was good for me even though at the time I thought it was the end of the world.