Adventures in the Restaurant Business

There are fewer and fewer good jobs to be gotten in Los Angeles film production and many talented people are biding their time out of work. We've finally chosen a new path.
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Bill and I are refugees. Not refugees from a tsunami or a violent political overthrow. We're refugees from the film making business. Don't feel sorry for us. We did it to ourselves. We had careers helping to make TV shows and movies. We were union members and had guaranteed wage rates and health plans. We were 2/3 of a production sound crew. I sat at a cart, turned knobs and groused when things weren't going smoothly. Which was most of the time, by my estimation. Bill held a boompole above his head and charmed actors and anybody else that needed charming so our job, recording actors' voices, would go more smoothly. Admittedly, it is not a sure thing that this style of life would have continued for us. There are fewer and fewer good jobs to be gotten in Los Angeles film production and many talented people are biding their time out of work. Upon the completion of each movie or order of TV shows from the studio, everybody is out of a job. But, beyond this convulsive professional life, there are other features to the job that can become untenable.

Bill: After twenty (wow that many?) years in the 'industry', I was starting to exhibit classic symptoms of burnout. If you're not 'above the line' and I wasn't, there is a lot of free time. If you get good at whatever little task you are paid to do, there is even more. Time to think; am I wasting my life? What do I want to do when I grow up? That sort of thing.

Charles: Ok. The film production life had to stop. It had become a simmering bubble of boredom and sometimes barely hidden contempt. I felt this bubble mostly the sum-total of my life's relationship as I was in it nearly all of my waking hours. Then there was the alarming paradox of the hurry-up-and-wait nature of the work which sometimes caused a given 13 hr work day to seem like a week, while at week's end, you wondered where the week went. It seemed to slip by so elusively. At the end of a tv season, that feeling was only exacerbated. "where did the year go?", I felt. Now, into my 50s, I didn't have that many years to continue to wonder about. I was the human version of a caged animal-feeling it's mortality

Bill and I had shared our take on this predicament. We'd been working together consistently since 2002, in addition to being old friends. We'd gone through the frustrations of not being able to get work at times as well (the only thing worse than working). We'd both worked in kitchens and dining rooms earlier in our lives. We both liked what restaurants do and we had strong and similar feelings as to what a given restaurant ought to provide.

Bill: For the past six or so years, I worked with a guy named Charles, a fellow Bostonian, smart, funny and also exhibiting similar nervous tics brought on by too many years on the set. I knew him from the old days and we had met back up when I got out here to pursue whatever it was that made me leave the east coast in the first place. Now we were working together and spending an increasing amount of time discussing life away from the fold. We both had restaurant experience, we both could cook, loved wine , had kids the same age. It was a perfect match. Talk became more serious; pointed. What kind of restaurant would we open? Exactly what dishes would we serve? We'd bring in bottles for our potential wine list.

Charles: I guess, to me, it was always a viable possibility, starting a restaurant, once the production life had run its course. That was the question. When had the production life run its course?

The decision was really made for us with the 2007 writer's strike. We had a couple weeks notice that we'd be losing our jobs and in that period of time my mind was only on the first thoughts of a new career. I asked Bill if he was in. He was and the life that began that day is what we're going to be talking about in future posts: the inception and the day to day running of the Allston Yacht Club, the bistro/bar that we've opened in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the coming weeks, we'll be penning a bit of a diary of sorts here on the Huffington Post. Stay tuned!

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