Back in June of 2011, I walked away from a promising career in publishing to buy a struggling sandwich shop called D’s Soul Full Cafe in Hoboken. In the five years that followed we’ve made it the most unique and popular sandwich shop in town.
I still can’t believe it’s been five years. My life turned from editing videos and creating content to sell ads on the internet to riding my bike in the rain searching for fresh kale. I was no longer spending sleepless hours trying to please a heartless corporate entity looking to sell diet supplements. Now my sleepless hours were consumed with trying to save a business that was mine. Completely and totally mine.
Was it easy? Fuck no! If it were easy, I’d be doing it wrong. Nothing about this has been easy. I’m stressed out beyond capacity. My stomach often wonders where these pains are coming from while trying to reject any nutrition I send its way. My head spins like a carrousel. My wallet is starving. My social life is all but nonexistent.
Super Storm Sandy.
Water main breaks.
It’s been one helluva magic carpet ride.
So, what’s the upside?
If you had asked me that just a little more than a year and a half ago, I’d have had a tough time answering. At that time, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I was ready to pack it in and move on to my next phase. And then it happened. A fire on New Year’s Day 2015 which started in the apartment above the cafe nearly destroyed all that I had been working for.
It was in the grueling months of the rebuild that I realized just how much this place and the neighborhood meant to me. I also felt how much this place meant to the neighborhood. People hugging me on the street. The city getting together at The Elks Lodge to raise money for the building. The messages I would get asking when we were coming back. People assumed we would and so that gave me the strength to carry on. That doesn’t mean it’s been any easier.
In the time since we reopened on July 18 2015, I still have to deal with the usual stresses of the food business plus the added treat of having to sue the shyster of a contractor who was hired by the building to do the reconstruction after the fire. Shoddy work at best. Dangerous work at worst. Because of his incompetence, I’m broke and anxious all the time.
And yet the positives far outweigh the negatives. There are so many things to be thankful for in my life right now. The new friends I’ve made. The lessons I’ve learned. The food. The art. The music. The feeling of pride I get from being able to say, “I own the best fucking sandwich shop in Hoboken!”
I can’t say what the future will bring for me and my li’l cafe. Then again, I never thought I’d make it this far. I do know that my next challenge is to get my life in order so I don’t end up like some character in a Pink Floyd song.
Who was only a stranger at home.
Who was ground down in the end.
Who was found dead on the phone.
Who was dragged down by the stone.
Which would be ironic since I left corporate hell to avoid becoming such a character.
So, here’s to another five years (hopefully more) of corporate avoidance, sandwich innovations and kale shopping.
Oh and by the way, this may be my fifth anniversary, but it’ll be D’s Soul Full Cafe‘s tenth in August. We’re planning a big celebration. Details to come.