Good partnerships are key to the success of all restaurants and they come in many forms. There is the partnership that arises with investors, the front of the house and the back of the house, and, in the case of Rich Table in San Francisco, co-chefs who happen to be a married couple. Evan and Sarah Rich balance their work and home lives and, more often than not, finish each other’s sentences. This year marks Rich Table’s fifth anniversary, so we sat down with them to talk about how their roles and the restaurant have changed, how their approaches complement one another, and their words of wisdom for other couples seeking to open a restaurant together.
What are your roles in the restaurant?
Evan Rich: At Rich Table, I take a managerial role. We have had an executive chef for three years. He’s taken to our food so it’s seamless, My role is setting the culture, which is so important. People work hard, but I want it to be enjoyable. It translates to the experience the guests have.
Sarah Rich: As you grow, you have step away from having just one focus. I write the dessert menu, and I come up with the recipes and teach someone how to do them. And I also help out wherever needed— I might give Evan a night off, fill in, work a station. Initially, we did everything; management, the numbers, cooking, service, but I realized it’s counterproductive. At this point, we’ve hired an amazing staff so our job is guiding them and making sure they are working toward our goals.
How do your strengths and weaknesses complement each other?
ER: I’m the “get it done” guy. Sarah keeps me in check and says, “Let’s make it right.” She polishes my rough edges.
SR: It’s good to have someone you trust so much. You have can have a conversation. Two heads are better than one. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, like any aspect of your relationship, but having two perspectives really helps. We come together to make it better.
What are the biggest challenges of working together?
SR: I’m never going to make Evan feel guilty for going into work, but it is all encompassing. Your personal relationship is also your work time. We’re always at work — even when we’re at home we’re still talking about work. It’s all about making the restaurant better.
ER: A definite down side is that one person is always responsible. We might have something going on at home, but one of us has to go to work. It’s always just me or Sarah. We have two boys, but we say the restaurant is our girl. [Read more…]