BY TAMAR KEVONIAN
“I’ve always liked the bar business,” says Jack while sitting at an outdoor café during the last warm days of an Indian summer. At forty years old, he’s in a midlife crisis of deciding on a new career that will keep up his passion for life going forward.
“Have you ever worked in a bar?”
“Absolutely not,” he responds with a chuckle realizing the contradiction and goes on to say “but I’ve had a restaurant. I had a banquet hall right here in Pasadena in the 1990’s.”
Jack began his life as an entrepreneur at 19 years old and has had his own businesses since then. He abhors working for others. He finds that his likes being the boss rather than being the employee. In his long career he’s owned a restaurant, an insurance agency, a traffic school and now a dental lab. “But I’ve always liked the being a bar owner – nightclub actually – but that’s out of my league.”
Of all the businesses he’s owned, his favorite was owning the banquet hall. “We were always busy, especially on the weekends. Plus, it’s the type of business that suits me.” he says. Although he likes working in an office, he truly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the banquet hall with it’s variety of clientele celebrating happy occasions. Due to unforeseen circumstances with his partner at the time, Jack was forced to leave the business. “I decided to take a vacation before deciding my next project. So I took a two year vacation,” he says displaying a bit of his humor. When he finally returned to the working world, he ventured into another business, not yet ready to take on the stress of the food business.
He is a personable, with a ready smile and greeting for everyone. His affability is apparent whenever he enters this café and greets those who are familiar to him. He has an ability to draw everyone into his circle of friendship.
“It’s the meeting new people and interacting with them everyday that is appealing,” he says of his desire to be in the restaurant business but clarifies that he doesn’t like the nightlife. “I’m married and have two children already so I don’t want to be out. I certainly don’t want my children knowing that their Dad works past midnight in a nightclub.” This belief is a reflection of the ideas with which he was raised – that it is inappropriate for parents not to be home at night with their children.
The children are now six and eight years old and soon will be of an age where they will be much more aware of what their father does and Jack doesn’t want that knowledge to be that their father comes home at 3 am.
“Doesn’t a bar have the same hours?”
“No,” he says emphatically. “A bar is different. The idea is to have a bar/restaurant. More of a hangout spot.” He is envisioning the type of place where people come for dinner and stay for the atmosphere. More like a lounge rather than a club. “Even if it’s open past 11 pm, I’ll only stay till 9pm and then come home.” Considering his ample experience as a boss, he plans to hire a really good manager which will alleviate the need for him to be present every night. A perfect situation for this father of two.
“The restaurant business has a lot of turn over. A lot of restaurants come and go. Does that worry you?”
“No,” he says with an air of confidence. “If you have the right location and the right concept it will work. The rest I have to leave up to God.”
These are all grand plans for a man of unwavering enthusiasm and energy. The one thing Jack hasn’t accounted for is his wife’s reaction to her husband’s owning a bar at the end of a long string of businesses.
“She is OK with it,” Jack says. “When I married her I already had a business, so she’s used to me fending for myself professionally. It’s not like I used to work somewhere and quit to sink my life savings into a private venture.”
As a mother of two and the wife of an entrepreneur, Mrs. Jack is used to her husband’s new ventures. “I was already well established by the time I met her,” he says. “She’s never had to worry.” In fact, shortly before getting married twelve years ago, he made it a condition that she stay home and be a full time homemaker. Luckily it was something she enjoyed doing. Now, with the children in school and time on her hands, she wants to help her husband in his businesses but he insists that she focus on their home. “I don’t want her to work no matter how much she may want to,” he says with a bit of bravado.
For now everyone on the home front is supportive of Jack’s dream of opening a bar/restaurant but what will happen if that situation ever changes?
“I suppose I’ll have to sell it,” he says with a shrug and a laugh clearly knowing that his priorities are to keep his family happy and safe.