August 8: We opened a restaurant!

I don’t think this is a dream – we actually opened a restaurant, had some customers (satisfied, even!), and took some money. I might wake up and find that it’s all not true – that’s how it feels right now. I’ve been through a 150% learning curve. August in the south of France isn’t an ideal time to open a restaurant, but it means we can get used to our new life at our own speed. If we were down in Tourist Central it might be different, but in our part of Nice (only a five minute tram ride/20 minute walk) from the center of town), which is a genuine, untouristy part of the city, it’s quiet. Lots of small businesses are closed, local doctors, accountants, lawyers and so on – who’ll make up a big part of our lunchtime clientele – are on holiday, and loads of local families head (literally) for the hills, where it’s cooler.

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Joel and I are still talking to each other, phew!  That’s been my biggest concern, to be honest. What if I can’t bear him as the boss? He’s such a pro in the restaurant business, he knows just what to do when, and how. So it’s a little frustrating for him that his new waitress has ask to him Every Single Thing. (It’s frustrating for her too, believe me…) I’ve always pretty much been chief-reader-of-instruction-manuals, and interpreter-of-computer-issues. So something as second-nature to Joel as the glass dishwasher under the bar is a hot, steamy demon to me. The till is all a computer program, and Stephane who came to teach us how to use it, spoke… well, surprise surprise, he spoke French. There’s always a tiny delay between going in one ear and reaching the brain. This has been a source of loads of tension between Joel and I. He likes anything that keeps track of the money, and I tend to think it’s irrelevant. See the problem?


I also messed up the facebook page, but I think it’s OK now. Local restaurants in Nice often have just a facebook page, so we’ll work with that until all is calm and under control. But jeez… am I REALLY the person who was part of the very first team in the U.K. to use desk-top publishing to produce a national monthly consumer magazine? That was then, and this is now.

I think I’m also suffering from exhaustion-imposed forgetfulness. I must learn to listen exactly to what people are saying, and not to think about how nice their handbag is, or what IS that hairstyle while they’re talking… If I think in English, the French ends up facing a big obstacle. So, one woman ordered the fish, and I repeated the order back to her immediately: the porc au caramel…. Duh. I feel such a fool!


Fortunately between Joel, our chef Michel, and the very sweet and totally overqualified plongeur Mehdi, our first week was a success, and I’m even (sort of) looking forward to opening up again after our one-day weekend.

And Ted’s fine, too.





About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
This entry was posted in Marriage, Nice, Restaurant in Nice, France, Restaurants and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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