Food is something that almost everyone enjoys. It can bring people together, allow for good conversation, and most importantly, satisfy the tastebuds. A Kingwood High School graduate has gone on to work in the culinary industry in the Houston area. He provided some insight into what it takes to run a business, the pros and cons of being one’s own boss, what made him want to go into the culinary industry, and how the pandemic has affected his business.
The White Elm Cafe Bakery is an upscale, casual-concept restaurant with a menu inspired by the French countryside and Mediterranean coast. They serve fresh bread, pastries, and coffee in the morning. They also cook up lunch and dinner daily. On the weekends, they serve brunch. The owner of this restaurant shared some of his thoughts about life in the culinary industry.
The following questions were asked to Christopher Ramirez, the owner of White Elm Bakery:
1. What are the pros and cons of owning a restaurant?
With any job, there will always be pros and cons. For Mr. Ramirez, the biggest pro that made him want to go down the culinary path is how being your own boss allows one to “implement [their] own vision without committee approval.” On the other side of this pro, one of the biggest cons is that there is, “..no one there to help, no one there to accept blame for mistakes, no one who cares about your dream as much as you do.”
2. Do you feel that being your own boss has given you more freedom or more stress?
To put it simply, the answer to this question is being your own boss allows for both more freedom and more stress. “Owning your business absolutely gives you more freedom. But, with that opportunity of freedom comes exponentially more stress,” Ramirez explains, “I would have to say stress is much more prevalent.” An example of the stress side is robbery, which White Elm Bakery faced at the end of September.
3. How did the pandemic impact the opening of White Elm Cafe Bakery?
Businesses all over America have felt the impact of the pandemic. For White Elm Cafe Bakery, construction being halted and staffing are two major issues. Restaurant employees still receive unemployment benefits, so many of them are reluctant to return to work. Business revenue is lower than the original projections, but “[They] are blessed to doing the business [they] are though and continue to get stronger each week.”
4. When you were in high school, did you know you wanted to own your restaurant? If not, when did you realize it?
Ramirez never had the idea to open a restaurant in High School. The closest thing that he got to the culinary industry was working as a delivery driver. “It wasn’t until college at UT that [he] got the “bug” for restaurants. [He] started part time as a cook at Logan’s BBQ while in school. From there, [he] got hooked on the business.”
5. Do you have any advice for readers wanting to enter the culinary industry or open their own business?
Ramirez urged interested readers to, “Open your own business! Take part in the opportunities our country offers each and every one of us. You will never know any excitement as great as owning your business. Do what you love because this life is too short not to. Take the time to understand your dream and learn everything you can about the industry it falls in. Listening with your eyes and ears is your greatest tool.”
Owning a restaurant has created valuable memories and fulfillment for Ramirez. He loves, “… the restaurant industry, the people, friends and partners that [he has] met through it. Without this business, [he] would have never met [his] wife. The memories and experiences [he has would] make a crazy, crazy book one day!”