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Lessons on fighting the good fight with celebrity chef Rick Bayless

One minute, you’re running a Michelin-starred restaurant; the next, you’re lobbying Congress and advocating for fair wages for restaurant workers. 

They seem like two totally different careers, but as the COVID-19 pandemic shows little signs of easing up, chefs and restaurateurs have had to take on new and sometimes intimidating jobs just to keep the industry—and their restaurants—afloat. 

Chef Rick Bayless

In this episode of Full Comp with Josh Kopel, celebrity chef and Chicago restaurant legend Rick Bayless opens up about his recent jump into political activism and his involvement in the Independent Restaurant Coalition. The IRC is lobbying Congress to pass the Restaurants Act, a bill that would allocate $120 billion to stabilize the restaurant industry. Restaurant workers account for more than 25% of all jobs lost during the pandemic, yet only 8% of all Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding went to restaurants. 

Bayless is taking this reset in the industry to also work on pay equity between front- and back-of-house staffing by implementing service charges to support his staff’s higher-than-average hourly base rate. This additional charge has allowed him to hire back all of his service staff—some of whom have worked for Bayless for 30 years or more—without complaint from customers. 

Kopel and Bayless also discuss the importance of family meals and how quarantine-enforced downtime has sparked ideas for the next wave of fine dining. Both restaurateurs agree that no matter how the pandemic progresses, people miss celebrating life’s joys over a good meal with great friends, and Bayless’s team has a few ideas on how to bring that simple pleasure back into dining. 

Listen to the full episode below, and listen or subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Photos of Topolobampo on Yelp and from Rick Bayless

Ready for more? Check out more episodes of Full Comp:

Episode 1: Building a Restaurant Empire in a Recession: Tender Greens’ Erik Oberholtzer

Episode 2: Creating Opportunity from Tragedy: Serial Restaurateur Darin Rubell

Episode 3: Redefining Cocktail Culture: Death & Co’s Alex Day

Episode 4: The Art of the Pivot: Iron Chef Eric Greenfield

Episode 14: The Benefits of Community Building: Chef Nina Compton, Chef/Owner of Compère Lapin

Episode 22: The Art of the Pivot: Mark Canlis, owner/operator of Canlis

Episode 26: The Future of Restaurants: Dean Alex Susskind, Cornell University

Episode 34: Becoming a Brand: Celebrity Chef Jet Tila

Full Comp, episode 36 transcript
Fighting the Good Fight: Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless

[Josh Kopel]

Today’s episode is brought to you by Yelp, whose mission is to connect people with great local businesses. They’re also helping to connect with you, which is totally awesome. Now, here we go.

[Rick Bayless]

And what we have to do is fight the good fight.

[Josh Kopel]

Welcome to Full Comp, a show offering insight into the future of the hospitality industry. Featuring restaurateurs, thought leaders, and innovators—served up on the house.

If hosting the show has made one thing incredibly clear, it’s that teamwork, data, and resources will help us thrive post pandemic. Understanding that, Yelp and I’ve created a cheat sheet offering insight into consumer behavior, popular trends, and free tools and resources to help you get open and stay open. You can download that guide at Didn’t write that down? There’s a link in the show notes as well.

It’s been really interesting to see chefs who are normally concerned with running a restaurant suddenly lobbying Congress, all in an effort to show how restaurants tie the whole nation together, economically and culturally. Rick Bayless is one of the chefs leading the charge for our survival, and the survival of our planet. Today, we begin with the chef discussing why he joined the good food movement.

[Rick Bayless]

You know, it’s in my soul. When we started our restaurant 33 years ago here on Clark Street in Chicago, the first thing I was trying to do was to find some local suppliers. And at the time we started, I have to say that Chicago, in Chicago we didn’t even have a farmer’s market. If you wanted to get fresh farm produce, you had to drive outside of the city and go to farm stands in farm areas. And so we opened up in March, and I knew that in May, at the end of May we would be getting local strawberries. So I went down to our produce terminal and I asked around there who would be carrying the local strawberries, and they all laughed at me. I mean, remember this was 1987. And they basically said that they hated the local strawberries because they were too small and they were too ripe.

And so I said, yeah, but they didn’t say anything about flavor, and they have the most incredible flavor. So my wife and I, twice a week, would drive an hour and a half away from Chicago to buy the fresh strawberries. And then we put only strawberry desserts on our menu, because I thought we should celebrate that. Well over the years — that was the stuff that was really important to me, was flavor. And I wanted, coming up from nothing, I mean, I had no reputation in Chicago or anything. I had to set myself apart from the “let us entertain you and leave you” restaurants that have lots of power and money and all that stuff. And I did it through flavor. And so I got really into the idea of sustainability first, just in terms of local produce. And then after that, I worked really hard to develop more supplier networks, and we developed and got together with some other chefs and we started a farmer’s market, and that sort of stuff.

And the sustainability side of it, really the idea of taking really good care of our planet, I was taught all of that by the farmers that we worked with. They’re the ones who said, not only is my stuff really delicious, but this is the way we grow it. And they schooled me in sustainable practices, in organics. And then of course I started learning a little bit about sustainable seafood, and got really into that, and humane animal husbandry. And one thing led to another, and I guess I have heart. I’ve always been a greater-good type person. So I’ve always been that person that says, we all need to work together for the future of our communities, for the future of our culture. And so this working in sustainability is an outgrowth of that whole notion of working for the greater good and being willing to sacrifice some things just for the greater good.

[Josh Kopel]

Well, and now’s a pivotal time, right? We’re in the midst of this epic full reset. This is an opportunity for everyone that’s starting from scratch to start right. This could be a massive leap forward for supporting organic sustainability, responsible practices in animal husbandry and farming. This could be our moment, right?

[Rick Bayless]

It could be. But I’m going to just say, from a realistic standpoint, I haven’t seen any restaurants raising their prices. And if you want to, say you’re working with a lot of commodity of stuff, and now you want to move into organics and stuff, it’s not the same economic model. And so you’re going to have to adjust some things. And I don’t know of anybody. I mean, pretty much restaurants are at break even or below. Certainly nobody’s making any money. I know our restaurants are below breakeven, so every week we figure out how much money we lost and we’ve got to till the money that we saved up. And when that’s gone, we’re going to have to figure out what we’re going to do. We, however, in the midst of all of this, have done two things. One is to re-up our commitment to local producers.

And it would have been really easy to say, we just got to cut costs everywhere. And the pork and the chickens that we buy from Greg Gunthorp’s pasture-raised poultry and pigs, we can’t afford that anymore. But instead we just reiterated that they are what make our food great. And so we have continued to buy everything from the local farmers that we have always been buying. But I will tell you, finances are so grim that there are moments when some of my chefs look at me and said, “Should we really be buying this stuff?” And so it’s been a little scary, but we have committed to that. The second thing that we did was to take a step toward equity in the pay scale. Because you’re exactly right when you say, this is the moment to redefine yourself.

And if something bugs you, or if you’ve always been wanting to take a certain step in your business, now’s the moment to do it. Because we’re starting kind of from scratch, and we’ll never have this opportunity again to do it. And to address the equity in pay issue, what we have done is to go to putting a 20% service charge on all of our checks. And I’m telling you this from the Illinois state perspective, because it’s different in every state. But we can do this. We can take that 20% and we can use it to pay our front house staff or our back house staff. And so we have decided to hire back all of our service staff at an hourly rate that is little bit below what they were making before. If our guests choose to add an additional gratuity, then that is split between the front house staff, because that’s their money.

They’re the ones that have made that. So we’ve done a weird hybrid system, but it’s working out actually really good for us right now. So instead of the tip situation and everybody working for a tip wage credit, hourly, which in Chicago right now, I think it’s really different where you guys are. But in Chicago right now the tip wage credit is at $8.40 an hour. Where the minimum wage is $14 an hour. So we have something to work with here, but we’re paying all of our staff at a higher, certainly higher than $14 an hour rate. And we are almost able to cover that with our 20% service charge that we’re adding on all the tips, I mean, on all the checks. But right now I will say that has allowed us to take a step toward creating equity between front and back of the house. Because, as you said, we’re all starting all over. This is our moment to do this stuff.

[Josh Kopel]

When dine in began to reemerge, and it was permitted in several states, I was wrought with anxiety, Chef. And the reason being, I don’t think we’re ready as an industry to reopen. The issues that you’re tackling need to be tackled industry-wide. And the hospitality industry is chocked full of some of the bravest people, some of the most courageous and dynamic people I’ve ever met in my life. And yet industry-wide, it seems like we’re afraid to have a conversation with our consumers and say, listen, you should be eating better food. This is what it’s going to cost. There’s inequity in the pay structure. So though you like gratuity, and you like the way it’s been, it needs to be this way to be fair to other people. Why do you see that there’s this great hurl in having that conversation with a group of people that love us and are probably really reasonable?

[Rick Bayless]

Because we’re scared. We talk about this a lot in our pre-shift meetings, the fear that just hangs over everyone right now. Because, like I said, all of our staff knows we run open book finance here. So everyone knows how much money we were losing every week. They know that we won’t be able to do that. We had this amazing week last week because we had a private party, and those are few and far between in this day and age. So I will say that we address with our staff the general anxiety and fear that people live with all the time. And the idea of having that really hard conversation with our guests is not something I think any of us really want in our group, really wants to have right now. Because we just want to survive so that we can continue to help.

We have super long-term staff. I mean, we’re a very different kind of restaurant in the sense that we have multi-generations of families working for us. We have people that are at retirement age working for us, and they’ve worked for us for 30 years. We have all different…our staff is over 50% men and women in all capacities where it’s just a very different kind of a restaurant atmosphere. I grew up in the restaurant business, and it’s the kind of restaurant I grew up in. And I wanted to model our restaurant, my wife’s and my restaurant, after what my family did, because I loved growing up in that restaurant. And I will say that right now, we are fighting the really good fight just to keep open so that these people who have worked with us for as long as they have, are going to have a job, they’re going to be able to supply for their families what they need.

And I will say right now that is first and foremost in my mind, because I see these people that are not even back to full-time yet, and they’re struggling very much trying to put together money for rent, trying to put together money to feed their families. And I feel horrible, because they’ve given me all of these years of service. And we’re in this together, and I’m doing everything that I can to help them out. But right now I will say that some of those really hard discussions are going to, I think in our world, are going to have to wait for a few minutes. We’re taking the steps that we’re taking to try to create a little bit more equity in the restaurant world. And I think that we’re doing a good job with that, and we’re still trying to help keep our farmers alive. And doing everything we can for them. But I will say everybody is holding on by their fingertips, and they’re really, really fighting the good fight.

[Josh Kopel]

Are there any tools and resources that you’ve used over the last several months that you found really helpful?

[Rick Bayless]

Well, so in the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the James Beard Foundation have done some tremendous amount of work. There’s a subgroup of the Independent Restaurant Coalition that meets on Fridays. And if you could get on their list of, like their mailing list for Independent Restaurant Coalition. Which is, I think the name of it is This Friday meeting, it’s an hour long meeting. And oftentimes there is a speaker that comes in that talks about equity and inclusion, or the One Fair Wage people that have been on there. That one has been super helpful to me. It’s kind of a funny thing, because I’ve been apolitical in my life. I’m not proud of that, especially right now, because I think I could’ve been a little bit more active than I have been. But I had to get pretty politically active really fast to try to save our industry.

And of course we were part of the PPP legislation, and that was open to us. But if you really think about this one fact, that the 25% of all jobs lost were lost to restaurant people. And it is still the greatest percentage of people out of work are the people that work in restaurants. But when you look at the distribution of funds for the PPP, less than 8% went to restaurants. So there was a real discrepancy there. And so right now, what we’re working on really hard as the Independent Restaurant Coalition, is to get the Restaurants Act either passed in both houses of Congress, or at least subsumed into one of these bigger bills that’s going out there. Because we feel that the restaurant industry is not going to survive if we get more loans. We’re already, you know, we’re-

[Josh Kopel]

Right. Dead.

[Rick Bayless]

If you look and say, well, yeah, I could take another loan for X amount of money and maybe pay it off in the next 10 years, who’s going to do that? Not make anything in your restaurant for 10 years. And that’s what a lot of the proposals have been. But the Restaurant Act is not that, it’s to give us cash to get back on our feet. And I think that’s what all restaurants really need right now. And it’s a very, very well written act, this Restaurants Act. And it opens the doors first to the small restaurants, the ones that tend to get pushed around by the big restaurants. The Restaurants Act is not for chain restaurants at all, which I think is really great, because they have access to capital in different ways than we do as independent restaurants.

And I just think it would be… I mean, I’ve got my fingers crossed. I have got great hope because we have right now about 30 Senators that have co-sponsored this bill. And we have 160 some in the House of Representatives that have cosponsored the bill. So I’ve got a lot of hope right now that we’re going to get this thing through. And who knows what’s going to happen? It seems like there’s a lot of division in Congress right now, but I do feel that we have enough momentum behind this bill that we are going to see in some way, shape, or form it’s going to get passed.

[Josh Kopel]

And let’s add some momentum to it. We have a massive audience here, how can they get involved to help push this legislation forward?

[Rick Bayless]

Go to, and it says right there on take action how you can do it. I will tell you that the most important thing to me is to get hold of your senators and your representatives right where you live. And say that you don’t want to see restaurants go away. And right now, if we don’t get some help, most people are saying that well over 50% of the restaurants will be gone by the end of the year. And I see it. I mean, we have a running list that is published every day in Chicago of restaurants that have gone out of business, or have declared bankruptcy or said they will not reopen. And I think that’s crazy that we have to publish every single day. And these are restaurants, I’m not talking about the kind of restaurants necessarily that if you’re visiting out of town you wouldn’t necessarily go to because they’re doing something really creative and all that sort of stuff.

You want to see the hotness and this trend. I’m talking about restaurants that are really the fabric of their communities. And the kind of places, I always say it in these terms because it really hits home for a lot of people. But if you were raising money for your kid’s little league team or a school fundraiser, you would go to these restaurants and you would ask for a gift certificate from them. And because they’re part of your community, they would give it to you. You don’t go to the chain restaurants and ask for support like that. Where you go is your precious local neighborhood restaurants. And those are the ones that are most likely going to go out of business. And we got to save them at all costs. Because with those, we lose so much of the integrity and the fabric of our communities.

[Josh Kopel]

Absolutely. The suffering of the restaurant industry, especially the independent restaurants, will be the suffering of us collectively, culturally. It will decimate cities. At the beginning of this show I’ll spend an hour in the pre-show introduction running down your long list of accolades and all the awards you’ve won. So we don’t need to review it here, but what would you say has contributed most to your success? Because you’ve been successful on a variety of levels.

[Rick Bayless]

I guess everything is fueled by my one strong desire. And that was to make people aware of the culinary culture. Well, let’s just say the culture in general of Mexico. Because I feel like that even though they are our next door neighbors, we don’t know them very well at all. And we know so little about the cuisine, because we have this stuff we call Mexican cuisine in the United States, and it doesn’t really relate very much to what people eat in Mexico. And having lived in Mexico for a really long time, and having discovered and had the wonderful opportunity to research in great depth the regional cuisines of Mexico. I can say it’s one of the richest and most complex cuisines on the face of the earth.

And yet people don’t know it in the United States hardly at all. If you say Mexican to most people, they’ll think tacos and burritos and nachos and margaritas. And, I mean, that doesn’t really describe hardly any of that cuisine. Burritos and nachos aren’t even known, they call nachos American food in Mexico city. So we don’t know them. And my desire to go in all these different directions has been fueled by my desire to make that wonderful culture and cuisine really well known across the United States. And if I can do anything to put it out there and to get people to understand it and appreciate it and love it and want to eat it, then I’ll do it. And so, I’ve gone in a lot of different directions from television work, with my long running public television show, Mexico One Plate at a Time.

Now we’ve got 12 seasons of that. And that was an opportunity. I said I wouldn’t do it. I had done some TV work before, but when we started putting this together, I said I wouldn’t do it if I couldn’t shoot half of every show on location in Mexico. So that was the format that we used for all 12 seasons. Because I wanted people to see what gets me excited. And then of course, books to go along with all of that, and restaurants and prepared food and flying. All of them are really just to shine a light on the wonderful and robust culinary culture of Mexico.

[Josh Kopel]

I’m a front of house guy, and so most of the people that I employ come from outside of the industry, and they come into it as part-timers or people looking for supplemental income. And one of the things that I found most profound over, let’s say, the last 10 years, has been watching the impact that the 2008 financial crisis, the impact that had on the class of 2008 and those recent graduates. And how dealing with such a difficult time economically, how that permanently affected the way they see the world. And then I look at 2020, and I think about not only the college kids, but let’s dig directly into the industry. Right? What advice do you have for the kids that graduated in the class of 2019 and 2020 from culinary school that are in $120,000 worth of debt?

[Rick Bayless]

It’s going to be hard. But if you got into culinary, then you are not afraid of work. You’re not afraid of tackling stuff and working long hours and all that sort of stuff. This, right now, and I don’t say this lightly, but I do say it. And I have said it to a number of recent graduates. You have a lot of potential, because the whole restaurant world is slightly redefined, maybe more than slightly redefined. But I will say that the one thing that is really great for people just starting out right now is that you don’t have to fit into anybody’s model. That you can create something that is perfect for right now. And if it expresses what you are passionate about, no matter what the model is, you could make it work. And you could make it work in a way that no one has ever seen before.

And I will say, in 2018 everything was pretty defined. And yeah, there were people doing interesting and new things all the time, and God bless them because their desire to just do some creative act just for the act of doing it, is really wonderful. But I think we have a lot more potential of that right now, because it’s a whole new world. And for an old guy like me, sometimes it’s hard to not think in the old model, because that’s what’s worked for me all these years. And I’m trying to be as nimble in my mind as possible, because we have redefined our world as well. And we’re trying to do things and rethink things. And it’s a really fascinating thing when you said, “I’m a front of the house guy”, and before all of the quarantine and everything I would just said, “Yeah, and I’m a back of the house guy.”

But what I realized, two weeks into the quarantine, when we were only opened for takeout and delivery. And it was all touchless delivery and all that sort of stuff. I realized, oh my God, my heart is in the front of the house, because I’m missing the end of the equation here. All of our kitchens and our restaurants are all open so that everyone can watch what the cooks are doing, and that the cooks can watch the diners enjoying their food. And we didn’t have any diners. And so I all of a sudden realized that that’s the reason I’d always been reticent to doing to go, because it didn’t give me the end of the equation. And suddenly we were made to do only to-go, and I felt so depressed because I had no interaction with guests.

And I realized, I am a hospitality guy to my very core. And even though, yeah, I’ve always worked in the kitchen. I’ve never had a single shift at the front desk greeting our guests or anything like that. But those guests are so important to me. And I love that part of it. But I think the young graduates from culinary school right now are going to redefine things that I couldn’t even possibly think of, and come up with great ideas. And I applaud what I know they’re going to be able to do in the future.

[Josh Kopel]

For you personally, as an entrepreneur, as a restaurateur and as a chef, do you see opportunities that didn’t exist out there before, for yourself, for your career, for your future?

[Rick Bayless]

Yes, I do. Partly because I’ve been forced to doing it over the last few months. I’m not sure that I’m the most nimble at that sort of thing, but I am surrounded by a lot of people that are. And I think a good example of that is our Michelin starred tasting menu, fine dining restaurant, Topolobampo. And when we first started all of this and we were trying to think, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? What are we going to do? And one of the people on our staff said, I just don’t see that Topolobampo is a relevant thing right now. And we all sort of said yes to that. Yeah, we couldn’t figure that out. We couldn’t see that it would be a relevant thing.

And then one of our chefs said, a couple weeks later, this didn’t happen really fast. One of our chefs said, “I got a vision for Topolobampo. Let’s move it up into our library and test kitchen.” Which is a very intimate space. I mean, intimate, not like as in crowded, but because we have 2,000 books there and it’s got this really beautiful… It looks like a show kitchen, but it’s our test kitchen. And what if we just did that? And we socially distanced the table. We’ll take 14 people at a time. We can have snacks and drinks with them in another private dining space that’s adjacent to it so that we’ll get to welcome our guests into one place. And then we’ll take them in one group at a time into the library and get them seated there. And everybody is going to have something they need to be celebrating.

So let’s open up for a small group of people, and let’s see if we can make that work. And it’s been sold out every single service. That’s a small number of people. We only do one seating Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We do two seatings on Friday and Saturday, and it’s been sold out the whole way through. And all we say is, thank you so much for doing this because it’s my 40th birthday and I wanted to do something really special. Or, that kind of thing, a wedding anniversary, whatever it might be. A celebration of finishing a school program or whatever. But it’s been so wonderful.

And I personally go to every table. It’s because it’s a small group of people, and I can have a personal exchange with everybody. And they’re all feeling so taken care of. And so that, I don’t take credit for it, it is one of our chefs that came up with the idea. And he has made this thing work in such a beautiful way that I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten to. But for me, I’m really proud that we’re able to continue to offer that really beautiful fine dining tasting menu thing, even in spite of the fact that most people are doing takeout or cooking at home.

[Josh Kopel]

It sounds absolutely beautiful. And I think those moments are so important, especially during this difficult time.

[Rick Bayless]

Well, it is one of my big lessons. My daughter and her husband live next door to us, we share the same yard. And so we were quarantined together. And we just decided after the first week that every Sunday night or Monday night, whichever worked out best for us, we would throw a big party just for the four of us. And I’d cook all day long. I’d make a really extravagant dessert, because I started off as a pastry chef, and I love that kind of stuff. And we would divide up the duties. And my daughter who runs our spirits program here, would create a new cocktail for the evening. And we would spend all evening long having drinks and snacks, and then several courses. And I will tell you, the idea of looking forward to a celebratory meal with my family every week, and spending lots of time on it, was one of the things that saved me through this whole thing. Because I just needed that.

It’s so clear to me that in culture, in every culture, that we commemorate really special occasions with a wonderful meal. And our guests and our little tiny Topolobampo are so appreciative of the fact that we are allowing them the opportunity to have this really special meal to celebrate whatever it is that they’re celebrating. So I think we can’t lose sight of that. When people say, the future of restaurants is in takeout and delivery, I’m going to call bullshit on that. I don’t really think that is the case. Maybe there’s going to be more of it. But as human beings, we want to celebrate special occasions or just getting together with people that we’ve been missing. We want to celebrate that with a meal.

[Josh Kopel]

That’s beautiful. But I got to tell you, Rick, the whole time you were talking, all I could think was that your son-in-law hit the in-law jackpot of a lifetime.

[Rick Bayless]

I will say, I hit the son-in-law jackpot of a lifetime, because the guy is an amazing cook. First of all, that I do all the cooking in my family, and he does all the cooking in his family. And one time he said, he didn’t tell me what he was going to make. And he said, let’s do British food. I was like, oh my God, I have no idea what I’m going to do. And I ended up actually doing Cornish pasties for a little snack to pass around, small ones. And I don’t even remember what I did for a first course because he was going to do the main course. And I got about, in the afternoon of Sunday, all of a sudden I realize, oh my God, this guy is making Beef Wellington. And he didn’t say it ahead of time, but I kind of got the drift.

And I said to my wife, he could go up in flames. Because he had never done it before, but he’s courageous in the kitchen and he’s not a trained cook or anything. But he spends a lot of time with me, and we’ve cooked a lot together, and he’s picked up a lot. And he’s also just naturally good at it. But he produced the most gorgeous, most perfectly made Beef Wellington I have ever seen in my life. And he spent all day, as you could imagine doing it. He didn’t even buy the puff pastry to go on the outside, he made it. And he had never before, but it shows he’s also really talented. So I hit the jackpot for a son-in-law.

[Josh Kopel]

Yeah, I would say so. Just think about the courage that it takes. And it’s a non-trained cook to have to cook for not only your father-in-law, but your father-in-law is Rick Bayless. I mean-

[Rick Bayless]

Well, I think he’s gotten over the fear of it. Because sometimes when we’re doing these dinners, my dish doesn’t come out that good either. So-

[Josh Kopel]

At the end of every episode, because it is an industry podcast, I like to give the guests an opportunity to speak directly to your compatriots in the industry. Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for the folks listening?

[Rick Bayless]

I will say, this is the hardest thing that I’ve ever been through in my life. And you can hear that from a guy who was raised in the restaurant business and has had my own place for 33 years in Chicago. And I will say, this has been the hardest thing. And so those of you that are finding this hard, just know, we all are finding this really, really hard. And there have been times when I’ve just wanted to give up. I’m really thrilled that I work with my wife, because when she’s down, maybe I’m up. And when I’m down, maybe she’s up, and we can encourage one another to get through it. And we can all go into the restaurant and put on our restaurant faces and really encourage one another, even though we might not be feeling the best.

And that’s one of the things I like about the restaurant world, is that it’s like theater. I came up through theater too. It’s like, no matter what’s going on in your internal life, you can put on that restaurant face, or you can put on that theater face, and you can go out there and you can make memories for people. That, I’m going to say to all the people that are listening. It’s a hard time. We’ve all found it very hard. If you’ve been up and down, just know that you’re in the company of all the rest of us. And what we have to do is fight the good fight. That’s where we are right now. And even if you think maybe your restaurant’s not going to make it all the way to the end, what you can be proud of is that, first of all, none of the stuff that we’re experiencing right now has anything to do with anything we did wrong.

We all were doing great stuff, and this just happened to us. But what we can do as restaurant people is fight the good fight. Don’t give up, fight all the way to the very end. If your restaurant is one that doesn’t make it all the way to the very end, mine might not either. And I’m just going to say that we are tough people, because anybody that works in the restaurant industry is a tough person. You don’t do this if you don’t like really hard work and daily grind, and all that sort of stuff. So we’re tough people and we can fight the good fight. And that’s what I’ve come to inside of myself. So I’m saying this out loud to a lot of people listening to this, but I’m going to tell you that it’s what I say to myself every single day.

[Josh Kopel]

Vet chef Rick Bayless, to see what the chef is working on now, visit you want to tell us your story, hear previous episodes, check out our video content or read our weekly blog. Go to That’s Thank you so much for listening to the show. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re there, please leave us a review. A special thanks to Yelp for helping us spread the word to the whole hospitality community. I’m Josh Kopel, you’ve been listening to Full Comp.

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