So much has happened this year. We've had so much change, so much to adapt to, so much...hope. Change is good. Scary-but good. Adaptation is a part of life, a reality. Hope is that stuff you hang on to while you're adapting to change. You hope you've made the right decisions. You hope things turn out as you want them to in the end. Unfortunately, hope doesn't move mountains. The plans our beautiful God has laid out for us do not thrive on hope. His plans are made with love. His love for us is greater than any hope we can possibly have for ourselves. His plans overthrew our hope.
Six months ago, Jon & I decided to venture out on a journey. Three daughters in tow, Jon quit his job, we moved to the country, and we bought into a restaurant franchise. Crazy, right? We had incredible optimism about the restaurant. Jon has almost two decades of restaurant management experience under his belt. The numbers looked great. The building appeared fresh & new. The food was enjoyable. Even better, it is one of the only restaurants in town. SCORE!
We bought into the franchise, signed paperwork for restaurant ownership, sealed the deal on the lease, and took over September 1st. Jon & I were ready to conquer the world! Finally. His dream was turned into a reality & I was happy to help at the restaurant during school days and tend to the farm the days I didn't work. We had hope that we would be living the American Dream.
Sadly, to say we were 'fresh bait' to begin with would be an understatement. The previous owners of the restaurant are wealthy people. In fact, they own a multitude of businesses in town. So wealthy, they had the ability of using the restaurant as a back-yard diner of sorts. The eatery was treated as a place to feed their employees, their families, their friends. Their vast wealth provided them the opportunity to feed the town for practically nothing, all while gaining the appreciation of the citizens who can't afford to pay much anyway. They would provide high-end meats, sides, salads and sell them at a price that was actually lower than the wholesale cost. Essentially, they paid customers to eat at their establishment.
For reasons unknown to us, they woke up. They realized how much money was walking out the door & decided to sell. They admitted to Jon once that they had no idea how food costs work. Obviously. Once Jon & I got deep into the paperwork, we had to make changes. Why offer costly foods and undercut ourselves? No one can possibly expect high-end steaks, shrimp, etc at an establishment such as this. It isn't our foundation. It isn't what we're about.
We tried to take things back to the 'corporate' way and it backfired. Badly. The customers protested. The regulars were no longer in attendance. The town balked at having to pay for their food. 'When ______ owned this place we never paid for this!" The previous owner came into the restaurant and literally belittled Jon in front of a multitude of people. Several times. Accused us of being cheap, called Jon a jack-ass, said we refused any of their help. They told friends & neighbors to eat elsewhere, in neighboring towns. Seems as though when you're in a small town... You do what those with money tell you to do. Sales declined. Badly. We're not cheap. We simply can't afford to pay people to eat at our restaurant.
We've been told this was a 'plan' all along. They were years from ending their franchise contract so their best option was to sell the place, see that it gets run into the ground, new owners flee, then open a place under their family name (a place without any franchise restrictions). Pretty twisted-right? I refused to give in. My thought process was-stand up for what's right! We've bought into this place and it's legally ours. We'll kill them with kindness. There goes that hope word again. The determination in me fizzled over months of fighting. We're done fighting. We've decided to give it back to corporate (who has been ZERO help with this mess). We've decided to stop hoping and go down a different path.. A clearer path that promises a brighter future.
Here's the good news: our marriage is stronger than ever. We're not moving from the farm. I've been lucky enough to land a (possibly temporary) job starting in January. Jon has two possibly great leads on employment. Maybe God led us through this mess for the farm itself. I know He put us through thus journey for a good reason, even though the reason isn't clear right at this moment. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He has my back.. Even though others haven't. I know He is looking out for me & mine.
So, our adventure continues. Our story is still being told. Our employment destiny still unclear.
However.....our family is bound that much tighter because of 'The Incident of 2013' (as Jon has begun to call it). Please pray for our family.. As of January 6 the restaurant will no longer ours. Strangely enough, an odd sense of relief fills our house and we look forward to our next adventure!