The bright side of life
“Those who know me know I don’t take a whole lot seriously, which is not necessarily a good thing, I guess. But it’s not a terrible thing either,” says Black. “I love my family and I love my work but you’ve got to have a lot of laughs to help ease some of the stress that comes with any job. We’ve got to keep laughing, having some fun and sharing some of that awesome Cape Breton hospitality that we’re known for.”
Since opening the restaurant, Mike and Monica have gone on to create a number of other venues for sharing that trademark hospitality, including a five-bedroom bed and breakfast in a former convent and a bustling café and pastry shop which has garnered several dessert awards at local food festivals.
Both Mike and Monica wear a number of different hats for the three businesses. Mike cooks at the bistro and is usually the one who zips around town to pick up grocery and liquor supplies for the restaurant. Monica is the bookkeeper, the baker at the café and does breakfast at the B&B. They are also parents to three children. With so much going on, it’s no wonder Mike says no two days are ever the same.
“Being small, you don’t have the luxury of having people to do a specific job. It gets rid of the redundancy for sure. Sometimes you feel like the politician who is out rubbing elbows and kissing babies and the next day you’re the guy in the trenches banging out a busy day at the restaurant.”
Irons in the fire
When not busy tending to the restaurant or other properties, Black enjoys playing golf and hockey (“mainly for the cold beer at the end”) as well as spending time with the family. As for any new projects on the horizon, Mike smoothly evades the question, hinting only that he is currently working on “something that North Sydney is looking for right now.”
Black says that while Monica was the driving force for initially opening the restaurant due to his paralyzing fear of failure at the time, his great sense of humour and supportive family helped him realize that some things are worth the risk.
“Obviously we should use fear as a motivator and not be afraid to take a calculated risk. When we first started, I was a nervous wreck from fear and anxiety. Fortunately, through hard work and perseverance, things have worked out rather well and life is good.”
About the author:
Sean Moon is the managing editor of Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News.