(This something I wrote a few years ago to set the record straight. It has been buried with no link on my website ever since.)

Many times I have been presented with incorrect theories as to why we left the Rock Inn from people who seemed to not realize they were talking to the one and only authority on the subject. Perhaps, even my wife ,Elaine, does not  know exactly why I decided it was time to move on.. It was my call and this is why I made it.

The biggest misconception was that our landlord, Jack Riley, raised the rent so high that we could no longer afford to stay there. While it is true that he wanted $1,000 more a month than I wanted to pay, we could have afforded it.

We had an option in our original 3-year lease, to sign up at $5000 for another 3 years,and then $6,500 for the next three years after that. After seeing the realities of the business I determined that original agreement was more than I wanted to pay. So rather than signing up for the second 3 year term, I went month-to-month and tried to get Jack to renegotiate. After 8 months,  he finally said pay $5500 and sign a three year lease or get out in 10 days and that was his perogative. He could not understand why I would opt to leave rather than pay his price. The truth is I had a lot of reasons that had nothing to do with his price.

The biggest one was as simple as wanting to do better at the most important role in our lives. We have 4 kids who never saw us. When we got into the Rock our oldest was 13 and our baby was only 7. During the 4 years there, we did not have more than maybe 10 family dinners and not once were we home for a Friday or Saturday night. The only time I spent  with my children is when they worked down at the Rock. When deciding whether to sign another 3 year lease or not, that was the biggest factor … by far.

Another huge factor was the industry itself. I could see a big difference in the ring-outs on a weekend night from when we started to when we ended. In the beginning people simply drank more. As time wore on and the cops became more and more determined to

inforce the dui law, it truly affected our bottom line. That was a trend I did not see going away.

In connection with this there was the moral dilemma of being in a business that profited from putting our customers at risk. The more they drank the more money we made which put them at more risk of getting a dui which no one can afford. The regulars were our friends and we did not want to see them suffer and we did what we could to look after them, but often they were their own worst enemy and we were there to help them be just that. That was something we never got used to.

Another deciding factor was simply quality of life. While I did not mind working almost 80 hours a week to make the place succeed, I also realized that is the way workaholics are and that it was not healthy. Especially when the place you work is a bar and part of your job is having a good time with the customers.

Many people think that we simply failed in business and that no one could make it at that location. The Plantation locale at Sprague and Vista has seen a lot of failure in the past 20 years. One business neighbor believed the current occupant, Club Max, is number 16.

Ripley’s, which came right after us, was open about 6 months. Since Rose Townsend passed away in 1986, no one that  I  know of has made it as long as two years. We set the record at 3 years, 8 months and we left not because we failed, or that Jack raised the rent

too high. That location is tough because of the age and size of the building. But we proved it can go if you are willing to dedicate your life to it. But there in lies the rub: after nearly four years I was no longer willing to dedicate my life, my wife’s life and our family’s life to making the Rock Inn succeed.

We were well on our way to getting established and were making money when we closed, but I had come to the conclusion that the high price for success at that location was more than a father of four should pay. I look at it that Jack did me a favor by wanting more than I was willing to pay. It cost us a lot financially and emotionally to walk away but it was a decision I have never second guessed.

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