Restaurant owner Debra Bankes stays hungry

In 1 on January 31, 2009 at 3:39 am

What staying hungry means to me

by Debra Bankes

Stay Hungry

Don’t believe me?  That’s ok.  I’ll have your tummy growling in 60 seconds.

So, you have a business.  Things a bit tough?  Well, it can get a lot tougher if you don’t keep charging like a bull.

Here’s one of my stories……..

Got tired of the measly corporate meals.  Decided to quit and buy a Pizza Restaurant.  Always wanted to be “self-employed.”

The first three years were brutal.  Couldn’t even afford a bar of soap.  Now, we were up against the big boys.  Pizza Hut, Domino’s, you know.

I would sit in an empty Restaurant crying for customers.  That didn’t help.

We tried everything. Couponing the neighborhoods in an old Datsun pick-up .……with no air conditioning……. in Florida.

Nothing was working except for my sweat glands.

Our old Middleby Marshall Conveyor oven heated the kitchen up to 108 degrees during the summer.  Our two employees couldn’t tolerate the heat.  I had to.  So, we took kitchen towels, soaked them and stuck them in the freezer.  That was our new hat – to keep our body temperatures down.

We were exhausted and beaten.  I believe it was about 2 ½ years after we got into the “pizza business.” that we had had enough.  I decided to close the doors.  It was on a Sunday.  I called my two employees and told them.

Then I sat a cried some more.

Getting REAL HUNGRY means a lot.  Like ditching your pride.  I called the couple that we had bought the business from.  We had a Promissory Note with them.  We were in hock about $35,000.00.  I told the couple that we needed to meet with them.

Now, we’ve always paid our bills and never asked folks for anything.  But, this was our “bottom.”

I took the Restaurant keys and slid them across the table and said, “We’ve tried everything.  We cannot make this work.”

Then, I cried some more; embarrassed and feeling like a TOTAL FAILURE.

The couple said, “Maybe we can work something out.”
My HUNGER for the Restaurant kept me in the room.  To listen.  I felt like a beggar.  But, I WAS HUNGRY!  I wanted my little pizza shop.

It would have been a lot easier to just mail the keys and “give up.”  No, I had to put my pride away.  I had to face the beast – FAILURE.

Tummy growling yet?

Betcha wanna know what happened, eh?

Well, this wonderful couple asked if we “could make it work by reducing the Promissory Note.”  They knew how hard we had worked and tried to keep the doors open.

I cried.  I crawled under the table.  I was a mess.

We accepted their kind “reduction on the Promissory Note.”  The couple slid the keys back to me.

Now, I had the same old challenge to keep the doors open.


The beast was not going to defeat me, again.

We’re in our thirteenth year.  If you want to know “how I did it,” I’d be more than happy to show you how to do it.  But you better be HUNGRY.

The website for Deb’s restaurant:

You may contact Deb:

Deb’s Partnering Sites:


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