Yesterday, on my 25th Birthday, I lost my job.

I have had two jobs. I lost the one that makes me smile.

The Wine Bar, a family-owned company, had not been in the best straits. The business started as a deli, and while sandwiches thrived during the day, the business was lacking during the evening hours. The Owner, who was personally guaranteed for the five-year lease, was desperate to find an alternative money-making option. As The Owner’s nephew was trained (and talented) in the fine-dining culinary world, The Wine Bar began. The double-sided business would have closed without evening revenue.

I started working there a week after its inception. We lost money every month. With only fifteen tables and a Minnesotan dinner-at-6:00 (7:00 on weekends) mentality, we were never going to make an excessive profit. The restaurant, however, did have a successful cult following with praises spewed throughout the Twin Cities area. I would hear of The Chef’s talent when getting my hair cut or shopping at the liquor store. And although The Owner never lost as much as he would if The Wine Bar wasn’t open, he didn’t rationalize the potential or opportunity costs in that way. The tension between The Chef and The Owner grew, blame was dispersed, and yesterday, The Owner fired The Chef.

Although we have enough stock in the freezer to continue for a few weeks, The Owner was adamant that The Chef leave immediately. He even escorted him to the door to make sure he didn’t “try to steal anything” and hoped to “never see him again in his life.”

I am gone too. I won’t work there without The Chef. Especially since The Owner is going to continue the concept –a chef-driven, bi-monthly menu –without a real chef; he can’t afford one. And I knew for a few weeks that I would be gone eventually, was even somewhat looking forward to the free time, but I wanted the opportunity to say good-bye and to give out my contact info. I’ve shared dinner with these people for over two years –sitting with them at their booth, drinking out of their wine glass, bouncing their babies on my hip so the parents can use both hands to cut their steak. I’ve shared my life with them and they did the same.

The Wine Bar employees, clientele and The Chef became family. Not just friends or drinking buddies, but we were family. I genuinely liked being there. I obtained so many friends. I became a Work Wife, dubbed by The Chef’s real wife, as her and I share the same dry tolerance for The Chef’s antics. I gained a Work Boyfriend, a guy who can still make me smile and blush even while living in another state. I have extra parents as at least three different couples refer to me “like a daughter.” It’s hard. I am going to miss everyone so much.

The end of an era. It has to lead to a new beginning … doesn’t it?  Even though it wasn’t on my terms, losing a job doesn’t need to be negative … right?

And so I bid 25, with a cocky chin-lift: Whaddup. What else ya got.

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