Mind Capsule: Sunday in Brooklyn

WHAT IS MIND CAPSULE?

Each memory of who we were in the past is kept neatly within its own mind capsule. The mind capsule is a treasure that holds lessons.

In the Mind Capsule columns, you will find tips and advice brought to you by individuals who are now looking back on their 20s and stating what they wish they had known then. These tips will expose you to the realities of growing up but also serve as a guide to paving your path towards adulthood.

 

What’s Going Down

This second Mind Capsule column will explore how you can view personal growth through passion, opportunity, time,  knowledge and adversity.

 


Sunday in Brooklyn

I sat down with Todd Enany and Adam Landsman, two out of the three masterminds behind Sunday in Brooklyn (instagram: @sundayinbrooklyn, the hip Williamsburg restaurant with a cool, rustic vibe. These innovators have successfully created a neighborhood restaurant that genuinely cares about their dishes, and even more so about their guests.

Before Landsman and Enany opened Sunday in Brooklyn along with the inventive head chef Jamie Young, the three were leading completely different lives. Landsman and Enany were both working in corporate operations at Major Food Group (MFG) while Young was chef de cuisine at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Atera, in Tribeca. As chief operating officer and director of operations, respectively, Landsman and Enany were crucial members of the team that helped MFG evolve into one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the U.S. Within the time span of seven years, MFG has opened eighteen restaurants and gained national attention due to Landsman’s and Enany’s unique styles and culinary skills. WOW.

Within those seven years, Landsman and Enanyn had learned all the ins and outs of opening restaurants so when the time came for them to try it themselves, they knew what it took to be successful.

 

Passion? Opportunity?

“I think opening a restaurant is the dumbest thing you can do. They typically fail and are very rarely successful.” Landsman continued, “but I think it was something that we were each passionate about.”

Listening to Landsman, I began to think: are we, as young people, expected to have a passion, or do we expect it from ourselves? When do we know we have found it?

Landsman went on to finish telling his personal experience: “So getting the opportunity to open our own restaurant and go all in it, without necessarily having our names associated with the success or failure of the restaurant, but rather our names be associated with the work that you’re putting into it it sorts of sets you up to be successful one way or the other because you’re going to give it everything and learn a lot. I think that was a huge opportunity to do it.”

How does passion relate then to opportunity? Could it have to do with a state of mind where opportunity pushes out the fear of failure and propels you forward?

It may be all wrong to go looking for passion. Maybe we should be more open to the opportunities that then contribute to our personal growth. Possibly, what Landsman is saying is to view our work in a broader way. If we view our work narrowly, we only are able to see failure or success. But, by viewing our work in a broader way, we see success in personal growth. Viewing a current focus in a panorama leads us to see more opportunities. It is a cycle of personal growth.

 

Time & Knowledge

What goes into deciding whether a career has reached its end point? Enany went on to say: “For me, I felt stifled by the people above me. I was done growing at that point, and the way you grow is by pushing yourself into new boundaries, not into some other structure. I think the only way that I was going to feel fulfilled in the workplace was by creating that workplace.

While talking to Enany, it became clear that not only is personal growth necessary for humans, but also time is a huge factor as well. Starting off, being young a lot of our opportunities involve growing under the direction of someone else. During this process, we begin to collect tools and experience, which is personal growth. This takes time. And everyone’s time for that is different. You need to know things to survive and thrive under your own direction. Enany had reached his point and took that step to becoming his own boss.

 

Appreciating Adversity

Enany shared the personal adversity that the trio had to face when opening up Sunday in Brooklyn. “We opened a week before election day. When the election came and went, all our hopes and dreams were sucked out of us, much like many Americans. In fact, we missed our projections by 75% and that’s when we had to lay off half of our staff. Adam and I were bussing tables, and I was the host every day and I was the back waiter every day serving tables, so we got real, real close to losing everything,” he said. “But again, at no point did Adam, Jamie, and the other partners say ‘that’s it’.

 

How do you see the positives in something that was that potentially catastrophic?

Landsman said: “I think the overcoming of the adversity that we faced in the beginning and the pendulum of where we were a couple of weeks after opening, to where we are now, just to fly bird’s eye view and look down to see where we were to where we are today, is unbelievable. If you told me that we would be where we are today then, there is no way I would have believed you”.

What I took from this is that adversity is only appreciated in retrospect. Once you step back and look at where you struggled and suffered, you have a sort of spiritual experience. Landsman describes this as flying bird’s eye view and looking down. You become the audience of your past self and your present self. You then appreciate the adversity because the connection from adversity to personal growth is clear. That’s when you feel proud of yourself.

Here,  Enany talks about this feeling of pride, when he says,  “I really like to see people enjoying what we created. When I walk by here and step outside, and I see 500 people waiting for this restaurant on Saturday or Sunday, I’m just like, ‘H**y sh*t. people like us. People like this thing that we created.’ I would have never felt like I had enough talent, you know, or that it would warrant this success.”

 

So knowing who you are now, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Landsman started by saying: “Work really really hard and give everything or don’t waste adversity. Through all those really challenging and really shitty times that’s when excellence really comes.”

Enany said: “I would say get dirty, understand what you’re getting into to get dirty, understand the position, the roles, the industry, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In my early career, I was so afraid to push myself more than I could have because I was afraid to fail. The worst case scenario is not that bad.

Through talking to people, we uncover so many topics: it’s overwhelming. I still have questions and things are still unclear. Being young, it is hard to place ourselves in someone’s story when we have just begun to experience our own adult life. This suggests that we need to look forward to our own opportunities and personal growth– and that this will take time. Still, we listen to the stories of others because they give us insights. When we think about their stories it brings us comfort to know what it’s like to grow up. Then our stories will begin.

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