NY Restauranteur Couples Often Fail In Business And Relationships

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From The New York Post
By Cynthia Kilian

June 6, 2007 -- TOO many cooks spoil the broth. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

The kitchen can be a cruel place - and never more so than when you and your significant other are making a living off it.

"People always think they want to open a restaurant because it's going to be glamorous or it's going to be fun or it's going to be social," says Sarma Melngailis. "They don't always think about, you know, changing diapers."

She and boyfriend Matthew Kenney opened raw-food eatery Pure Food and Wine on Irving Place in 2004. By the next summer, their breakup had led to a gossip-page feeding frenzy complete with accusations of grapefruit pelting. Much of Pure Food's current staff witnessed the hubbub, which Melngailis describes as like "mom and dad getting a divorce."

And just like with mom and dad, it was for the best. Kenney took Pure's chef and opened his own place, Heirloom.

"When he left, he pretty much sucked the negative energy out of the space," says Melngailis. "All of a sudden, it was kind a big relief. The kitchen got better, the restaurant got better, and everything felt right."

Tango’s Take
At least the Post hasn’t lost its way with words, though we were hoping for a longer list of cooking clichés. Couples who work together can expect to tackle a unique set of problems. This is particularly true for a restaurant where the owner-operators have to be married to the business (and each other). Add to this the massive failure rate of eateries and you have a recipe (buh-dum-pah!) for disaster. On top of that, who’s responsible for preparing supper at home after a long day over the oven? And who gets to claim that they’re bringing home the bacon? Thank you, we’ll be here all week. The nine o’clock show is completely different from the seven o’clock.

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