Restaurant Wars | The Sentimentalist | The 3 Biggies

Restaurant Wars

Dear Micah,

A big dream for my husband and me has been to open a restaurant.  My father-in-law said he’d co-sign a loan for us but I don’t know if I want him that involved in our business.  He’s a nice man but he tends to try to run things.  We can do it ourselves if we start small, but my husband wants a higher end place.  I say we should start small and work up.  If we make money we can always open a higher end eatery later and we won’t have his dad in our affairs.  My husband says that if we take the help now, and open a better kind of place now we will make bigger money faster and can pay off the loan and have Dad’s part over with.  Both arguments are reasonable so tell me what you think.



Dear Debra,

I have got to go with you on this one for several reasons.  The most important one would have to be that this economy is a poor one to begin a new restaurant.  New restaurants have a really high failure rate.  The last thing your family needs is a huge bank loan you have defaulted on that your father-in-law gets stuck with.  I’m not trying to intimate that you are doomed for failure, but it is a reasonable, assumable conclusion.

It’s always been a dream of mine to open a place, too.  Of course, I don’t want a high-end place, I want a diner kind of environment where I could cook my grandmothers’ old recipes and give everyone high blood pressure and dangerous cholesterol levels–you know, the good kind of food!  There are so many high-end restaurants in this town, do we really need another one?

In fact,  since you wrote in on this topic, let me vent about something and perhaps my rant might caution you and your husband as you plan what type of restaurant you want to create.  I am tired of restaurants that charge “high-end” prices while delivering mediocre food.  Just because your restaurant is pretty and located in a higher-end area does not mean that your food justifies a high-end price.  I have never minded spending a few bucks for a meal if that meal is worth it, but my evening is often ruined when the bill comes and I have had to pay a small fortune for food that didn’t even measure up to what I could have eaten had I gone to an Applebee’s!

There are several really great restaurants in Birmingham.  There are also several bad restaurants that charge way too much for their mediocre food.  I have learned to just stick to the places that I know I will never be disappointed in.

Debra, if you open a high-end restaurant, you need to make sure that your chef is serving up something that people will come back for time and time again.  Not everyone can create another Highland’s or Hot and Hot.  If you can’t measure up, please do not try.  Just stick to a lower to middle-of-the-rung level and you might have success.  And do not allow your father-in-law to co-sign for you.  That is a big mistake.


The Sentimentalist


My wife is a hoarder.  Not like those crazy ones on TV, she’s a clean and organized hoarder but she’s still a hoarder.  She won’t throw away anything she thinks has sentimental value and it seems like almost everything does.  She has saved almost all of our kids clothes and she won’t part with even one crate of them.  She has a bunch of stuff from her mom that she keeps in boxes.  She never uses anything, just stores it.  She packs away every kind of keepsake you can imagine.   She keeps all of our Christmas, anniversary, and birthday cards.  She keeps old quilts and blankets.  She keeps pieces of furniture from dead relatives that she never intends to use or sit out in the house.  Our garage is full of crates, boxes, and stacked up furniture.  I guess I should be glad her hoarding is confined to the garage and hasn’t spilled over into the house, but I’d like to be able to park my car in the garage again.



Dear Marc,

I don’t think your wife qualifies as a hoarder since she isn’t saving old paper plates, used Ziplocs, and she isn’t storing bags of her own urine in a closet like those nasty people on the TV show do.  Your wife is just saving sentimental objects from her life and loved ones.  I can relate.  I have five crates of baby clothes, toys, and keepsakes from my son and he isn’t even two years old yet.  I also have a closet full of boxes of various things from my parents, and my grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ that I have no intention of ever parting with either, so I am on your wife’s side.

These items help us to feel continuously connected to those we’ve loved the most.  It may seem silly to less sentimental people, but it makes us feel like we haven’t lost everything when we’ve lost them.  For example, in my grandmother’s old kitchen, there were always several little ceramic figurines in her window sills and scattered around on the walls.  I have those now, wrapped up and stored in a closet.  They’re awful and tacky, but a couple of times when I’ve needed to feel close to her, I have taken them out and looked at them.  In a small way it’s like I get to be transported back to that old kitchen again for a few moments and I feel her again in my life. Silly? Maybe, but it works.

In my kitchen, I have an old ugly cabinet that doesn’t go with anything that I use to store all of my baking materials for making desserts.  This was my grandmother’s cabinet.  It needs scraping and refinishing and it’s something of an eyesore in my house, but if my house was on fire, you’d see me lifting that thing up and getting it to safety in the street.  Some things that appear to have no value to some are extremely important to other people.  Take the crates of clothes for example.  Each one of my little boy’s outfits that I have saved holds a special meaning.  I know that this shirt was the one he wore on his first Easter egg hunt, and those shoes were the ones he learned to walk in.  That other pair of shoes were bought for him by his grandmother, and that bib was the one he wore the first time he ate solid food.  Silly milestones to anyone else but me, but to me they are important.  One day his child might wear that shirt on his first Easter egg hunt.  Probably not, but it will be there as an option if he wants it.

So rent yourself a small storage unit so that your wife can move her treasures out of your garage, and thank your lucky stars that you have a spouse that cares as much as she does.  I bet there are quite a few trinkets from her life with you stored in those boxes too.


The 3 Biggies

Dear Micah,

My friends at work and I like reading your stuff.  You are so funny sometimes with your opinions.  We don’t have any problems to solve but we just wondered how you felt about some different subjects.   They’re the biggies but they haven’t come up in your writing before and we wondered what you thought.

1.              What’s your stand on abortion?

2.              What about religion?

3.              What are your political views?

The Gang at Work


Dear Gang at Work,

Damn, you did choose the biggie questions.  You’re right, those don’t come up too often in this column, but I never shy away from giving my opinion so I won’t shy away from answering these.

Abortion: I used to wish that abortion could be retroactive and I could hand pick the people it applied to, but since my son was born, I have realized that abortion is a more complicated subject than I ever imagined.  In fact, I don’t really comment on this one and it’s not because I am copping out on it.  I think I have proven that I am not afraid to spout my opinions left and right.

I bow out of this subject for a simple reason: I am never going to understand what it feels like to carry a child inside of me, whether wanted or unwanted, so there is no possible way for me to speak intelligently on a subject that I cannot physically understand.  In fact, I say that when it comes to the subject of abortion, just let the women of the nation figure that out together.  I think it’s just a little ridiculous to sit and listen to a man speak about the subject when he can’t possibly understand the chemical, emotional, and physical complexities that go on in a woman’s body and mind during pregnancy.  Let the women of the world talk this one out.  I’m not going to sit on a panel to debate and discuss quantum mechanics and I am not going to sit on a panel to discuss abortion, either.

Religion: I think that religion is the most powerful thing on earth.  It has killed countless people and it has helped countless people.  Everyone believes their religion is right and the other guy’s religion is crazy, and no one ever understands the guy that has no religion at all.  I think that everyone’s beliefs should be considered sacred to them, and I try to be respectful of everyone’s beliefs (to their face anyway).  Sometimes people believe in something so kooky I just have to talk about them, but for the most part I try to be nice.

I think that some people need something to believe in and some do not.  Some people use their faith as a battery to keep their love, their humanity, and their inner strength charged and renewed.  Some people use their faith as a weapon to harm other people.  People are good and people are bad and dependent upon which category they fall into determines the way they will wield their religion.  Perhaps we blame religion too much for the behaviors of bad people.  I have been guilty of that in the past.  I held religion accountable for the actions of ignorant people.  That wasn’t fair.  Now that I’m older, I get that.

Today, I am not particularly religious, but that doesn’t mean that I am not spiritual.  I think the most important lesson that religion teaches us is the Golden Rule.  We should all strive to love each other and treat each other the way we want to be treated ourselves.  If we could all master that, none of us would fight anymore about much of anything.

Politics: My politics do not match any political party out there, but I think it matches most people’s beliefs.  I am for most of the things people are for and against most of the things people are against; my problem is there isn’t really a political party that falls right into line with what I believe.  Typically, I lean towards the Democratic party because of social issues and environmental issues.  I do share many fiscal beliefs with the Republican party, but for me, the social issues and the environmental issues trump the fiscal ones, therefore my vote has to be cast as to what is most important to me personally.

If that isn’t specific enough for you, I’ll give you a short list of my political beliefs:   I don’t like it when lazy people ride the system.  I do not approve of government waste.  I don’t like paying a @#$%-load of taxes while others, both rich and poor, skate by virtually untouched by tax.  I do not like that we are held hostage by health insurance. I think that our veterans and our elderly have worked hard and sacrificed a lot for us and I don’t want to see their benefits ever cut.  I would like the rights of my little family to match the rights everyone else gets.  I’d like to see more done to entice car companies to make more electric or hybrid cars and let us get off the oil dependency.  I would love to see our tax system overhauled and simplified.  I would also like to see heavy fines laid down on burger joints that automatically add cheese to burgers even when you’ve specifically asked for it plain.  Why have hamburger and cheeseburger on the menu if you’re always going to make it a cheeseburger.  Some of us do not like cheese!  So I hope I told you all you wanted to know.  If you were trying to put me on the spot with the biggie questions most people avoid, congratulations, you did, but I hope I answered them well.

2 Responses to “Restaurant Wars | The Sentimentalist | The 3 Biggies”

  1. Dawn Key says:

    Micah – just a note to thank you for the wonderful job you do writing this column. You answer with grace, intelligence, sincerity, thought provocative common sense, and wit. Standing round of applause!!! Love you!!

  2. Cherise says:

    Today, I went on a first date with a guy I really like. He brought up that there was a person staring at us from a nearby table. That person was my mom. FML

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