September 20, 2017
Twenty five years ago today, James, Mark, Chris Heinritz and Cameron Stainton gave Herbie Kauvar a check (basically all the money they had) and signed a note for a whole lot more. We were between 24 and 28 years old with no restaurant experience and James having the only business experience, he managed a Frank’s garden center in Philadelphia for a year. We paid ourselves a salary of $25k with free food and beer. We were set. As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss”. Hard work, ingenuity and perseverance along with asking a lot of questions were the traits that got us through until we got our arms around the business.
By 1995 we were ready to put our stamp on the place with a $250k remodel. Bringing back Llloyd Kavich (the artist), really helped connect a lot of the history for us and made us recognize the significance of The Sink’s history. People love this place. There is something about a person’s memories of their formative years that can be so powerful. It is amazing how wasted hours of hanging out in a dark bar listening to music, drinking beer and flirting are forever etched in people’s minds as the best times of their lives. The Sink has been and will continue to be the place those memories were formed and where they can reconnect with them. Many marriages were the result of that flirting. One will occur this weekend between two old employees. As owners of this repository of memories, our job has been to not screw it up.
We recognized early on that having 60% or more of our sales coming from the bar was neither a sustainable model nor one we wanted to live. Slowly we have been able to bring the food along and change with the times. We now have almost 70% of our sales coming from food and late night bar sales are only about 11%. Its not as rowdy as it once was around here but I think we have just matured a bit. Being visited by President Obama and getting on tv with Guy Fieri are the things that just seem to come with the territory. Unbelievable how we fell into this. Now, walking downstairs from my office for a cup of soup and seeing Bill Walton standing in the front room somehow now doesn’t faze me. Being regarded as one of the best bar/restaurants in the country by numerous publications, it comes with the territory.
We will forever be indebted to Herbie for choosing us to carry on what he spent 34 years creating. Our original ten year plan passed long ago. We charted a course and are just sailing downwind now. Tomorrow we will celebrate our five year anniversary at West Flanders. To those who have been with us for most of those five years, it is a monumental achievement. Twenty five years seems unfathomable but you have to get to five first.