At the end of the day, Rice House is hell and glory for my husband Davy and me alone. Hell, because of the actual risk and budget involved. Glory, because it’s the start of new legacy for us as a family. Davy and I want to prove that it’s possible to stumble upon an opportunity and by humble means with our own two hands, turn it into a dream manifested.
But comparing what it’s like to run a business in Belgium versus in America, would be like what Wile E. Coyote is to The Road Runner. Belgium’s infamous for its red tape and complicated structure and processes, and overall slower pace of life. It’s not that Belgians are slow in mind, but there is no instant-anything as a lifestyle, compared to the States, where almost everything service-oriented is instant or “at least” within 24-hours.
There is no Amazonin Belgium! I’ve been living without Seamless and the always-open bodegas of Manhattan, and Duane Reade and CVS and Chinatown at 4am! But my life is different now. I miss little things about my New York life, but I love what is my life now in my little town of Evergem.
Especially being from New York, I’ve slowly lowered my expectations for anyone to hurry up and help me (except that one time I had a baby but then still, it took too long to get my epidural). Put simply, one of the side effects and beauties of living in a socialistic country is that…
Nobody is in no rush to do nothing for no one.
It’s probably a good thing because it would be harder otherwise, to get a moment like this captured by my hand…
Rice House: April 18, 2014
Rice House’s exterior got a makeover yesterday! Everything could have been done “yesterday” but it wasn’t. It doesn’t have to be.
Unlike in the States, there is no rat race or aggressive sales tactics here. Your own personal deadlines are you own and so you learn to set realistic ones given your surroundings. You don’t “demand to speak to the manager!” here because it’s just not that serious. Nothing is live or die when it comes to business transactions. They’re just business transactions. Everything is completed in a slow and civilized manner. I know this now. It’s taken me almost 3 years to adjust, and I’m still not all adjusted yet.
“When do you think it will be done? “How long will it take?” “Should I call back tomorrow?”
In the States, these questions and more are answered and followed-up on. Business is done. In Belgium, all you get is shoulder shrugging and an I don’t know we’ll have to see. So you wait. You wait a lot in Belgium.
For example, if you deposit cash at an ATM at the global bank you hold an account at, then the deposit is reflected in your account between 1 and 3 business days. These are banks with presence all over the world. True instant-banking is only beginning to make it’s way over here.
There is no instant-anything. I miss it but it’s just a part of living here. But if nobody’s breaking their necks, then that’s a good thing right?
We don’t want broken necks all over the place…except in cartoons maybe.
Wile E. Coyote never actually dies so I guess that’s a good thing for Belgium. It’s a good thing for Rice House. Davy and I, and our little Noah, are proud to bring to Ghent its first Korean eatery.
And when things get tough, this is what I remind myself and Davy to stay positive and less Looney Tunes.