Posted By Jim Milner
14 February 2015
Two years ago Elizabeth decided that there was no longer room enough in the office to display Nigel’s growing range of designs, and moved her office/showroom to a larger room on the other side of the workshop.
The old office had a large picture window overlooking the workshop next-door. Many visitors used to spend a great deal of time looking through it, fascinated by the sight of the three blacksmiths working there.
Andrew, Simon and Nigel
Nigel and Elizabeth usually come to supper with me on a Wednesday night. Unfortunately, I only know how to cook two dishes – omelettes and pancakes – so the menu, Chez Jim, is fairly limited.
Sometimes, it pays to specialise though – I’ve been told that my pancakes and omelettes are possibly the best in Yorkshire.
Nigel, Elizabeth & Sam chez Jim
One Wednesday, the conversation turned to how to use the redundant old office space, and I came up with a brilliant idea.
I said, "Moving the office was the worst move you’ve ever made. Looking through the window into the workshop was wonderful. I used to be fascinated watching Nigel, Andrew and Simon, each of them absorbed in making their own piece of work and oblivious to the fact that they were being watched – so much more entertaining than television. It’s great watching people work.
Why don’t you cash in on that wonderful window and turn the old office into a bistro? Enlarge the window, so that it runs the length of the whole wall, and make a long table in front of it so that all the diners have a good view of the workshop. You’ll soon have a full house – people will come from miles to eat in such an ambience in the middle of such beautiful countryside.
No one goes to garden centres to buy plants these days – they go to eat in the bistro. You should be cashing in on this lucrative market.
There’ll only be two dishes on the menu – omelettes and pancakes. They’ll be easy enough to cook in the little galley kitchen at the back of the office.
We’ll be targeting the evening trade as well as the breakfast and dinner market, so we need to be open from 8am until midnight. Nigel, Andrew and Simon will have to work shifts, as there should be at least one blacksmith working there at all times.
I’m far too busy to do the cooking, so Dawn and Sheena will have to do it. They should be able to manage to cook the omelettes and pancakes at the same time as taking telephone and email orders, passing them on to the blacksmiths and arranging for their delivery. Women are so much better at multi-tasking than men.
Then you should set up Andrew and Simon with their own Blacksmith’s Bistros in central Sheffield and Manchester.
They’ll only need a smallish smithy – a forge, an anvil and a few bits of red-hot steel to send sparks flying will be enough – but they will need a rather larger Bistro next door.
I should think there will soon be a chain of fast-food Blacksmith’s Bistros across the country to rival MacDonald’s.
We’ll run it as a franchise operation. My job will be to drive around the country collecting the sacks of cash and bringing them back here to count on the kitchen table. What do you think?"
My son Sam, who happened to be visiting from Coventry, said, “Great idea Dad, I’d love to have a night out with my friends in a cool place like that."
Sadly, neither Nigel nor Elizabeth agreed with him. Perhaps they lacked the necessary entrepreneurial business acumen to see the genius of this idea of mine?
And so, the old office is now just used as a storeroom and as an electrical workshop for wiring up the lamps and chandeliers.
So far, Nigel and Elizabeth haven’t taken up a single one of my many suggestions for diversifying their business with innovative ventures. They always seem to think that I’m only joking, and just laugh.
They would be millionaires now if they had taken up just a few of them, but they didn’t, and so they are not.
Serves them right really.
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