We had the good fortune of connecting with Lori Hassler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lori, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This one resonates quite a bit with me. The Farish House is my second restaurant, and I’ve experienced both sides. In 2008/9, I faced the end of my lease at my first restaurant, Radda Caffe-Bar during the onset of what we now know as “The Recession.” Coincidentally, as our numbers were down 30%, my mom also had been diagnosed with a brain disease, my daughter was 2 years old, and my Grandma was in late stage Alzheimer’s. I looked at what was before me, and, tried to be realistic. Though I didn’t know how long the economy would suffer, I accepted that I did not have the time as one person, though I always had help, to do justice to a business, family, and potentially have to borrow money to continue. I chose not to renew a lease. I had to let go of my image of self as a chef and restauranteur, and thought I would be devastated. However, as we closed, I felt an incredible relief. I took care of family for a year or so, then started a career in wine sales. Though lucrative, that was another career I chose to give up once I started looking seriously at restaurant spaces ten years later. Once I found The Farish House, it really woke me up to possibilities, got me excited about what I could do and made me realize I still had serious thoughts about opening a restaurant again. I was approaching 50, and knew that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. The funniest part of this, in a somewhat sarcastic way, is that it was 2019. So, yes! After one year open, we faced the pandemic. However, our first year was a textbook success. We grew steadily, established some regular clientele, we were on track for reasonable, steady growth. We did our best during that time, developed to-go business, created “Drive-Thru Thursdays,” and came back to open fully as soon as we could, expanding our patio. We took advantage of the PPP program- it really helped us see 2020 through. Come June, 2021, we hit our 3 year point at which I had my first lease option. You see, I was being cautious, because, “What if there’s another recession? (or a Pandemic??haha.)” I looked at our numbers. 2021’s numbers were great. We actually had grown, and added employees. Despite my own ovarian cancer diagnosis in September of 2020, my team and business held strong. It sounds like a movie-of-the-week at this point, but so much happened at this time. Looking at numbers, the people around me and our will to succeed, and the fact that we had overcome so much already, I chose not to give up, and renewed our lease. I had legitimate reasons to give up. But I also had so many reasons to keep going. I love the work. I adore the industry. I am lucky to have incredibly caring family and employees. We were all able to keep doing what we chose to do for a living for some wonderful people who grace our business. After having every opportunity to give up, I simply did not want to. Will is a powerful thing. Backed up by realistic numbers, it is given a backwind. How do you know whether to keep going or give up? Temper your will, your ambition, your ego with an objective look at numbers. Be realistic about both your circumstances and your passion, ability and setting. You’ll find you just know what you have to do.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I see now that every experience lends itself to the next. I studied biology, then languages in college. Worked as a phone translator after school and travelled a lot. I worked in restaurants. From my travels, I grew to love the food and lifestyle of Europe. I started cooking for others. I started to cater events privately. Then opened a small catering company. A few years later, a friend of a friend needed to unload a restaurant space. I took the leap. It was trial by fire. I learned so much in such a short time. 5 years later, I began working with wine and liquor distributors. I worked with hundreds of restaurants, saw so many styles of service, leadership, organization, delved into the world of wine. I learned so much there. I chose to leave to go back to restaurant life. I felt it was unfinished. I believe I kept my mind and ears open to learn from others, and I haven’t been afraid to take chances and step up to take on positions and experiences that were new to me. There’s always a learning curve, but you have to do the work, and enjoy some part of it to do it well. Being deeply interested in what you are doing feeds your work. The food and wine traditions of the old world have endless nooks and crannies to delve into. The restaurant business is a constantly moving, engaging daily grind. I have a quote on my wall by artist Modigliani: “Tiens pour sacré tout ce qui put exciter ton intelligence, affirmed -t’il, et depasse-toi sans cesse.” (“hold sacred all that excites your intellect, affirm it and go beyond yourself non-stop”- a poor but succinct translation). I’m doing what I love with like-minded people, and sharing it with our guests by creating a warm, inviting atmosphere in which we treat them to age-old tried and true recipes.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
OOOh, this is a fun question. In no particular order. We’d have to eat and drink at FnB, Glai Baan followed by Coffee at Nomada, Valentine, wine at Far Away, Tea at the Phoenician, Los Dos Molinos, maybe try old school Lon’s, Durant’s, Coach House, Sugar Bowl: places that have not changed for years for good reason. Take in views at the Japanese Gardens, A Different Pointe of View, climbing Piestewa Peak and Echo Canyon, the Botanical Gardens. A spa day at Sanctuary (and the views) would be dreamy. There are so many new places I haven’t tried that I should, so many great new wine shops, boutique bars like Garden Bar, restaurants like Vecina. Most likely though, and old friend and I would probably not get that much in, just talk for hours.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My supportive husband, Eric. My mentor Mike Lopercio. The amazing fellowship of women entrepreneurs in AZ Women in Food, our local chapter of Let’s Talk Womxn.

Website: https://farishhouse.com

Instagram: @thefarishhouse

Facebook: The Farish House

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.