Mike Bausch knows the pain most Tulsa restaurants, and just about all small businesses, have suffered this year.
Bausch and his brother Jim own a group of Tulsa restaurants that includes Andolini’s Pizza, STG Gelaterias and Prossimo Italian Ristorante. Between the economic downturn and the isolation measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Bausch enterprises have taken some lumps, says Mike.
But they’ve also found ways to survive and even improve.
“When you can handle what should be your operational worst and you learn some way to thrive from it, it makes you stronger,” Bausch said.
Bausch added some of what he learned during the early stages of the pandemic to his experience from 16 years in the pizzeria business in the Tulsa area to produce a book published earlier this year.
“Unsliced: How to Stay Whole in the Pizzeria Industry“ is not a cookbook, Bausch is quick to say. Nor is it a history of Andolini’s. It’s a serious book about the restaurant business — and, to some extent, all small business.
“I can tell you there are some basic fundamentals that do not (change),” Bausch said. “Humility, system creation and making sure results are valued above effort are very, very all-encompassing to business.”
Bausch has lived and worked on both coasts and has contacts throughout the nation. He says Tulsa is unusual for the extent of its local restaurant ownership and its environment for small business.
“This is Austin without the crappy traffic and lame people,” he said. “It is a beautiful city where entrepreneurship is not only allowed; it’s encouraged and revered.”
COVID, said Bausch, “forced us, at least for a moment, to pause and reflect on what we could benefit from and also how to utilize what we have in front of us. It forced us to slow down on some things, which we probably needed.
“No one is thriving,” he said, “but we’re at least not down and out. I can say with confidence we will get through this and we will be ready for the next hurdle that comes our way.”