Stuart Anderson grew up during the Great Depression, but his family did not see the poverty most did at the time. His father was a doctor and inventor of medical . They had two fancy Cadillacs in the garage and several servants to wait on the family. This was his accustomed lifestyle.
Stuart tried to join the Army Air Force after Pearl Harbor but was denied entrance due to lack of depth perception. However, after attending USC he was drafted. He served as a tank driver in France in winter. It was cold. Five men were in one tank. They would sometimes be without showers for weeks. Stuart describes seeing the first black soldiers. They came and set up shower tents for the soldiers. Each man was alloted a 2 minute shower.
Chapter 2 is chock full of great business statistics for restarauters to be. The most important bit of advice: If you gain a little weight from all that eating, just hang around with fat people and you'll feel much better. His wit and 'wisdom' is great fun. On a more serious note, other chapters include more important tips such as, "Always remember, it's hard to fire a member of your family without causing hard feelings." He shares his heart about relationships. It is hard to have a social life and/or family when owning a restaurant(s). Stuart went through two divorces before finding the love of his life in his wife and best friend Helen. Helen worked for Stuart, then became his life partner. Together they opened new restaurants, met with friends (who mostly were other people in the restaurant business or its vendors), and most importantly had fun.
One day John Wayne stopped by to meet Stuart in his RV. He heard about how great a design Stuart's RV had and he wanted to look at it to get ideas. They had a drink, talked, and planned to meet again someday. That plan never did go through, but it was neat to hear about this chance encounter with a movie star icon. He mentioned that John Wayne believed in right wing politics. Stuart agreed with him wholeheartedly. However, he also agreed with his left wing patrons as well. He never did tell us what he believes. We will probably never know.
Stuart is just such a likeable guy. The book has family pictures from when he was a boy, his Army picture, grandchildren, even his dog. They are interspersed throughout the book. Whenever Stuart thought of a good tip for business, he shared it. This book is not a 'do this and this will happen' style. It is a 'Get to know me and my life. Get to know some important business information. Get a good laugh. Try these recipes.' kinda book. I had a hard time putting it down.
I have no intention of opening a restaurant, although the desire had been a dream of mine off and on since I was sixteen. Whether you want to open a restaurant, a bar, or just learn about a neat old guy (I know from his writing Stu wouldn't be offended by this), you'll want to read Corporate Cowboy.
I feel like my grandfather (Stu is now 90) set down and wrote all his important thoughts personally to me so that I would really know him. I hope one day I can sit down with him and ask a few more questions. I'd love to see more family photos. I'd love to get a taste of his wit in person. I'd love to get a few more recipes, and most important I'd love to say thanks for his memoir.