Here I am again.
It’s time to set the record straight about my restaurant history and you’re getting this information straight from the horse’s mouth – me, Raymond Gallagher.
I was born in Chicago in 1947. My mother, father and their nine children moved west to Oakland, California in 1949.
I was 13 years old when I had my first restaurant job bussing tables and washing dishes at the Cork and Steak Restaurant in Jack London Square. When I was fifteen I had two jobs, one as a barback at the Elegant Farmer and the other in the Oakland Produce Market a few blocks away. It was at this time that I really felt the heat and passion for restaurants when I received my “formal” cooking instruction at Diamond Jim’s Steakhouse on Broadway in Oakland.
When I was 17 years of age the concept of ownership was explained to me by my mentor Victor Barulich, the founder of BiRite Foodservice Distributors. With my savings, his guidance and the confidence he instilled in me, I opened a sandwich shop in the San Francisco financial district across from the Bank of America World Headquarters Building. Some of my first customers were those in the construction trade, as well as employees of Wells Fargo, E.F. Hutton, Crocker Bank, and the Pacific Stock Exchange. Featured items on my menu were a pastrami sandwich and a beer for $1.00, and a donut with a cup of coffee was twenty-five cents! Sales were brisk and I was able to build Ray’s Donuts into a family-owned business of twelve operations in San Francisco in the late 60’s early 70’s. I then had the good fortune to leverage my company and to be bought out by a regional donut chain – Rolling Pin Donuts.
In 1971, consolidating my resources, I was able to purchase the Lake Merritt Bakery and Coffee Shop. I also pursued another interest and got into a different “game”. I was 24 when I began my career in commercial real estate.
The Lake Merritt Bakery and Coffee Shop and I were a wonderful combination. We were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and I wanted to work every one of those hours. We were famous for our Fried Chicken dinner which was available breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-hours. And on Sundays, we developed a following of very supportive guests. My next venture was to open two Bertola-style family restaurants. Dinners included a bowl of minestrone soup, salad, hot baked bread, fresh sautéed vegetables, pasta, entrée, and spumoni ice cream. For $1.50 you could have a complete chicken dinner; and Prime Rib was a splurge for $2.95. Cocktails were fifty cents!! During this period my real estate interests were beginning to generate returns.
In 1976, I met Malcolm Stroud at Scott and Lombard Streets near one of my properties in San Francisco. A deal was made and I took over the expansion of Scott’s Restaurants into the East Bay – Oakland, Walnut Creek and the Behring Museums at Blackhawk in Danville.
My success means very little to me if I fail to exercise the second part of Victor Barulich’s mentorship and that is to teach and to give back. I encourage my employees to push themselves and to reach beyond the expectations people may have of them. I teach them new skills to help them grow and I mentor those that demonstrate a desire to excel.
One such young man, though not an employee, is Adel Ali of East Bay Glass. I have taken him under my wing because not only is he a hard worker, but he’s also very intelligent and highly motivated to provide for his family, build his business, and support his community. He understands, as many people close to me do, that it is not in my DNA to choose the path of least resistance. I can’t simply walk away when times are difficult. Difficulties present opportunities to succeed. I’m going to continue to invest in and improve Scott’s Restaurants and secure jobs for my staff. I am passionate about my family, employees, guests, friends, and associates – I don’t give up.
And on that note – I’ll see you when we reopen.
Founder, Scott’s Restaurant