Preserve restaurant owners juggle work and family

Family Life Hoffmans WMichelle and Jeremy Hoffman opened the Preserve restaurant in Annapolis in April 2015 and were recently named one of the “100 Very Best Restaurants 2016” by the Washingtonian. Jeremy is the chef of the popular establishment and Michelle serves as general manager and leads the craft beverage program. Their son, Parker, is 5. They credit their extended family for helping them balance career and family life. We recently caught up with the Annapolis couple to find out how they make their busy and demanding life in the restaurant business work.

1 What's your daily schedule like?

  • 7 a.m. - Wake up, get ourselves and Parker ready for school/work. Have breakfast and play a little together.
  • 8:40 a.m. - Drop Parker off at school together. Swing by Great Harvest Bakery or the Amish Market to pick up our orders.
  • 9 a.m. - Head into the restaurant to begin the day.
  • 11:45 a.m. - Michelle picks up Parker from school and has lunch with him. Then Parker's grandfather watches him while Michelle goes back to work. Jeremy stays at the restaurant to manage lunch service.
  • 1:15 p.m. - Michelle arrives back at the restaurant, takes care of managerial tasks and manages the rest of lunch service.
  • 4:30 p.m. - The staff sits for a "family meal" during which Jeremy reviews new dishes or menu changes, and Michelle reviews service notes or beverage changes.
  • 5 p.m. Dinner service begins. Jeremy cooks and Michelle is maitre d’ and manages the service staff.
  • 9ish on weekdays or 10ish on weekends - We leave the restaurant together and only talk [about] work on the quick drive home.
  • 10:15 p.m.- Drink a glass of wine and watch “Vice News Tonight.”

Family Life Hoffmans PJ Cooking W2 Do you cook much at home? What's your go-to meal?
We have a mix of eating in and going out. Parker likes to help Jeremy cook at home. Lately, we have been meal-prepping healthy salad dishes to eat late or on the go. This week Jeremy made an Asian broccoli and carrot salad, Tex-Mex quinoa and roasted butternut-pecan salad. Jeremy and I eat mostly vegetarian unless we know the source of the proteins. We do have one rule for Parker. He must try new food once. His food preferences are like any other 5-year-old. He's on a mac and cheese kick right now.

3 So Parker doesn't eat your go-to meals?
Getting a 5-year-old to eat veggies is a struggle, even if his dad is a talented chef. I try to sneak them into things he likes such as pureed butternut squash in mac and cheese and soups, and he does like veggie burgers.

4 What's the hardest part of juggling the restaurant and family?
Even though we are working our dream, it is still work. I always want more time with my son, but I am so lucky to have people who truly love him watching him when I'm not there.

5 Sounds like you guys are busy! When do you get to spend time together with Parker?
Jeremy leaves the restaurant every Sunday at 3 p.m., and I try to sneak out early or definitely meet them for family dinner or quality time. We try and keep family days — Monday and Tuesday — sacred. On Mondays, Parker doesn't have school so we usually do a lot of our fun outings on that day. Tuesdays, he has school until noon so we usually all go out to lunch and have family dinner at home. Yes restaurant hours are crazy, but everyday he has breakfast and lunch with a parent and 2 ½ mommy/daddy days. Family always come first for us. We never missed a school field trip. We might not have a lot of nights and weekends off, but we definitely prioritize quality family time. I feel you can still be a good mother/parent and still follow your professional dreams.

By Betsy Stein

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