If this were a business school case study

In my new novel, What’s Left, her father (Baba) has an influential role in transforming the family restaurant even though he’s new to the business. But he’s not alone.


Here are some passages I cut from the final version:

Baba is an active participant in that year of intense planning, before heading off for his focused Dharma training, those three years in the Tibetan monastery followed by his permanent return here.

My search reveals to me how much Baba contributed to the final result. As a visual artist addressing challenges beyond the kitchen itself, he’s amplified the wisdom Dimitri displayed in bringing him on board – and all of his touches fill me with pride.

Reflecting on Baba’s contributions to the project, what impresses me most is his sensitivity to the underlying unity. What emerges simply feels right and natural.


In a traditional business school case study, the spotlight would likely fall on Baba’s future brother-in-law, Dimitri.

In another passage I deleted from the final version, during the crucial transformation:

Dimitri concerns himself mostly with financing the expansion and growing the entire shebang. The mystery for me is just how much of what results comes through Graham’s insights and how much through Pia’s, even if Barney usually gets the credit. And, for his own role, my Baba, especially.


Again, in another passage I later distilled, Cassia discovers crucial details that likely never would have crept into that case study:


She shows me the dots to connect. We’re bleeding money until he steps in. We’re pooling our income in a struggle to clear our obligations. Graham moves in and his money also goes into the pot. It makes a huge difference. How much? I can’t find the figures, but I do learn that later, in private, he signs on a few loans, at first to help Dimitri reorganize our debts and mortgages and later to help us avert chapter 11.


Maybe he’s along for the excitement? More of those now excised details:

In our plan, Carmichael’s old building was to come down for a customer-only parking lot – one with many trees. Zodiac (the revitalized bookstore) and our restaurants would both open out onto it. But that concept’s put on hold. People will just have to park wherever they can in the interim. Or double-park, as becomes customary.


Too often it seems the only purpose a company seems to have is simply to make money. In my new novel, though, the point of the family business is to make good things happen. Sometimes it’s good food, sometimes it’s offering good apartments at reasonable rents, sometimes it’s simply to help others realize their dreams.

That’s not what’s taught in business schools or economics courses, as far as I’ve seen.

Another crucial difference in Dimitri’s business model is the importance of linking kindred souls together. It’s all about good community, in his eyes as well as those he brings on board.

When it comes to succeeding in life, do you think you can “make it” on your own? Or do you need connections, mentors, and associates? How do you see these working?


Icon of Christ from the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul). This image — part of a deesis showing Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. John the Baptist — is at least 600 years old. (Photo by Myrabella via Wikimedia Commons.)

Cassia’s roots included inspiration like this.

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