Eric Reinhard never planned to go into the restaurant business.
He was attending college in New York City when his roommate got a job at Hooligan's in Boston.
"I ended up going with him," Reinhard, who grew up in Fishkill, N.Y., said this week.
For the next 10 years, Reinhard did every job in the restaurant business from purchasing to cooking. He also had the opportunity to work under chefs Jasper White and Lydia Shire.
"I had been studying business while I was in New York. All my friends had to do internships that required a suit and tie. It just wasn't me," Reinhard said. "I had an opportunity to get into the restaurant business, and I never left."
In the late 1980s, he began a restaurant consulting business, in which he helped new restaurants get started. The business eventually grew to where he was opening T.G.I. Friday's and Hard Rock Cafes.
"It was the late ‘80s, and we were opening two restaurants a month," he said.
He and his staff would go in, train the restaurant's staff, open the restaurant and then oversee its operations for about two weeks before moving onto the next one, he said.
"The hours and travel took up a lot of time," he said.
Reinhard's arrival in North Berkshire in 1992 was prompted by an ad in the Boston Globe in which the Freight Yard Pub was looking for a buyer.
"As soon as I got to the Hairpin Turn and saw North Adams in the distance,
He said his experience in the restaurant business prepared him for what he is doing now as owner and chef at the Water Street Grill.
"I've learned to keep it simple," he said.
He strives to offer customers a menu of quality foods at low cost in an atmosphere that welcomes people interested in either casual or fine dinning, he said.
"We have a large menu with a a lot of items that are under $20, he said.
As a chef, he kind of leans toward the Italian side when it comes to preparing meals, but he also likes making comfort foods, he said.
"I'll make things like Mussels Marinara and Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo, but I also like making big salads and grilled chicken sandwiches," he said.
While there is no average day in the restaurant business, a typical day for Reinhard begins by arriving at the restaurant in the mid-morning before the lunch crowd arrives. He then leaves at 3 p.m. and returns between 4:30 and 5 p.m. for the dinner rush, he said.
"Through the restaurant business in general, I've been able to meet a lot of people, and make some close friends, but it's a difficult life," he said.
Outside of the kitchen, Reinhard loves fly-fishing and being in the outdoors, and he is happy he has been able to incorporated aspects of those interests into the character of the restaurant, which he opened in 1997 and now runs with his wife, Hannah.
"You can have an idea of what you want a restaurant to look like going in, but you also need to be ready to conform to the style of the place," he said.
A building like the Water Street Grill, which was built in the 1860s with exposed beams, isn't going to be transformed into a modern-day bistro, he said.
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