If Karen and David Waltuck didn't work together, they might not see each other very often. So goes the restaurant business.
The couple, who have been married for 26 years, own two restaurants in New York City, Chanterelle and Le Zinc. David, 50, is the chef and Karen, 52, manages the restaurants. "Though they no longer have to work the five-day/five-double-shift schedule they endured when they opened Chanterelle 25 years ago, there's still "no clear-cut schedule," says David.
Because the Waltucks run two restaurants, their schedules tend to fluctuate depending on the needs of the different locations. Even when they're in the same restaurant on the same day, their front of house/kitchen roles often keep them separate during work hours.They definitely hop between the front of the house and the kitchen to see each other. "It's because we work together that we see each other," says Karen. Still, it's not surprising that work talk spills into their personal time. "We don't have enough time to talk about our work because we're working," Karen says. Adds David: "The personal stuff doesn't get into the restaurant, but the restaurant permeates our personal life. It's always in our conversation."
Their varying - sometimes opposing - work schedules also affect their parenting; they have two children, ages 13 and 15."Often times we're single parents," says Karen. They try to make sure one of them is at home each week night, with the other at one of the restaurants. If they both have to go to the restaurants,they get a caregiver for the kids.
To make sure they devote some time to each other and to their kids, they both take off from work on weekends. They also always eat breakfast together, and if they're both working, they often leave together in the evenings.
Despite all of the juggling, opening a restaurant together was a no-brainer. When they were engaged, they "certainly half-joked that we should get [the marriage] out of the way to open the restaurant," says Karen, adding that the business "was made-to-order for us."
When hospital administrator Terry Henry got the chance to turn around a failing long-term care facility in Culver City, California, he immediately thought of the woman he needed to partner with: registered nurse and gerontologist Stella Mora.
Nearly 25 years later, he's still thinking about her - but as much more than a business partner. They married one year into their joint venture and have been together since. "Two partners is about as close as you can get to a marriage," says Terry, 57. The personal relationship "was just a natural result."
Stella, also 57, says the business essentially "created the marriage. I don't know if we would have been such good communicators without it. Couples don't learn to sit there and listen [to each other]."
For the first seven years of their business, called Vista del Sol Cure Center, the Henrys made a point of going to dinner together every night as a "buffer" between their work and home lives. "We would drive to our favorite restaurant, have a glass of wine, and talk about the day. By the time we got home we were through with it," says Terry. Later, their son became the natural buffer.
The Henrys also made sure they took time far away from the business, even if it was just for three days. "People thought we were crazy, but for many years we would get away to Hawaii for 72 hours - and we didn't do anything there," says Terry. He says those getaways are a good reminder that "business is not the sole purpose of why you're together."
At work, the Henry's have never hidden their feelings for each other. Even the residents of their facility pushed the relationship at the beginning. One day before they were married, Stella says an outspoken resident yelled, "Just marry the girl and make it legal."The Henry's still play out a daily bit of romance in the workplace: He brings her coffee every morning.