To be broke

This is a story about having absolutely no money and waking up as the General Manager of San Francisco’s leading cafe – Sweet Inspiration.

Golden Gate Bridge with rough water
Life doesn’t always go as planned. | Photo Anas Hinde, Pexels

Let me tell you a concise version of the story since long stories quite often get boring rather quickly.

Together with my brother, I had driven an old 1964 Dodge Dart across America, from New York to San Francisco. And as probably everyone else would have done, we had spent all our money along the way. Especially Las Vegas was a financial – but definitely fun – disaster.

When we arrived in San Francisco, we were absolutely broke and needed to find a job. Without any kind of work experience, we both got a job, at a restaurant and a café. My brother worked as a busboy, and for those who do not know what that is, it can be quite briefly described as the person who assists other staff members at a restaurant by greeting customers, cleaning and resetting tables, and removing dishes after customers leave.

A shortcut up the career ladder

I got a job at a café as a waiter – but already the first day, I was appointed to be the General Manager. Please don’t ask why, as I already said, I had absolut no experience. The secret may have been that I was young, naive, and charismatic, displaying a “I know it all” attitude. In other words: I was bluffing.

My brother and I had planned to stay in San Francisco for a month and then continue with our adventures – but luckily it did not work out that way.

After spending more than a year in San Francisco, I traveled back to Denmark where I had gotten a job as a photographer. My brother stayed behind and never returned to Denmark. It is now 30 years ago that we arrived in San Francisco.

From a café to the big wide world

So what does this story have to do with photography? Everything and nothing!

When I was running the café, I quickly turned it into a café and art gallery. Now the locals could eat rich cakes, drink coffee, and enjoy beautiful art pieces from around the world. For me, this was the start of curating photo exhibitions around the world. Organizing exhibitions is all about combining the deep passion and respect for photography, and working together with the best of the best.

So far, I have worked with Steve McCurry, Dennis Hopper and many of National Geographic’s staff photographers, for instance, Jim Brandenburg. A few weeks ago, I opened a magnificent exhibition in Switzerland with Oscar-winning film director David Lynch.

Why am I telling you this story, you ask?

You are probably still wondering why I am writing down this – rather uneventful – story.
Well, the other day I read that Café Sweet Inspiration was closed down. It went bankrupt. And since I am no different than everyone else, I mentally traveled 30 years back in the time, where a young and ambitious Christian Nørgaard was a café’s General Manager for the first and last time in his life.

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