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James and Shaundy Africano, owners of The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery. The Africanos have been married for 22 of the 27 years they’ve been together and have two children, ages 21 and 16.

Relationships can be complicated, especially if husband and wife are in the same restaurant business. They’re together 24-7 — most of that time at the eatery, which can be a stressful environment. How do they manage hauling children to school functions, opening and closing their operation, and keeping employees happy while keeping the spark alive in their personal life?

We talked to three such couples to get a glimpse into how they keep it all together successfully.

James and Shaundy Africano, owners of The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery

The Africanos have been married for 22 of the 27 years they’ve been together and have two children, ages 21 and 16. They met as high school students while working at The Polo Club at Embassy Suites in 1993. They have worked together at The Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant, The Lodge Restaurant at Vermejo Park Ranch in Raton,N.M., and The Warehouse Restaurant since 2015, when the couple bought the business.

What’s the most challenging aspects of both people working in the same place?

James: Our biggest challenge is taking time away from the restaurant to be together and with family. There are other significant challenges, though. We rely solely on The Warehouse for a substantial amount of our income. When things slow down seasonally, it can be hard to see through to the better days. We also have this funny expectation of each other to be “perfect” all the time. It’s totally unrealistic in any situation, but is magnified when dealing with employees, finances and juggling a crazy schedule. Thankfully we have a really strong relationship, built over lots of years, and are able to read each other’s moods to get through the rough spots.

How do you juggle schedules with children?

James: This is tough. Good news, Shaundy is a morning person, I’m a night owl, so the opening and closing duties with the restaurant are naturally divided between us. We do a lot of the same with running our son around for activities and events. Early practices are handled by Mom; late movie and dance pick-ups go Dad’s way. Shaundy makes every game, and I sneak away when I can to catch whatever of a game or event I can.

Do you arrange to have time alone together? Dinner together?

James: We try to do something about every six weeks alone. Generally, it’s a dinner date on a Sunday night, but can also be an afternoon coffee, a shopping run, or a Monday trip to the chiropractor, a must for 12-plus-hour days on your feet. We have also been able to start traveling without kids recently. Our first trip was Italy last fall, and we are planning Greece this spring or early summer, and a trip to Sicily in the next 12 months.

What’s a date night like for you?

James: Most often we hit MacKenzie’s Chop House. When we were a young married couple, it was such a treat to get an evening away, and Mac’s was our go-to place. We normally start with a cocktail and little nibble from the appetizer menu and move on to a bottle of wine with salads and dinner. Chef Pete always has something great on his Fresh Sheet menu, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the staff is always fantastic.

What sort of things do you do on a day off together?

James: Sleep, shop and eat. We always talk about making some big plans and doing something more on our day off, but after running a kid around all week and managing a staff, inventory and schedules, we revert to our favorite “hobbies.”

Would you recommend couples work together in the same restaurant?

James: It would truly depend on the couple. I’ve seen our relationship get stronger and closer through the last few years working together. We spend more time together now than we did the first 17 to 18 years we were married. We rely on each other and trust each other more than ever, because we must. Alternatively, I have seen restaurants rip couples apart. It’s hard work, and if you don’t trust and rely on your partner to complement your weakness and vice versa, it can really be hard.

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Shaundy Africano and James, owners of The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery. The Africanos have been married for 22 of the 27 years they’ve been together and have two children, ages 21 and 16.

Patrick and Krystyna Garnier, owners of La Baguette French Bistro

The Garniers have been married 18 years. It’s the second marriage for both. They have three children, ages 40, 37 and 29, and the couple travel to the West Coast to visit their grandchildren. They have worked together since July 2007 when they bought La Baguette.

What’s the most challenging aspects of both people working in the same place?

Patrick: Together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are together every minute of the day.

Do you arrange to have time alone together? Dinner together?

Patrick: We make plans regularly to eat at other restaurants together or with friends weekly — particularly on Sundays and Mondays when our business is closed.

What’s a date night like for you?

Patrick: We eat at Biaggi’s, Ted’s Montana Grill and MacKenzie’s Chop House. Or we might go shopping.

What sort of things do you do on a day off together?

Patrick: Gardening, reading romance books, movie watching, shop for our grandchildren, cook at home and entertain our friends. We love spending time with our two cats, Paris and Napa.

Would you recommend couples work together in the same restaurant?

Patrick: Working together requires lots of patience, communication and understanding of each other’s needs.

La Baguette Bistro-Granier

Husband and wife Patrick and Kristyna Garnier work together at their restaurant, La Baguette French Bistro.

Dave and Dana Query, owners of Big Red F Restaurant Group

The Querys have been married for seven of their 12 years as a couple. It’s the first marriage for Dana and second for Dave, who has children ages 30, 28 and 24. Dave is the restaurateur and Dana oversees various aspects of the company as the “Creative Cat.” The Big Red F Restaurant Group includes Zolo Grill, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, Centro Mexican Kitchen, West End Tavern, The Post Brewing Co., and LOLA Coastal Mexican. Dana grew up in her family’s Korean-Cajun restaurant and is familiar with the stress of running restaurants.

Which restaurants have you worked together at?

Dana: All Big Red F restaurants.

What’s the most challenging aspects of both people working in the same place?

Dana: Not contradicting each other or politely contradicting each other.

Having separate identities and reputations within our business and our communities is always a fun challenge. It’s also tough balancing our work-talk and work-mentality with our home, private life and relationship.

Do you arrange to have time alone together? Dinner together?

Dana: Yes, all the time. After the first couple of years, we realized that we had to put some boundaries on our work life, so it didn’t become bigger and more important than our personal lives and connection to each other.

What’s a date night like for you?

Dave: An afternoon hike with our dog and a delicious meal on a fun patio. Making dinner for each other. Or a date weekend in New Orleans, Dana’s favorite city in America.

What sort of things do you do on a day off together?

Dave: Depending on the season, you’ll find us hanging in our garden (me in the vegetable patch and Dana with the flowers), skiing with our nieces Satiene and Gracie or, let’s be honest, running errands for the restaurants.

Would you recommend couples work together in the same restaurant?

Dave: Working together can be a really rewarding experience, if you have clearly defined roles and keep the staff in mind.

Colorado Springs has several married couples working together in restaurants

Dave and Dana Query have worked together at Big Red F restaurants and have weathered the challenges of the stressful lifestyle for more than a dozen years.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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