Hollywood lied to us! They told us, if you build it they will come. That may be true when you have a huge budget and you pay extras to actually come, and you win an award. But in the food world, it is all about the customer experience.
Today Chef, Monk and I went to an artisanal coffee shop. Everybody has been to Megabucks and enjoyed the “place where everybody knows your name” atmosphere. But when you really challenge your palate, there is nothing special about the actual libations. I have created many off menu drinks to infuse flavor into my drinks. Take the Extra Caramel, 3 Pump Vanilla, no foam, no water Chai Latte, or the Blended Raspberry Lemonade, or Raspberry Vanilla Frappe, to name a few. It wasn’t until today that I realized, I made such complicated drinks because I didn’t care for their menu items. And that my friends, is the genius of megabucks.
Their focus is not on the product but rather on the customer experience. If they take care of the customers, the customers will return. The customer is the focus and because we all love ourselves, we in turn love those who make us feel good about ourselves. Again…genius! The artisan spends all his focus on his craft, his art, and the art is the reward. It is nice if people appreciate it (though secretly all artists crave acceptance/understanding/ or appreciation). The spot we went too puts forth great effort into its goods. The effort could be tasted and appreciated immediately. It was so good and the quality so tangible that you wouldn’t mind spending a little coin to appreciate it. Coffee is still more per gallon than gasoline. And Gas is too expensive. But the when you go to the artisanal spot, you understand why.
The Shoeless Contessa taught us to use quality ingredients. Mama Dean let us know butter, sugar, salt, and a whole lotta love should go into every dish. Guy “Fiery “made it crystal clear that we want to make food that evokes a response. And the Iron Chefs have taught us to be fearless in our combinations, conviction, and point of view. Now we have once more found inspiration to continue on our culinary path.
We went by the field (of our fellows), and gathered wisdom. Today we learned that the marketing machine makes brand. But we also saw that the artisanal work will get you noticed and appreciated. The artisanal work will make your stamp. We have come to the conclusion that we want to be the best of both worlds. We are building it, some have come. We want to keep them coming back.
Life is short…eat something memorable.
Happy New Year!!! When is it officially too late to wish someone Happy New Year? Realistically we have crossed over into Dress Up Your Pet Day and National Skateboarding Week so what is the true etiquette for this salutation? In any case, we have been in a food induced coma since the 28th of December. Not because we have eaten everything in sight in the Waffle Cave but rather because we served so much food and skipped so many hours of sleep that once we had the opportunity, we have reemerged in the middle of January!
Again no one told us that the peak of the busy season is the Holiday season. This industry has many unique quirks, peaks, valleys, and nuances. That has been the lesson we learned in 2012.
First…team is everything! We are nothing without our support. Monk, Sue, Benjamin Button, Logistics Prime, the Government Twins, Waterboy, Deacon, Chitown CPA, the Director, Organizational Engineer, Marketina, Tweeta, Ming, the Silent Pinoy, Sarge, Mover and Shaker, Telecom Maven, and everybody else that has made a contribution to our existence in the past 12 months. It has been a blur. But we couldn’t prepare all the food without the army. We couldn’t do the logistics without the support. We couldn’t deliver and decorate without the team. To fully illustrate the need for team/support, we had turned away jobs in December because we were at our max capacity, but with the help of the additional team members, we were able to grow to the capacity where we could do 3 to 4 jobs in the same day. We went from planning 2 days to execute 1 job, to doing 2 jobs in a day and then completing 3 to 4 in one day. The successes and growth from this year have all been because of the team.
Second…no plan is no bueno! Every aspect of our growth has been from a calculated step in each direction. We consider each and every job for feasibility, exposure, and ROI. We can’t be everything to everyone. Without a clear vision of who we are, and where we want to go, we could have easily gotten lost in the attempt to grow. It helps that Chef and I talk about this all the time and that we are on the same page. We have had a lot of input and ideas, but our shared vision has kept us on course.
Third…if you cook it, they will come…only after you have sold it! At the end of the day there are a lot of talented cooks out there and many great concepts. But it still takes a powerful marketing campaign to move the product. We saw that in this year’s great food truck race. I have to admit that the winners encouraged us, because we have worked with and competed against them head to head. To think that we bested them in the 2011 Vote for Your Vendor Contest, and at that time they already had 3 years industry experience on us. We know that we too can do it big and have our own truck!
But before we focus on the end of the 5 year plan, we have begun year two with the lessons learned from year one. We have vendor relationships, customers, corporate customers, and now a regular location that will afford us greater exposure. The spa food experiment has given us greater creativity. We have spent our time creating new menu items and packaging. Our marketing has represented our taste well. And now we are poised to make a real impression.
So as we prepare to go into the waffle cave to create more items like the Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie, Crab Bisque, Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookie, and Cajun Chicken Fettuccini, we take with us the memories from 2012 and our plans for 2013. When we emerge – well rested and full of creativity (fare thee well Punchfork) – we will have evolved and the joy of eating will engulf all who are so blessed to cross our path.
Life is short…eat something memorable.