This is surreal. Just two years ago, Chef and I were completely sleep deprived as we prepared for our life changing event (our first SF Street Food Festival). We spent weeks agonizing over every aspect of our operation. Meetings with Logistics Prime, Mover and Shaker, La Cocina and countless other folks were the norm, largely because we were so afraid of failure that we poured every ounce of energy and dead presidents we could into insuring the festival was a success. Two years later, I guess it is safe to say it was.
Year one, we amassed some of our now legendary players: Monk, Number 1, Sue, Number 2, Logistics Prime (our personal lean management consultant), Mover and Shaker (our personal connection to the stars), the Water Boy, Benjamin Button, and the Government Twins. To be fair some of these folks (the last three) were grandfathered into the operation because of the familial nature of a fledgling enterprise. Mover and Shaker…well it was all her fault that this train left the station with Chef and I chasing to get on board, so technically she owed us. In this first 12 months we had many growing pain. We joke now how it would take us an entire week to execute a 40 person gig: planning, purchasing, preparing, staffing and delivering. What a difference some time has made.
Year two, we amassed more talent and some systems for success: Marketina, the Director, Sunday’s Best, the Deacon, Keisha Burns, Hustleman, to name a few. Our menu expanded. Our customer base and customer fulfillment grew. We developed a footprint on the web which continued to funnel business our way. And we kept growing. The terrible twos showed us some ugly things about our capacity, and need for talent. We had some epic growing pains, but from those we got stronger. The stretch marks from those times remind us even today, who we were and who we need to be.
Now as we enter year three…why is there no name for year three? Everybody knows about the terrible twos or sweet sixteen, but what about the other developmental years? Surely there must be something that happens in a person/entity’s life between two and sixteen that is memorable and earmarked by some adjective. But I digress. As we enter year three, we have found that we have outgrown many of our situations. And now our plans, as beautiful and Camelotish as they were in our Naiveté, do not make as much sense. This is the beauty of life…it happens. It is our responsibility to adapt to it, or it will swallow us whole. So for us, our plan was to get a fleet of mobile trucks, then a facility for our catering operation, and later a brick and mortar restaurant. Well, our operation has grown to the bursting point and we need a building like yesterday! This is before we even put one beautifully wrapped truck on the street.
We are working in the world of the “new money” – which really is silly, because whether your money is old or new, it all looks and spends the same. We had our first “old money” event just two weeks ago. And let me say, that the test drive of the Tesla was cracking! So now we are working for the old money, the new money, and the regular money. All of whom, like the same thing…our unique menu. This same menu is what is keeping us in demand, which is in turn causing the strain on the operation and the new stretch marks.
So with all of this in mind, we jumped headlong into the heretofore unknown waters (relative to us) of the Pop Up Restaurant! Crazy right? But actually it makes perfect sense. Follow me now. If the goal is to own a restaurant, and we want to be successful, we will need experience. The Pop Up gives us this opportunity without the major risk of capital. Check. If we want a restaurant we need – wait for it—funding. We can’t get funding without investors (Angel or Crowd) seeing the value of our product. The Pop Up allows us to show these investors and patrons our vision, so we can confidently show the worth of our brand. Check. If we want our restaurant to be successful it will rely on the talent providing an exceptional experience to our guests. The pop up allows us the opportunity to showcase the amazing folks we have had the pleasure of working with these past two years in our catering operations (which when you think of it, is just bringing a restaurant experience to a location—at least that’s how we do it).
Now at 2 in the morning on Pop Up Eve, I am once more pacing the floor in my mind as we dot is and cross ts, getting ready for the big day which at this point is a scant 31 hours away. Technically, we will be at our posts in 27 hours, but the first plate should be hitting the guests table (if the reservations are holding and everyone is on time) in 31 hours, well 30 hours and 57 minutes. I wonder if moving forward, all the major Pinx events, are going to be like this?
Life is short…eat something memorable.