Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Excited and Terrified

So it has been a busy year already; I am finishing school and exploring all of my options. I am scared of the future because I know the mainstream critical path to Chef glory; but I am not in a position to travel down that path. Working for free in some world famous place, then working 2 jobs while I get experience (making $10.00 and hour), then becoming a line cook, then purchasing or sous, then executive chef, where you might make 35k-60k and work 80 hour weeks. You know why a lot of women are not world famous chefs? You can't spend time with your family.

This has me anxious and exploring alternative routes to greatness. It just seems like there is no perfect path. If I wait two years to get more experience, I will be opening up my business with no safety net (I am still receiving child support and alimony currently, but that will be greatly reduced late next year). Ideally I would work in the industry for a couple more years, gather information and experience, then the money fairy would visit me miraculously and the perfect place would appear (cheaply) on the horizon and I would open my dream bar/pub.

So... with all that in mind... I found a small place in Martinez that was a coffee shop/cafe that is for lease inexpensively. The downtown is dead on the weekends and in the evenings, which is why the rent is so cheap.

BUT, the place is a block from the court house and the Thursday farmer's market. AND they have frequent weekend street fairs and festivals and the person who manages the downtown seems very serious about bringing business to the area. The clientele would be pretty blue collar (the Sheriff's office is two blocks away, plus jurors etc). I have a fellow student who works at the refinery who would be willing to promote the cafe to people who worked there.

Downside, it would have to be a cold kitchen. There is no hood/range/oven and to bring them in would be outside of my budget currently. But I would sous vide cook, plus most of my items would be dry cured etc, which doesn't use heat anyway. I would need to find out if I can use an electric smoker in the back alleyway.

The quiet nature of the weekend business would not be all bad for me too. I can use the kitchen to prep food for my catering events, plus as many of the items would be very labor intensive, I could prep on the weekends as well. Salumi and home made Mayonnaise etc.

I would also have to figure out the coffee thing. The morning coffee business would be really important. Brion will be talking with Weaver's coffee to secure the best coffee (IMO) money can buy and my friend April, who is a shift leader for Starbucks will help me set up and train to do this. I think quick serve will be really important for this place.
I also will have to put in a bunch of meat soon if I want to open the place in like 01/11. It is all so nebulous... but the numbers don't look too bad so far. I think I would need to really get some good word of mouth to get people out of their office buildings and into my shop. Free samples would likely be a good idea... I think my product is really good and will sell itself.