We’ve been getting by with a little help from our friends but our future depends on the kindness of strangers.
Last week we invited some of our family, friends and neighbors on our block at home to come by, try some food and give an honest assessment. What works? What doesn’t? What can we improve? Had the cheddar cheese melted nicely into the egg on the buttery croissant? Was the steak on the Puerto Rican sandwich tender and not over cooked? Did espresso shots have a perfect crema? Were there enough grilled vegetables on the toasted hoagie to give a “meaty” bite into the vegetarian sandwich?
This also helped us determine our system of delivery and how to better serve our customers, when they come. We figured friends and family, people who already like us, would be patient and kind, but truthful. And they were. My brother-in-law advised Frank to put some “love” in the food. One friend was more direct about cooking with flavor and told Frank: “Put your foot in it!”
Our friends and family are great. We know they are most likely not the ones who will become our regular customers. Few live or work in the neighborhood of Frank’s Kitchen. They don’t cruise 26th Avenue on the way to downtown in the morning. We’ve never seen any of them riding their bikes, jogging or pushing baby strollers down High Street.
With the lights on, cars in the parking lot, and the smell of smoked meat wafting over the building, a few neighbors stopped by to find out what was going on in this restaurant that has been quiet for several months. We passed out a few hastily printed menus and encouraged them to return when we turn on the open sign.
We hope to be a welcome fixture in the neighborhood, but we’re encouraged by one friend’s parting comment: “People will travel for good food.”