Our first day of business May 18 started out with a word of encouragement from Sal, our meat deliveryman.
We were making coffee, cracking eggs, but no customers had come yet. I don’t know if Sal felt sorry for us, but he paused to chat after hauling in beef and chicken. Originally from Venezuela, Sal had been working for the meat supplier for 13 years. He told us stories of restaurant owners he knows. One was a dishwasher at an upscale restaurant now running a quick service Mexican restaurant chain. Another was a couple selling burritos out of a cart downtown who now operate three sit-down restaurants. It takes time, Sal said. A year of more. You have to stick with it.
His words were heartening. Our plan has always been to go slow, open softly, get on a solid foundation, and then market like crazy. We’re neophyte restaurateurs trying to navigate a steep learning curve. Menu, flavor, presentation, portions, consistency, pricing, service and delivery _ we’re obsessed with getting it right.
The push right now is not about marketing or advertising. As a result, sales were sporadic our first three days of business. The second day was busier than the first which was exciting. We had our first repeat customer! But the third day was the slowest, which had us second-guessing our intention to gradually build business.
We have a photo hanging in the restaurant to remind us to stay with our plan. It’s of John Deere’s historic blacksmithing barn in Grand Detour, Ill. Frank shot the picture a couple of years ago while on a road trip to Illinois to visit his parents. Deere designed a better plow for farmers back in the late 1800s. Today Deere & Co. is nearly a billion dollar, global company.