DISCLAIMER - The title of this blog does not have a lot to do with its contents - but its my little girl's favorite song that we keep singing together...and it kind of applies to my life in general. And here's the blog:
As of August 4th, we've been open for 5 months. Wow...
Time does fly when you're having a blast and exhausted and sleep deprived all at the same time. Its a good time to make an assessment of the business, financially and otherwise.
Before going in to other details, here's the one line summary of the IP financials:
--We are barely breaking even--
When I found this out first hand - I thought...Ouch! 18 hours days for about 6 days a week and I am barely breaking even? But then immediately I thought, well what did I expect? I have been open 5 months and we are finally kind of stable, schedule, inventory and staff wise. So this is probably the best case scenario?
Also, I just finished reading this amazing memoir "Shoe Dog" by the creator of Nike (Don't ask me where I made time in my 18 hour days, I just did :)). Thanks to Brad Feld's blog that recommended this book - The book is an ah-mazing read! The passion, drive and persistent tenacity of Phil Knight is unbelievable. One of the things he shares in the book is how in Year 1 he made $8000 in revenue. Oh well, my barely breaking even seemed a little more acceptable after that...
The 40 minute drive from home and back is when I listen to these and I have say: their impact in my thought process is profound. For anyone wanting to learn more about startup life, its ups and downs, intimate conversations with founders, I highly recommend the Reboot podcast. For those looking to learn and explore about mindfulness, meditation and etc.Dharma Seed is a great resource.
Now moving on to some of the highs since I last wrote here....
Here is a photo of Simi (left) with her friends. Simi walked in to IP on a Sunday night and ended up chatting with me at the bar for a couple of hours. We bonded over discussions about Indian food, people, work and life in general here in the United States. And since then, she has visited IP with several friends and even dragged her parents to try our food and wine. Thanks Simi for being such an amazing customer and one of our favorite regulars. So glad our paths crossed.
As far as products go, we have added a couple of beers to our paradoxical wine list – on popular demand. Come on aboard beer purists we have place for you too at our humble abode :)
A new item called Adai has been added to the food menu and we don’t have the Methi Muthia anymore. The Muthia was a ton of labor and yet we did not obtain the reception we intended with that. So that’s out and the Adai has been doing pretty well since we added that to the menu. Adai is originally from south India and I grew up eating this delicious and yet super healthy snack at least once a week. And it was a revelation for me when I found out that a dish very similar to this also exists in Gujarat and Maharashtra (both western Indian states). The dishes are called Pudla and Thalipeeth respectively. Its pretty amazing how food is so similar and yet so different in all these various states of the Indian sub continent. But, the best compliment I received that melted my heart was when a customer who hails from Gujarat ordered the Adai with some wine. After she had eaten the Adai and enjoyed the pairing I asked what she thought and she said - "It felt like home" and in my mind I was smiling away displaying all the teeth I have....like this below.
We also hosted our first winemaker tasting night with Miro Tcholakov (on the right below) - his wines are amazing and folks who came in on a beautiful Tuesday evening thought so too.
Thanks Miro for your wonderful hospitality and also for making these killer grape juices for our indulgence :)
Oh and lastly, we now have a window sign! And its beautiful. Many thanks to Andrew Lawrence - the man behind Gentleman Scholar Signs for his own trademark Gold leaf writing on the IP window!
And now for the lows...
I am still searching for help to hire in the kitchen. The city is not a great place for cooks right now and I can vouch for that from personal experience. On my day off (Mondays) I go hunting for good potential hires for my kitchen. And I do so with my daughter tagging along with me and my amazing friend Belinda - owner and founder of Belinda Chocolates. Belinda speaks fluent Spanish and this comes handy when I talk to and sell my menu and products to the line cooks and prep cooks in the bars and restaurants in the city. Here's a glimpse of some moments with Belinda and Anika (my girl) hunting our potential back of the house hire. It looks kind of bleak, but I am hopeful. With consistent and persistent searching, I am 100% sure of finding this hire soon.
Another area where there is definitely scope for improvement is...there are still almost half of the week nights when the IP space is not completely full. I keep mulling when I pass establishments like Bi-Rite, Nopa, Bar Tartine etc. about how have they gotten to the point where customers have decided that its worth waiting in line just to experience their products?
How have these businesses gone from being just a business to an institution? Will Indian Paradox ever get there? Some days I am pessimistic and some days I am super optimistic that the only way is UP, and nothing else is an option. Is it just putting my head down and doing what I am doing well each and every day or is it also a certain amount of time plus media attention and maybe some luck? Honestly, I don't know. All I know is to work hard and I am just going to keep doing just that.
So that's it. And I'd like to sign off with one of my favorite excerpts from Phil Knight's Shoe Dog - Enjoy!
“It seems wrong to call it “business.” It seems wrong to throw all those hectic days and sleepless nights, all those magnificent triumphs and desperate struggles, under that bland, generic banner: business. What we were doing felt like so much more. Each new day brought fifty new problems, fifty tough decisions that needed to be made, right now, and we were always acutely aware that one rash move, one wrong decision could be the end. The margin for error was forever getting narrower, while the stakes were forever creeping higher—and none of us wavered in the belief that “stakes” didn’t mean “money.” For some, I realize, business is the all-out pursuit of profits, period, full stop, but for us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood. Yes, the human body needs blood. It needs to manufacture red and white cells and platelets and redistribute them evenly, smoothly, to all the right places, on time, or else. But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings. It’s a basic process that enables our higher aims, and life always strives to transcend the basic processes of living. When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is— you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.
Maybe it will grow on me.”
Excerpt From: Phil Knight in “Shoe Dog.”