small business

111 days

The Story of these 111 days

We have successfully been open for a little over one hundred days.

Its been over 2 months since I wrote here...well, its true that I've had NO time for anything. But I just met this amazing couple that stopped by for some street food this past Sunday. And while discussing our life, vocation and the whole 9 yards...one of them (Jonathan) said this: "If writing is so important to you, why don't you just spend 15 minutes each night before you go to bed and share what you feel like writing about?". What a brilliant piece of suggestion. The inertia behind not writing for all these weeks has been lack of time and more importantly my need to be detailed and perfect about every blog I write. And that ends here and now.

I am taking a silent oath to write something of value if not every night, for at least a few times a week and share my work, moments of elation and most importantly my struggles with all of you. Because, that means something to me, hopefully its of some value to you too.

I sometimes look at all the amazing FaceBook posts and photos and think - if everyone is really as happy as they seem on FaceBook, this world is just a paradise. But if everything I hear from my near and dear is a fact, then I am not so sure about all the upbeat FB posts and pictures :)

The point is, I'd like to not just share my moments of absolute elation in this pursuit of my passion and labor of love - but, I'd also like to be naked and vulnerable and share all my struggles too. After all, isn't that what community, and sharing is all about?

So here goes:

What's working been working so far?

1. Clearly the food is attracting a lot of attention. Which is fabulous! 

What still needs work is doing a better job at communicating via signs, social media and content marketing the concept of Indian food as bar bites along with some good wine.

2. The customer feedback on food and wine quality has been positive. In my mind that's half the battle - because, product quality is key for everything else to follow.

3. Finally there is some sort of a trend that I can observe with customer dining patters. We see Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest. Week nights are slow - and we need to have interesting events and something that will add value for our customers to come in on nights that they'd rather stay home and unwind.

And the pain points?

1. I have to be brutally honest about 2 things that IP has received some negative comments about.

A. Our price points - there has been some yelp reviews which mentioned that while our food and wines are quite delicious - the cost is quite high. My personal response to this is: our wines are very inexpensive, period. But, there are delicious nevertheless. Its my primary goal to be able to showcase amazing wines from around the world to my customers, without costing them an arm and a leg. So I have a feeling there is not much truth to the comments about the wine prices.

The food however is another topic. Again, I would not want to sound like someone in denial, without paying heed to my customer's most important feedbacks. I would point out though, the perception of cost of the food could be because of 2 reasons:

-- The fact that there is still room for improvement regarding the messaging of the concept could be one main reason for this. People may be walking in thinking of a typical Indian restaurant, dining buffet style. Which is NOT who we are.

-- Or, it could be because of the work yet to be done on our part to communicate the amount of work it takes to prep every chutney from scratch and about 90% of the dry masalas that are made in house.  

But, that said, I am definitely introspecting about addressing this specific aspect of the business that has some negative connotation. I am a big proponent about not being a thief. I hate being robbed. So, I am going to address this in one of the following ways:

1. Communicate what goes in to making each dish and message clearly what can be expected when people walk in.

OR

2. If portion is really the issue - I'd like to survey more customer feedback on this topic and address this by increasing portion size.

B. The second aspect receiving some negative points is the time it takes to get food out between orders - especially the crazy busy weekend nights.

Fundamentally this is because I am the ONLY person doing the cooking, assembly, plating and delivery of food. I have been thinking hard about this and as a first step, I have acknowledged that this is a problem that requires fixing asap.

While I have put some ads out to get some help in the back, I have started to get help from the lady who helps me clean, chop etc. during service hours. I have started training her on assembling, plating and serving a couple of items on the menu. This has already starting to ease up some stress for me. Now I am working to be more agile and optimize orders as much as possible.

I can hear my front of the house already observing that food is coming out sooner than usual. A small victory for now, but still a long way to go!

That's it for now -

Also, here are some captures of some amazing moments I've had the pleasure of experiencing these past 111 days...

111

 

With that, I bid a temporary farewell.

Until next time, happy eating and drinking my dear fellow homo sapiens :)

 

 

 

+Kavitha

We are open! And month 1...

You know when you work toward something for so long (over 5 years) and finally the day arrives and you feel like....nothing!

That's how it felt when we finally open doors on March 4th - after the l-o-n-g 7 month wait since signing the lease in August 2015.

But, opening night was a blast - we were so touched and humbled when so many neighbors, friends and family stopped by for some bites and booze...or just to say Hello! Thank you so much to all of you - you made our big day bigger :)

We are open! - so now what?

Week 1 was good - overall. It rained in SF our entire first week, but we still had a great turnout. I am realizing more and more how much awe and respect I have now for any first time business that has ever opened. Its unbelievable how many things there is that needs to be taken care of for a food/booze business to be up and running. 

I am slowly settling in to this new schedule - coming in to work late afternoon and getting home past midnight. However, since its only been a few weeks my chef Brenden and I are going about things on a day to day basis. Whether it is buying produce, groceries, buying tiny things for the bar, decor for the space and etc. we are taking the lead from our dear customers.

A few high points of our new life these past few weeks:

1. We had a wonderful customer couple stop by for a Sunday nightcap and signed us up for a private party! That's how much they enjoyed our food + vino. Thanks Karen & Jeff Block!

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2. TONS of friends, collegues have stopped by to check out the space, food & wine pairings. How often do you have friends and family hangout with you at your work place with wine in one hand and flavorful Indian street food in the other? We love our life!

3. THE Niloufer Ichaporia stopped by for an evening of street food & wine along with her friend Patty Unterman (owner of Hayes street grill)! And we are still recovering from this pleasant shock and constantly piching ourselves!

In conclusion I have to say this - yes its exhausting and its tons of work, but then each day of our opening week, we have met so many customers who raved how great the food is, how unique the concept and how amazing the wines. And that makes everything so damn worth it, so so rewarding and for that I am ever so thankful!

Till next time, Namaste!

 

+Kavitha