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Pan

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  1. There are a couple of issues. First, the market for hot sauce subscription boxes is saturated, and the market for snack subscription boxes is also probably saturated, but no-one's tried to market a mixed subscription box including both. Second, it's expensive to get this kind of business started, and I think that subscribers are likely to find 2 hot sauces and 3 snacks, if we can swing that, a better value than 3 hot sauces, for a couple of reasons: First, they'll simply be more products. Second, even if we deliver quarterly, a lot of people won't finish 3 hot sauces before the next delivery comes - 12 hot sauces a year is a lot of hot sauces even for many hot sauce-lovers! We're OK with basically breaking even at first, but we can't afford to lose money on every delivery while competing with companies that get lots of free product in exchange for promotions (we've been told that's how at least one established subscription box company is able to charge as little as they do) or are already established enough to purchase several pallets' worth of each product and get a huge volume discount. We plan on getting there but have to make things work with 120 some-odd subscribers and then be ready for 10,000 later.
  2. haresfur, I love that kind of product! This brand has heavy penetration into the U.S. market already, though, quite widely available on Amazon. BeeZee, the idea of regional pairing is surely interesting. At this point, though, I'd be perfectly satisfied with having a year's worth of artisanal snacks with a spicy or savory aspect of their taste to include with hot sauces. As long as the products are special, that would be enough to satisfy me and I figure it would be enough to satisfy customers. To give you all some idea: I think that we normally wouldn't include products that are easily available in supermarkets (including Whole Foods). It's OK if they're sold in a few specialty markets, and it might be OK if they are available on Amazon but with only a few units left there or priced outlandishly high (which occasionally happens). I don't think it's a non-starter if they can be found in specifically East Asian, South Asian or Mexican (e.g.) markets, though the more widely available they are in the U.S., the less special they are, and the less reason not to just go to the supermarket to get them.
  3. A Singaporean snack manufacturer also thought it was discordant because she kept thinking I was suggesting dipping her vegetable chips in hot sauce (I am not), but my feeling is that you don't eat the snacks with the hot sauce. Snacks are something you can start eating right away when you open the subscription box, and the hot sauce is something you use with whatever you're cooking or a number of things you might be ordering in. Interesting idea that I need a different descriptor, and definitely worth considering. I will bring this up with my partner. I'm not sure whether we need a different word or not, given that our target audience is (and has to be) Millennials who have discerning taste that tends toward the spicy and tangy, have some disposable income and desire convenience; though I might call them gourmets, they're not likely to be formal, so that makes me unsure. Types of snacks we've found great and are likely to appear in our subscription boxes include: Two types of fudge made from delicious dark chocolate with habaneros and jalapenos or chipotle and anchos, different kinds of spicy or savory nuts (Cajun-style, bloody mary, margarita, dill pickle, rosemary, lime leaf and chili, spiced rum, etc., etc.), chocolate-covered golden berries from Peru, habanero pralines, and maybe some kinds of savory chips (e.g., satay-flavored). I should say, the reason we were going to go with hot sauces only, rather than some savory and some hot sauces, is that we did some field market surveys and found that there was much more interest in hot sauces than in sauces like mustards, which although we would include only really fantastic ones we tried, people we surveyed found the idea of mustard more ordinary (thought it's true that our results could have been a bit skewed by surveying in San Francisco). But I think our target audience will appreciate having something to munch on after they unpack the hot sauces. I could be wrong, but it seems clear that no other company is trying this combination so far, or at least I haven't found them.
  4. Hi, everybody! I hope all of you are well and coping well in these crazy times! md8232, thanks for asking, and I'm sorry for the late answer. We still have yet to start sales. I’ll cut to the chase and then give more of an update. The short version is that we are now looking to launch as a snacks-and-hot-sauce subscription box company, and therefore, I would love your recommendations of snacks with a pretty long shelf life (so not goods that you pick up at your local bakery and eat the same day - think at least around 9 months’ shelf life before opening) that you miss when you’re not in a country you used to live in (other than the U.S., though we’re open to artisanal American snacks, too, if they’re not available in supermarkets). Specific brands I can look up are most helpful, because I would need to try a sample before considering a wholesale order. The longer version is: When we were close to launching as a hot sauce subscription box company, we looked at our competition again and saw that, although no-one based in the U.S. had nearly as good a lineup as we did (and I say that because I have tried the hot sauces they are selling and we didn’t consider some of them special enough to sell), that market seemed saturated (donk79 already mentioned this as an issue in January, 2018). And since we had already started looking at snacks as a nice extra to provide for our subscribers, we decided to shift gears and make this a snacks-and-hot sauce subscription box company. We have tried some excellent snacks and figure to focus on items with a spicy or at least savory component, not for example purely sweet snacks (for example, I tried a fantastic take on a trail mix that includes organic almonds, craisins and rosemary; Indonesian cashews with lime leaves and chili; fudge with chipotle and ancho; and habanero pralines). However, we don’t yet have enough snacks for a year’s worth of deliveries, so any ideas you can give me would be most welcome!
  5. I didn't find Lan Larb as dependable in a couple of visits, I think because I didn't see her there, and the waiters I had didn't really take me seriously enough when I said I wanted the food spicy. When it isn't spicy enough, it becomes unbalanced - too salty and/or sweet.
  6. Pan

    Le Sia

    I was there within 2 weeks or so after this place opened in the former location of the late, lamented Surma. I thought it was pretty good but wasn't blown away. However, based on your report and some other things I've been reading, I think especially since it's so close to where I live, I should give it another shot or two.
  7. Pan

    Kopitiam

    Thanks a lot for the report! So sad that I'm strictly low-carbing, so no curry puffs for a while!
  8. Larb Ubol was my favorite Thai restaurant in Manhattan. The friendly chef/owner had previously been at Zabb Elee in the East Village. My girlfriend and I went there to go to dinner tonight, only to find it closed. I did a search and found this article in Grub Street from Nov. 2, 2018: Do any of you have any more current information on whether or where she might reopen? Also, when I did a web search under Ratchanee's name, I found information about a class action suit by former employees who basically accuse her of making them work overtime and stiffing them. The latest information I could find was from September 6, 2018, when the case was apparently referred for arbitration. Does anyone have more up-to-date info on that? I recognize that restaurants' profit margins are very narrow, but it's not OK to abuse workers.
  9. Wait, only "more than 50 years ago"? I'm 54, and I had the impression that the foldable pizza slice had existed in New York forever when I was a little kid. Doesn't it go back to some time in the 20s or 30s or something?
  10. Well, there is just a little bit of content there. But until we decide whether that'll really be our name, we probably won't add more.
  11. Our Facebook page is very embryonic at this point. Let me know if this link, which is coming up for me, works for you: https://www.facebook.com/SpiceSeeker-2523862607643172/?modal=admin_todo_tour I just got a strange error message from eGullet: "The link could not be embedded because there is no status at that URL." Anyway, we might or might not keep that company name.
  12. Hi, everyone! I'm way overdue for an update. First, I want to tell you all a little about the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, which my brother/partner and I attended in January. It was exhausting but not nearly to the extent of the way larger show last summer in New York, and it helped a lot that the two of us were working together this time. It was interesting to see the trends in the food industry. There are a lot of products now that are low-sugar or have no sugar added, including hot sauces and jams, organic is in, and there was also an emphasis on gluten-free products from purveyors of foods for which that's relevant - and some for which it's not. Some highlights: Cane Land has a big sugar cane plantation in Louisiana and makes fantastic dark and spiced rums and wonderful rum cake. They don't make hot sauce or condiments, but they do make spiced rum pecans that are a nice snack. There were several other purveyors of delicious flavored peanuts and other nuts - a personal favorite was the Everything Goes Nuts by Bobby Sue's Nuts from Chappaqua, New York, whose flavoring is meant to be like everything bagels, but I like it more than those. There was another booth giving pours of excellent Italian red and white wines. Of course it's a good idea not to drink too much wine and rum while you're working, and we didn't! We also tried some rich dark chocolates made with hot peppers. We enjoyed the Sardinian cheese booth - Pecorino Sardo is a very good cheese. And Essendorfer, the Bavarian company I mentioned last winter, came back to the San Francisco Fancy Food Show with a whole bunch of additional products, all of which were excellent. There were a couple of organic hot sauce makers we liked that are making sauces with only a few ingredients that really depend on flavorful peppers, and the ones we liked best are made by a vineyard in Napa that also grows their own unusual hot peppers. They were funny - their hot sauces weren't displayed, because they were emphasizing other products like flavored olive oils and wines, but when we asked them if they had anything else, they said "We have some hot sauces, if you'd have any interest in that." Also while visiting San Francisco, I tried a bunch of sauces my brother picked up on trips to Europe and Japan. We particularly liked a number of sauces from Japan. For example, we loved a condiment of fried onions and garlic with chili, a roasted red chili soy sauce, a seven spices miso with kombu and a crunchy, garlicky wasabi oil furikake sauce, meant to be used to flavor rice. I also have a bit of fairly exciting news: We just started advertising on Facebook. Right now, our main aim is to determine which of a number of possible company names seems to be most popular, but because we tested 4 ads against each other, we also have had somewhat of a chance to compare their effectiveness in attracting people to go to our landing page and leave their emails for us to contact them when we're sending out information about subscriptions. We also have the lineup of products for our first deliveries to our subscribers planned out. When we're ready to take subscriptions, I'll post a link to the URL here, for anyone who might be interested. Wish us luck in continuing to advertise and try to find customers for our subscription service!
  13. Oh my God, I'm just seeing this! I am - or I guess I have to say was - a Facebook friend of Katie's, but somehow, the brutal algorithms of that site kept the news from me. I considered Katie a friend. This is just so painful.
  14. Hi, everyone! Of course I'm a longtime member of eGullet and greatly value this site, but I do use other food discussion sites, too: for example, the Chowhound spinoffs Hungry Onion and Food Talk Central, which currently have a bit more discussion of New York restaurants than eGullet's New York Forum. I also used to use Chowhound before it became rather dead following the last reorganization, and used to value it for its former focus on cheap eats. In addition to eGullet, what other forums do you like, and why? Also, do you know of any good forums that specifically focus on hot sauces or other more or less narrowly-defined savory items?
  15. Hi, everyone! I'm probably overdue for an update, so here it is! From Saturday, June 30 - Monday, July 2, I attended the Fancy Food Show at the humongous Javits Center in far west Midtown Manhattan. It was an immense show, and I spent a few hours on the first day and 7 hours apiece at the show on the second and third days. There was huge international representation. For example, in the Italian section, which occupied two rows and then some, Cascina San Cassiano was one of the most outstanding vendors. I must have tried a dozen sauces and jams they make, and none of them was anything short of excellent. I also got to try a unique product, Peschiole al Tartufo Estivo, which are very small young green peaches without pits yet, lightly pickled in black truffle water, made by Savini Tartufi. And these are just two highlights from the Italian section. Among the interesting American products were habanero pralines, which we may carry, and jams that are only slightly sweet and include tea in them. And then back in the international sections, there was the tomato sauce with mastic oil from Santorini, the fantastic smoked chili powder produced by the Mapuche Indians in Chile, the hot piri-piri sauces from Portugal... Of course we can't carry every product. Some companies require a 5-pallet minimum order for wholesale, other companies produce very good products that already have wide distribution, and others charge so much money for wholesale that we'd need to sell very expensive subscriptions to include their products (perhaps an option if there turns out to be a lot of call for that later). But there were quite a few very interesting products that we may be able to carry soon. I had to leave town the morning after the end of the Fancy Food Show, and I am only now nearly done writing up my notes on vendors and products on spreadsheets and following up with questions about minimum wholesale orders, wholesale prices at different volumes, lead times and sometimes possible smaller sizes of sauces that normally come in large jars. One thing that's clear is that we will sooner or later - and probably sooner - be doing a lot of importation. We will almost definitely be importing from Japan, probably from Canada, and quite likely from some countries in Europe and South America. An excellent South African company is also in the mix, and of course we are very interested in the leads some of you have given us on bush tucker in Australia. If any of you have any insight into anything we should consider doing to make the process of importing easier and more effective, please let me know. Other things we've been dealing with are purely related to starting a business: Applying to start an LLC (not too hard to do but requires a $200 payment to the state if you do it in New York, and then comes with an onerous publication requirement, to essentially advertise for 6 straight weeks in a daily and weekly newspaper of the government's choice in the county where the LLC's office is, although that can be in not-too-expensive Albany County if you use an agency), getting an Employer Identification Number from the IRS (also a simple process) and filling out more necessary forms. Opening a business bank account is another task that should be performed soon. There's more to say, but I have to get some sleep, as my other life as a musician beckons, with a 1.5-hour gig at a nursing home tomorrow (technically, this afternoon), a dress rehearsal on Tuesday and a rock concert on Thursday (if you're interested in that, click here - I'm a guest artist and play on the title track of the new CD).
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