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gfron1

Starting a high profile new restaurant (after closing another)

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Pretty much all of my professional life has been documented in these forums so it just makes sense that the next phase be documented as well. I started cooking professionally about 8 years ago when my small (but mighty) gourmet grocery morphed into a successful restaurant in Silver City, NM. This past summer I closed the Curious Kumquat and moved to St. Louis, which is where I'm born and raised. I've been working to open a new restaurant here in town ever since landed, and in the next few weeks we hope to have wrangled investors to sign a lease on a building, with an expected opening date of July of 2017. 

 

Over the course of these upcoming months I'd like to share...

•Investor recruitment and terms

•Staff recruitment, pay and training

•Facility identification, renovation and equipping

•Operational budget preparation

•Marketing

•Adjustment of my philosophy and practices from a one-man show in a remote community to a multi-person operation in a major city

 

I would love to have questions and requests guide my posts. I expect to post once per week but knowing how my mind likes to dart around I wouldn't be surprised if I post more frequently. In the meantime, I'm off to Orlando for a dinner I'm cooking this weekend in support of my cookbook. I hope y'all enjoy!

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Did you just find the topic for your next book?

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Looking forward to Bulrush, the restaurant! I shall enjoy following along just as I did for the Curious Kumquat.

 

 

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I will be curious about how you decide on suppliers.  Not so much about who launders your linens but rather, for example, who is your chosen meat purveyor(s) and why.  I imagine, in the metro St. Louis area, there are plenty of butchers, bakers, and growers, organic and otherwise, so you will have a wealth of choices.  How, and when, will you investigate your options and decide with whom you will do business?

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I am in shouting distance of StL. When you open, know that I'll be there one weekend fairly soon. Especially if it's during baseball season, as I have a buddy with season tix at Busch.

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1 hour ago, kayb said:

When you open, know that I'll be there one weekend fairly soon

Me too!

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On 12/15/2016 at 9:33 AM, MelissaH said:

Did you just find the topic for your next book?

I did and this won't be it :) I want to write about knives...that's where my mind tends to be.

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Sounds like a sharp idea for explaining cutting edge technology.  Sorry, being house bound must be getting to me.

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On 12/16/2016 at 5:20 PM, Meanderer said:

I will be curious about how you decide on suppliers.  Not so much about who launders your linens but rather, for example, who is your chosen meat purveyor(s) and why.  I imagine, in the metro St. Louis area, there are plenty of butchers, bakers, and growers, organic and otherwise, so you will have a wealth of choices.  How, and when, will you investigate your options and decide with whom you will do business?

This is even more complicated for me. In New Mexico I bought my meats almost exclusively through 4H youth in the area. No it wasn't technically by the book, but I documented every step to make the case that I could slaughter, butcher and pack my own meats under controlled circumstances. In St. Louis my hope is that I can buy 4H but have it sent to a legal processor. I've already established a relationship with a couple of local hippie farmers and our plan is to do two things. First, I will buy all of their "waste" at the end of the weekly farmers market - blemished, dated, whatever...I'm just going to process and cure/pickle/confit/conserva anyway, so I don't care what they look like, they just need to taste good. Second, they will grow fun things that excite them - versus them growing for me, I'm going to cook what they grow. That's more fun both sides and will keep me on my toes. I've also asked them to give/sell me their field forage - I would expect dock, amaranth and other greens. Most importantly for me is that we share the same ethic for organically raised, byodynamic as we can, no waste. The flip side to your question is that I'm already running into purveyors  and many don't return calls, don't send me price lists, don't follow up...I have options so they are off my list.

On 12/16/2016 at 5:41 PM, JeanneCake said:

How did you decide on a name for the new restaurant?

Like all big decisions the name came on a long dog walk in the woods. We like Bulrush because I serve cattails regularly, and using the European word for cattail gives it a slightly exotic but still accessible name. It's also early in the alphabet which is good for listings. The Biblical reference (which is how most Americans know the word) doesn't hurt. And it's a nice strong word. I wanted to avoid the trends of ambersand-ed names or goofy characters in names. Ultimately it just felt good to us.

On 12/16/2016 at 7:57 PM, Smokeydoke said:

Is the new restaurant going to focus on foraging too?

Absolutely. It's what I know and feel most comfortable serving to people. I'm so overly disillusioned with the American food system at this point. Quite frankly most ingredients repulse me (WTH is slimy chicken?!) so I'll keep doing my thing.

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4 hours ago, gfron1 said:

Absolutely. It's what I know and feel most comfortable serving to people. I'm so overly disillusioned with the American food system at this point. Quite frankly most ingredients repulse me (WTH is slimy chicken?!) so I'll keep doing my thing.

Thank you...almost all the chicken I buy is ...well...questionable...

 

I get it, it's been put in brine to keep it longer...but it also creates an illusion of size, and yeah...I can't get over the slime that comes off packaged chicken..

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Just now, nonkeyman said:

Thank you...almost all the chicken I buy is ...well...questionable...

 

I get it, it's been put in brine to keep it longer...but it also creates an illusion of size, and yeah...I can't get over the slime that comes off packaged chicken..

or how about hard tomatoes, milk that lasts for over a month, rancid oils and on and on. I really have a difficult relationship with food these days.

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9 hours ago, gfron1 said:

or how about hard tomatoes, milk that lasts for over a month, rancid oils and on and on. I really have a difficult relationship with food these days.

strawberries in winter! Hahaha, yes the list goes on forever! It is what happens when food becomes corporate..

 

Working at my last place was interesting because we were never allowed to use anything that wasn't PNW. In addition, once a year we ran a menu that limited all our products to a 100 mile radius of our location. We had to make our own baking powder, salt and a couple other things that were kind of a pain.

 

I was so glad when we actually found a wheat that was grown locally that wasn't super coarse. I had spent the previous year working with flour that could barely develop gluten because of the grind...

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20 hours ago, gfron1 said:

And it's a nice strong word. I wanted to avoid the trends of ambersand-ed names or goofy characters in names.

 

Yes!

So many stupid restaurant names. Formulaic crap.

 

Thank God you didn't name it Bulrush's.

 

Even though people will end up calling it that.

 

Unfortunately

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54 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

What is PNW?

Pacific North West

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3 hours ago, gfweb said:

Thank God you didn't name it Bulrush's.

And I did buy the URL Bullrushstl.com to account for the spelling errors that will occur. This weekend I ate at a great restaurant in Orlando called se7en bites...yeah, that was a pain to google and facebook search.

 

Part of our thought process was also what names people will have to make fun of us. I can't say the Curious Kumquat's ultimate mock-name since this is a family-friendly forum, but we already have anticipated Buls%^t which I can live with :)

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1 minute ago, gfron1 said:

And I did buy the URL Bullrushstl.com to account for the spelling errors that will occur. This weekend I ate at a great restaurant in Orlando called se7en bites...yeah, that was a pain to google and facebook search.

 

Part of our thought process was also what names people will have to make fun of us. I can't say the Curious Kumquat's ultimate mock-name since this is a family-friendly forum, but we already have anticipated Buls%^t which I can live with :)

A hostile reviewer will get lots of mileage out of that name LOL.

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5 hours ago, gfweb said:

A hostile reviewer will get lots of mileage out of that name LOL.

Yes, but I consider it low-fruit. There was much more creative potential with Curious Kumquat.

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Financing and Investors

For the Kumquat I had a few family members loan or gift us, which allowed us to get bank and SBA loans to get open and ultimately buy our building. For Bulrush we're looking more publicly for investors.

Since we’re looking to raise six figures instead of seven, it’s not too scary, but still something I’ve never done. Here in St. Louis the contemporary path is to offer a bunch of pop-up dinners and then start asking. I watched as Michael Ga llina did this for his new place he’s opening in town, and not knowing what the details of his final result were, it seems fast and painless.

I’m having a similar experience. I’ve asked a few people directly, and made a blanket statement on Facebook that garnered a few, but haven’t had to beat the bushes too hard. I’ve got friends, family, past customers and a couple of recent customers who simply approached me with their offer. Of course this feels great knowing that they believe in me, and unlike the Kumquat where it all felt very risky, I’m enjoying showing them my financial projections. This has all sorta fallen into place in a two-week period. I’m not done yet, and still need final numbers from the landlord to know how much I need to raise, but it’s feeling achievable.

A friend referred me to an investment advisor, who I met with yesterday and he turned out to be a hunter and foodie. Great connection. He is now in the process of connecting me with his friends that might be interested. On my end, I need to wrap up my business plan so I can give all these potential investors hard data and terms.

Like I said, this was daunting with the Kumquat, but no so much this time around.

[A short primer for those who've never done commercial real estate: The landlord offers a price per square foot on the property. That is the price per year - ie $10sqft for a 2400 sq foot property = $24000; divided by 12 months = $2,000 per month lease. Add on NNN (triple net) which is insurance, management fees and utilities splits which might raise the cost a few dollars a square foot. If you are asking for renovations, as we are, that cost is then often paid for up front by the landlord and then returned to the tenant in their monthly lease. So for example, if they do $100,000 in renovations (you may or may not be given an allowance by the landlord - money they're willing to invest to fix up the building at their expense), they will spread that cost out over the terms of the lease at a certain interest rate. ]

 

 

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Ugghhh, another day of lease negotiations...and on Christmas Eve! I was gifted a nice article yesterday in our regional food publication Feast.

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9 minutes ago, gfron1 said:

Ugghhh, another day of lease negotiations...and on Christmas Eve! I was gifted a nice article yesterday in our regional food publication Feast.

Nice!  The article that is. 

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On 12/24/2016 at 11:48 AM, gfron1 said:

Ugghhh, another day of lease negotiations...and on Christmas Eve! I was gifted a nice article yesterday in our regional food publication Feast.

Very nice article. I like the plan for your new restaurant and look forward to having dinner at Bulrush! (A trip to St. Lois will be a lot easier than one to Silver City... of course, you may be booked solid.)

 

Best of luck to you Rob.


Edited by curls (log)
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