Thursday, 19 July 2012

The 2 Month Review

Wow, my baby Palmoino Espresso is 2 months old. Time flys!!

Firstly a huge thank you to all our lovely customers. Opening on York Street in the city I never expected to feel such a sense of community with the workers near by. Its been great getting to know you all, learning the coffee orders (slowly) and generally beginning to feel like we're part of the area. Thank you for supporting us, it makes getting up at 3am to bake all worth while!

Other exciting developments since we opened are the start of our coffee tastings on Tuesday afternoons. They've been running these past couple of weeks with customers sampling the cold drip, pour overs and we've even got the antique lever machine running which has been a huge hit. Don't forget to pop in next Tuesday 2-3pm to try something new from our caffeine menu.

You also may have noticed our new menu boards, wohoo!! I've uploaded a couple of photos of us making and installing below. It was quite an amusing / stressful day..... learning on the job for sure, another DIY success me thinks. 

Anyho now that life is a little more routine, I will attempt to be more regular with the blog posts.... attempt :)
Tony looking serious using the lever on Ol Queenie

Charlie looking scary cutting up the menu boards

Me looking stupid trying to hold the boards straight

and the nearly finished menus :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Lazy long weekend

Charlie studying the menu at Toast

Hope everyone has had a fab long weekend. The weather couldn’t have been soggier but I’ve got to admit I enjoyed the cosiness of it all. I have appreciated some serious chill time after last weeks 14 hour working days. I also got to enjoy relaxing at other peoples cafes which I always find invigorating! This weekend we went to old favourites Toby's in Wooloomooloo, biggest servings of scrambled eggs in Sydney! Toast in Surry Hills, love the ever changing brekkie specials and La Banette Pattisserie in Glebe, nobody does pastries quite like this place.

This morning myself and Wifey were back at the kitchen stove prepping up lots of food ready for tomorrow. We’ve got slow cooked beef and gravy ready for the pies. Made more of our famous granola. Even stewed up some chickens for delicious chicken and mushroom pies. Tomorrow morning we’ll get into the shop and actually make the pies up so they’ll be fresh out the oven ready for lunch. Nothing beats a warm house-made pie on a winters day. Get in quick before they run out!

What the final product will look like!

Monday, 4 June 2012

I wish that I knew then what I know now

Much has been learnt in the past 2 weeks of opening. The learning curve sure is steep but I am loving the challenge. It’s exciting, its nail biting and I have a funny feeling in my toe. What follows therefore is my list of 10 ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ moments.  Feel free to take the advice and not make these school boy errors in your own business….. oh and you can have a listen to Rod Stewart whilst doing so.
Faces - Ooh La La 
(this link will take you away from page, I'm not clever enough to know how to do otherwise)

      1. Order products with plenty of time to actually arrive
      Avoid the nervous wait to see if you'll actually have chairs for customers to sit on.
      2.  Never trust the council when they say “it only takes 4-5 weeks”
      City of Sydney Council moves about as fast as an arctic glacier. We put in our development application for a sign and outdoor seating the day after we signed the lease. This now means our application has been in process for 8 weeks without an answer! I feel certain that if we had hounded them more things may have gone a little quicker. We left it 3 weeks before the first call to see how it was all progressing and they hadn't even started! Only after that first call did things get rolling, oooh so slowly.
      3.  In your first few days – go simple
      Prepared or not service will be slightly crazy in those first few days/weeks. The processes are still being worked out and fine tuned. Its best, therefore to just do the basics well. We spent days thinking of an awesome menu only to scrap half at the end of the week because certain things just didn't work. You need to think about what the capacity of your kitchen can handle - lots of different dishes means more ingredients to order, increased stock to store and generally slower service time. We've culled our menu down to the best dishes. These dishes can be concentrated on, perfected and the whole operation is altogether smoother and simpler.
      4.  Don’t have your opening party the night before you actually open
      Bad move on our behalf. Not quite sure what we were thinking when this decision got made. Worries about your first day only get multiplied by worries of also having a successful opening night party. Try chatting to friends and family whilst also working out in your head all that needs to get done before the next morning. Factor in clean up, next days food prep, baking and a little bit more baking and you end up going to bed at 2.30am in the morning and waking up 1.5 hours later at 4.30am to start your very first day of trade. Not to be re-lived.
      5. Prepare blog entries in advance of busy times
      Yes, as I'm sure you were only too aware of my lack of blog entries over the past 2 weeks. Working 14 hour days does not bode well for successful posts. Would have been good to have a few pre-written posts up my sleeve.
      6. Start looking for good quality staff, early!
      Mad rushes to hire anyone who walks in off the street don't usually lead to quality staff. We've found a few gems this way but we've also found plenty of duds too.
      7.  Get a sign
      This could depend of your location and frontage but we definitely need a sign. A sign was something seen as not essential in the build up to opening and in hindsight this was right, it wasn't. But now things are up and running and people are trying to find us or even just see the shop from across the road, the lack of signage is becoming a distinct disadvantage.
      8.   Get your website up prior to opening
      Oh to have free time again. I remember, not so long ago before Palomino opened lounging about the house thinking that I really should write the content for my website. Old lazy Liesel decided that it would be much easier once the cafe opened. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Bad lazy Liesel, you will have no time once your shop opens and the website will become the monkey on your back gnawing at your thoughts and generally making things feel unfinished.
      9.   Spend time on your budget – 20mins of guess work is not enough is it Liesel? No it is not.
      I got off pretty lucky on this one as we did finish the cafe under budget. However, I did see how it could so easily go very wrong. We did a rough budget and thought it was fantastic. Fast forward 2 months and we realise we'd forgotten to factor in costs like carpenter fees, general building costs, astronomical legal fees and shelving. We saved our butts by not spending as much in other areas. 
     10.  Accept that not everything will be perfect when you open
      No one will notice all those minor details stressing you out. Go with the flow, smile and you can sort out the little stuff on your next day off!
the cute puppy has nothing do to with the post, i just wanted to draw you in. mwah ha ha ha

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Thank you all!

Oh my goodness, I've sat down to write this blog entry at least 5 times. It's just really hard to know where to begin when so much has happened!

I’ll start with the opening night, attended by so many of our friends and family. What a wonderful/nerve racking experience it was to show off the place and the hard work to you all. Thanks for coming along and thank you especially for all the support provided in the run up to opening. The generosity of your time and help is something I will never forget. To those of you that turned up after work to help paint or tile. Even when most of the help was through motivational chatter. To my Mum and Charlie who stayed the night before opening till 2.30am only to get up at 4am for more baking… yep folks 1.5 hours sleep for my first day! Karl my brother, you were always there when needed, so much would have been impossible without your strength (as in muscles).  Heidi my sister, you have given up so much of your time, I would never have even opened that first day if it weren’t for you. That goes for you too Aaron (Morgan’s Coffee), your help has gone above and beyond the call of duty and your coffee knowledge is inspiring.

Lastly, a huge thank you to the wonderful customers who have ventured into Palomino Espresso over the last 2 weeks. No we don’t have a sign yet and yes we are smiling at you but you risked it anyway! Thanks, you have all been lovely and we really appreciate your support.

Gushy gushness. Alright well I’ve got it all out there now. And in the process I have also got back on the blogging bandwagon. Yeehar! Stay tuned, the routine is back….. tomorrow i’d like to talk about all the lessons learnt from opening week, a good one for any cafĂ© owners to be! Ahhh, feels good to be back.

bottled cold drip!
lotsa goodies
old American milk caps

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Favourite Sydney Coffee and Foodie Blogs

Extra reading makes you look smart and sound clever. This is why I’d like to recommend some of the latest and bestest foodie/coffee blogs out there at the moment. All of the below are fun to read, pretty to look at and very informative. Not one of these writers will use the word ‘bestest’ but all of them are guaranteed to make you more knowledgeable and therefore desirable.... just sayin’.

The Bean Stalker: Brisbane based coffee worshipping blog written by a professional roaster. Love the in-depth, passionate discussions about coffee brewing methods and all the interesting vidoes too. This guy knows what he's talking about. An inspiring and hugely informative read.

Fork It: Fork It food blog is a mix of detailed flowing reviews and mouth watering recipes all created by aspiring chef and writer Oni. Her posts are passionate and have a hint of Nigella Lawson about them “i get intimate with the produce”. Totally into the feel of this blog and always left inspired to cook. Big plus for vegetarians as reviews will usually comment on what veggie options were available at the time.

Corridor Kitchen: Really like this blog which reviews cafes, products, recipes, events in the inner Sydney area. The posts are honest and hearty with the writer always mentioning the coffee. I like how any criticism is constructive and always fair. I get the feeling she genuinely would like all the places on her radar to be good but is willing to give reasons as to why something may not have been working that day. The aesthetics and layout of this blog make it a pleasure to peruse around and I often find myself enticed into other articles from interesting photos and post titles.

Sydney Coffee Nerd: Sold purely by the scoring system on this blog. Max 10 point score in 4 categories of coffee style, coffee experience, cafe cool, cafe service. Looooove it, detailed and mildly neurotic, what a joy. The writer is super honest and quietly amusing. I find this blog is best appreciated smirking whilst stroking a white fluffy cat with ones hook. Definitely one of my favourites.

The Adventures Of Miss Piggy: I enjoy the way Miss Piggy writes, each blog post feels like a mate is talking to you. Complete with humour and Dad joke puns to match. Posts are always accompanied by large good quality photos, which is awesome for folks like me that get put off by too many words. My favourite thing however, about Miss Piggy’s blog are the pages ‘Sydney Eating Wishlist’ and ‘Global Eating Domination’. I generally like people who aspire to be dictators and Miss Piggy is no exception. She ticks off the list once each said establishment has been visited - rule that list!

Secret Foodies: This is a must read for food enthusiasts in the Sydney area. Plenty of beautifully crafted, flowing reviews to be had on this site. You can sit in the comfort of your own home and read about the fun other people have had at various lovely restaurants. Orrr are we feeling a bit crazy tonight? Well if so, sign yourself up for a food adventure into the unknown! Secret Foodies run surprise themed dinners. You buy a ticket and then couple of hours before the event you find out where you're off to! Go and meet up with other like minded culinary explorers!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Cute little unassuming blog thats been going for an age in terms of blogging time (since 2007). I like how the writer is clearing just doing this for love of food. Simple but beautiful pictures and posts keep me coming back, keep it up!

The Coffee Guide: Fun and interactive Australian cafe review website. Download the app and rate cafes that you visit, even score your barista! Each week a new cafe/barista will be awarded top dog and get an interview on the front page of the website for the whole next week.

A Table For Two: Ex-masterchef contestant Billy Law has set up a pretty dandy website featuring the best eats in Sydney and around the world. The reviews are largely for Asian style restaurants and dishes with food photography that will leave you salivating.

This list is by no means an exhaustive one. Australia is especially passionate about food and coffee so there are lots of awesome foodie blogs out there. If you know of an especially good one that I've left off this list let me know in the comments and i'll be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Making personal sacrifices to set up a business

I tumbled out of bed this morning to find my feet caught up in the piles of clothes currently layering my floor. Right now, you wouldn’t even know that my bedroom does in fact have beautiful wooden floorboards. I fumble around the drawers to find there’s not an awful lot about in terms of clothes. Clean knickers anybody? Oh the personal sacrifices made in the run-up to opening this cafe.

Many people don’t realise the full extent of how much time you have to give to setting up a new business. Or, if you’re like me you had an idea but when it comes down to it, that doesn’t make the workload any easier! I honestly cannot remember the last time I cooked and ate at home, maybe it was the previous Thursday when I had a pot noodle. Recently every meal has either been scoffed amongst the rubble of the shop or eased down with a scooner at the pub. Vegetables - a treat of the past, a dream of the future. I can only sigh and watch my waist-line expand. What’s that place the gym? Uh, I feel tired just thinking about it. Think i’ll have to have a lie down.

Other luxuries that quickly slip down the list of priorities:

Personal Hygiene: No one notices how greasy your hair is when you're covered in dust and paint 24/7. Brush teeth or go straight to bed, what a conundrum! ohhh bed your looking rather lovely this evening.

Friends: I’m not sure mine exist anymore. One day i’ll get to see them again.... at the end of that rainbow.

Relationships: Persuade other half that trip to Ikea is actually romantic date. Stop half way round at Ikea cafe and buy her $4.95 dinner, kerrr-ching!

Wearing nice clothes: I’m pretty sure board shorts and flannel-shirts are in right now.

Weekends: I was never a fan anyway.

Oh and in case you were wondering I bought myself new underwear today. Forget laundry, I just don’t have the time!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Supplier shout out - part 1

We’re getting to the stage where the place is actually starting to look like a cafe you might want to go to. So I'm thinking now is probably a good time to mention some of the excellent suppliers we have used along the way and why they could be good for your business too. Just to note these are all suppliers to help actually build/set your hospitality business up. We will go through food and produce suppliers in a later blog.
IronWood -  IronWood are timber specialists and have a large selection of beautiful  recycled wood. Myself and my partner felt pretty stupid the first time we walked in here. We were like “we want some wood” (yes, yes, let the jokes fly). Anyway the boys and girls at IronWood are always ready to lend a hand. They have a certain way of doing business which basically involves speed walking around the timber yard, pulling out various hunks of wood whilst you decide what you like. All the wood in our shop is from this place; the counter, the tables, the back wall panelling. If you need any of the wood stained or shaped they can do this too and then deliver right to your door step.
Mitchell Road Auction Centre - Theres lots of cool second hand furniture and knick knack stores out there but we've found a couple that come up trumps time and time again. The Mitchell Road Auction Centre in Alexandria is a two storey treasure chest of antique and design furniture, kitchen ware and bitsa. We also think that this place also seems slightly cheaper than everywhere else, so if you hunt there are bargains to be had. Our other favourite second hand store is Doug Up On Bourke. This shop is so fun to walk around, they have everything - even a giant camel! Looking for lights, cool signs, random eceletica you'll find it all here.
Cafe Ideas - They've been in the industry for donkeys years and are the place to go for your large kitchen equipment e.g. display fridge, oven, sandwich press. Shop around for a good price and these guys will usually match it. You can either buy these products out-right or through silver chef which is like leasing the equipment till you pay it off. Silverchef leasing is a really good idea for startup businesses. It means you get brand new equipment without the initial hefty cost. 
Ebay - Great for picking up little gems and second hand equipment. Be uber careful about buying previously owned kitchen goods. You might feel like you're getting a bargain but when your fridge breaks down in the middle of service, you'll wish you spent those extra bucks. You can also pick up some decent catering equipment at Omaras auction house in Rozelle.
Bunnings - I practically feel like I own shares in Bunnings having spent so much money and time in this place of late. However, I have to say that owning shares wouldn’t be a bad idea as this place sells everything and their staff are super helpful. I am totally clueless about anything D.I.Y related but Bunnings seem to have an expert in each section that’ll run through the whole process and show you what you need. We found the store in Alexandria to be particularly accommodating.

Lastly my big thanks to the tradies:
Fred, not Bob the Builder

Fred the Builder

Barry the Electrician

Michael the Plumber

If you are looking for a trades person that comes with a recommendation then email me and I would happily suggest and pass on any of the above guys contact details.

As I said previously, this is just the start of the list and I look forward to revealing all the foody suppliers soon.