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