Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You win some, you lose some . . .

Well, I'm afraid that my brief time at the cafe has come to an end, dear readers. Business dropped off sharply during the month of October, and my business partners and I decided that it just wasn't working. I just came to the decision . . . some weeks before I could actually admit it out loud . . . that it wasn't going to be an investment of my time OR money that was going to be wise in the end.So even after all this work, all this heart and soul I've poured into this place . . . it's over.

I'm sorry if this disappoints some of you. I know that a lot of people have been looking up to me for following my dream. And it hurts to think that I might let some of those people down. But I really did give it my all, and I learned a lot from the experience. It's hard to pin-point exactly just went wrong, and I'm loathe to point fingers at anyone or anything in particular. It is what it is. I went through a few days of great sadness. And now I am moving on.

Onward and upward, as they say.

I have had an idea in my head for over a year now: selling my own home-made cake mixes to people who are too busy to bake from scratch. Even better, layer the ingredients and decorate them in a rustic mason jar, decorated in beautiful fabric and ribbons.

This idea has been on the backburner for me for quite some time now. I've had the supplies ready, the concept working, even the recipes picked out. When the Midland Cafe didn't work out, I know it was time to focus my attention, my energy, my passion on this project: my project.

One of the frustrating things I found with the cafe was trying to fit my "vision" with that of my business partners. Now, I am at the helm . . . I'm in full control of my own destiny.

Practical matters: I registered Vintage Victuals as an LLC. I got my friend Mrs. Southern Belle to modify my bread logo so that I could use it on my mason jars. I signed up for a local Holiday Market. I finalized my recipes, purchased holiday-themed fabrics and ribbons, and I searched far and wide for the perfect mason jars.

Then I went to work. I spent hours in the kitchen at the cafe assembling 70 jars. I brought them home and decorated them. I raided a VistaPrint sale for all sorts of fun promotional materials and gathered what I would need to decorate my booth at the Holiday Market.

Finally, I launched an Etsy shop on an online marketplace for handmade crafts and goods. Then, I got ready for my big debut.

It was such a success!!!

I sold 62 jars at the Holiday Market, and I got such a positive response that I have already signed up for two more craft fairs!!! I've spent the past week re-stocking my supplies as quickly as possible to keep up with the demand. I've had several online orders through my etsy shop, and hope that the response will continue to grow as I get my name out there and market my new business.

So bear with me, dear friends. I am down, but not out. As my dream continues to evolve, I hope you will stay with me and enjoy the journey as much as I am.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's a sign!

We finally have our new sign!! Thanks so much to Mrs. Southern Belle for designing the overall concept. One of our local artists here in Jefferson took her idea and added his own interpretation. Doesn't it look great?!?

The hair salon next door to us will have their sign where it says "Coffee" - hopefully within the next week or two. Here is a close-up shot of our beautiful sign.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Diving in head first . . .

Hi, friends. Long time no post.

I sort of wondered, before, about why I had such trouble finding inspiration blogs on this topic: opening your own food business. Well, I'm not wondering any more. It's so time consuming that I barely even have time to sit in front of a computer!

So much has transpired in the past month - where do I begin?

I finished my old job. It was a bittersweet time. I do miss my amazing coworkers and the work that I enjoyed. On the other hand, there was somewhat of a burden lifted: I could finally focus my attention on ONE thing, the new business.

I took a week to get things in order and to relax a little bit before I dove in at the cafe, head first. Five-AM mornings, professional mixers, meat slicers, espresso bean grinders, knives, take-out boxes, and 50-lb. bags of flour fill my days now. Even a week and a half in, it's still all so new to me - and I am loving every minute.

Stay tuned and I promise to blog more often so that I c an share this journey with you all.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Midland

We have a name!!!

We have officially decided on "The Midland Cafe" as our name.

I think it is good for a variety of reasons:

  • It's flexible enough to stay with us if we eventually expand into a full restaurant.
  • It's got a connection to our town, without being too cheesy.
  • The domain name was available, so we went ahead and reserved it.
  • It lends itself to a really cute logo, which, in turn, will lead to fun marketing merchandise (hats, aprons, t-shirts, mugs).
I'm so excited! What do y'all think?!?

PS : If any of you graphic design types out there want to try you hand at a logo for fun, then go for it! I'm envisioning some sort of logo involving a train, sort of coming at you from a distance, and "The Midland Cafe" to the side or underneath.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hi, Friends

It's Friday night again, and the house smells amazing!!!

I have to share something with you tonight: it's been a strange day.

Today, I got a phone call from my husband, who had gotten a phone call from X, who had gotten a phone call from Y, who had gotten a phone call from Z . . . who was a prominent figure in the legal world here in North Georgia and who had an opportunity that he wanted me to apply for.  

For the record, this opportunity would be very similar to what I'm currently doing, which I actually really enjoy.  And it would be on the local level, which would be even better!

So, dear friends.  It appears that I have a big decision to make.  At the moment, with the yeasty smell in the air striking my nose and going straight to my head, it feels like an easy decision.  But it's an important decision nonetheless. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Menu Planning

So . . . dear readers, dear eaters, dear friends . . . if you were a resident of my tiny North Georgia town, and you were getting a gourmet sandwich at my new café. . .

What'll ya have?

I'm just finishing up a draft of our menu this week. I've got some good ideas (how about turkey with lite herbed mayo and swiss on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato?) but I wanted to throw this out there - what sandwiches would you like to see on the menu?

Here are the rules - you have to START with these ingredients!

Turkey, ham, roast beef

White bread, wheat bread, and possibly a rye or sourdough

American cheese, swiss cheese, and perhaps a third? Cheddar?

What are your favorite sandwiches with these as your base ingredients?

Leave me a comment to let me know!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Still Awake

It's after midnight, and I've just now finished baking my cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.  My loaves of buttermilk white bread have just gone into the oven, and I'm still awake.

On these pre-farmers-market evenings, when I have to tell my friends I can't socialize, I must go home to bake bread - everyone keeps telling me, 'This is how it's going to be!' 'Get used to it!' 'These are going to be your hours!'

I know that my new career is going to involve very hard work, very long hours, and a lot more physical work than I do right now.  I'm ready for the challenge.  

But doing my new job AND my old job at the same time?  Well, it pretty much sucks.   I said goodbye to my friends and their bottle of wine tonight, their light gossip, their heart-warming laughs.  My husband is tucked in and fast asleep. Even my two dogs are passed out beneath my feet as I type.  And here I am.  Still awake.

But you know what?  Those moments when I'm drizzling my icing over the pans of cinnamon rolls - the satisfaction of feeling the perfect texture of white dough going into a greased pan - the beauty of the toasted nuts on the sticky buns as I turn them out of their pans and reveal their gooey goodness - it makes me smile.  It makes my heart jump.  It makes me feel . . . alive, alert, awake.

So I'm still awake.  Smelling the scent of warm white bread wafting from the oven, feeling the tingle in my nose of the hint of cinnamon that laces the air in the house, dreaming of my new life and making it happen here, now, past midnight.