Is anybody out there? / A year in review

December 28, 2013

Ah, hello, blogosphere. Tis been awhile.

I have a confession, that’s likely clear by now: blogging is really hard for me. Between pinpointing appropriate content and carving out time to draft a post, I become stressed, sidetracked and inevitably put off the task to another day. Three months later, here we are. 
Given the three month’s since I last updated our blog and the timing of this post (our little website will celebrate it’s 1 year anniversary in just three days!), I think it makes sense to go back to basics and answer the question: what is/was the original purpose of this blog? 
Originally, I was inspired by the posts of Boba Guys, a San Francisco based boba tea start-up. Via their own candid musings on building, perfecting, and marketing their product while creating a transparent, and ‘good’ company, they were able to establish an intimate relationship between their brand and customers. I’ve never had their tea, but I did binge read their blog posts and by the end of it, I was a boba guys believer. 
As a young company, I hope we are able establish that type of relationship between our brand and customers. I want to forever operate with the transparency of a young and hungry company. It’s just me, Frim, making your broodjes and writing this blog. There’s no guise or pride, whatsoever.
In essence (because I’ve gone on a tangent) the purpose of this blog is and was  to demystify the journey of a fledgling food business and honestly discuss the issues, challenges, failures, and successes it encounters along its journey.
In the next three days leading into the New Year, I’m going to attempt to hit on those four points as it relates to Broodjes & Bier’s first ‘year’ in business (two months fundraising, eight months slinging sammies at Silver Spork).
Up first…
Issues & Challenges
The challenge contextualizing all other challenges for Broodjes has been operating our business within an existing business. Whether launching a new broodje on the sales floor, increasing our daily output, or altering the retail pricing on an item, our ability to act was dictated by the store we operated in.
I’m (somewhat) embarrassed to say that there are mornings I wake up having built a broodje in my dreams. The best way to test a sandwich, I believe, is to sell it. Yet, there are times that product isn’t seen as a great fit for the store. Maybe they’re carrying a similar product, or are unsure of its ability to resonate with the customer base.  As our only account and our place of operation, this represented a special challenge as we weren’t ready or willing to wholesale from that space. So, we put ideas onto the backburner, ideas that might at the time have been major successes. It’s not to say that we’ll never launch them, because we will, but as a business within a business we can’t call all the shots on our product. 
Still, it has to be said that this challenge doubles as a major asset. Two business sharing a space means double the operational knowledge, as well as the ability to leverage one another’s expertise and contacts.
One telling anecdote stands out from our third week of operation: I had been working in the kitchen for three months and was in the midst of making a sandwich I make everyday. Amidst sheets of genoa, capicola, ham, and provolone is tucked a lone layer of chopped vegetables. For a while there, we were throwing the romaine on willy nilly, paying little attention to where it was placed in the cross section of the sandwich. Then  came the horrifying complaint most devastating to a ready-to-eat sandwich kitchen… Our bread, a customer said one evening, was soggy.
Around the same time, I was eating wasted Classic sandwiches (those that neglected to sell the day before) for lunch and dinner. We couldn’t seem to gain traction with the sandwich, one I personally ate bi-daily in college. On one of my dinner rounds, I pinpointed the issue. The sandwich was getting soggy fast – sometimes just within hours of getting onto the shelf. 
The owner happened to be walking by the kitchen, and brainstormed an ingenious solution. From that day forward we used the greens as bed to catch the juiciest facets of a sandwich. In combination with the right bread choice, it fixed our problem entirely.
Albeit a simple solution, this experience radically changed how I approach what we make in the kitchen. It’s why I’m so confident in our ready-to-eat menu to this. Our sandwiches don’t go soggy – they’re always fresh. 

One thought on “Is anybody out there? / A year in review

  1. Congrats on your awesome 2013! We’re happy to see that our story touched you. We get inspired by new entrepreneurs every day!

    If you’re ever in SF (or if we’re in DC), let us know!

    – The Boba Guys

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