Popping-Up Across the District

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The broodjes have entered the building!

Since the aggressive launch of Broodje Co., Broodjes & Bier’s wholesale sandwich arm, the team has introduced lunch pop-ups as a more personalized service for our customers. These pop-ups not only help Broodje Co. diversify its client base, reaching DC professionals who often haven’t heard of the Dutch-inspired sandwich company before, but also provide a huge amount of fun for staff. After countless hours in the kitchen, there’s nothing better than meeting face-to-face with customers for a delicious lunch time break. Additionally, for the organizations we work with, Broodje Co. pop-ups offer a way to provide easy and affordable lunch options to employees.

The other great sell for these events: samples! We bring our Broodje Board to each of these events and serve samples of everything for sale. After hearing a quick summary of the ingredients in each broodje, people usually try one or two samples before deciding on their lunch for the day. In addition to the sandwiches, the pop-ups also provide chips and drinks to round out the meal.

Broodje Co. has popped-up at a number of different locations all over the city, from Chinatown to Downtown and Shaw. We’re always on the search for new locales, so if you’d like to see Broodje Co. pop-up at your office, please email frim@broodjesandbier.com for more info.

Written by Janny F.


The Rise of Broodje Co. !

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Spring is here and broodjes are sprouting up across the city!

You’ve supported us as we’ve spent this last year testing our recipes and building industry experience at the Silver Spork. Since our move to Union Kitchen in February, Broodjes & Bier has started wholesaling our Broodje Co. sandwiches to five partners in DC and VA.

Specifically, you can now get your broodje fix here:

Upping our production has been a fun and exciting challenge. From coordinating 4am bread deliveries to building positive relationships with our partners and vendors, we’re seeing first hand the mechanics of a growing business. We’re even gearing up to make our first hire for the Production team!

And, as always, give us your feedback! While we are pushing our 7 sandwich menu hard through the end of this month, we’ll be taking some time to reevaluate our menu in May. Constant iteration will be the key to figuring out a sandwich formula that works for our partners, and ultimately, for you – our customers. Let us know what works and what doesn’t. From the beginning, Broodjes & Bier has been about high quality ingredients, delicious food, and transparency. This is the moment in our growth when we can ensure we’re striking the right tone on all cylinders.

Broodjes @ Union Kitchen

Union Kitchen in Washington, DC
Union Kitchen in Washington, DC
BB is doing the ol’ one, two step to the DC food incubator, Union Kitchen!

After an amazingly fun and enjoyable year with the Silver Spork family, it’s time for us to make the pilgrimage to NE.

For those not familiar with Union Kitchen, it’s a phenomenal commercial kitchen in Northeast DC that over 55 food-preneurs call home. Here, Broodjes will have a dedicated space to ramp up production, a full kitchen to try new flavor profiles and techniques, and a grip of new folks to meet. While we no longer have sandwiches available at Silver Spork, we’ll be announcing the 3 locations you’ll be able to find us at early next week.
Perhaps most exciting about this move is the opportunity to be surrounded by fellow food ‘treps. I spend a good amount of my free time both sampling and staying abreast of the DC local food scene. As such, more than a handful of the names Broodjes will be working alongside are folks I have, from afar, followed and respected. Now, we’re neighbors! Here’s to moving on up in this DC foodie world.

On a related and similarly exciting note, new kitchen plus new sandwiches = BROODJES CATERING 

Allow me to introduce our newest fundraising initiative: THE 8 DAYS OF CATERING
While our catering options are open year round, 8 DAYS OF CATERING is our dedicated push to raise money via feeding your hungry bellies for the new labels and packaging for our latest broodjes.
WHEN: February 28th – March 8th
DETAILS: NO delivery fee. We’ll bring them to your doorstep, free of charge.
THE MENU: BB Catering Menu

A Year in Review pt. 2: Brutal Learning Opportunities

Brutal Learning Opportunities
To begin, this past year I subscribed to the idea that there is no such thing as failure; there are only brutal opportunities from which to learn. Let that be the context for the rest of this post…
We had a few brutal learning opportunities present themselves to us over the last year. There was our first pop-up, our first vending event, and our first run-in with the DC Tax & Revenue Administration, just to name a handful.
The best though had to be our pop-up. It was the most public of our learning experiences, and provided some of the best dictums that we would absorb all year: 1) communication is powerful; 2) be ultra-prepared; 3) broodjes as a concept is a powerful one in execution.
A behind the scenes play-by-play…
It was 6:30am on Friday, September 20th when I woke up after 6 hours of not that great sleep. I was excited. It was pop-up day. Exactly a week prior we had sold approximately 8 tickets to family and friends for the event, at the time certain the event would be a major professional embarrassment and blow to our brand.
That morning, I awoke to the sale of our 75th ticket. We saw a 303% rise in ticket sales in the days leading up to the event and the team (myself and four friends) were getting revved up for what was sure to be a hectic night.
Our first major challenge in all of this was estimating the amount of food we needed to have on hand. If 75 presale tickets were sold, and 30% of those ticket holders brought a non-ticket holding friend then we could expect about 100 people. I heard it’s always better to have more food than less, so we ordered and prepped ingredients to make 120 sandwiches.
We had a keg which we would be divvying into 10 oz. pours and a 8 bottle sangria ie 124 beer servings, 40 ish servings of sangria (named rosemary’s strawberry borrel, the ingenius brainchild of Molly)
First lesson: 
Estimate better.
I say better because I still don’t think we could’ve gotten it perfectly. I imagine an educated guess of the number of people who attended our pop-up that evening to be 150.
In the first half hour, we sold out of sangria. In the second hour, we sold out of beer, and had we been better prepared with our food service, we would have sold out of food in the second hour as well. As it happened, we had a bit of food left at the end because we were building sandwiches to order throughout the entire evening.
I don’t know the exact science behind estimating covers, but next time I would increase our expected attendees by 75% of presales.
Yes, we would still have sold out of beer, sangria, and sandwiches had we followed this rule, but the eventuality would have been much less dramatic and sophomoric.
In fact, the suggestion then might have been ‘wow, they’re really popular! look at how many people are here! they’ve even sold out of food’ instead of ‘wow, they’re really popular but highly disorganized! they didn’t estimate their food well at all.’ Most importantly, we might have run out of food when people were coming up for their second and third servings, instead of their first.
Second Lesson: Be 5x more prepared than you think you need to be
We dropped the ball on preparedness. We made a schedule, we stuck to the schedule, but the schedule was inherently flawed. It did not take into account that at 7pm, there would be 120 hungry broodje lovers outside the Spork doors ready to get their Prost! on.
My assumption was that at 7pm, we would have 25% of our patrons come in, 50% in the second hour, and the final 25% in the third. It did not go down like that, and in retrospect that was faulty logic on my part. There were only three hours to eat tapas style sandwiches, drink cheap beer, and listen to a great band. Folks were there at 6:45pm.
In an effort to keep our product fresh, we fully assembled only 40% of the sandwiches for that evening prior to 7pm. The idea was that we would continue to build sandwiches as the night progressed to ensure quality/freshness. Consequently, when 130% of expected attendees walked in at 7:10pm to start eating, we just weren’t ready to satisfy those numbers. What resulted was a haphazard process in which a lot of the folks working the event just didn’t know what was going on. It was tough three hours as customers waited in long lines for food that wasn’t always there when they made it to the front.
Third Lesson: Broodjes as a concept is meaningful and powerful
It was around 9:30pm when we had exhausted all stores of bread and gouda that I took a walk upstairs for the first time that evening. Due to the unexpected timing of the event, I was in the kitchen until a half hour before the end of Prost!
What I saw was sobering. There were 150ish friends, family, and strangers packed into the sprawling outdoor patio of The Silver Spork. They occupied tables, leaned against fences and some event stood outside the fence, always within earshot.
Amidst the cloudless 60 degree night, Harmonic Blue jammed and smiles were spread across every single face I could see. Empty plates, and a few full cups littered the tables and brick floor, but the sentiment was clear: people were happy. There was a type of joy in the air that I could only ascribe to the 6 months I spent abroad in Amsterdam, particularly the hours I spent with new friends sharing a beer or (could you imagine) a broodje. That sentiment is the reason Broodjes & Bier ever existed: we’re a lifestyle company that sells sandwiches, and not the other way around. Embarrassed, tired, and exhausted, I knew the event was still in many respects a success. We had done it.

Is anybody out there? / A year in review

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. 

Broodjes, Bier & Blues: The skinny on our first pop-up

We’re popping up!

After 5 months of slinging our five sandwich menu at The Silver Spork, we’re amped to announce our inaugural sandwich and bier extravaganza: Prost! A Sandwich & Bier Pop!

If you haven’t visited The Silver Spork patio, there is no better opportunity than Friday, September 20th. It truly is one of the best outdoor spaces on Capitol Hill.

A bit of inside scoop:

Initially, we were wedded to running this first event restaurant style. Our goal was to bring the Broodjes & Bier brick and mortar to life via friendly table service and a long list of specialty Belgian beers. That is, after all, our long-term vision and dream.

Still, we couldn’t envision synthesizing our sandwich roster to a small menu and asking you, our customers, to choose just a single broodje from an already concentrated offering. We can hardly make the choice ourselves.

At 5 months old, we’re youthful and chock-full of energy. Our team builds new sandwiches daily and just as often sends our beloved broodjes to the recipe graveyard, never to see the light of a sandwich lovers hungry grin again.

We’re hungry for you to try the multitude of what we have to offer and impatient for your feedback. (We literally hope you’re hungry too!)

So, we’re organizing Prost! a bit differently.

The focus for this event will be treating you to a greater selection of our menu — tapas style. Of course, we’ll keep the classics on hand like the Vondel Park and Paradiso. We’re also going to introduce you to some of our latest obsessions like our Guyanese braised beef broodje and deli-style roast lamb.

Hopefully, in doing so, we’ll better introduce our point of view AND get some unscripted feedback in the process.

Prost! will be an incredibly fun and exciting event So, please RSVP, buy your early bird tickets, and share with your networks! After all, broodjes and biers are only as delicious when enjoyed with close friends :)