We never thought of ourselves as a lunch place – But we’re working on it.
When we wrote the business plan we were going to operate as a one-person business. We had originally intended to have a large segment of our sales to other restaurants. Vacuum-packed, fully-cooked, beautifully smoked products delivered to be used in their specials. Home Customers could order (in advance), for pickup after 2:30 at the time when many people go pick up their kids at school. I could do the morning to cook, package, deliver to restaurants, do my ordering, do research, and advertising, and then be open to the public around 2:30. That lasted about a week. They didn’t order.
We thought: In the ‘lunch space’ there is competition from (or familiarity with) all the fast-food places, drive throughs, and a few independent places downtown. There were lots of ‘soup and sandwich’ places downtown. We have no desire to compete with them. That is not our business model. They have location benefits and drive-through’s and people are habituated to them. As evening places go, two years ago, our choices were ‘Pizza’, ‘Chinese Food’ and ‘Bar Food’. So we were going for ‘evening at home’ food. Simple. Honest. Delicious. Food, that people are familiar with, but perfectly cooked, and usually with a twist.
Our understanding is that ‘sit-down’ restaurants with interesting or high quality food (Steak Places, High-End Fancy Stuff, Stuff that is hard to pronounce) require larger centers (like Moncton) in order to have enough people who want to show up for that niche of food often enough for the restaurant to survive. Prime example: Thai Food (Bankok Food truck) – People love them. They flock there once or twice a month when they are in town. It’s a treat! They are expensive (for what you get, but it’s delicious and not always available. Truly, a treat, and they are smart to keep it a treat. So, they move onto the next town (where people are excited they’re back for a treat), and then the next, and the next, until they come back here, and you get a treat.
If they were available every day in Amherst, their daily sales would drop because their products would be ‘always available’. It would stop being ‘a treat’. ‘Not today, I had that two times this week. Becomes – …’Not this weekend, we had that last weekend.’ Until eventually… ‘I’ve had everything on their menu… It’s okay.’ And eventually people move on to ‘why don’t we have a good “burger joint” in Amherst?’ I digress.
We wanted to create a food business, similar to the ‘build-your-own’ meal programs but using vacuum-packed high-quality pre-cooked meats, so that your proteins are perfect. Our vision was having the meat component of your meal, some sides (perfectly cooked veg, gourmet Mac and Cheese, Rice, Garlic-mashed potatoes, salads…) available so that a customer could come in and choose their meat, veg, sides and salad that THEY would like to serve at home. The customer could take their products home in order to have restaurant-quality food ready in 15 minutes, without using a microwave. All the packaging problems, the hour of prep-time, and mess associated with ‘packaged dinner programs’ (Chef’s Plate/ Hello Fresh) would be avoided.
Our pre-cooked products are safer because they’re cooked, and the shelf-life is longer because it’s vacuum-packed. Our side veg sales were so inconsistent we couldn’t predict what to keep prepped. We want you to have the freshest options possible, so we cook them daily. But moving back even a step further, we don’t know what supplies to keep in stock (like snap peas, pepper medley, carrots…etc). If they don’t sell that day, the quality is sacrificed. So, lately we’ve been sticking to top-notch salads and some side-carbs in the Grab ‘n Go Fridge. That seems to work for people. See our upcoming pre-made meal concept in the ‘where we’re going; article. We thought it would be convenient for customers to heat the cooked products on their own time, and eat in the comfort of their home, for supper. Lunch time is busy for people too, and we’re so thankful that you think of us ALL day. We literally have customers that come in all through the day. What a privilege! So, to make ends meet and to keep it interesting for you, we’ve dabbled in having NOT ON THE MENU lunch specials, hot and ready for lunch. Soups, Gourmet grilled cheese, Lobster Mac… I will write another article on this. We’re so happy to be able to help with lunch and we’d love to have your ideas. Email us at email@example.com and we’ll use your ideas.