finding the right place

In the real estate industry there is a saying there are three criteria being the pillars of any successfull investment decision:

1. location
2. location
3. location

And since any retail business needs a place people to go to – except for online retailers – I believe these same pillars apply.

Still, a good location for a fast food pizza slice dealer and a good location for health conscious slow foodies could be different places, right?

So, after turning around my head and looking at many many food & coffee shop concepts all over the main European capital cities I decided on the following criteria for My Place To Be – criteria that would be important to reach my targeted group of clients:

– “attractive B-location” – close to a high frequency shopping street but not directly on it in order to avoid loud and stressfull surrounding
– ideally next to a park, market, church or other similar venue
– possibility to sit outside
– fin de siecle architecture
– size of 100 to 200 m²
– accessible with public transport
– vicinity to offices, kindergardens, schools
– possibility to entertain a gastronomic concept

Ok, so setting criteria is one thing, but what to do to find the place that will match them?

I started by
– registering on the main real estate websites applying all relevant filters
– talking to real estate agents
– talking to everybody…

Eventually it was a friend and ex-banking colleague – thank you Martin P.! – who gave me the best piece of advice: look out for places you like and then see whether there are empty locations around.

Sounds kind of crazy because you might assume that places you like were already all rented out and not available? But he was absolutely right and it was the right way to go!

I probably saw 500 places online and 50 “physically”.  I negotiated with 5 locations in detail – three of them were the result of just “walking around”.  And finally one of them has now become “my place“!

Bildschirmfoto 2013-10-29 um 21.10.03My place meets all criteria I set myself – however in order to become usable for a gastronomic concept it requires a separate permission (called “Betriebsanlagegenehmigung”), for which a number of investments are required in order to fulfill amongst other all labour law requirements and environmental requirements.  More about this process on my next blogpost – stay tuned!

You may say that this is a hassle – I personally today see it as a development cost I was happy to take, because I do believe it IS the right place and because I actually liked learning how to go about it.

Also – at least in Vienna – but I assume the same applies for may other places – when you want to take over a successfull existing location usually you will have to pay for it – for the investments made, for the fact that permits are in place, for existing customers.

So one needs to weigh whether it is more interesting to take over or to build from scratch.  The advantage of building from scratch is that you can really make it “yours” however it is likely to take more of your time to develop.

In any case – do not let yourself get urged by real estate agents.  Keep calm – if this is supposed to be your place, it will come to you!

Advertisements
Posted in Location, StartUp | Tagged , | Leave a comment

the business plan (1) – the what, the to whom, the why

Having been a corporate banker in my former life, used to asking for business plans from my clients anytime they asked for a loan, the topic of the business plan was supposedly an easy one to approach for me. supposedly. written in a few days. supposedly.

Well, reality bites.  At least when you take it seriously. And you should take your first start up adventure seriously. In my opinion. No matter how much fun it is. Still.

First the easy part: the business plan should explain the business idea in a nutshell:

– WHAT do you want to sell to WHOM?
– WHY should anybody buy your product?
– WHY should they buy it from you? – as opposed to buying it from somebody else

The answer to these questions felt easy and intuitive to me.  And those were also rather quickly jotted down on paper.  Obviously there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and bistros in Vienna, Austria and probably almost everywhere in the world. But there is close to NONE that offers healthy – therefore plant-based – food outside the usual organic food store concepts.  No place you would want to – besides having a healthy food choice – take a date to, or spend time with your best friend having a chat, or having a cup and reading the newspaper while the kids are enjoying themselves as well.  For further reading on the why please read on here.

This growing interest evidenced by the megatrends health, sustainability, ecology further leading to flexitarism, vegetarism and even veganism and raw food led me to think that there IS a market.  How big it is – I do not know, potentially it could be huge.  It is definitely growing.  But that again will depend on selling the concept not just to a small group of extremist health freaks (like me) but to make it attractive and accessible to the evergrowing group of flexitarians.  I will discover the size as I walk down the line and organically grow the business with the growth of the market.

Also, even though not quite so obvious it may be interesting for anybody in the gastronomy industry – also as non corporate bankers – that start ups in this industry have the highest failure rate (>80%). You should always know your downside and understand the risks that you are taking.  Which doesn’t mean you cannot take the risk.  It just means you also give some time and thought for how you can mitigate it.

I like to think that the high failure rate is due to people just starting up “their place” without having any real differentiation factor, so basically serving good or less good food at low or high prices.

When you look at places that are successfull (as you might think) and that you like and you wonder what is it that made them so – often it boils down to “character”, “differentiation”, “coolness”.  And that is definitely not an easy thing to achieve for 100% of all people. Including myself!

But I do bet on the flexitarian and health growth trend and on the lack of attractive offerins in this area, especially when it comes to café / bistro, take-away and delivery food.  It simply isn’t there yet. In an attractive quality and location.

So, there is my WHAT, my to WHOM (the growing number of flexis and health conscious and yes, also freaks like me), my WHY.

On the WHY there is another one. I DO want to do something with my life that actually contributes to this world in a positive way.  This is what drives my passion, excitement and strength.  This is where I put my resources – lifetime and money – into.

And I genuinely feel that with deli*bluem I can do that.

Posted in Business, Design, Food, Location, Raw, Restaurant, StartUp, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

very inspiring blog award!? on friendship, writing and spam

blogawardwow… what a surprise – I just got a blog award?!

I love writing because writing kind of lets me get inside my brain and as Susan Sontag put it I write in order to find out what I think.  Also, it is lovely to go back and read after many years what you have written and relive adventures again.

It’s lovely that what means a lot to me would also inspire others and I was very happy, excited and grateful for having been nominated by my dear friend pollybert – living at the fullest. Actually I am not just grateful to her for nominating me but for – yes we actually are old friends out there in the real world – actually motivating me to go for it and just start writing!   Without her I probably would still just fill lines in one of my uncountable notebooks…

Looking at the “award rules” (1. Display the Award Certificate on your website, 2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented you with the award, 3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers, 4. Drop them a comment to let them know you have linked them in the post, 5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself) the whole thing started to look a bit like a chain letter to me.  I got curious and – being quite new to blogosphere – decided to check out the origin of the award and whether it wasn’t actually a kind of spam.

Well, friends, I guess it is.  It’s spam even though a kind of nice spam.  Which blogger wouldn’t want to hear “hey I like your blog”? So why would I have second thoughts about it? I guess it’s because I don’t like following rules… and I confess that I do not follow 15 bloggers on a regular everyday basis but probably 4-5 and otherwise just visit sites and blogs depending on subjects I’m interested in.

Nancy’s post “Do Blog Awards Matter” puts it down quite well: “the best award is having readers; and a comment letting me know that what I’ve written has made a difference in someone’s life is like icing on the cake”.

Still, I cannot help but take the opportunity to let you know who are my biggest inspirations out there in blogosphere and what or who it is I actually do follow regularly:

www.theppk.com – The Post Punk Kitchen by Isa Chandra Moskovitz: whenever I am looking for inspiration for cooking, she is my one and biggest inspiration… she rocks!

pollybert – living at the fullest: my friends blog, we may not see each other every day but I am always up to date with what’s going on and what trips she is doing and which books she is reading – which then makes me buy the books and read them too

www.totallyveg.blogspot.co.at – an German vegan food guide for Austria, travel & cooking

www.villamaravilla.wordpress.com: my 13 year old son’s blog on FC Barcelona and football in general – because I love him, think it’s great he’s sharing his views out there in blogosphere and like to keep up with his insight into the soccer world!

www.theflowerpowergirl.com – my second blog which is growing into a guide for flexitarians who want to integrate more plant based food into their lives – and which I write and also read when I am looking for material and recipes

and just 1 thing about myself – guess what? I like to break rules now and then

Posted in delibluem, StartUp, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

due diligencing in london – down to earth

Not everything that shines is gold..

My desk-based due diligence told me I should absolutely see this place: great website, delicious looking menu and promises over promises: “Our range includes everyone’s favourites but completely guilt-free, including Red Velvet, German Chocolate and Boston Cream. Our vegan cakes include chocolate with gelatine-free marshmallows and our cupcakes are too numerous to list! Every piece of cake is a labour of love.”

As a person living on plant-based food I was joyous reading this and even more so when I saw the store’s forefront on Kensington High in London:

IMG_3171Organic, dairy free, gluten free – simply down to earth! hey this is gonna become my favourite place in London!

Well, I guess you can already read between the lines that it didn’t.

What happened? Too high and therefore unmatched expectations – AND a big lesson for my own planned startup learned that one should never oversell or overpromise.

Right at the entrance there is the usual counter and vitrine displaying all goods available.  And that is where my deception started…

When I asked which of the quiches would be vegan, while my head was ringing – wow, vegan quiche, I’ve been testing this so often in my test kitchen and I am so curious to see what a professional coffee shop comes up with for vegan quiche…

IMG_3178

And then the answer was “sorry we do not have vegan quiche”.

Well, ok… “So what else do you have? What about the pizza?” IMG_3175

“Sorry, the pizza is not vegan”

honestly – it’s not really difficult to make a vegan pizza – so why wouldn’t you if you label yourself a vegan restaurant?

so anyway, the brownies looked really tasty so I thought I might skip lunch and go directly into the afternoon cup of tea and brownie companion…

IMG_3179just to hear that the brownie was glutenfree, but not vegan.

No traces of guilt-free cakes, red velvet or other.

Hm.  In my previous life this wouldn’t have bothered me.  Today it does.  Because with the announcement on the website and the store forefront I just had expected so much more… a bit more wild food café feeling would do these guys and girls good.

But I am not somebody who gives up easily so I decided to nevertheless take a seat and check out the menu, which was supposed to offer a wider range of vegan choices.

And it actually did.  I set all the way in the back in order to have a good overview on the restaurant.

IMG_3183I do appreciate it when vegan restaurants do not look like a healthstore.  The black gothik style of down to earth however is not my taste and to me it feels rather as if the furniture had been inherited from a former bar.

But since the menu was also written in black (plastic…) perhaps the styling is intentional.

IMG_3185But at least there were effectively 5 vegan and even raw AND gluten-free choices on the menu.

IMG_3187Also the “All-day menue” included a number of vegan choices. I decided to go for the shepherd’s pie and got a huge pot filled with lentils, sweet potato and butternut squash mash.

TIMG_3191he presentation of shepherd’s pie is not an easy one, since basically it looks just like squash soup and you have to dig in in order to discover all the goodies. Taste-wise it was ok but a more herbs, some tanginess and a smaller portion would have been better.  The ingredients of the pie are so filling that just half a portion would have been ok for me – and I do not like to waste food.

Again, a lesson learned for me!

But not a must-see place if you are looking for good gorgeous food in a cool stylish place – although with lower expectation and desperate for any vegan offering you might actually find it is quite ok.

drop me a line if you do!

cheers!

Posted in delibluem, Design, Food, Gluten Free, Location, Organic, Raw, Restaurant, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

due diligencing in london – daylesford

Strolling through Notting Hill heading for Ottolenghi’s store I heard a loud scream from this beautiful shop “stop!!! come in, take a look – and take a bite!”

IMG_3092IMG_3087I love the sight of wooden cases full of green cabbage, beans, salad, courgettes, shiny red tomatoes, bright orange carrots, dark green ripe watermelons, green, red and yellow apples, lemons and oranges! Such wooden worn-out and used cases are a sought-after item these days! It’s actually not easy to find them anymore. They are a bit like jeans – people start paying extra for having the worn-out look…

So, with nobody and nothing pressing me and just myself deciding on priorities I made a change in plans and stepped in.

daylesford is this beautiful place’s name – as the name of the farm where all or most of the produce sold in the store is grown and manufactured. I love the business concept.  Have a farm, take care of growing fruits and vegetables in an organic way AND go all the way to selling them to your own customers in beautiful city shops with an attached café-bistro.  Well, perhaps I’ll do it in reverse order one day.

IMG_3105

There is no risk of my running out of ideas with all the inspiration that my London market due diligence trip is delivering.

Of course eating is also always part of any thorough due diligence so I decided to have breakfast at daylesford and move on to Ottolenghi thereafter for lunch. (I know… what a life this market due diligencing is).

So first I headed for the counter where all pastries are presented and decided for a delicious but still pretty healthy looking flapjack.

IMG_3095

I love to have a cup of tea in the morning and also I find that the serving of tea is quite a special concept in itself. You can tell from the way it is presented and the dishes being used whether thought has been given to it or not.

IMG_3104daylesford did at least part of its homework in the tea-serving respect.  I quite liked the metal filter that is hanged into the cup while pouring the tea from the can.  But unless you are a quick tea drinker – which I am not – of course your last cup is likely to be quite strong and depending on the tea type even bitter.  So some room for improvement, even at beautiful daylesford.

Still, the tea was quite nice in this case and also did not turn bitter.

delicious daylesford teas can also be bought and taken home in beautiful cases, just like a lot of other beautiful items like their heart-shaped cookies, cakes and bread

IMG_3088IMG_3089IMG_3091 IMG_3107

the flapjack by the way was simply sensational and I will need to start some recipe due diligence for a juicy chewy soft flapjack! drop me a line if you know one!

IMG_3102

cheers!

daylesford farmshop & cafe in Notting Hill
London W11 2RH

Telephone: 020 7313 8050
Manager: jenny.andrade@daylesfordorganic.com

HOURS
Monday – Friday 8am – 7pm
Saturday 8am – 9pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm

Posted in Bread, Coffeeshop, delibluem, Food, Foodstore, Location, Organic, Patisserie, Restaurant, StartUp | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

due diligencing in london – ottolenghi on upper street

here comes the one place of all.  if I had seen only this one place, my due diligence trip to London had been a success already…. I will let it speak for itself:

IMG_3057IMG_3058IMG_3428IMG_3059‘Not many traditional hierarchies or clear-cut divisions exist in the Ottolenghi experience.  You find sweet alongside savoury, hot with cold: a tray of freshly baked breads might sit next to a scrumptions array of salads, a bowl of giant meringues or a crate of tomatoes from the market.  It is an air of generosity, mild chaos and lots of culinary activity that greets customers as they come in: food being presented, replaced, sold; dishes changed, trays wiped clean, the counter rearranged; lots of other people chattering and queuing.

It is this relaxed atmosphere that we strive to maintain.  Casual chats with customers allow us to cater for client’s needs.  We listen and know what they like.  They bring their empty dishes in for us to make them ‚the best lasagne ever’ (and if it’s not, we will definitely hear about it).  This is what encapsulates the spirit of Ottolenghi: a unique combination of quality and familiarity.’

(Excerpt from „The Cookbook“ by Ottolenghi)IMG_3031

Visiting Ottolenghi at all of his locations widened my horizon by cutting through all technological and “this is how it has to be done” practice.  For months I’ve been breaking my head what would could be the form of the display in deli bluem, My Place To Be, having a strong dislike for the usual display machines seen at every deli or takeaway store.

Here is Ottolenghi’s view on “The display”, which I share full-heartedly:

‘Once the food is on the counter, we try to limit the distance between it and the diner.  We keep refrigeration to a minimum. Of course, chilling what we eat is sometimes necessary, but chilled food isn’t something we’d naturally want to eat (barring ice cream and a few other exceptions). Most dishes come into their own only at room temperature or warm.  It is a chemical fact. This is especially true with cakes and pastries.   Their textures and flavours are destroyed beyond salvation through refrigeration.

It is a chilling experience to eat a cold sandwich, yet so many of us routinely do, and are almost oblivious to it because it is considered to be a necessary evil.  With most things prepared fresh, really fresh, there is no need to chill.

Every customer who comes to Ottolenghi and doesn’t hear the soul-destroying hum of a brigade of stainless-steel fridges is another convert to minimal refrigeration.  None of us feels much confidence in a refrigerated deli counter full of mayonaise-based salads that might have been sitting there (in the temperature ‚safe-zone’) for days. Conversely, it is reassuring to know that if there isn’t a fridge, the salads must be fresh.’

IMG_3427It is no wonder this place is packed with long queues especially over lunch time, with young, old and middle-agers patiently waiting for their turn to their culinary highlight of the day.

IMG_3431But people don’t seem to mind, just watch their faces towards the food counter…

I can only strongly recommend you to

  • see on of his places next time you come around or near London, be it Islington (287 Upper Street) or Notting Hill (63 Ledbury Road) – their small shop in Kensington has been closed since they are looking for a larger space to accomodate also a seating area there
  • make a timely reservation if you plan to come for dinner!
  • check out their great website including a recipe section
  • follow Ottolenghi’s blog, a mixture of lifestyle, cooking, personal stories, travel experiences

Oh, I almost forgot – Ottolenghi is not vegetarian or vegan. Nevertheless his work for promoting eating natural plant-based food has earned him a the job as writer of the Vegetarian food and drink column in The Guardian.

I thank my dear friends Christoph and Florian for having given me this mind blowing and conception-changing recommendation… as well as Ottolenghi’s beautiful book “Plenty” (which they and their team presented me as a present one day), which now will have “Ottolenghi – The Cookbook” and “Jerusalem” (a beautiful hommage melting boundaries away) as companions – not on the bookshelf but on the kitchen table.

Posted in Business, delibluem, Design, Food, Foodstore, Patisserie, Recipes, Restaurant, StartUp, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

due diligencing in london – 42° raw

42°raw was founded by Jesper Rydahl who opened his first store in Copenhagen. Luckily meanwhile he has also expanded to London, where he opened a café in the beautiful premises of the Royal Art Museum, next to Picadilly Circus.  You can sit in the atrium of the museum or below the arcades outside, which is both equally nice and especially quite cooling on a hot summer day.

IMG_3018 IMG_3016

Why 42°raw? The concept of “raw food” is that it is 100% plant based and that nothing is heated above 42°.  This helps preserve most vitamins and nutrients which according to raw foodists are otherwise lost in the course of heating.

If now you think the only thing you could possibly have here are some kinds of salads, you will be surprised.  Just have a look at their menu:

IMG_3019IMG_3435

Raw food has extended its scope and the store of 42° has main meals like Lasagne – made of raw courgette, tomato, spinach, cashew & yellow pepper crème, tomato & walnut sauce, parsley pesto, or “Curry Rice”, made of cauliflower (whose rosettes makes up for the “rice” when blended strongly), parsnips, broccoli, red peppers, raisings, turmeric, cumin, coconut, curry powder, agave, served on spinach, olive oil and salt.

Of course you will find all kinds of fruit and vegetable juices and actually you can design your own juice in the store.  I had a combination of banana, strawberry, spinach and basil. IMG_3440

Unfortunately I was just too full from my delicious salad at Fig&Olive this noon to also try their food but my friend Lena highly recommends the lasagne!

If you are into superfoods you may add chia, hemp, spirulina, wheatgrass etc. to any of your drinks.

The sandwiches are made of self-made dehydrated breat made out of a mix of dehydrated courgettes, tomatoes and flaxseeds and therefore also gluten-free.

Here you can see a very interesting interview with the founder Jesper Rydahl. Don’t worry, only the intro at the very start is speaken in Dutch, the interview itself is in English! So stay tuned and don’t forget – always walk on the wild side!

Posted in Design, Food, Location, Raw, Restaurant, StartUp, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment