It's been a long time since we have posted anything over on the KickStarter side… and it's simply overdue. Late and more. We'd like to fix that, so here goes.
To start with, an update on the main outstanding Kickstarter debt we owe you all: The Wall and the Plaques. They should have been up a long time ago, and still aren't. We certainly owe you explanation and all the apologies. But let me get to that in just a second, as I wanna lay out what got us to what is assuredly an" entirely unacceptable delay….
We had a lot of learning to do these past 6 months. Simply put, it ate us up and spit us out… then stomped on us a little too. We knew it was coming when we opened up a new business, but dang.
As an organization, we have doubled our staff, doubled our vendors, and made for a LOT of new work for every member of the EndGame staff. We started out big to make sure we were covering all the bases, in terms of man-hours. And we spent some time and a pile of money to gather data while maintaining our preferred level of customer service.
The good news is that it's finally starting to pay off. As of September, it's allowed us to create a shift structure that is healthy for the business, the staff, and makes certain you all get the cafe you deserve. But we're not going to lie here – it wasn't easy, and ground us owners down pretty hard.
Then came the speed-bump, when we finally got to that place, had our feet planted and ready to push through what's left… when the great plague of 2016 hit the staff of EndGame. We haven't had fewer than three staff members down throughout the entire month of October. This past weekend it was five.
When you're short-staffed, you have to scramble, and everyone who has managed to stay on their feet has to get in there and do jobs that aren't really their specialty. That meant more learning, more jumping back in-between sides of the house, and more having each other's backs as this all went down. Having a something like this hit when you're going into the holiday season just pushes everything out. We are all working extra hours to catch up and keep our heads above water.
So, that's all kinda ugly, admittedly, but those are the joys of running a larger small business. All of it has been a trial by fire and money (and feeling like the money is what's on fire)… but we are certainly seeing the fruits of our labors. The cafe is getting closer and closer to break-even now that we have enough sales and schedule information make data-driven choices. We have nightly walk-throughs in the game center from our baristas bringing delicious treats and coffee to the gaming table, the menu is solid and well liked, and we are slowly adding new things all the time. Our staff is really getting seasoned, learning the intricacies of the “two-space model” (what we are doing is pretty unique in the cafe space, having the game center next door), and have already become part of the family.
Okay, okay… but what about the wall? Fair question, and we wanted to give you all the context before we answered it!
Turns out we made that a lot harder on ourselves than we realized, and it was my fault offering the ‘logos’ in any space. This has created two technical challenges: Extracting all these images and lining them up with the right people. We've largely figured that out, but as is the nature of these things it uncovered some more difficulties.
The biggest problem is the variety of resolutions people submitted their images in. The wall is over 20 feet high and we are finding many people submitted web-quality graphics. (This too was our fault. We weren't specific.) Web-quality graphics just look terrible when you try to use them in print. (We did some tests with another artist friend to confirm this and, yep.) If we used them as given, it would really diminish the overall look of the project.
So, here is what we are going to have to do: - Put this on hold until after the holiday season. We REALLY need to focus on the holidays. Sales through this period are what gives us a chance to catch up on some of the debt those first 6 months of business built up for us. Not to mention, the demands on our attention during this time simply wouldn't serve the project well. - Hit this HARD in January. It will include contacting some of you for updated logos or images. (Please wait until we're ready for them, but if you know you submitted a web-quality one, you can use the intervening time to make sure you have a high quality, high resolution on one hand for when we come knocking!) And once we have everything in hand, we get it done. We want to get this kickstarter off our plate. It's a bit of a soul dragger to know we are still disappointing people key to the opening of the Cafe.
That's basically it. We need to cross those hurdles and finish it. It's not optimal, but where we are at, and we really appreciate the understanding and support we've gotten from people even while we've stumbled.
In the mean time we have a lot of great stuff coming up:
We are already almost into our Holiday Toy Drive (starting in November) and last year wasn't the best for the Kids of Oakland. We aim to change that this year come Hell or high water.
Events have started in the cafe and will continue to grow. Every Monday night we have a curated Board Game night, and that's been a hoot. We've had some Sunday Morning Brunch Magic events, and soon a family game morning. It's coming together, if slowly.
And even though you have already given us your trust and support, we could use more. Continue to tell your friends about the unique gaming experience we are creating in the bay area. Drop in for the holidays and donate to Oakland's kids… or just come by and sit int he cafe and enjoy a drink. Seeing people in there enjoying what we have built is what has kept us going.
Thank you all for your patience, even if it isn't deserved.