******* last minute reward: if you're thinking of ordering thanksgiving take-away in SF, think of ordering it from me! Donate through kickstarter and you'll receive a dollar for dollar "reward" to add to your friends and families day! *****
I lost a bet. That’s how my career started. The terms were: working in this chef’s restaurant for a week. It was awesome. I loved it. I was good at it. He was impressed. He got fired. I was asked to take the reins. I had no idea what to do, but somehow I held it together til a new chef arrived.
3 years (and 5 other restaurant gigs later) I attended the Culinary Institute of America, and I've been cooking ever since. The early years, in Washington State, were at The Pink Door, Wild Ginger, The Ark and The Shoalwater Inn. In the Bay Area, Tra Vigne, Terra, Table 29, Smith Ranch and Kate’s Kitchen.
My first business was The Meetinghouse: A Contemporary American Restaurant. The biscuits were the "must-eat" item during its 8-year tenure. We became one of the "best-kept secrets" among SF foodies, serving farm-fresh, American-based cuisine in an informal, lighthearted atmosphere. Why did it close? Doctor's told me I'd never hold a knife or rollling pin again after a 3rd-degree burn scorched my entire right hand. Then the culinary duo of the soon-to-be "Quince" restaurant made an offer. Yes.... now my hand is 100% able to roll, slice & dice! And now, Baker & Baker resides in my old space - headed up by Jeff Banker, a staff member from our early days.
Meetinghouse Biscuits are in a category all by themselves. Legendary, I’m told. "The biscuit lady", I'm called. I sell a few hundred boxes a year with little marketing. Many families tell me they wouldn’t consider it a real Thanksgiving OR Christmas OR Easter without my biscuits on their tables. They were named one of the "50 best bites" in San Francisco Magazine, and were featured in the William Sonoma holiday catalogue.
September 28th, 2012: they were just featured as one of the Four Fabulous Biscuits You Can Find in San Francisco: http://t.co/6ubZvk7F via @7x7 Magazine by Marcia (rhymes with garcia) Gagliardi.
I put my heart and soul into other restaurant projects, creating down-home, Americana foods and capturing more fans here in SF. Many of these have a potential future as additions to the Sweet Jo's line e.g. frozen bake-at home brownie and cookie doughs, soups and stews, sauces and jams.
AND then there's the chili:
Sweet Jo's Beef & Red Bean Chili and Vital Vegan Chili have a growing fan base and are already branded, labeled and ready to go. Currently served at pop-ups and catered events; a "hot, ready-to-eat" delivery service is in the works.
17 different chili peppers, both fresh & dried go into my chili base. It's the secret ingredient. I call it "chili auxiliary" and plan on jarring it for YOU to use for your own creations. Because of this 'secret', Sweet Jo's Chilies have a range of tastes rarely found. Everyone prefers their own chili "style"; my customers say the depth of flavors that come from Sweet Jo's brand make them unique.
Now’s the time to get my product line rolling: With new branding Meetinghouse biscuits will expand into flavored biscuits: (think ham & parmesan; rye & cheddar; bacon cheese & scallion), scones and other sweets to bake at home. I've invented a line of complementary items that go with them: Meyer lemon curd, fresh fruit jams, sausage gravy, smoked ham hock & tomato stew. The chilis will grow to include not-so-spicy and extra- spicy versions as well as chicken and turkey varieties. My trademarked "chili auxiliary" will be branded and packaged for home use.
MONIES RAISED THROUGH KICKSTARTER WILL GO TO:
1) funding the dietary analysis and FDA approval of the tried and tested items and potential new products. These can run over $2,000. per product.
2) producing a new run of biscuit boxes right away, designing and producing packaging the for new products and exploring options for freezer-to-oven baking trays. A minimum of $8K is realistic to get this rolling.
3) marketing to local stores, gourmet catalogues, researching potential wholesale accounts, setting up corporate catering accounts and administration of my own web store, shipping and handling.
4) investing in shipping materials and negotiating lower shipping fees - many of my regulars may remember the holiday season UPS was charging me $55 per box to ship 1 box. This will change when a professional shipping manager negotiates with USPS, or UPS and we invest in software systems to assure a professional appearance and accuracy in deliveries.
IF YOU DONATE THROUGH KICKSTARTER AND I RAISE THE FUNDS I AM AIMING FOR, I GET IT. IF I DON'T MAKE THE GOAL, I GET NOTHING.
Part of successful "crowd-funding" is getting the momentum going. Please consider making a donation right away! The more backers in the first few days, the more interest from others. And I DO want to continue making my biscuits, and chili, and lots more goodies for you and yours.
IF I RAISE MORE THAN THE GOAL - I will be well-capitalized and will be able to hire staff and move quicker to get products to you sooner and then move on toward my end-goal: a fast/casual cafe, where I can serve you in person!
Feel free to e-mail with questions.
I appreciate the interest and can't wait to get moving, with more organization, structure and support staff, on what has been my "side" business for many years.
please share this link with your friends! the more contacts I make, the more likely I will reach or surpass my goal!
Bonus - if you want an extra treat to be delivered with the "reward" you get for your donation... tell me a story. (Write it in comments on the donation page. It will be posted for others to see.) About your experience at one of my restaurants, or what I "put on your table", or what funny story I told you / or you heard about me, or about your experience with someone who worked for/with me... yeah... I'm collecting. A book? perhaps! a scrapbook? not likely - I'm just not the type.
press & links:
Risks and challenges
I've got 28 years of cooking and restaurant business under my belt. I have a well-loved, established product in need of a kick start. Two products in need of a real launch. And a host of other potential products waiting in the wings. The mechanics are no problem! Knowing when to drop an unsuccessful product is humbling, but necessary. Reveling in a big hit must be tempered with modesty.
My biggest challenge is narrowing it down. Keeping it simple. Accomplishing one step before moving on to the next. Keeping myself focused. Hiring support staff when needed. I am a champion multi-tasker. However, this has led me to be "good" at a lot of things, but not necessarily excellent at any one thing. It's time for me to reign in excess energy and channel it into JUST THIS ONE PROJECT (NO restaurant openings, NO pop-ups, NO "big" catering events, NO writing business proposals or anything else to take my mind and energy away from this one undertaking).
Marketing is never any easy task for those of us who constantly strive to be better and rarely think what we've done is as good as it can be. But I'm ready to take it on. I can see my achievements and be proud of them. And acknowledge my setbacks and have the armor to avoid a repeat of them.
The biggest risk for me is not stopping and surveying each step in order to move forward with more structured, knowledgable plans. But now that I said it, I'll have to live up to it!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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