Sunday, December 20, 2009
Going to be closed on Thursday and Friday. My helper (niece) is going to visit her mother and we are taking her to the airport on Thursday morning. Will have to work by myself until she comes back on the 31st. Will see if I can do it without her.
More and more people are watching the webcam. I really enjoy doing it and should be getting my new cam up pretty soon. Going to use my old mini-dv cam instead, since I can put it anywhere in the building or on the cart...versus just having the cam on the computer itself.
Still haven't had any online orders. Will need to market that more. I think it is a good idea, but will have to convince people to use it.
Got invited to participate in the 2010 New Orleans RoadFood Festival in March. There are only 20 restaurants invited from across the US. We are considering going, but only if our city will come up with some of the money.....I want to promote the town and need some assistance with the fees, gas, and lodging. Will have to wait and see what they say about it. I think it would help our tourism (New Orleans is only 8 hours away) and would put our business on the map. Only other issue is, who goes with me? I will still need to have someone running the cart at our current location and will have to take 2 other people with me.
Haven't started offering the Italian Beef Sandwiches yet. Still working out the costs of the sandwich. Want to make money, but would have to charge lots of money for each sandwich. Will figure it out and then will start offering it.
The new menu items are going ok. The nachos are selling more than any of the other new items. Would have never thought that. I put our chili on them instead of ground beef and people love the taste. I'm not much into nachos for the most part, but I think we do a good job making them.
Have a couple other ideas of what to carry. Want to stop carrying the jumbo dogs and carry polish sausage. Will have to convince our food supplier to carry those. The sausage are much better in taste and would sell much better than the jumbo dogs. Also want to get a griddle and carry other sausages. I have some really good beef and jalapenos sausage that is really good. If we offer more than just the dogs, then that will help us get more business.
Still working on marketing ideas. I really need to build a bigger client base. I currently don't have any competition (until the spring), so this is the time to get noticed. Will be working with my mentor and others to come up with some new ideas. Can you say "Hot Dog Costume"?
Music is up and going each day. Been playing 80's Metal for the most part. I really like it, now that I am older. I listened to some of it as a kid, but seem to appreciate it more now than ever. Will be trying to play some other things from time to time. Will have to see how things go.
Still want to decorate more. Will start looking for old broken guitars, records, and posters. If we are really "The Rock and Roll Hot Dog", then I want to display it as much as possible. Also want to paint my area. That will have to wait until we move the big cart into storage. That should happen pretty soon!
Resting on Sunday. Will rest again on Thursday and Friday. Will hopefully be really busy next Saturday....only if the weather holds up, then we should have a pretty good day.
If I don't get to post again this week, then everyone have themselves a Happy Holiday weekend and Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night!
Monday, December 14, 2009
We will have our "Rockin Taco" Soup available this week, unless we run out early. Once we run out, there will be a new soup. Since we are making them ourselves, it will change from time to time. I would rather not make a bunch and then freeze...would rather make it fresh, store it in the fridge, and then serve it. Not sure what the next soup is going to be. Will have to discuss with my crew.
Switching our meatballs and chili to electric warmers and taking it off the cart. I like having them on the cart, but the other warmers will work better and won't burn the chili or marinara. Won't change the taste at all...might actually make it better!
Why the change? We are going to start offering Italian Beef Sandwiches! Working with my mentor tomorrow on how to make them on the cart. This guy taught me how to make those delicious Chicago Dogs and I get tons of compliments on them (Thanks Mark!) Not sure how much room I will need, but moving the other items off will give me plenty of room. No idea on when I will offer them or what the price will be. Going to buy the products tomorrow and will have to wait and see. And of course, we are going to use Vienna Beef products. Can't wait. Will have to get some marketing materials for the sandwiches.
Have been getting more regulars coming in. They really like the products and will hopefully be excited by the new items we are carrying. Will be making an huge effort to bring more people in and get my business recognized by everyone in town. Just have to find a good way to do that. Hot dog costume, anyone?
Will be open tomorrow. Prep time takes a little longer because of the new items. Will need to come up with a new system for opening and closing. Not a big fan of it taking us an hour to close everyday. Would like it to take around 25 - 30 minutes.
Come see us or watch us online. The web cam will be up and when things are slow, we usually discuss various topics. www.franksrocks.com
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The new hot dog names are going over very well. People seem to enjoy them and like to hear the back story on why there were named that way. Great way to start a conversation with someone and make them feel welcome.
Our webcam is up and running. I am now looking for an external video capture device so that I can use my miniDV camera instead. I really wanted something that gave a much wider shot and the built in webcam on my mac just doesn't cut it. If you know of a cheap one that is usb 2.0 or firewire, please shoot me an email.
Online ordering is also up and running. I hope this turns out to be something that people use. It is really handy for those who are busy and we will deliver it to you! The system we are using is map based, so only people in Downtown Bastrop can order for delivery. Everyone else can order for pickup.
Hours are changing again. Doesn't seem like we ever sell a hot dog before Noon, so we are changing the hours to Mon - Sat 12:00PM to 4:00PM. I think this will work better for us during the winter months. When Spring and Summer roll around, we might think about opening earlier and closing later.
Christmas Parade is this weekend. Come see us on Saturday!
And remember to check out our website! www.FranksRocks.com
Friday, December 4, 2009
No snow, no rain, no ice, no nothing. It is just cold for no reason. Should have been open today, but needed the day off to take care of some plumbing issues at the house and had to get the heater looked at. Better that I did it today instead of trying to get someone out on the weekend.
Hopefully we will have soup available next week. Going to try and get the equipment that we need and buy some soup or maybe make it ourselves. We do have some canned soup that I will start selling tomorrow (we canned it in glass jars). Still have to finish the labels and decide on a price.
Since we didn’t work today, I will reveal how the specialty dogs got their names. I had to do this sometime and this is just as good as any other time.
Sweet Home Chicago Dog – Named after the song “Sweet Home Chicago”. It was written by Robert Johnson and was featured in the movie “The Blues Brothers”. Plus, it is a Chicago Style Dog and the name was perfect!
Livin’on a Prayer Dog – This dog is kind of like a Coney Style dog with the chili and has plenty of cheese (but we use real chili and not hot dog sauce/coney sauce). So it is named after the Bon Jovi song because they are from the New York/New Jersey area (where the Coney Style is found) and their music is kinda cheesy. Not saying it is bad, because I listen to it and other 80’s metal bands, but it is a little cheesy.
Stevie Ray Dog – Named after one of the greatest guitarists in the history of music. I have been a fan since right before he died and felt that he would appreciate a really “Texas Style” dog. It not only is a chili cheese dog, but also a Frito Pie. What could be more Texas?
Hotel California Dog – This started out as a style of hot dog that is found in California. Made a couple of changes to it, since some of the other ingredients were not easy to carry on the cart. In finding a name, only one song came to mind. I only started listening to the Eagles about 15 years ago and really like this song. So that is how it got the name.
Kickstart My Heart Dog – This isn’t ready yet, but we are nearly ready to debut it! The name popped into my head after talking with my wife about hot dog names. It fits! With the double bacon slices, bacon bits, chili, cheese, and hot peppers…it is a heart attack waiting to happen! Plus, I really like Motley Crue and wanted to name a dog after one of their songs.
Rock-afire Explosion Dog – This is the one that people don’t understand. Rock-afire Explosion is an animatronic puppet band that used to play at Showbiz Pizza and Chuck E Cheese Pizza. I remember it as a kid and there is a huge following for those puppets. Since this dog is a “Pizza Dog” and Showbiz/CEC are/were pizza places, this name just kind of fit.
“Room for One More” Meatball Sandwich – The name is kind of misleading in a way. I don’t really think you can eat more than one. It is pretty big, even for me. The name is from an Anthrax song that I really like. The premise of the name comes from the fact that a certain sub sandwich company only puts 3 meatballs on a 6” bun and we put 4 meatballs on a 7” bun….so there is “Room for One More” meatball on our sandwich.
The King’s Favorite – This one is for those who are still young at heart (but it isn’t available just yet). It is basically a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich on a 7” Plain Hot Dog Bun. Inspired by someone who changed the face of Rock and Roll. Things would have never progress as far without his influence. I think that Mr. Presley would really enjoy this treat!
Have another hot dogs that we are serving now. I don’t have a name for it yet and need help giving it a proper name. If you can name it, I will give you one for free and will put your name on our website!
Check out the website to see the ingredients of all the dogs and to help me name the newest dog…remember, it must be Rock and Roll related in some way! www.franksrocks.com
We are also now offering a combo meal. It is two hot dogs with any of the available condiments, a bag of chips, and a drink for $ 5.75. It is a really good deal and saves you about $ 1.75. It is only valid for the regular hot dogs and not the specialty dogs.
We are also offering a chips and drink for $ 1.50 with any hot dog purchase. This saves you around $ .50 and is a very good value.
Everyone have a great weekend and come see us if you get a chance. We would love to serve you one of our wonderfully delicious Vienna Beef hot dogs and Italian Meatball Sandwiches.
Remember to tell your friends about the blog and the website. Getting the word out will be the secret to our success.
Not sure what the weather is going to do tomorrow. Will probably be closed, but you never know. Not really looking forward to getting up and freezing my butt off.
Working on doing some marketing for the business. Really need to continue getting the word out. Things are getting better, but they aren’t where they should be. New signs will be the first order of business and then printing menus for people to take with them.
Still need to rewire the Sandwich Prep Table that we were given. Not sure that it even works at this point. The power cable was ripped pretty bad, but I cut out all of the bad part and should be able to rewire it. If it does work, I am going to be so super happy! This will allow me to keep the condiments cool and store my pickle buckets.
Working on booking catering jobs for this coming up Spring. Doing it early so that we know what is coming up and will be better prepared. This also helps me determine my expansion plans.
Finally named all of the hot dogs. Check out www.franksrocks.com to see the names. Getting tons of questions about how the names came about. If we don’t open up tomorrow, I will post the names and how we came up with them. If we do open, then I will try to post this weekend.
Going to add new items to the menu, as soon as possible. Will need to buy some equipment to make it happen. Once we get the equipment, I will start offering more than just hot dogs.
Thinking of changing the name a little, if/when we expand the menu past just hot dogs. I will keep the current name for our cart business, but will use the new name for any deli style restaurant we have…which is what this is turning in to. Already decided on the new name… "Frank’s Rock and Roll Deli”. What do you think? I think it will work and is still pretty catchy.
Got a lighted sign from Vienna Beef. It is a subway style sign, like they have in subway/train stations. I hung it up in the front window and leave it on at night. It looks really cool and shines some light on the big cart and the Vienna Beef umbrella.
Nothing else really going on. Hope everyone has a great weekend and be careful if snows or sleets where you live!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here was the final menu that we had last night:
Vegetarian Pumpkin Stew (variation of Three Sisters Stew)
Pork Sausage with Apple, Spinach, Bacon, and Feta Cheese
Hot Dog Sushi with Mustard, Onion, and Neon Green Pickle Relish
I think that all three had their fans, but the sushi probably got the best reactions of the night. Most people were receptive to it and wanted to try it because no one had ever seen something like that before. We did have one guy that argued with us. He says that sushi implies "raw fish" and he "ain't eatin raw fish!". Explained to him that it is only a hot dog and bun rolled up like sushi, and he still didn't want any part of it. His loss. Guess that some people just can't handle new things. This is probably not going to be a restaurant item. I am going to test the possibilities, but it is a lot of work and would have to be done when ordered. We will see.
The Pork Sausage was fantastic! My wife came up with the recipe and people raved over it. We did have a few people who turned their noses up at it, but quickly figured out that they are "beef eaters" and probably think their bacon and ham are made from cow. The ones that did try it, told their friends to come and try it. This isn't a cart/restaurant item we are carrying, but we will offer it for catering. Makes a great appetizer or entree.
The Vegetarian Pumpkin Stew was based on the Iroquois Indian recipe for Three Sisters Stew. The recipe only calls for squash, beans, and corn. We made it better by adding the chopped pumpkin, hominy, pureed pumpkin and spices. Those that tried it were amazed by its wonderful flavors and heartiness considering there is no meat in it at all. We are going to carry this in the restaurant and hopefully it will be this week or next.
Overall it was a success. We made new fans and wowed our existing fans. Will hopefully be able to get some catering jobs based on our food and the professionalism of my staff. I couldn't have done it without them and appreciate all that they did.
This week will be a slow one. Not sure we will see many people out until Saturday. We will be closed on Thursday and Friday. I would be open on Friday, but our downtown area is pretty much dead until late in the day. Since we now have several "big box" retailers in town, most people will be there or in Austin. Saturday should be better, but you never know.
Added new menu items for this week. Already taste tested them and they should do good. Will be adding a couple more items in the next few weeks and then will probably stop adding until after the winter time is over. I have tons of ideas for the spring and those should help boost the business.
Should have my crop of hot peppers ready in the next few days. Will be canning them in the restaurant kitchen, so that we can sell them. These are Tabasco peppers that have been growing for a couple of months now. They are slowly turning red and it is making them hotter and hotter each day. We had a few of them grow earlier in the year, but all this rain has made my plants really thrive. We will also offer them as a condiment for the hot dogs. These things are hotter than the sport peppers or jalapenos we carry now. Will post an update when they are ready.
Updated the website (www.franksrocks.com) with new info and changed the layout a little. Really want to have it all redesigned, but the cost of that is prohibitive at this time. Will have to see if I can remember my html and just do it myself.
Everyone have a great week and wonderful holiday! Please tell your friends about my blog and have them read it. Even if you can't experience the hot dogs for yourself, you can do the next best thing and read about them.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
My super chef (my wife) came up with another recipe that uses Bratwurst. It was REALLY good! Can't wait to unleash it on all those hungry people. This will definitely be something we offer for catering events. Not really something I can do from the cart, but you never know.
Have a third item we are making, but it is TOP SECRET! Only two of us know about it and we will be doing a test on it tomorrow. If it works, we will also offer it for catering. It is another item that could be done from the cart, but would have to see a demand for it first.
Added the 7" Meatball Sandwich to the menu this week. It took the place of the Bratwurst. I took those off the menu because we just didn't sell enough of them. Only had 1 request for it this week and only sold 2 on Saturday....and that is why we are trying the Meatball Sandwich. It is a great sandwich and people seem to really like it so far. It is quite a change from the hot dogs, but adds some variety to our menu.
Will be adding new specialty hot dogs this week and next. Most of them are ones we have tried ourselves and really like. Will be posting them on our website and in the restaurant. And we are always looking for new ideas. Send one to me and we will name it whatever you want...but only if we use it!
Worked out pretty much all of our bugs and we are doing pretty well now. Still need to find more advertising avenues to bring people in. I know that the cold weather is making us slow, but we hope it starts to pick up.
Will probably be serving indoors on Friday. They are forecasting rain and cold weather. This will be a first for us and hopefully will turn out ok.
Come see us and get a hot dog!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
My wife went above and beyond today. She was running back and forth to get me change, refill the condiments, get hot dogs, take orders, make change, etc... She even put up with my freaking out and tantrums...yes I can be an ass from time to time, just didn't realize how busy it would be and next time will calm down first! Lesson learned today. One I won't forget and one she won't let me forget! Thank God she loves me! :)
Have to run to Austin tomorrow and buy everything. We pretty much ran out. I thought that we had more than we did, but counted the hot dogs wrong. Will start keeping a better inventory of what we have in the freezer.
Can't wait to take the day off tomorrow and rest some. We need it! So tired.
And for those that didn't get to come by today and see my "BIG" surprise, here it is.....
I went from this...
Friday, November 13, 2009
No posts until after the Grand Opening. Have lots to say, but need to sleep since we are getting up early.
Come by to see my big surprise. Can't tell you what it is, but will post it here on Sunday...if you didn't get a chance to find out on Saturday.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The new bun warmer works perfect! Best investment I've made so far. It works really good and frees up space to put other items on the cart. It also only takes about 4 minutes to fully steam the Vienna buns...and that is if they unit is set to 5 or 6. If I set it higher, it takes a lot less time. Plus, we ran it for 4 hours today and NEVER had to put more water in it. Going back to buy another one next week.
We bought a stainless steel table to put behind the cart and it helps with putting condiments on the dogs. We also have a little refrigerator that keeps the drinks cold...until one explodes and shoots (yes, shoots) several drinks at the back of my legs. Makes it worse that I was creating two Chicago Dogs at the time. Got it cleaned up, but now we have to make sure we stack them a little different. It was only a Diet Coke that exploded, so no big loss. And got the customer's dogs made without further incident!
Changing our Saturday hours. Going to be 12:00pm to 3:30pm. We figured out today that downtown doesn't start coming alive until around Noon and then dies off quick after 3pm. Did sell a bratwurst at 3:20pm, so that is why we are going till 3:30pm. This will change if there happens to be a special event downtown. And will be more like 11:00am to 4:00pm.
Kinda have a day off for Sunday, but we need to redo one of the shelving units. We bought longer poles so that we could add more shelves. Using the shorter poles for some baskets we bought. This will give us more space to keep dry and canned goods, sodas, chips, and various other items. Will use the baskets to store vegetables and other items.
Have to invest in another refrigerator for the kitchen...maybe a commercial one. The one we have now is too small. Everything fits in it, but we will need to have more space for new menu items. Will start looking after the Grand Opening.
Have to get a vinyl sticker for the electric cart. I have some paper signs up now, but it doesn't look right. Having trouble finding someone who can do the work. We used to have a sign place in town, but I don't think they are in business anymore. Want to try and do this within the next couple of weeks.
Getting ready for next Saturday. Trying to get everything together for the giveaways. Can't wait until there are a couple hundred kids walking around with Vienna Beef paper hats on their heads. That will be a beautiful site. Will try and get some stickers made so that our logo is on the hats also. That would be even better!
Finally put chili and bratwurst on the cart today. Chili was a big hit....but so was my California Dog. Want to know what is in it? Come buy one. Not posting my recipe here...sorry. The mystery is worth coming by and buying one from us. Trust me, they are VERY good.
Busy next couple of weeks. Will hopefully have time to post my progress. If not, I will make one HUGE post that will catch everyone up.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Planning the Grand Opening and the Festival of Trees event this weekend. Have to get a menu for the Festival and figure out what we are doing for the Grand Opening. Will spend some time on Saturday and Sunday figuring it all out.
The new electric cart is working much better than before. Figured out which way is high and which way is low on the knobs. The original knobs are long gone, so we didn't really have a clue. Ran the cart on Wednesday and it worked perfect! Still need to replace those switches and buy new knobs. That will happen eventually.
Bought an electric bun steamer on Wednesday. It was on sale. Will test it this week. This should free up the electric cart to add on the chili and bratwurst to the menu. It should steam our poppy seed buns really quick. Not steaming the plain buns because they don't really need it. Can also steam other items in it, but will probably just stick with the buns. Just need to figure out how to fit them all in.
Still tweaking my menu. Not going to carry the pork brats for very much longer. Once we sell out, I will probably switch to beef brats. Still trying to figure out which ones to use. Also, added two new canned sodas to the menu and now carrying the Jarritos soda. If the new ones don't sell, then we will try something else.
Testing a secret hot dog ingredient tomorrow. Can't say much about it yet. Hopefully it will work out fine. If not, then we will find an alternative. Will also be testing other secret ingredients in the next week or so. Will slowly ad these to the menu in hopes that it will bring us more business.
Have some other new items coming in the next few weeks. Will probably introduce them after Thanksgiving. I suspect it will be a big hit, will have to wait and see!
Come see us today! We open at 11:00am and will have some hot dogs ready for you. And tell your friends!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Here are some pics of the event, my new cart, and myself:
So those are some action shots of last nights event. I'm very tired now and will try to rest some tomorrow. Still have to do some more setup in the dinning area, but should be able to get it done pretty soon. Still pushing to open on Monday.
Going to replace the controls for my electric cart. Can't really tell when it is on high and when it is on low. Just going to replace them and rewire the cart. I should be able to do it with little problem since I am getting pretty good at doing electrical work. Going to try and get some guitar or amp knobs for the controls.
Need to get another refrigerator. The buckets of pickles really take all of the room in the one we have now. Might look for a prep refrigerator like sandwich shops and pizza places have. That would allow me to store the big items and then put the daily condiments in the top part. Now we have to find one for a reasonable price.
Going to bed. It is 1:11am and Halloween is over....Tomorrow is another day to Rock!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Went to Seabrook on Tuesday and bought the electric cart. It works perfect! It doesn't really need anything done except for a vinyl wrap put on it for our business. Will be looking into that next week.
Will be going to Austin today or tomorrow morning to buy product. We still plan on opening at 5pm tomorrow for the Halloween celebration in Bastrop. Unless something goes horribly wrong, we are opening. After that, we will start doing lunch everyday from 11am to 2pm, until things get going...then we might expand the hours.
Having to finish cleaning up the building so that our indoor seating will be available. We should be able to knock that out by tomorrow and hopefully have people inside by Monday morning. Not planning on letting all the little "trick or treat-ers" in our building with all those antiques. Will pull a couple tables outside and let them make a mess out there.
Looked at Thursday's paper for Bastrop and we are listed in a write up about the Festival of Trees event on November 21st. We are getting more and more excited about this event. I may end up changing the menu a little because of a chili recipe that we found. Not going to talk about it here, you will have to come see us at the event or in the restaurant after the 21st. It will be a limited time thing, but I feel like it could be a big hit!
Need to get some signs made for the building. Will have to start working on that soon. I am hoping on renaming the building "1852 Union Hall" since that is what it original was...a union hall (saloon). I want to get signs with that name and then the names of the other businesses that are inside. I think it would look nice and would honor the history of the building.
Not much else going on right now. Just getting excited about opening. Been a long time coming. Hope to see some of you on Saturday, and if not, then on November 14th for our Grand Opening.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Recap of German Texan Heritage Society Oktoberfest Event
Friday night - Got home around 3am, after cleaning everything up. The propane tanks were filthy and we need to exchange one. Not sure that we need 3, but not sure how much gas this cart can burn. Had to setup and hookup the cart and my wife chopped onions. That smell was giving me a headache. Packed everything in the truck and took it home. Will only have to get up and go in the morning.
Saturday morning - Left home around 10:30am and got to Restaurant Depot around 11:15am. Bought the items we still needed, but couldn't find a lid for the 1/3 size pan.
Left there and headed to Sams. We bought all the remaining hot dog buns and then purchased some of their deli buns. Can't wait to try those deli buns out! They didn't have pan lids either.
Went to Mission Restaurant Supply next. Found the 1/3 size pan lid that we needed. Got a free rubber spatula. Score!
Left the parking lot to head back to Walgreens. Left the parking lot a little fast and lost the cart. It was still attached by chains, but the front wheel hit and caused it to come un-hitched. Pulled into the middle turn lane and fixed it. I was scared that we tore it up and wouldn't have a way to attach it again....but the hitch worked like it was supposed to.
Went to Walgreens and exchanged the propane tank for a full one. We now have 3 full tanks. Off we go.
Saturday Afternoon - Arrived at the German Free House around 1:30pm. Parked the cart in our spot and started to setup everything. Had to clean the cart because it had some dust and water spots. Arranged everything in the order we needed it. The wife said to let people put on their own mustard and ketchup. Boy, that will be a lifesaver!
Started the cart around 2:30pm. We have to start serving at 3:00pm. The wind keeps knocking the flame down. Can't get the water to heat up and now I am freaking out! Problem is that I insisted on buying 4" deep pans and we really needed 6" deep. Considering going and buying new pans real quick. Will try boiling some dogs on the stove in the house.
Here we are at 3:15pm and still aren't ready. A few people have started coming by and seem a little upset that it is taking so long. I am trying to get the dogs to boil on the stove. Came back to the cart around 3:20pm and everything is working and nearly everything is done. Started serving around 3:25pm, but was already running out of bratwurst.
Setup the electric steamer to make more brats. Not sure how long this takes, because we never used it before. We seem to have enough for now, but worried that we will not have enough after the next rush.
Got the hot dogs off the stove and put on some brats. We are doing ok because there haven't been 100s of people in line. The electric steamer doesn't seem to be getting hot at all. This is not going good.
Finally have enough of everything. Checked my phone and it hasn't even been 2 hours yet. Man, this is going to drag on.
Started to run out of brats again. Checked the electric steamer and those are very close to being done. Part of the issue is that we used very cold beer to cook them in, when room temp beer would have been better. Have to tell people to wait about 5 minutes for them to finish.
Served a huge line of people and it seems that we are caught up! Putting more brats on the stove so we have enough to stay caught up.
Saturday Evening - Things are going great. Everyone loves these fresh bratwurst and they can't get enough of the sauerkraut. Everyone with the German Texan Heritage Society has been great. They come by and check on us and let us know how much everyone loves the food. Makes me proud that my team and I could rally back and do a great job!
Everything is starting to slow down. Bands are still playing and some people are still eating. Asked the band to come down once they are done. The band played at my brother in laws rehearsal dinner. Sorry guys, I can't remember the band name. Hoping to see you on November 14th!
Got everything cleaned and packed up. Was told by several members of the GTHS that we will be invited to do other events. We really enjoyed working with them and would love to do more events.
Pulled out around 10:15pm and headed to my brother in laws to see my wife's family. They had come by to watch us work, earlier in the day. Didn't get very much time to talk, since it was pretty busy.
Got interviewed for an Austin Podcast. Don't remember the name of the podcast, but will find it and post a link here. Was also filmed serving up brats and hot dogs, but not sure what the footage was for. Will have to find that out also.
So that is a nutshell of what happened. I know now that we need to buy the right pans (yes dear, you were right about the pans) and that we need to start cooking much earlier. I am also going to replace the burners on the cart and clean the knob assembly. One of the burners worked perfect, but the other two were acting funny. We only ended up using one propane tank and only used less than a quarter of it. Guess that cart is pretty efficient!
* If I left anything out from last night it is only because I am so tired today. The recap is pretty much the stuff that stands out in my mind and doesn't reflect the whole night.
Need to work on figuring out our counts today and sending that info to the GTHS. Will settle up with them this week. Need that cash to get setup and going for Halloween.
If we get the electric cart this week, then we should be a go for opening on Halloween. I am so tired now that Saturday seems like a million years away. Will be ready for this and will pre-test this new cart before using it. Don't want to be behind on my first day.
Did I mention the fact that I am tired? Also, my back starting locking up yesterday and I could hardly bend over or sit down. My lower back always does that when I am stressed. Will need to visit Dr. Taylor tomorrow!
Not doing anything today. Will probably only leave the house to get a Dr. Pepper. Will need to starting working out so that I don't feel like my next birthday will be the 75th one. Will need to wash my hands again before leaving the house...they smell like onions.
I did find a "steam-able poppy seed free" bun that we will probably carry on the cart. Will need to see if Restaurant Depot can get them in a 6" size. We bought the 7" ones yesterday, but they are really big. We didn't end up steaming them and they were still really good. They were soft, but had a little harder outside and softer inside. They would be perfect for those people who do not want the poppy seed buns. Only used those once we went thru the 240 buns we had bought. Thank goodness we remembered that the Sams deli sells buns.
So this week will involve finishing up my issues with the city, buying that electric cart, getting product to sell, and running some tests. If everything can get done, then I will see some of you on Halloween. We are still undecided if we will open for lunch that day or just during the Halloween event. Will let everyone know by Tuesday or Wednesday. Check my website to see for sure! www.franksrocks.com
After Halloween, we will be on our normal schedule of 11am to 2pm Monday - Friday and 11am to 3 pm on Saturday...except during special event days. Our Grand Opening will be on November 14th from 11 am to 5 pm. Will have some giveaways that day, so make sure you come by!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Found out that we don't own all of our sidewalk in front of the building. What does that mean? We have to find another cart that doesn't go past our 42" from in front of the building. Not getting rid of the one we have, but will need to get a smaller one to use. The length isn't an issue, but the width. I found one that is outside of Houston, but will need to get some money to actually buy it. I am hoping that the owner will hold it for me until Tuesday.
If we can get the other cart and our occupancy permit, then the Halloween opening will go as planned. If not, then we will work on another option and will still probably open on Halloween. Looking forward to finally getting this company launched. We still have tons to do and more stuff to buy, but we can get our daily operation running.
Found out that our local Restaurant Depot is now carrying everything I need for the business. They carry pretty much all of the Vienna Beef hot dogs and accessories. Had a great conversation with the store manager and he is going to look into getting the soups, chili, and other types of dogs from Vienna. If they can do that, I will be set. I will have to drive into Austin and pick it up, but I will save tons of money and not have a minimum that I am forced into purchasing. Yea for Restaurant Depot!
First event is Saturday. Pretty much have everything purchased and will only need to haul it to the site. Still a little nervous, but that will pass once we get going. Hoping to sell out of everything, but will be fine with making some money. It should be lots of fun also.
Got our uniforms tonight. I am wearing a red Chef Jacket and black pants and my staff is wearing red shirts and black pants. I like the color scheme because it is not only very professional, but also fits our "Rock and Roll" side. Won't be wearing the uniform in the restaurant, but only for special events and catering. Will have a little more relaxed dress code for the restaurant.
In all of this work we have put in, I am lucky enough to have learned tons of new things. I can now run plastic (pvc) plumbing, run electrical wires and hook up outlets (with my buddy's help - Thanks Joey!), and build shelves by hand....not put them together, actually cut the wood and screw it all together. And I can also hook up a tankless hot water heater. Not the one I originally bought (it leaked) but the one that my buddies at Lowes sold to me.
I am very proud of not only the work I have done, but the work that my wife and niece have put in. Without them, we would still be wondering when the business was going to open. They really pulled it together today and helped me get everything done with only minutes to spare. Not sure what I would have done if they had not helped me.
*Just a little info for those who are wondering:
We started this concept back in March of this year. Not in May or June, those were just some milestones, but actually all the way back in March. I was recently unemployed at that time and needed to find something to do. I had not thought of this at first, but my brother in law giving me that Chili/Cheese machine really set my mind at work. My wife wasn't sure at first, but told me to do research and make sure this is what I wanted to do.
I spent uncounted hours doing research before we started this business. I not only gained tons of knowledge from the internet, but from also going to Hot Dog University.....that is where I knew for sure that I really wanted to do this. Mark taught me a lot more than he knows...considering that I showed up knowing more than I should have. I know more about hot dogs than most people would ever know...except my friends at Vienna Beef, they know everything!
Why has it taken so long? Some of it stems from my endless hours of research, some of it from working on the kitchen, and some of it was just physically and mentally giving up the idea of this ever working. There were several times that I really wanted to stop and not go on. I just didn't think we would ever get this done. There were a lot of things that had to be done first and the task made the final outcome seem unimportant.
I finally had to receive a push to get my head back in the game. I had grown to love the idea of this business, but hated the path I had to take in order to get there. I was not only pushing myself, but also had my wife pushing me. Those that know her can attest to how motivating she can be. She stayed on me until I got my mind straight and pushed harder than I ever had. Needless to say, I love her very much for what she has done for me and the business. Plus, she came up with a really great idea that I think we are going to do. Needless to say, it will take our business beyond just the hot dogs.
So why the change in my mindset? I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place. I really love this business and am willing to do whatever it takes to make it succeed. Am I very optimistic about this working for us? You better believe I am! We have the right ideas and concepts to take this business very far. We already have preliminary plans to expand next year and ideas that will make us very successful. I think that 2009 has been pretty productive, but 2010 will be the first year that we really shine.
And thanks to all the other who have supported us during all of this. I really appreciate your word of encouragement and patience while we were getting setup. Please continue to read the blog and we hope to see some of you real soon!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Things did not go as planned. Having to make some changes and was "informed" of challenges that we had no idea about. Should still be able to get the permit on Tuesday or Wednesday. Just need it to do this catering job. Will still have to fight with the city over getting an occupancy permit. I'm ready for that fight!
Very tired right now since we all stayed up until about noon today. Took a small nap and now I need to crash until the morning.
No matter how hard this becomes, we are opening the business. I have come too far for these little issues to stop me.
I will post a better update once I have had some sleep.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Called the county and setup my appointment........Health Inspection is this Friday morning. Should pass with flying colors. I have some plumbing to do and have to fix the wall and paint....all that will be done tomorrow (Thursday). Will have to get my insurance this week and finish getting my pans for the cart. Shouldn't need much else to be able to operate the business.
If everything goes well on Friday, we will be opening on Halloween. That's right, Saturday, October 31st. Will probably run a small lunch (11am to 1pm) and then reopen at 5pm and go until around 8 or so. Will hopefully be really busy and forget about all the work. Looks like that will be a very Happy Halloweenie!
Catering job on October 24th is still a go. Need to purchase all the product next week. Shouldn't have to prep anything but filling mustard and ketchup squeeze bottles. That will be a true test of what I am made of....serving hot dogs and brats for 6 -7 hours.
Next up is the Grand Opening. Looks like that will be on November 14th, which is the Veteran's Day celebration weekend. That should bring tons of people downtown. Hopefully we don't have 20 hot dog vendors show up. Won't really matter in the long run because I will be here everyday and they are only here for special events. I think people will remember that.
After the Grand Opening, we have the Festival of Trees event on November 21st. Should be a good time. Getting excited about this one because of what we are serving....won't be hot dogs!
Once that is done, we are going to try and relax a little and make plans for 2010. That is already shaping up to be a great year for the business....already have another event lined up.....will post more once it is 100% official.
Sent a proposal to the City of Austin for a really great site for a cart. Will hopefully hear a "Yes" sometime this coming week. I really want this spot and think that it could not only benefit thousands of people, but also help us build the business into something spectacular!
If it does happen, we won't start until after the first of the year. Not going to run that cart myself, will have to hire people to run it for me. If it doesn't happen, then we start contacting city council people and the mayor to get them on our side. I will also get as many people as possible to sign a petition to allow the cart in this most sacred of spots. This spot has never been occupied by any food vendor or anyone else for that matter. It pretty much is the most perfect spot in Austin. Stay tuned for this one.
Very tired from all the work on the building. I feel that all this work will pay off in the long run.....it better pay off!
Friday, October 9, 2009
We are an official food vendor of The Festival of Trees. http://www.family-crisis-center.org/fot/
We will be serving food and will be donating a decorated Christmas Tree for auction. It is a charity event that I really wanted to be a part of and was able to get in before the deadline. Even though we are giving the food away for free, we aren't just serving some hot dogs. Our menu will be pretty exotic and will display my culinary skills. The items we are serving will eventually be available at the restaurant, but I am really going all out to hopefully expand my catering business.
Getting the roof and walls fixed sometime this coming week. I should have the plumbing pretty much done and just need to get my buddy to run my electrical for me. Once that is done, we will have our permit. We are now shooting to open on Halloween. We normally have a pretty big deal here in town on Halloween, and it helps that it falls on Saturday this year. Will have to find some hot dog shaped candy to give away.
Not much else going on. Will post more after the weekend.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Waiting on the insurance adjuster to come and look at the leaky roof tomorrow. This little delay is setting us back again. If it hadn't rained, we would be done and ready to open this coming week. Will go into this more once I meet with the adjuster tomorrow. I should be able to predict an opening date once we find when the roof is being fixed.
Signed up to be a part of a local charity event. I won't make anything off the event, but it will get word out about our business. I really wanted to do this and met with the organizer today. Will be filling out the paperwork tonight and dropping it back off tomorrow. Gotta work on my menu tonight. Have to figure out what to serve and how much to buy for 500-600 people. The event isn't until November 21st, but that is only 47 days away from now. Got lucky because today was the last day to sign up and still be part of their marketing....so I will still be in their ads, on their website, and on the invitations.
Have a meeting set for early December regarding a local event in March. This event should make me some money and be HUGE for promotion of the business. I will be selling dogs outright and not being hired to cater. Will post the info once we get all the agreements in place....which will be in December.
The hot dog eating contest is on....for now. Still in the planning stages, but the charity involved has changed and the date has changed. Looks like it will be in March. That is all I know for now, but will be meeting with the charity to shore up everything. The nice thing is that there will be tons of people there and will have plenty of volunteers to help. This fell into place today and is more like my original vision for the contest. I think that having it during a main charity event is the way to go....this not only does it add to their event, it also shows how much we care about this charity (which we do, a lot!). More info to come.
Got an offer to buy my way onto GPS and In-Car Navigation systems. The company will put my location on as a restaurant and will put a small ad. It doesn't cost very much and your business stays on there until you ask them to remove it. This would be great for people driving down the highway and find out that we are only a couple blocks away. Not sure how many people would stop, but it is worth the price.
Had lost the business cell phone for about 3 weeks. The wife found it for me 2 days ago. Thank goodness I have her! Checked the voice mail and only had 2....and had already spoken to both people. Glad that I didn't miss hundreds of calls!
This business has been very hard to get up and running. Everything was going great at first and then the setbacks starting coming up. I think this is par for the course and will make us all wiser about the next location. If this had just been a cart and I just used someone else's kitchen, then we would be up and running....but the rain would have shut us down for a few days and we can't afford to be open and then not be open....people won't come back if you are closed all the time. Being patient and waiting until I can open indoors has been the right path.
Everything is a lesson...good or bad. It will all work out and we will be open and running very soon. I have faith that what I have learned so far will not only improve how I operate, but will also give me the strength to forge on when things get tough.
Will I ever want to expand and go thru this again? Sure. I think that our Austin expansion won't be anywhere near this difficult....I'll already have the commissary and will only need to drag the cart to Austin each day (unless I work a deal to store it in Austin). The only hard part will be having someone either run the Bastrop location or run the Austin location...I can't be two places at once....or can I?
Monday, September 28, 2009
Figured out that we have 3 outlets in the kitchen and 4 (maybe 5) appliances. Will have to put 2 more breakers in the box and run single outlets all the way across the room. That should fix the electrical problems.
Plumbing issues are the same. Those shouldn't take me very long, just need to get the angles right for the sink drains. I am not a professional plumber, so it takes me a little longer to figure it out. The tankless heater might have to be installed by a plumber. Will have to find someone to help me with that.
Got most of the kitchen area cleaned up and the other half of the room is somewhat organized. That other half is for the flower shop and has tons floral supplies. Got the wire shelves put up and that helped a bunch...plus we got rid of that old cooler that was taking up space. Still need to move a couple things around and then hang up a new light and that side will be good.
The eating contest is delayed until next spring. Thinking of doing more than just the contest, but will have to see what is feasible. Not going into great detail because I really don't need anyone else taking my ideas and using them as their own....and by that I mean local people to my area.
Had some discussions about further expansion plans for next year, but we are holding off for now. The people involved with the expansion plans aren't sure where they are moving to , so we are going to wait to see how that plays out. We are still planning on being in Austin next spring, unless something happens to hamper it.
Was doing some research on other cities and their laws on mobile food vending. I have to say that Austin and San Antonio are the easiest/best cities to start up a cart business. The laws in those two cities are much easier to navigate than any other major Texas cities. The cities of Fort Worth and Arlington require that you pay for them to look at your cart plans before you can even file for a permit. Not the cart itself, they want to see blueprints/diagrams of the cart and how it works. Neither of them allow you to play any music, have any lights on the carts (other than to assist you in working), nor can you "hawk" your food (saying "Hot Dogs, come get your Hot Dogs"). I think that is insane! What is the point of having these vendors? Fort Worth also requires that you measure out your spot before putting the cart there....literally use a measuring tape to make sure you are far enough away from the curb and the intersection. If you are a little off, they will fine you. You also have to stop serving at 9pm. That one really got me. I think that their reasoning is to keep vendors from getting robbed, but actually you are creating a bigger problem with drunks. The whole reason that Austin allows the vendors on 6th street is to hopefully help people sober up before driving home. That is why they give you til 3am to shut down. I guess that some cities don't really know the value of the vendors, nor do they care.
24 days until our first catering job. Not too worried about it. I have done some catering with my brother in law and have done it in the past. I have my checklist, so nothing will be left behind. Still need to get my Lederhosen. That will be next!
Will hopefully have a start date really soon. Need to get this rolling before the cold weather starts.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Back to business!
Found this site of this comedy duo that I love to watch. They are now doing free "local" commercials for businesses. I am trying to get these guys to do a free commercial for my business.
Please go to: http://www.ilovelocalcommercials.com/ and nominate my business. If I can get enough people to nominate us, then it might draw attention to the business and they might make a commercial. That would be freakin' great!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We are still considering turning this "cart" business into a full blown restaurant. We figured that since our permit allows it, why not. Will need to start buying up equipment so I can steam my hot dogs and buns indoors. Will be using electric steam pans because gas is expensive and can't use propane inside. We also have to buy up some soup kettles for this winter time. I think that making this into an actual restaurant will be the best thing in the long run. Not only will it increase our bottom line, but it will also free-up the cart for catering jobs. We just lost another restaurant in the downtown area, so this is the right time to strike. Still not sure if I can talk myself into working from 11am to 7pm everyday. Bribes might be in order!
Finally got rid of the old flower cooler that my wife had in the back room. It was going to cost us a fortune to fix it and we only used it 2 or 3 times a year. There is so much room now that we shouldn't have a problem storing all of her floral supplies. I am also making sure that we have room for her to work. She deserves a good place to do flowers....just because she puts up with my crap and has given me half her room to build my kitchen. She is the greatest!
Had some special business cards built. Can't post a picture because they are super special and actually have the logo and our other "web address logo" on the front. How is that possible? The are very special and you have to move them back and forth to see both images. They are for a special project. What special project? Not telling just yet.....you have to wait. Don't want to spoil any surprises, but it will be really cool and not everyone will get one! And those who do get one will be privy to special "events".
Should know something soon about this other catering job that came up. I think they are waiting for me to open so I can serve food. Have not heard anything else, but they are getting ready for their event. Will hopefully find out something this week or early next week.
Found out about another event in late November. We have been to it before, as guests, and my wife and her mother used to donate a Christmas tree to it every year. It is a charity event for a local children's advocacy center and people bid on donated Christmas trees. They also need people to serve food and we are thinking about doing it. I will need to check with them today and hopefully we can get signed up. We have to give away free food, but I think that it will expose us to a different clientele than we will normally have. Should help us thru the winter months!
Still trying to find someone who can print some shirts. I tried getting one thru VistaPrint and it sucks. Still waiting on my refund from them. Hopefully I can find a screen printer that will hook me up with a discount.
Gotta get some sleep so I can finish working on my kitchen. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but damn that tunnel is long!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Big push to try and open by Wednesday. I would love to say we opened on 09/09/09! Getting some help this weekend and hopefully we can at least have our health inspection done by Tuesday. The biggest problem will be the plumbing....and the tankless water heater.
Got the logo done! That's one thing accomplished. Check out www.franksrocks.com to see it! It took me a while because I had to learn a new graphic manipulation program. It took me about 4 days, but the end result came out pretty good. I actually like it better than my first idea of a cartoon hot dog. The idea came to me in a day dream....I was sipping white tea while riding on a fluffy cloud horse named Antonio......just kidding. The idea came to me while thinking about decorating the inside with guitars. I thought about using my guitar collection and putting them in cases inside the building. Not sure I want to do that. I would be afraid that someone might decide to "borrow" one of them and not bring it back. Guess I will try to find some cheapy guitars to put on the walls.
I ordered one shirt to see how the new logo looks when printed and ordered 3D business cards. The shirt is black (of course) and has the regular logo on the front and then has an additional logo on the back that has the website address. It will probably look cool except that my long hair might get in the way. The new business cards are really cool. You basically move it back and forth and it shows the logo and the website address. I only ordered 40 of them because they are expensive. I will use them for special customers and when trying to get new catering jobs.
Working on rebuilding the website. I think that might happen once we open. Instead of the simple site we have now, the new one will be a full flash site. I need to learn that program also before the site can be relaunched. That should take me about 4 days.
Went and looked at some equipment today. I would have bought the ice machine, but it would have required us to drill holes in the roof and mount the condenser on the roof. That would have been a pain! Plus we would have had to upgraded the electrical box that also handles the air conditioner because it is also on the roof. So a $600 ice machine would have cost me around $2500 total. I'll wait and buy one where everything is built into the unit.
I did buy a new table for the outside customers. It is a tall pub table that is black metal and can handle an umbrella. We are going to put it out front for the "eat and run" customers. I got it at Home Depot for $64. It was like $150 new and they had it on clearance @ $99 for about 3 months. They finally lowered the price and we bought it! It comes apart real easy and we were able to put it in my little car. Would like to have more, but that one will do.
Speaking of tables, we found the coolest tables at the restaurant supply store. They are brushed aluminum/chrome and really personify the "Rock and Roll" attitude that Frank's Franks will be known for. They were $100 each, so we will have to wait. I could see us using those and the black tables we already have....black and chrome always looks good together!
Gonna try something weird on the hot dog front. Found out about something called "The Louisiana". Was curious about it, so I contacted someone who actually sells them in Louisiana...kinda had to, couldn't find anything online about it. Here is how it is made: Beef Hot Dog with Onions, Red Beans, and Tabasco. Sounds kinda weird, but it is really good! This guy doesn't use chili, but just uses the red beans instead. He said that sometimes they put rice on it, but only his "diehards" do that (red beans and rice dog?). Will have to work that into my specialty hot dogs in the future. I know of several native Louisianans that live in Bastrop and they would probably knock down my door to buy one!
Got a couple of my catering gigs sealed up. I hope that ends up being a HUGE part of the business! There is lots of guaranteed money in it where as the daily business will never be as consistent. Hope to seal up a third event real soon....that event will give me tons of local exposure.
The hot dog eating contest is being moved to the spring. I have bigger aspirations for the event and want to make it more than just a eating contest. Will be working out the details in the next few months and will set a date. Needless to say, this will definitely put us on the map! I will post more info once we determine what all is going to happen.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I hurt my neck again and have been in a serious amount of pain. Stupid neck problems started years ago and still continue. Had surgery to fix them in 05, but still have other problems. Hopefully it gets better so I can finish everything up and get open.
Bought a outdoor pub table from Home Depot for $64. We are going to use it outside and without chairs. It will be a stand up table since it is so tall. It should work good for people who don't have time to sit down and eat. This will give them a place to stand and not have to hold their food the whole time.
Nothing new on the catering side. Will hopefully know something soon.
Will post again once I feel a little better.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Bought 2 sets of these on Saturday morning. Did you know that Lowes opens at 6:00am? I got there at about 6:15am and bought this set and the one in the box that's behind it. These will be perfect for our indoor seating area. Got them for half off (only $44 a set!). Would like to get 4 more sets, but will have to wait and see. That would give me 12 seats with just those and then another 8 with the ones my brother in law is letting me borrow. I would love to just have my own, but we have to spend money where it is needed.
I am planning on changing the seat cushion color. My niece likes it because of the green, but I would rather have it match everything else that I have. We have some blue leather material, but it doesn't match the blue in the umbrellas....yes, it matters! We might wait until I get a logo and have that sown into the seats....that would look real classy!
I off-loaded both sets at about 7:15am and then locked the front door. Someone had walked up and started knocking on the front door. I didn't hear it at first but finally did and decided to go ahead and leave thru the side door and find out who was knocking. It ended up being our neighbor, who owns the house behind where we live. She wanted to know if I would be available for a parks department (city) function they are going to do in September. They love the idea of the cart and the nostalgia of it. It will go great with their event (re-dedication of WWII softball park). Well of course I said "Yes". This will be a great opportunity for people to get to know the business. Will have to start working out the details for the event. They are still working on a date.
Might not do the hot dog eating contest this year. I am so busy trying to get opened up and my catering is taking off! I really wanted to do this, but would have to hire an employee to handle all my other business so I could focus on this. I am going to try and have it next year, but earlier in the year. I need several months to plan and get my sponsorship and that won't happen until after Christmas time. It's hard enough to get people to sponsor something, but nearly impossible if you start asking around Christmas time.
Waiting to hear back on my bids for the 2 private parties in October. I am going to see them tomorrow and will work with them on getting this done. I really want to do both events because it could open doors for more events down the road.
We are pushing to get some things done this week. We have been busy with prior engagements and need to put all of our focus on getting open and running. We have been trying to open for a really long time and things are just coming up that we have to take care of. Will be glad to be operating and making some money.
Still looking for someone to do a logo for me. Starting to worry that it won't ever happen. I can't draw on paper or on the computer, so I can't rely on myself to do it. Hit me up if you have someone who can do it on the cheap!
Also looking for a metal fabricator in my area. I am drawing up designs for my own carts and would like to figure out how much it would cost. I think building my own is the way to go, because then I get exactly what I want. I have someone who can help with the gas lines, so I just need assistance in building the shell....actually, I just need someone who can do the body work. I can weld the frame, but don't know how to bend the sheet metal and attach it to the frame. It is going to be a major undertaking, but will be worth it in the long run. Heck, that may even turn into a side business if everything goes well!
Busy is the word for this week. Hopefully that word turns in to Productive, before the weekend!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Should know something in the next week or so about this job. It is in our town and I won't have that wonderful drive to Austin everyday. It is a job I've wanted for a couple of years and will hopefully be getting an interview for it this week. I am more than qualified for the position and the benefits are amazing! More info when I know something......
Still working on my catering bids...been hard because we need to get the cost down. I think we have it down enough now and will just need to finalize the bid. The catering part of the business is a great way to make some money, but is really hard because everyone has a budget that you need to stay at. If someone said, "Just do your normal thing and I will pay for it" then things would be wonderful and I would make lots of money....they don't do that in the real world! I have to pinch pennies or I don't make a dime!
My competition has now decided to start making Chicago Dogs. Funny how they didn't do that until I started talking about it. They are also selling "Gourmet" hot dogs. Hope they really are "gourmet" or that will cause them to lose some business. Can't lie about things like that and then think that people will forgive you for it later. Good luck to them.
I am going to finish the kitchen this week. If I ever want to open, that has to be done. Once that is done then the other areas should be easy to finish.
I am working on a drawing of how our dining room area will eventually be setup. I want to make it look like a patio and have some wood railings setup around it with planter boxes. I basically want it to look like a Chicago style outdoor patio restaurant...but have it inside. I think that will really bring the customers in and we might even extend the hours to dinner time if it works out.
I don't see why we couldn't compete with the local restaurants for dinner...especially if we start serving soups and chili. We would only need to make a dinner menu that was a little less "fast food". I have thought about this before and think that we could really do it. I will just need to figure out what else we can serve (can't be anything fried) that people will want...maybe some hot sandwiches....like an Italian beef or a Philly Cheese. We could also carry some exotic sausages. Will have to keep thinking about that one.
Started thinking about our Grand Opening event again. Will need to try and plan that party soon. I have so many other things going on, but this will be important to getting the word out about our place.
No word on the hot dog eating contest. My rep has been having problems with his email. Will need to call him tomorrow to find out if we can still do this. I have to start getting sponsors for this within the next few weeks.
Will hopefully have more info on everything this week and post again. Had a bad week and didn't get a chance to post. I am also going to stop posting personal items here because I am starting another blog. I think it is best to separate my working life with my personal life....especially since this blog is supposed to be about my working life. I will post the link here once that blog is up and running.
Oh, I forgot to rant about something!!!!!!!!!!
Rachel Ray has no idea what a good hot dog is. Yes, I said it! She picked Bar S hot dogs as the best in her little test. Those are the cheapy hot dogs that Walmart sells for next to nothing. Is she out of her mind? I think she needs to go back and test some real hot dogs and then tell us what she thinks. Here is the link to her top hot dogs: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news&id=6148063
Notice that she doesn't have Vienna Beef on the list. Maybe if she ate a real hot dog, then she wouldn't have Bar S as her #1. I did notice that this came from her magazine and that she might not have actually tasted any of the hot dogs....not my problem. She put her name on the magazine so in my opinion, she made the decision.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Working hard on the catering side of the business. I have to finish some quotes for two events in October. Got the lead for these events thru my brother in law. One of the events could be huge for me and hopefully will lead to more work. I would like to be busy enough to have either someone run the retail cart or someone to run the catering. If it was my choice, then I would do the catering and run the business side.....retail is fun, but each catering job can bring more jobs if you really work hard at it.....and pass out a ton of business cards!
Have to get my cart all setup this week and then find a commissary in Austin. I thought my kitchen would work, but it might not since Travis county is picky about what qualifies. Will find out tomorrow and will have to contact a couple people to see if I can use their kitchens. Shouldn't be a problem. Have to get my health permit in Travis County since my two catering jobs are in that county....plus this will help me when we are ready to open in Austin!
Bought an electric steam pan. It is a 6" deep full size stainless built in pan that has temp control and is 1200 watts....about the same as most higher end microwaves. This thing will do 200+ degrees. It will be perfect to keep things warm or to steam buns. I am buying 2 more of them in the future and will install them on my indoor cart. Only paid $60 for it! The 700 watt units are $122 at Restaurant Depot, so my used one was a better deal. Just need to find the other two and then buy the pans for it.
No news on getting a second cart. Will try again this winter when people are desperate to get rid of them. Maybe after a few catering jobs, we can afford to build one instead. I would rather build the one I want versus buying another one that I have to "rig" to work. I would love to build two really good carts and then use my current one for catering or a third site.
Working on adding special things to the menu. Already going to have a Double Bacon Chili Dog that will be for a limited time. Looking to recreate the Albuquerque Isotopes Dog from the Simpson's "Hungry Hungry Homer" episode. Have to figure out how to mesquite grill the onions and everything else is easy. I think that smoking them whole and then refrigerating will allow me to cut and put them on the griddle...with the same result. Also going to carry the real cane sugar sodas from time to time. Not really a fan of carrying glass bottles, but I know that people really like those and I am all about pleasing my fans!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Got my free refrigerator and freezer last night. Both of them work fine, so they will come in handy. Nearly lost a finger moving the refrigerator, but all is good today. I had the front end on the door side and my finger got caught between the two door handles. It hurt and I had a hard time getting it out....until I opened the bottom door. We then moved it into the building and I nearly dropped my end. I hate moving heavy things and obviously I suck at it. Last time we moved something heavy, my finger got trapped beneath it and was drug thru broken glass....the broken glass was beneath the cabinet we moved. That hurt for a long time, but luckily it wasn't broken. Oh and I had hit my hand with a mallet back in May....that was an accident, but the first time I cried from being hurt since I was a kid...it really hurt!
Opening on Saturday the 25th, is still a possibility. We decided to stay home instead of going to my cousin's wedding in the hopes that I will be ready. I only have a few weeks left of summer and need to get open. I am not saying that after summer my business will be dead, but feel like summer time will make me more money. I really wanted to go to the wedding, but getting this business opened in priority one. Even if Saturday comes and we aren't ready, we will be by Monday. I plan to have all my food items purchased and ready to go by then. The only major thing I will have to do is test my cart...still haven't done that, but know it will work fine.
Still planning my grand opening. We are going to try and operate for a couple of weeks before we do the actual "Grand Opening". This will give me a chance to invite people and plan a little party. Was going to make it an open party, but will make it private and then extend the grand opening to the next day for the general public. I am going to try to find some things to give away for the kids and adults. Not sure what that will be, but I think we are giving the kids activity books and Vienna Beef paper hats. Trying to find something that adults would like that won't cost me an arm and a leg! Any ideas?
Still working on plans for the hot dog eating contest in November. I just need to find the time to write it all up and then send it over to the food pantry. I am working with them on this since all proceeds will go to them. I am excited about the prospects of the contest and how it will help my business. I think that the winter time will be our slowest and any kind of advertising I can get will help. I am also excited because this could really help the food pantry with their holiday rush. I know that they start to run low during that time and this will hopefully help them and everyone they help.
I had found a smaller cart for sale back in June and we had decided not to buy it. At the time, we didn't have the money and needed to get the floral cooler fixed. The guy still has it. I am going to try and go see it this week and maybe work a deal. I have a family member that is willing to put up some of the money, but hoping that the seller will come down a little. He already came down $200, but would like him to come down another $100 so that I am not out of pocket (the relative has agreed to pay $500 and the cart is $600). Can't spend an extra $100 on it when I still have to buy my pans and other items for the cart I have now! And this cart needs some work so I wouldn't be able to use it until it is fixed...but it would make a perfect catering cart!
Got some marketing materials, but should be getting more. I received a 2nd umbrella, 3 Vienna Beef hats, 4 Vienna Beef cardboard signs, a Chicago Dog banner, and a box of 100 paper hats. I am hoping that we can get a couple metal signs for the cart and a lighted sign. I really wanted a neon sign, but was told that they do not travel very well. They have also ordered my menu board, but it takes a month or two for those to be completed. Trying also to get a couple of shirts since we do not have our logo created yet. The other option to that is to pay for the use of the Vienna logo and build my own shirts. That would cost me money, but I could advertise Vienna and Frank's Franks at the same time.
The floral cooler is working again. Finally got a new compressor. It is holding temps and is so much quieter than before. I wasn't sure the compressor was working at first because you can hardly hear it! I think the fan inside is louder than the new compressor. Will still have to figure something out about a back room cooler, before Valentine's Day. If I could fix the old one, I would....but my refrigeration guy said it wouldn't be worth the money. He suggested we buy a beverage cooler. I found out that if you replace the thermostat and flip the fan blade over, then you can use those for flowers. Will have to see what we can do about that. I also have an option of building my own walk-in cooler, but the wife doesn't think that is a good idea. I agree because we won't know for sure if it does work and how long it would actually work.
Not much else going on. We are taking a break tomorrow (Tuesday) and going to Splash Way in Columbus, Texas. That will put us a little behind, but figured that this is the last time we will have an opportunity to go....plus we haven't taken our niece and nephew on a trip this year...this will have to be it! We are all nuts about swimming (even me) and this should be lots of fun! I used to hate swimming, but we go twice a week now and I have become a better swimmer. Still can't tred water, but I can swim the length of our friends pool 3 times without taking a breath!