Sunday, May 25, 2014

Expectations, Reality and "Critics".

In a few days, this panther turns 6 months old.  What a mile stone!  We are still in business.  In fact, we are doing ok!  I can only thank those who came in and then liked the place enough to tell another person. The only marketing I could count on was word of mouth and it worked, thankfully!  That powerful word of mouth managed to spread as far as a full page review in the Sydney Morning Heralds 'Spectrum'.  There are few publications that get bigger than that when it comes to Sydney cafe and restaurant write ups.  So the hype from that has calmed down, and we have scored a few more regulars which is great.  Things are leveling out and I have time to breath again, and time to write.

So since the enormous pick up in business, there has been an increase in the amount of "critics" that I get through the door.  I put "critics" in quotations because for the most part that is not really what they are.  It seems to be people who work day jobs in finance and then drag their partners out on the weekend for coffee and breakfast and then judge your shop based on what they think they know.  Then they post it on the internet. Its not a problem because I generally get good feedback with a bit of helpful criticism here and there.  Nobody is perfect and everything can be improved.  At first it was novel.  I was enjoying the opportunity to impress these people and fix any issues I had early on.  This cafe is one of my many big dreams and for people to make the effort to visit my shop and write about it is a great compliment.  As we get more popular, the expectations increase.  I won't let this get to me, if people expect anything more than what it truly is (a suburban cafe run by a bunch of girls in their 20s, plus Lewis the chef) that is their problem.  We do put in 100% effort none the less.  Getting to the point though...we are 6 months old.  This means I have been working 7 days a week in this cafe for 6 months.  That is 80 hours a week or more.  My fingers are scared and torn from making coffee without a break.  I really need to find time to wax my eyebrows but I always miss my appointments and my skin is suffering from a lack of vitamin D.  I have bags under my eyes and at the same time I am still trying to train olympic weightlifting every day in an attempt to do well at Nationals. A message to "critics".  You have NO IDEA. So when I see you glaring into your coffee cup and sharing sips with your partner, pondering for a moment and then giving either a nod or a headshake, I want to shake you a bit.  I appreciate everyones positive comments, but I don't feel like getting a new personal performance review published publicly on the internet every week, ya know?  It can make all your hard work feel trivial when you are judged on how many crayons you provide for children or how loud it gets when the shop is packed to the rafters.  In previous jobs at established businesses I always wondered how my bosses didn't really care about what others say about what their shop 'needs' (examples from this week are more chairs with backs, muesli cakes and bigger cups for large size.  Oh, and a bigger shop and to open for dinner as well.  Maybe become licensed too?) but I see its because after a while, it just gets a bit old. That being said reviews from proper critics and writers are always exciting and genuinely helpful.  I do appreciate the update on how we are doing from time to time and I see it as very good for business. Sometimes though, I want you to go away and let me play shop in peace for a bit.

On a lighter note, its been very fun and exciting over the last 6 months as well. I love the team that I have built and all of the friends I have made who started out as customers.  Lewis is an amazing chef, and Emma has really taken over the running of the floor and helped so much to build awesome relationships with the customers.  I have discovered a love for children that I certainly didn't have before I owned this place and a sense of achievement and self worth that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Yes I'm tired, but this will all pay off. Nothing worth doing comes easy, but I have a plan.


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