The February Hustle

Growing up, one of my favorite baseball players was Pete Rose. When I watched him, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies; he and I both shared the 70's bowl haircut, and my favorite part about him was his nickname: Charlie Hustle. I had a tee shirt with a picture of him slamming into an opposing catcher to score a game-winning run, and across the bottom in big black script it said, "Pete Rose. Hustle makes it happen." I loved him because even though he looked like he was carved out of a block of soap, he led the league in hits, at bats and games played. He just worked his butt off and somehow in a league where many players were taller, stronger, faster, and flashier...he won out.

This February that tee-shirt, and that phrase keep coming into my mind. Hustle makes it Happen. February is tough. Much of Rockport has fled to warmer climes, and many more have burrowed into their homes seemingly awaiting the April vacation week. But the StudioCrepe team is still committed to this idea of a year-round community restaurant. So, we've been cobbling together every event we can: hosting the Winter Farmers Market, fundraising for Cape Ann Animal Aid, catering events at the Elks club. Money is tight and both the snow and the Patriots have shut us down on a number of occasions. Still--Hustle Makes it Happen. We're gonna grind this month out, and March too. But come Spring and Summer, look out. We'll be swinging for the fences.

Why Yelp Sucks

I want this space to be positive, and thoughtful and about braving the entrepreneurial wilds--but I just have to say (this once) why Yelp is absolutely the worst. Because if you want to open a restaurant (especially) then you have to come to terms with this mass extortionist, and the nonsense it unleashes and provokes in the general public.  So, yes, there's the fact that it gives voice to the judgmental and petty sides in all of us. But then, that's the internet, so I can't really hold that specifically against only Yelp--though it does nothing to help businesses protect themselves against baseless slander. In fact, this gruesome force actually pretends to be an ally to businesses, while doing everything it can to lock them into their draconian sales funnel.

Since opening StudioCrepe, I was called on a weekly basis by Yelp, and each time they promised they would absolutely increase the foot traffic to my restaurant. They had all kinds of data, and powerpoint slides, and flash and all they asked for was $1000 a month. Yup. $1000 a month AND a year contract. That was their leading pitch. AND I was "lucky" because not every business was offered such a generous opportunity. If I gave them $1000 a month for a year, they would flood me with customers. So many customers I would barely be able to handle them. I asked if they guaranteed this, or if they had hard ROI metrics. Nope, they didn't, but they still pursued me with vigor. 

Over the fall, as business started to wane, I started to get nervous. What if Yelp could actually help me turn the tide of the seasonality of Rockport? Was I missing out on a marketing opportunity? And right on cue, there was their weekly cold-call. With a special: 3-month trial--$375 a month. 

Look, I'm new at this. I am willing to do anything to fill the dining room--so please forgive my ignorance--but I relented. Despite my better judgement, I gave in. I did everything they asked--photos, call to action buttons, advertisements, Yelp specials. And so at the end of 3 months, I am going to cut to the chase here...the conclusion? Yelp really really sucks.

4 new customers that I could validate. Over $1000 spent for 4 customers. 

I could see immediately that they made little impact, but I gave it a couple months. I would have cancelled early, but they had an early termination fee which dissuaded me. So, in month three, I called to cancel, and they informed me of a 30 day cancellation policy. Basically, they were going to extort me for an extra 4th month, whether I liked it or not. I hated it. That final insult probably is what prompted me to write this bitter account.

Okay--so the walk-away lesson here? Don't believe Yelp as a business owner. Walk away. Quickly and confidently!

Happy New Year

As of Jan 1--StudioCrepe is 6 months old. I feel like I am 20 years older. This has been an amazing journey, and I am blown away by what we've accomplished since our opening. 

Except for the writing about it. This whole blogging-side has suffered. But no longer! (I think you've just figured out my New Year's resolution).

Look, this whole endeavor is amazing not just because of the beautiful bistro we are building, but because of the process, and the behind-the-scenes business of it. I really want to capture as much of this as I can WHILE it is happening. For both of us. 

So, this last sentence kinda begs the question about the tone of the blog. I really want to write it directly to you--my customer. You, the person who is sitting at table 3 drinking the ice tea I just brewed. You, the person who is in the booth (table 5) with your kids trying to get in a bite while they are pitching goldfish across the Studio. You, one my new best friends who also happens to perform here once a month. You get it.  So the tone is going to shift--being less about marketing, and more toward intimacy. 

I need this space, for me, to truly capture and articulate everything that is happening. And so I need this to be the most quiet, To encourage this genuine impulse toward camaraderie, I have turned the comments off. If you'd like to chat about what you've read here, please come by the Studio and let's share a glass of wine. Nothing could mean more to me.

Here's to us!

Happy New Year. 

The Opening--Eve

(Written Jan 2, 2017 in an effort to fill in the gaps from the first 6 months of a shoddy blog)

Here's what I remember--zero sleep. I know I was in a flop sweat doing all kinds of what must have been essential last minutes tasks. Chopping tomatoes at 3 am. Programming the ipad with all the menu items. Deciding if the bulk cinnamon should be stored in a cabinet in the kitchen, or in the storeroom out back. I felt like I was in one of those cooking shows where you have 2 hours to make an impressive meal for a panel of judges. Except that I was making an entire restaurant, and a couple hundred people were about to breach the doors.

I don't remember the opening. I have data that shows we had an amazing day. I have a $20 in my office (still needs to be framed) from the very first purchase. Maybe it was lack of sleep...or maybe my brain has taken the terror and tucked it away to protect all my future endeavors, whatever it is--I can't remember one thing about opening day.

Except for the closing. 

Luis and I were shell-shocked, and exhausted. And then Lisa (the previous owner of The Lobster Pool and now a StudioCrepe Manager) educated me in all the details of a proper kitchen close. Look, Luis has done this a million times in kitchens where he worked before--and I've always seen it happen out of the corner of eye while managing the front of the house.  But when faced with your very own massive pile of dishes and tureens and your pristine stainless steel surfaces are lost under a mayhem of flour and red wine--AND all of this, while sleep deprived, well--you do what I did. You wrestle back the instinct to sob, and while you begin the first of what will be a nightly exhuming process, you wish for a fire. 

I begged for a mighty, all-consuming inferno to visit the Studio and save me and Luis from what we dared attempt to do. 

After months of meticulous planning and years of saving, we did it. We birthed an enormous, hungry, volatile idea into the world. And I wanted it dead. I wanted so badly the safety of the status quo, but it was too late. We had become something new, and we were now babes too. 

Warming Up

It's been a very busy couple months. Between construction, test kitchens and building new partnerships--

Hello Mayflower Bakery, Shalin Liu, Rockport Exchange and the Rockport Garden Club--

we are so excited to be part of this vibrant community.

We can't wait until summer 2016, when we swing our doors wide to our new fans and friends.

See you soon!

Until then, visit our FB page for the latest updates.

The Coffee Connect

We are so proud to announce that StudioCrepe will be partnering with Cape Cod Roasters to bring the freshest, most delicious coffee to the North Shore. You'll be guaranteed that your cup is not only flavorful, but the beans are harvested from farms that are members of the Rainforest Alliance, and the workers are all paid a livable wage. StudioCrepe will be offering a variety of preparations as well from cold brew to the majestic pour-over.

Unfamiliar with the pour-over method? Well, you only have about 8 weeks, and then you can experience it for your self. All we gotta say is--it'll be the most dazzling coffee you've ever had. 

Our thanks to Pam, Jan, Cindy and Derrick at Cape Cod Roasters. We look forward to a long, happy and prosperous future!

Who is StudioCrepe?

As of this writing, StudioCrepe is Luis and me. But in the next couple months, we're very excited to be adding a few pivotal new people... 

Luis is the Executive Chef--he's bringing his wealth of experience from the vibrant kitchens of NYC to our fair seaside community. He's married, has a beautiful little girl, loves to travel, and he's a beast on the basketball court. While he's making your Boston Creme Crepe, go ahead and ask him about his early years and playing milkcrate basketball in the streets of Brooklyn. Dude's no joke. And neither are his crepes.

Me? I'm David. I'm rapidly learning all of Luis' kitchen tricks and sprinting to open this beautiful cafe in time for summer. I've got 2 kids, 2 dogs, and a couple ex-wives (listed in order of preference--although some days the dogs are first.) I'm a local guy (I live in Pigeon Cove) and you'll be getting to know me also as the MC for the many open mics and performances we'll be holding. 

We're getting closer to sealing the deal with a talented local confectioner too. This person will be supplying us with delicious cakes for our sweet crepes (like the Boston Creme mentioned above). But this partnership will merit its own blog reveal, so more on this later.

My daughter, Cady (sorry about the dog wisecrack, sweetie) will also be joining the team when she's back state-side. Right now, she's in Chile as a Rotary Exchange Student. But, she's excited to learn the meaning of the phrase "sweat equity". This summer, she'll be working for peanuts, while earning an ownership stake in the business. Smart kid, but she's gonna need your tips to help pay her gas money.

And that does bring us finally to the most important (soon to be) member of the StudioCrepe family...YOU! All this effort won't mean a thing, if you aren't dazzled by our food, service, environment and community focus.  We really cannot wait to meet each and every one of you, and begin to build a lasting, meaningful relationship. 

(I should have ended there...but there's also no way--in this string of credits--I could forget to mention our incredibly generous landlord, Jay Smith. The building is coming out of its shell because of his commitment and vision. And Steve Klotz (from K&S Remodeling) is an inspired partner. His talent and experience are transforming the cafe's interiors and kitchen. And finally, thanks to Jack Campbell for launching us down this path with his architectural prowess.) 

Phew! We did it! That's us. That's StudioCrepe. Now, if you're in the market for work, and want to join this splendid team, reach out. We'll be accepting applications very soon. Keep your eye on our FB page for updates. Crepe on!