Archive for October, 2010

The Duel

Posted: October 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is why we duel.

A couple weeks ago we depressed everyone with our “sad blog” about how stressful things were getting around. Well, we came up with an idea to lighten the mood.

It started last week at a “marketing meeting” (aka…Shaan and I sitting on the couch, playing catch with a nerf football, and making fun of other companies boring marketing campaigns.)

We saw how all these restaurants and business’ try to use Facebook to “connect” with their customers. But in the end “connecting” often ends up being endless spam-updates from the business about their “new soup and sandwich combo!” their “focus on the environment!” or how we should all drop everything and come “check out our new potatoes!”

Every restaurant does the same thing, and it’s so…boring. Using fresh ingredients, caring about the environment, and having great menu items should be the standard, not breaking news.

We decided to use our Facebook page to give everyone an inside look at the goofy things we do everyday to lighten the mood. This isn’t our big marketing campaign. It’s just us turning the camera on during the breaks we take during the day. Shaan and I are super competitive, and have always been since we were randomly assigned to live together freshman year. We’ve been doing this for 5 years now, and figured it was time to start keepign score. People have asked how we don’t go crazy, living and starting a business together, and to you people all we can say is that sometimes, all you need is a little rap battle therapy…Having fun goes a long way towards success. and for those of you with normal jobs or in school, we hope that we can make you laugh with a one minute video everyday, even if we look silly in the process. And if you’re enjoying it, comment on the video to submit a challenge, and we’ll give it a shot. 

We call it The Duel. It launched about a week ago. We posted this  video on our Fanpage.

 

We asked all of our friends to comment with their ideas for the challenges. The response has been amazing. So far we’ve brushed our teeth with wasabi, ate a full sleeve of saltine crackers and even had a rap battle (All videos can be found on the Fanpage). Each day we recieve more and more ridiculous challenges. Each night, after we finish our work, we pick a challenge and battle it out to the end. Are we going to look stupid? Most likely…Will people think that the videos are as funny as we do? Probably not…Will I win? Definitely.*

Either way, we decided that rather than pretend to be something else, we’re just going to turn on the camera, and
do what we do.
-Trev

*Editor’s note: Shaan disagrees. so does Jack Daniels

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Do What You Do.

Posted: October 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

– Trev –

Today, while Dan was doing his thing at Noodles & Co., Shaan and I decided to visit some of our potential locations. It was a perfect day out, people were everywhere, everything was great. We stopped to grab a bite to eat and discuss our options and plan of attack. While we were downing our delicious cuisine and pondering the biggest decision of our life we noticed something strange…

Outside of one of our locations there were two business men with notebooks looking through the window…They had that look about them. The look we know all to well. ‘Location Hunters’…They were our competition, no doubt about it. One of them had a packet of papers in his hand and casually tossed them in the trash can before he headed down the street. Nobody, I mean nobody, drinks Sabi’s Kool-aid. There is just know way we could let a competitor just walk right into our locations, we had to know what was on those papers, it was time to investigate…

– Shaan –

As soon as those papers dropped into the trashcan, we knew that our level of espionage was about to go from Inspector Gadget to James Bond…no more amateur eavesdropping, it was time for a little dumpster diving.

Lesson 133: A good teammate always watches (and takes a picture of) his boy doing the dirty work.

– Trev –

We are both competitive guys. In fact, that competitive nature is what inspired The Duel. I had to know what these guys were up to. I reached into the trashcan and pulled out the 10 page, chili-dog covered, document. My heart sank, there were diagrams, graphs, write-ups and outlines. I scrapped away some of the sauce and beans and realized I was holding an elementary science fair project about the effect of sunlight on plant growth…I wasn’t even relieved that it wasn’t plans for a big restaurant chain competitor. I was just mad at the guy for throwing away his kid’s project, what a bad dad!

– Shaan –

After discussing the important findings (plants need sunlight!!!) of the paper, we realized how low we’d sunk, snooping around, digging through trash because we feared a little competition.

Now there’s no better time to re-examine your life than when you’re covered in chili-dog. Although I loved that we were willing to do anything to get the job done, this isn’t how we should do things. We have to focus on the vision, the issues, the problems and solutions…the mission at hand, not the competition.

Everyday we read articles or get calls about other big players in the industry recognizing the market opportunity for a concept like Sabi. We know this. Whether its today or tomorrow, there will be imitators following our lead after open up shop. So we’ve adopted a little motto for ourselves…It’s the one thing we never erase from our whiteboard. We see it everyday. Forget about what’s been done in the past. Forget about what the competition is doing.

Just:

– Trev n Shaan –

Welcome To Noodles & Company

Posted: October 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

A lot of people have been asking me what we actually do out here when we work. For those of you that have seen The Social Network…our lives are kind of like that.*

For those of you that haven’t seen the movie, you should definitely go and see it. Not only was it inspirational, but the story itself was fascinating – especially for all the entrepreneurs out there.

But seriously…unlike Mark Zuckerberg, the three of us (and Isabelle) cannot work on Sabi 24/7 without going insane. So, in an attempt to make some money while taking a break from Sabi, I decided to apply for a part-time job at a fast-casual restaurant.

Several applications and several weeks later, I finally heard back from one of the various chains  – Noodles & Company. I set up an interview for the next day, and prepared to give the pitch of a lifetime: convincing one of the busiest Noodles locations in the state to give me a job with a collective 2 weeks of restaurant experience under my belt.

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but miraculously I got the job and just got off my first shift a few hours ago. Let’s just say that my day went a little differently than I had planned:

Sporting my Noodles & Co. t-shirt and hat, I had no clue what to expect when I left for work today.

When I got to Noodles I found out that I’d be on bus duty. Not the most glamorous job, but I had bussed some tables at Sushi Central so I didn’t think it would be too bad. Little did I know that bus duty also came with dish washing responsibilities…

Now at first glance this doesn’t seem too bad – how hard can washing a few dishes be? Remember when I said this restaurant was one of Colorado’s busiest Noodles? That translates to around 600 customers per day…don’t even get me started about how many dirty dishes 600 people leave behind!

“Everyone has to do it once.” An employee told me as I fought with some dried Macaroni & Cheese and a sponge…

“How else could we possibly let you start your career at Noodles?”

For the next five hours I put in my time and washed dishes: soaked the dirty plates in hot water while I ran out to see if any tables needed busing; then ran back into the kitchen to scrub the plates before loading them in the dishwasher. While the dishes were washing I’d run back out to check on the tables, but then had to hurry back in since the dishwasher only took one minute to run! (When you have so many customers you need a fast dishwasher – seriously, this thing was crazy!) Reaching into the 175 degree washer, I then burnt my hand taking out the dishes (no time to let them cool!) before repeating this process.

While this job was extremely difficult/unpleasant, I cannot explain how much I learned in the process. While I pray that today was my one and only time washing dishes at Noodles, I am glad I got to experience first-hand what 600 customers/day feels like. This and other experiences at Noodles will prove invaluable once we open Sabi.

Until then, I’m hoping to get off of dish duty for at least a week at home…

-DNC

*Except the part about being billionaires, suing each other, and pretty much most other aspects of the movie…

ldajflajfkajd

Posted: October 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

Damn, starting a business, especially a restaurant, is no joke. We have been working non stop to try and get this thing launched but it seems like every time we make a little progress there is another obstacle in the road to slow us back down. Up to this point we’ve tried to make our blog funny, interesting and, hopefully, inspirational. But, tonight I got no jokes. I got no stories. And, there is really no inspiration to be dished out. But a post has been long overdue so I’m going to give you the reality of what’s going on out here.

A month ago we thought we had it made. We thought we had found our perfect location, so we signed a lease on our apartment and set up shop. At first everything was going smoothly. We bought our matching air mattresses and furnished the whole place for under $100 bucks using craigslist (I would consider us professional craigslisters)…check out our home:

The living room/ Trev's bedroom

Command Station

The best couch of all time/ Min's bed for the week

Trev's room/ Living room

Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Dano's room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently we’ve realized things aren’t going to be a cake walk. All of our prize money that we had been living off of has been pretty much dried up. The negotiations on our location seem impossible. And we are still trying to raise the remaining 50k that we need to complete our start-up budget. There are so many loose ends its hard to figure out which one to fix first.

The overall feeling here at camp Sabi is that of frustration. We are frustrated because we feel like we our concept is ready. We have done nearly everything that we need to do solidify our idea. We’ve created a 285 page business plan that goes over every detail within our restaurant from the head bands the employees will wear to what would happen if a tornado blows down our building. We’ve talked to everyone imaginable. Everything has been thought through. Everything has been prepared. Yet, we still have nowhere to implement our concept.

We have been so close in a number of location negotiations but making the final choice is proving to be close to impossible. There are so many pros and cons of each spot, by the time we consider everything involved we always find ourselves in a stalemate. Some are too big, some are too small. Some have all of the equipment some have none. Some do not fit our budget, others are so cheap it’s hard to say no.  I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating it is to be so close to making the deal, so close to finally being able to start this project, but wind up right back where you started (with a golden idea, perfect plan, but no place to do it). The most important thing for us right now is to not let our frustrations lead us to making the wrong decision, no matter how antsy we are.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not by any means feeling sorry for ourselves, or considering giving up. We knew what we were getting into when we started on this venture and we are prepared to fight this one to the very end. It’s time for us to get everything back together and bust out of this lull. I have all the confidence in the world that we will find a way to make this work with our work ethic, smarts, preparation and of course luck. But damn, it’s being a pain in the ass right now.

Sorry for being such a downer. To redeem myself I’ll leave you with this:

ARCOROC Sets the Table

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ve always said, it’s better to be lucky than good…and damn, it’s good to be lucky.

About 6-months ago, I was up late, it was 4am and I couldn’t sleep because I was feeling a little anxious about the progress of our restaurant. When things get stagnant, or too complicated, you’ve gotta take a step back, so instead of researching our real estate, legal, or funding issues, I just googled:

“How To Make a Restaurant”

sure enough…

Hmm..Tell us your story? If there’s one thing we’ve got going for us, it’s that we’ve got a story.  Everybody loves the underdog right? Rudy? Hoosiers? Airbud? I’ll let you pick the comparison, but no matter how you slice it, the advantage of not having experience/money/skill is that if you somehow succeed, it makes for a solid story.

But the reality is, most of what we’ve accomplished has nothing to do with us or any special talents. Our success is attributed to a massive amount of help from people who do have skills, experience, and money.

Although this contest was designed to showcase the fancy tableware that belongs to Arcoroc, I figured I’d give it a shot and apply. Nothing happened for about 6-months, and then out of the blue I got a called saying that we’re semi-finalists in the contest…wait, what!

In the next round of the contest, it started to look bad. They loved our story and passion, but our fast-casual concept featuring environmentally friendly containers wasn’t exactly the smart choice for them to showcase their fine tableware.

However, they seemed like a great group of people, so after talking with them on the phone, I had a funny feeling that things would work out.

Sure enough, a few weeks later, I found myself sitting across the table from Tim Aid and Darcy Redditt, as they showed us their new Zenix product line (really sweet. great shape, super durable with their new tech.) Although we didn’t become the next Arcoroc Original by winning the contest, they loved our team, and wanted to give us a little help with the start-up costs of the restaurant. On top of their generosity, giving us our tableware needs of the first restaurant for free, they were just great people to have around. We traded fishing stories when I realized that here I was, kickin’ it with a few top level executives of Cardinal Int’l and TRSA. We’ve been so fortunate to not only get some really great tableware for our restaurant, but also to meet some genuinely awesome people like Tim and Darcy (a big shout-out to you guys!)

My Captain Crunch tasted even better out of the Zenix sampler bowl, so I owe you one!

For anyone in the industry check out the amazing products by the biggest and best in the business: http://hotel-restaurant.arcoroc.com/accueil.aspx

-Shaan

Our friend Jen is in the Teach for America program and is in her first year at Wooddale High School in Memphis, TN. This weekend she let me come talk to her classes about some of the things I’ve learned in life. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Talking with the students and hearing about all of the things they wanted to do in life inspired me. Check out the video of my trip.

-Trev