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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Setting up Shop

I am now running a Tea Room near Frankfurt. There are no excuses for not blogging on a more regular basis but this is my excuse anyway.

One of the window displays - with the help of Ruth we make it look good both from inside and out.

The journey of my Tea Room started towards the end of last year. I wanted to go back to work and started applying for jobs. For some I was not a 100% fit with the background requirement, for others I was over qualified. I did not get a single interview before Christmas and was feeling down about the whole thing. I had managed to easily find jobs in the past where ever we lived, so this was a shock. I figured being three years out of the workforce and turning 40 put potential employers off. Not one company got back with any feedback or even a time scale of the employment process.

As I refined my resume and application letters I wondered if I needed to get more qualified. But discounted this as I am so bad at even doing any German homework. There were some resources about changing career path, so I investigated. Basically you need to write down what you would love to do all day even day. I did that. I wrote down that I would like to bake and be with people. I need social interaction - something that became very clear in my last role which was a home/office set up. For me cooking is mostly fun and I enjoy it. But wondered how I could do this without my family being tired of the daily cakes and getting fat. Four people can not eat that much cake!

Towards the end of last year, we did a parents evening in a wine bar. We chatted with the owner, Sabine and her husband that evening and they gave us plenty of tips about places to go and see in Frankfurt and beyond. We also learned that she was ex-corporate and started the wine bar 3 years previously after leaving banking.

Somehow my brain fused together these 2 separate things, and in February I went to the wine bar and proposed the concept of running the wine bar as a cafe during the day. She said yes! Well at least it was a starting point for writing a business plan and really thinking through the whole concept.

This was the opening day spread: Carrot cake, vanilla cupcakes and scones.

So I had a venue and an idea. I then spent the next weeks refining the idea and decided that a Tea Room was the way to go. We met almost every Wednesday to talk through ideas and concepts. I talked with friends and received great tips and ideas. It was coming together very quickly. I was also frantically reading business set up resources, downloaded the 100 dollar set up, searching for anything written about how to run a cafe. It was consuming my waking and sleeping hours. It was exciting and scary. My mind was also filled with negative thoughts: What if it failed?, Can I really do this?, I am not even a trained cook. But I kept going down the rabbit hole and on April 2nd I started my first day of business.

One of the unique sellling points - freshly baked scones in 10mins from ordering - with real clotted cream .

It was an opportunity too good to miss. If ever I was going to test the gastronomy industry - this was it. I had a venue that was established with all the equipment and an owner who frankly told me the good and the bad and shared her experinces openly. Can you believe people steal toilet paper from the toilets?

ANZAC Day provided a great opportunity to offer an "Australian" testing plate with ANZAC biscuits and lamingtons - the Germans took to it with gusto! So much so that ANZAC's will feature as one of the favourite biscuits.

The Tea Room is located in Bad Vilbel, which is about 6 km from Frankfurt downtown or an 8-10min drive from our house. I am open 3 afternoons a week and word is getting around that we are there. But that is the next hurdle - getting a solid customer base. The marketing challenge begins.

The solar waving queen was a present from the owner of Weinliebe - people stop to look at it in the window and even take photos. She is a crowd pleaser!