So it’s Friday, and we’re about to head into our second weekend of service. I started writing this post on Monday night – that should give you an idea of how busy we’ve been! Food is hard work – and we don’t want to take short cuts with our food, and that means time and work. I’ll be keeping a journal of our experience over the summer here and this will be the first of many entries as we live and learn and serve up some food from our little street food cart in Hamilton!
Last weekend we had two services – including our first cart service ever with the Meat Wagon! Our first service was a bit of a disaster, to put it lightly.
It started with us scrambling around to pack, and double checking for things that were already packed, or things that were forgotten. My mind was already scrambling because of this, and I ended up forgetting a couple of important things and not realizing it until I was already on the road. So back I turned, causing us to be a bit late for our service at Terra Greenhouses Hamilton. Then we had weather issues with our umbrella, and technical issues with our hot water heater and steam table burners (my fault – completely brain-farted with my scrambled head – and we figured it out eventually!). The crappy weather made for a pretty dead day, but thankfully some good friends came along to visit and support us (Thanks Marc and family and John and Akiko!) and we were able to get some cooking in! The good news is that despite our issues, everyone loved the food!
Saturday night I looked at what had gone wrong and came up with a list of things to address – first thing was that we needed to have a checklist of everything that had to be done / packed to get ready for a service. An hour later I created a sheet with everything on it and organized. We used it the next day for our Sunday service at the Village Station Bazaar and it took us probably a third of the time to get packed and get on the road – and we were early this time!
The event on Sunday was great – and a total turnaround from the day before – it was an outdoor market put on by Chris from Cafe Oranje and Melanie from Modify Your Closet – and for a first time event, it had a great turn out. Everything went way smoother on Sunday – from packing to setup to the actual cooking, and we were able to apply everything we had learned from the day before. We did a pretty steady service, and ended up getting slammed for almost an hour straight, which ended with us being almost completely sold out. We ended up selling out a little bit later, and found ourselves wishing we had packed more food. But – we were happy to sell out, and we were happy to get a lot of really good feedback on our stuff. We also had more awesome friends come out and visit (Thanks Mike/Candy, Saundra & fam, and Tyler!). We hung out for the rest of the day at the bazaar and met some cool people as well, then went home, cleaned up, and passed out!
There’s so much more to learn, and so many ways to make things run better. I never thought I’d be able to use my systems analysis skills here, but prep, cooking, and service are a bunch of processes like anything else, and there are lots of way to look at them and cut out wasted time and make things work quicker and smoother. Gotta work hard, but also have to work smart, so that hard work goes a lot further.
We also learned the realities of our little cart, and realized that there’s no way it will support the larger menu we had originally envisioned – there just isn’t enough space. So we’ll be cutting it back to 1 or 2 mains and a dessert. I’d rather do a small menu really well than a half-ass job with a large menu, and it will help us provide a better experience for all of our customers. Weather is a huge factor for us too – and until we get a better shelter system in place there are going to be bad weather days that will force us to cancel services. But we’re working everything out, and everyone at Roux and The Dirty South have been super helpful.
So now it’s Friday afternoon, and I’m watching the weather like a hawk. Mark from Dr. Disc has graciously let us set-up by his store during the Raise the Roof concert tonight at Art Crawl, but we’re waiting to see if the weather co-operates or not. If it doesn’t, then tonight’s service will be cancelled. That’s life though – gotta roll with it right? The rest of the weekend looks like it will have great weather though!
Here’s our schedule for the week. Hope to see you soon!