Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the tourists have arrived

it was an odd start to the summer season this year. having christmas day fall on a thursday after a leap year, people seemed a little caught off guard. we were expecting a huge boxing day rush, but it wasn't to be, and that included the pub and other businesses in the village.

but as the weekend wore on, the holiday makers arrived. our covers numbers increased steadily with our busiest day by far being monday. we're noticing that breakfast trade is slowing, lunch steady but the late-afternoon around 3pm-5pm is our new peak service time. perhaps it's because there's nothing much open then, the pub's bistro is shut from 3-6pm, the deli and the other cafe closes as well, and the roadhouse up the highway is the only other option.

below: free-range herbed eggs on organic sourdough toast, with smoked salmon and ricotta cheese:

Friday, December 26, 2008

unboxing days

from today, we're expanding our hours. we'll be open thursdays through mondays from 8am til afternoons - anywhere from 3-4pm, probably. whenever things look like dying down, but again, we can never pick it.

on the specials board this morning:

mediterranean burger, with tzatziki, kalamata olives and tomato;
pastitso - greek-style lasagne, with salad;
tex-mex burger, with guacamole, tomato and chili salsa and lettuce;
bangers and mash with an onion jus;
soups: lentil; creamy pumpkin

had a great thai chicken salad on the board last weekend, inspired by a bucket full of wonderful snow peas a friend brought in from her garden... but only one person oredered it. as a matter of fact, salads themselves don't move well up here for some reason.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

chrissy eve

looks like we're having a white christmas, but fog rather than snow:

we're open from boxing day. so it looks like we'll be spending our christmas day in the kitchens prepping. such is this biz.

may you all have a wonderful, happy and safe holiday season. we hope to see you before long.

Monday, December 22, 2008

week three

'twas the week before christmas, and all through the town...

no customers about, nobody around.

we expected a little bit of a slow pre-holiday weekend, but sunday took us by surprise. aside from a few takeaway coffee orders, we didn't have a single top until 1.30. the kitchen then turned thirty covers in two hours, which is what we did all day saturday. and that's not counting the front house, which had coffee and cake orders as well.

fortunately, people turned up for the music session. below, stewart peters, snez and simon crosbie:

tried a couple of photos during service, but rachel moves so fast, she's just a blur in all of them:

from this weekend, we'll be open thursdays through mondays, excepting this thursday, which is christmas day. that means we have to order our stock early and hope we don't run out mid-weekend. they say the week after boxing day is very busy up here, and we're going to be short-staffed. should I start stressing now, or wait til santa comes?

Monday, December 15, 2008

shake and bake

our polenta and orange cake has been the runaway hit of the pastry menu. partly because it's gluten-free and partly because, well, it's delicious. if we do say so ourselves. in process:

mixed berry muffins. this was taken sunday morning. by mid-afternoon, they were all gone:

pattern? what pattern?

one thing that seems clear after two weeks of trading is, we can't pick the customer flow at all. it's never easy at the best of times, but with the passing tourist trade, we've quickly realised that any time of the day is 'peak hour'.

the blackboard games continue with our pals at the pub across the road. I had a camera on hand during their latest offering:

again, we had a mix of locals, tourists and several friends who made the drive up from the city to check out the new place.

we've taken another chef on board to help take some pressure off of me, especially during the sunday music sessions when I need to get out of the kitchen and play host. she's bringing a lot of great ideas and energy to the team, and we'll revamp the menu some this week.

there's still a fair bit of talk about opening nights for dinner, but we're resisting it for a few reasons. the locals wax nostalgically about how the place was years back, but times have changed, the economy is in a huge downturn, and we know all too well from our previous experiences that people's stated best intentions don't always eventuate in bums on seats. the realistic possibility of pulling eighteen hour days in order to serve four covers is too recent a memory just now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

week two

prepping and setting up for our second weekend. we've changed around the staff and serving system, along with fleshing out the menu a little. last weekend was pretty warm for the mountains, but it's chilly and overcast now. could mean the difference between soups and salads on the specials board.

thanks for all the nice comments we've received on this blog, our myspace page and via email. it's been most encouraging as we knew that getting this place back up and running would be a major task that will take some time.

we'll continue to welcome your feedback, both positive and critical, as we're on a mission to get this as 'right' as possible.

it's always amazed me how many people are in hospitality that are, well, unhospitable. lazy, careless cooks, rude and insulting owners, ignorant and apathetic waitstaff. it's food, it's not brain surgery. often, all one needs to make it work is to love it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

what's on your mind?

didn't realise that I'd had comments on 'registered users only', so I've removed it.

which means anyone can comment, even anonymously.

I realise that's asking for potential spam/idiots/threadjackers/etc, but we'll see how things go. we'd like to hear from as many of you - genuine - folks as we can.

play nice, now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

opening weekend

we opened the doors, we served, we shut the doors. we survived.

we had an up-and-down saturday, little flurries of customers mixed with quiet periods. sunday, we were steady straight through from eight am til five. the mix seemed to be about 60% locals and 40% tourists, but it's hard to say exactly.

we got an idea of what's working on the menu and what isn't. some of the equipment is a bit erratic and made for a few blunders, timing and food quality-wise. but we're working it all out. fast.

didn't get a chance to get any photos, maybe next weekend.

we've gotten to be good friends with the folks at the pub across the road, and even share some staff. a friendly rivalry has developed a bit with our a-frame chalkboards, I'm usually sneaking over and changing theirs. on opening day, we looked outside to see the boys on the footpath with a big chalkboard reading "cafe closed, come in here". funny stuff. wish we'd gotten pics.

Friday, December 5, 2008

almost there

twenty hours til opening.

asparagus and mushroom omelette:

I was originally going to do this as a fritatta sort of bake, but decided it works better as an omelette. on the specials board all weekend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

baby it's warm outside

figured it was about time I posted an exterior view. the upper awning's painted, but the signage isn't up as yet.

pay no attention to the sagging guttering, we'll get to that soon.... we hope.

oh, the cute lil shop to the right of us is up for rent. cheap, too. let us know if you know anyone interested.

Monday, December 1, 2008

home stretch

it's monday. we open saturday.

a few things that most cafes use:

eftpos/credit card machine
salt & pepper table shakers
outdoor signs
juices and soft drinks
takeaway containers
working underbench fridge
cheque book for the business account
coffee roaster, fully installed and flued

all of these things are due to arrive within 48 hours before our doors swing open.

today's crunch time for the menu. we'll keep things simple for the first few weeks until I can be confident of the consistency and quality before expanding too fast. at present:

fruit and organic breads, jams, honey etc
a few egg dishes with smoked salmon, asparagus, mushrooms, bacon etc
the archetypical big brekky
a couple of soups, made daily and changing with the seasons
a few toasted focaccias with various meat, veggie and cheese fillings
burgers, beef, pork chicken and veggie
souvlakia, probably just chicken at first
the usual salads, fries etc

and of course, what'll end up on the specials board, which will be decided each morning.

as soon as I'm comfortable, I'll add in baked beans and pancakes, but I'm not 100% happy with how they're turning out just yet. fussy? of course. I want this to be right.