I kept it quiet for a while. I was very conflicted about it. I wanted to be open so my life could transition from getting-the-restaurant-ready-and-I-need-to-work-every-minute-of-every-day mode to normal maintenance mode (with some continuing tweaking, of course). And I wanted to be open so that we might actually be able to put some money IN the bank for a change.
But I was also worried. Worried that we'd have too much business and wouldn't be able to handle it well, and we'd alienate people. And worried that we wouldn't have any business and the whole thing would be a pitiful crashing failure.
We'd been doing training sessions for a couple weeks, inviting people to some, giving the food away randomly at others, and towards the end of this cycle, I started answering 'yes' to people that just walked in off the street and asked if we were open. That was the tail end of last week. We did about seventy bucks in sales on Thursday and a bit more on Friday. It went well enough and I felt that the guys were moving forward pretty well, so I decided to just go ahead and open on Tuesday and do normal hours this week.
But, my plan was to leave the paper on the windows to kind of ease into it.
Well, that all changed on Tuesday. I decided to remove the paper off just one window, and once it was down, it felt so nice to have sunlight in the space and to be able to see outside, that I just tore all of it down and figured I'd just see how it went.
And it went pretty well. We're having the inevitable cluster-fucks and ticket confusion, but the bottom line is that the freshly ground beef is turning out such awesomely flavorful, juicy burgers that all is forgiven, it seems. People have been really kind and understanding and the food is getting raves. I've felt really bad a couple times when someone's ticket gets misplaced and they wait forever for their food while their friends are already finished, or the same guy gets a wrong burger two times before we finally get it right, but all I can do is sincerely apologize, thank them for their patience and understanding, and move forward.
Today was the busiest we've been, in the wake of magazine pieces in both Time Out Chicago and Chicago Magazine, and another nice piece on Urban Daddy dot com. I'd never heard of this site, but apparently a lot of people read it since we've heard lots of folks mention that they saw it, and the analytics I get on this site tell me that I'm getting tons of traffic here as a result. So, thanks, Urban Daddy!
I'm generally not one to rest on laurels and waste time patting myself on the back. Instead, my tendency is to worry about what all this good PR will bring, and whether we'll be able to handle it, so I've been focusing on making sure we have enough beef and potatoes and just putting my head down and working. But in the moments between all that, it's been pretty damn nice to see that this project that I've been working on since January is now coming to fruition and is getting a pretty nice reception from customers.
So....cat's outta the bag. I haven't Twittered or Facebooked it yet, since I wanted to feel like we had our legs under us before I put out the APB alert, but there it is. No turning back.