Ok, so it has been ages since I last posted anything on the Blog. The Blog that was meant to give me a creative outlet and continue my narrative on opening a cafe from scratch. The fact is I have just been far too buggered with trying to keep dear Mister Close afloat and my mind took a trip to stress town, climbed a few tall buildings (looked down quite a lot) and probably had a few drinks in between just to numb everything around it. No, I haven't turned into an alcoholic (yet) and my Dad always did tell me you aren't one til you put whiskey on your cereal (hmmm, what about your home made bircher - the mind wanders).
I am back, feeling great and so damn happy. One year is a bloody big thing in small business world (50% fail in the first year). I am so thankful for so much, I have learnt more in a year than I have in 10 and I am truly humbled on a daily basis of how lucky I am. So, as I celebrate one of the biggest milestones in my life (no not my 40th, or my first grey hair you know where or even the fact that half my staff just found out that Snuffelupagus is an imaginary friend of Big Bird’s) I now reflect back on what I have learnt. Not just about opening and running a cafe, delving back into the world of hospitality or running a small business in 2012; but about human behaviour - I find it fascinating. Not so much that I want to go back to Uni and study psychology, but just observationally what people do. I have always been a people watcher and in fact when I retire I would be most happy perched on a bench seat in DisneyLand or somewhere a wide collection of the community hang out... Heaven.
Anyhoo – so what have I learnt? I am so glad you asked:
· That most people when getting up from a table drag their chair on the ground and then hardly ever push it back in. Usually males do this at a ratio of 5 to 1.
· When entering a cafe (and more specifically Mister Close) people always gravitate towards the dirty tables when there are plenty of clean ones around them. I like to call this my own little phenomenon. Perhaps it only happens at Mister Close – but it is truly mind boggling. “Oooh this place looks nice darl, why don’t we take a seat. Oh look, let’s sit at the really dirty table – it looks much more comfortable than the others”
· I can always tell when it is holiday time because people order Mugs of Chino, not cups (“because we are on holidays”) MUGS. I still don’t know what one is, but I hope they are happy when we give them one of those large frothy coffees with chocolate on top.
· Having a liquor license does not turn you into a millionaire.
· When the local “crazy” people walk past – simply don’t engage and they never stop to annoy you. They may abuse ten of your customers waiting for a coffee, but they won’t touch us.
· Hospitality continues to be the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Strange really as many hate it. I truly love making people happy, feel comfortable and spoiling them with good food (and wine wouldn’t hurt either). However it is the hardest thing I have ever done – I guess with pain always comes pleasure... doesn’t it.
· It doesn’t matter how big that A-frame is that says “Please wait to be seated” people will always walk past it.
· You have to become thick skinned because when you put your business in the public forum everyone is a critic. I think the one business that most people think they know most about or want to critique is a cafe – everyone is an expert. You don’t see an Urbanspoon for Immigration areas of airports, 7 Elevens or parking ticket inspectors. So taking everything on as feedback and learning to ignore the twats who base their “Valued opinion” on one visit.
· We have the best customers in the world (perhaps not better than Tattslotto customers who have just won $25 million dollars, but close).
Happy Birthday Mister Close. You have consumed me, digested me and spat me out again, but I love you for it. We have so much more to do with each other and I can’t wait to see you grow. Getting this far is a triumph and one I am truly proud of. To keep customers happy, employees stable and paid, food and coffee consistent, food bloggers amused, tweeters tweeting, lords leaping, mortgage paying is like twirling plates with a blind fold on. The secret is love. When you wake up at 5.30 every morning and catch the poo train into the city and you feel at home every time you walk into something you have created it just follows you all day. Friday May 25, we celebrate – there is much to celebrate and for that I am eternally grateful and feel like the luckiest guy alive.
Who woudl have thought we could turn this...
Thank you dear customers, thank you Mister Close team, thanks family, friends and Ian... we did it!