Next Right Move

Next Right Move I am wondering what my right next move should be. Corona has really messed things up. Last year, I was flying high and managed to open my restaurant/commercial kitchen in the hopes that my company would have another banner year in 2020. Then Covid-19 happened. I am left with an empty restaurant, full of commercial kitchen equipment meant to be used at high capacity, but for the most part just sits unused. Don’t get me wrong- I am still super excited to finally have my own kitchen. It’s been a 10 year journey to get to this point. I have taught my cooking classes, catered, and made food from kitchens all over Portland. Fighting for time, jostling with other kitchen tenants, and even being taken to court by one! Consequently, having my own kitchen is a huge deal. My kitchen is a part of my super power. But with with power comes great responsibility. I now have other chefs who want to work or lease my kitchen. As we now have to look at living with COVID-19, as our new normal, at least for the time being, I have to start thinking and planning ahead, as my business model has now being changed. What used to come so naturally to me was halted by COVID-19. I have worked since I was 19 years old. For everything to come to a grinding halt after 11 years of being in business was a huge blow. How was I to sustain myself? My family? Everything changed in March 2020, when the state of Oregon was shut down, and we were asked to stay home to save lives. I stayed home- for two and a half months- I didn’t go crazy. I had plenty of administrative paperwork from my business to keep busy. I also deep cleaned my bathroom. What actually helped me sleep at night was the fact that while the restaurant was shut down, we were not required to pay rent. Our landlord bless his heart, had spoken to the building owner, and we caught a break. During this break, I came up with a million other business ideas. And I shut down all of them. Why? Because I came to one conclusion. I should continue doing what I always enjoy & love doing- and that’s being a business woman. I love business, and my business in that of food- specifically African food, that educates about my culture. So I created a new website that is fresh and appealing to my customers. On this new website, my customers have the ability to book cooking classes, choose and pay for their food, as well as call in phone orders. Funny true story- I found out that my newly created website worked by accident. I hadn’t informed anyone that the website was ready. A friend was covering for me at the restaurant, while I attended my weekly farmers market. I got a call from said friend, saying a customer had shown up to pick an order. Well I knew that I hadn’t turned any of the delivery services on yet, so how could that be? So I told my friend that couldn’t be, it must be the business next door to me, to check and confirm. The next call was from the customer! Apparently the customer had gone to my new website, ordered and paid for their food, and gone to pick it up! I was rather astonished. Wow! And it happened again- After farmers market, I raced home as I was teaching my first ever virtual cooking class. During the class my phone started blowing up. It was folks at the restaurant asking me to shut down the website as I was not in the kitchen to cook the food that was being ordered! And I couldn’t as I was in the middle of teaching a class! So looks like that’s going to be my next right move- marketing my website and moving to a new model of conducting virtual cooking classes. As long as I can stay connected to my cooking class students, and my customers, I’am happy in the kitchen.

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