No matter who tries to get in my way…

The following is now posted on my refrigerator, reminding me to listen only to those opinions I solicit and to tune out the rest of the chatter.  I hope The Gelato Fiasco doesn’t mind my sharing this story.  You can visit them at www.gelatofiasco.com.

Building The Gelato Fiasco From Scratch

Sure, selling frozen desserts year-round in Maine may sound a little crazy. After all, it is snowing as I write this, and today, like every day, our store will be open for 12 hours. But when we set out to find financing for our authentic gelato company two years ago, we knew that we had a great product. Most gelato in the United States is made from dry mixes – and the taste of these products pales in comparison to gelato made from scratch using Italian methods. Our market research indicated that we found a community that would be supportive.

After obtaining more than $250,000 in bank loans, we were ready to start construction of our store. We had one last meeting – a request for a loan from a local small business development authority. The small request was intended to help with just a few initial expenses. We fit the criteria perfectly.

During the first minutes of our meeting, the committee seemed receptive. But our fate changed when a committee member showed up late. He thought he knew everything (except, apparently, the time).

He had all the answers.

He thought people would take the word “fiasco” in our name literally, and he suggested we tie customers’ tongues with a new name: “A Taste of Italy in Your Hometown.” He didn’t like our late night-hours, even though Brunswick is a college town with students who study late. Perhaps most troubling, he told us to change the focus of the business. Gelato could never stand on its own, and we should focus on panini sandwiches. In addition to making our servers say “ciao” to customers, we should hang sausages and meats in the windows.

We chuckled and politely said “no.” (Perhaps we should have said “ciao” to him!) He had convinced the rest of the committee that he had the answers. No loan.

Two years later, sales consistently rise each month. We’ve established a loyal customer base, and we add wholesale purchasers of our products each week. We credit our success to the quality of our gelato and the values of our company. Customers like our playful image – folks always ask what “The Gelato Fiasco” means – and they make good use of our late-night hours. We make do in the Maine winters by admitting the irony of selling desserts in the snow – all season, customers receive discounts based on the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the more they save.

In short, our company is all about serving an exceptionally great product and doing it well. No matter what – or who – tries to get in our way.

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The lactose intolerant can go to Starbucks®

“People will always have opinions about your decision because they’re not courageous enough to take action on their opinion.”
― Steve Maraboli

I made the mistake of sharing my gelateria concept, should I ever get to that point, with my best friend and sisters on 4th of July.  In return, I received opinions, opinions, opinions.

“Well, then you have to serve coffee and become a full café.  What about all the lactose intolerant people who can’t eat gelato?  You need to have something for them.  There are so many people who can’t eat gelato. You can’t just serve gelato.”

It’s great that I surround myself with amazing women who have strong beliefs and are unafraid to speak their minds, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I could find a support system rather than a mob ready to mutilate my every hope, wish and dream, leaving them splayed and vivisected in the gutters of the street.

Fuck the lactose intolerant.

After the onslaught of comments, it’s been difficult for me to get back to the necessary preparatory work to make my dream  into a reality – my computer has sat, unused, on my kitchen table all week.  I know that I shouldn’t let this derail me.  There will always be the naysayers and detractors – the more negativity I hear, the more likely it is that I have a good concept.    But, the pessimism, especially from friends and family, deflates me like a balloon.

I don’t want to build this business in a bubble – I want opinions, but I need constructive opinions, opinions from experts who have been there and know what I’m talking about.  I want to ask a million questions of my restaurant-owning friends and of chef.  My sisters and friends, on the other hand, can tell me what they think of a flavor combination, once I’m fine tuning it, but, for now, I want them to keep their mouths shut.  Let me dream, let me research, let me explore, let me fine tune – and, unless you’re going to invest in it,  please keep your negative opinions to yourself.

Mating game

B-locks and I (finally) had our lunch date.  When I heard my phone ping with a text an hour later, I just assumed it was him.  It wasn’t. It was you-know-who. “Whatcha Doing?”  I didn’t know how to respond or if I even should.  No matter how much I want it otherwise, if he is conflicted about taking next steps with me, then we are  back to friends – nothing more or less.  I decided for honesty – “I just got home from a lunch date.”  That was over an hour ago.  He hasn’t responded.

Friends are Friends

I wrote this last weekend, but never managed to post it.  After my words hit the page, I had a change of heart.  My female friendships aren’t any more constant.  We float in and out of our lives as time and situations allow.  We know that sometimes work and life and new boyfriends pull us away.  We are always assured, however, that we are friends forever.  I should give him no less trust and allow him no less leeway.

A friendship with a married man is a tricky situation. I put myself in his wife’s place, knowing that I would be wary, at the least, and I try to act accordingly.  I willingly take a secondary (or tertiary) standing in his life.  “If you need to step away from this friendship, I won’t be mad, I’ll understand,” I recite to him repeatedly like a mantra.

…And then he does.

…And I wonder what I have allowed.

I don’t like this.  He says it’s temporary; he’ll return.  He doesn’t tell me when or why.

I feel put away and forgotten on a shelf.  What makes him sure I’ll be here when he comes back?  Doesn’t he realize he’s irreparably changed everything?  Conversely, is it fair for me to adjust the rules now when he merely employed an option I’ve been offering consistently and readily all these years?

He must realize that this stepping back that allows him a new perspective allows me one as well.  I muse on thoughts such as, “is this healthy, is this right, is this what I want?”

Dave Smith would like to be your friend on Facebook®

When it comes to Facebook®, I’ve found that there are two types of male friend requests:

The First – the innocuous Facebook® Friendship:

Him:    “Hey Phoren, haven’t seen you in ages.  How are you doin’ these days.”

Me:      “Dave, great to hear from you.  I’m fantastic – went to culinary school recently, still living in XX and working at XX.  How about you?  What’s up in your world?”

Him:    No reply or a pat one-line response about living, working, marriage and children.

This is the end of our conversation. We are now “Facebook® Friends.”

The Second – the “I want to get in your panties again” Facebook® Friendship:

The conversation begins the same, but instead of fizzling out after one or two exchanges, he keeps the momentum going.    In fact, if I don’t respond, he’ll email again.  He doesn’t post on my wall;  he sends private messages.  He’ll remind me of the fun we had in the past, finding out the details of my life, discovering if I’m single or in a relationship until the point when he can “casually” ask me out.

I’ve had a few of these.  I’m experiencing one of these right now.