Scared

“The West End Partners, the redevelopers of the area along West Main Street, are planning a large market space to be built out over next year or so. It’s supposed to open in early 2014.

The idea is to have a dozen small-scale restaurants as well as coffee, beer and wine. There will be kitchens for smaller-scale projects, like incubators for people whose business models are too large for the cottage food law but too small for traditional commercial kitchens; a gluten-free kitchen and a confectionary kitchen.

The market part will emphasize local artisans, including a butcher shop to be run by a whole-animal butcher who moved West rose from in-house butcher to sous chef at Bouchon. Much of the food for sale will come from the commercial kitchens, and there will be a demo space as well.”

Fuck, I’m scared.  Isn’t this the perfect opportunity for me?  Is this what I’ve been waiting for?  I want to open up a gelateria downtown and here comes a space that seems almost too perfect – kitchen space, in my preferred area – and on my time schedule.  How can I ignore this?

I had placed the gelateria idea on the back burner; I haven’t worked on it in months.  I’m so easily discouraged by other’s critiques and comments – and my own self-doubt…probably my own self-doubt more than anything. In an attempt to combat it,  I’ve read dozens of quotes (and a book or two)  by successful people about how one must silence the critics to move forward, but I find it impossible to silence the voices of doubt in my head.

The first step is to admit the fear – I’M FUCKING SCARED!  Scared! Scared! Scared! Whew,  that’s out of the way.  The second step is to take one tiny tip-toe forward.  I will call the redevelopers on Monday. No procrastination.  What could it hurt?

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.

Scoopfuls of Happiness

On our first date, we walked across the street from the wine bar to the gelateria, which sold (by his account) some of the finest gelato in the county.  It did not disappoint.  The house specialty was a combination of creamy mascarpone, pistachio and assortment of “secret” ingredients.  Mmmmm.

Over the next year and a half, we made our way to the gelateria a half-dozen times – once, even, for breakfast.  I marveled at the sheer, unforced happiness the owner exuded.  How, I thought, could one NOT be happy, leaving some stressful job for one that brings delight to each customer who steps over the threshold?  Alas, the gelateria closed this year, moving to lucrative pastures in another part of the state.  An era has ended – both gelato and boyfriend are gone.

With single-girl time on my hands and a longing for good-quality, Italian-style gelato comforting my belly, I began experimenting with my home ice cream maker and my new gelato manual, “Making Artisan Gelato” by Torrance Kopfer.  You can find the first results in this blog – nectarine gingersnap, pistachio mascarpone, and strawberry balsamic with almond biscotti.  None of these recipes are in the book, but I used Kopfer’s recipes as a base for my own.  I’ve started a list of flavor combinations I want to try – spicy Mexican hot chocolate, peanut butter cream cheese  brownie, apricot honey walnut with rosewater, dark chocolate and Moroccan preserved lemon, cashew caramel with Chinese 5-spice. I may not reach the absolute bliss of the gelateria owner, but there is something about this gelato-making that delights me.

The past few days, I’ve been daydreaming of owning my own gelateria in one of the small, regentrified, storefronts downtown, focusing on a career I love, that’s closer to home, working just as hard, but with better hours, making my customers happy and with sufficient profits to contentedly live.

Sigh…

There’s a gelato university in Italy.  I’m thinking about attending in 2013.  Just like culinary school, I may decide the career isn’t for me (but I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything).  I know a career like this is  more about business plans, P&L, health department guidelines, equipment buying, location rental and build outs, but it’s also nice to dream sometimes about scooping conefuls of happiness to my adoring gelato fans.