Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wholesalin' It

(Written on Mike's behalf by Amber, AKA wifey-poo.)

Mike's been working his little tail off and has made some great progress with wholesale. We're really hoping to build our wholesale orders to keep us strong on rainy days and over snowy winters. We've already lined up Bhan Thai - who was already serving Glacier, but now will be our account so they don't have to drive to Boulder anymore. Our second was Patsy's, who has a gelato case in their candy store on 21st street. And Mike just lined up a third that I'm very excited about.

Garden of the Gods Gourmet will now be serving pints of our ice cream in their take-out freezers. They put in their first order today of key lime, tiramisu, vanilla, and coffee. Garden of the Gods Gourmet is a great catering place in Old Colorado City. Mike and I fell in love with it because of their incredible samples and hospitality. We've often made a lunch of their cheese stuffed focaccia or curry chicken salad. And for treats like anniversary or Valentine's dinners, Mike will often treat me with a Garden of the Gods Gourmet spread.

But by far my favorite is their desserts - pear bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce, peach cobbler, tiramisu...Need I say more? And now if you buy one of their desserts or dinner entrees, you can accompany it with a pint of gelato or ice cream. Great job getting the gig, Mike!

Today Mike was on his way to Mr. Biggs, a local entertainment center (bowling alley, laser tag, birthday parties, etc.) to talk to them about using our ice cream. But first he stopped at the bank. He gets to talking to the man in line in front of him, and who should it be but the man who organizes birthday parties for Mr. Biggs! Mike asked him if he'd be interested in serving a birthday cake ice cream, and he was very interested. They traded cards and will be talking soon. Pretty cool, huh?

So three weeks in and three wholesale accounts down. I'm excited to see what the fourth will be!

Friday, July 16, 2010

2 weeks and going strong

Hello everyone! I've been so busy running the store I've hardly had time to breathe. We launched successfully on July 1st. We've had various equipment malfunctions and other hiccups that we had to iron out, but everything is coming together and it's all settling down into a nice rhythm.

We had the biggest opening ever for a Glacier store, according to Mark, Glacier's founder. And the biggest opening week ever. Our numbers have been exceptionally good, and word is starting to get around town that there's an amazing new ice cream store in town you just have to try. I've seen tons of repeat customers just in these first couple weeks.

We're just doing some of our first promotions, tomorrow we're partnering with a clothing store in our center that is doing a radio event, and we've got some more events coming up. Everyone who's tried our ice cream has been blown away.

We've also done some of our first wholesale sales. A tub or two for a golf tournament (also a promotional event). A number of tubs for a restaurant. There's another major customer in the works, we just have to prove ourselves in a tasting, but I'm confident about the result. We just had the people from Patsy's Candies over today (they have a gelato case in their store), and they were completely blown away by our gelato. They said yes right on the spot. We're knocking socks off left and right.

Our employees are doing a great job and I've had lots of good feedback from customers about them. I'm very happy with who we hired. And we're cranking out the ice cream. Good thing, too, because our customers are devouring it. We're already making as much as an average ice cream store, and we're just starting to build our reputation.

It's been a great beginning. Here's to Glacier, the future #1 ice cream store of the Pikes Peak region!

p.s. On a side note, we're getting our take-out freezer stocked with pints; we made our first batch of cakes; our coffee is delicious and people would no doubt appreciate it even more if they could take their eyes off our gelato for a moment; and we've started stocking some of our side items like candy, tea and coffee to brew at home, and baked goods from the Dutch bakery.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Soft Open

Today was it! Our "soft" opening, which turned out to not be very soft at all. We hadn't advertised/marketed that we were open today other than the banner over our store. But it was packed in here all day. We talked to Mark in Boulder, who said our sales on opening day were the best in Glacier history.

We did face a number of challenges along the way - the point of sale systems weren't working for the first two hours we were open. Mike used this as an opportunity to win over new customers by giving away free ice cream cones until the system was up and working.

We had various other equipment glitches, but the staff handled them well, and hopefully the customers still had a great experience.

Because the first day was so huge, we burned through far more gelato than we had planned. So now we're up late making gelato! Good night!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Preview Walk Through

The contractors have been busy getting our space ready. Right now, the walls are painted, the bathrooms are tiled, and they are in the process of staining the concrete. The kitchen should be finished this week, so we'll get to start setting up shop.

Here's a short video to let you see how it's looking.

video

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Craziness

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't had time to post anything for a while. I have been recording the process, but I've been so busy I haven't been able to write about it. Almost all our purchasing from decor to equipment is completed. The space is coming together, in fact they've painted most of it and have our walk-in fridge and freezer in. The kitchen is mostly done. The fireplace and bookshelves look great!

I'm also very excited about the people we've hired. Our head production worker, Steven, is an industry veteran with 13 years of restaurant work under his belt. Our servers are a great bunch of people. Most are in college (many at UCCS), a couple are recent UCCS graduates, and we also have a couple of high school seniors from a nearby school. We have a brother and sister team on our staff, which should be fun (it's ok, they get along great). We've also got someone who is studying culinary arts.

I spent several days in Boulder last week working in the stores up there, mostly making ice cream and working with their managers to plan our store operations. Everything is going great, and everything seems to be on schedule. Every day there are a hundred things I need to get done, so I should really run and get back to work! I have meetings to go to, T-shirts to buy, supply lists to send out to vendors, packages to pick up, trainings to schedule, marketing materials to write, deliveries to arrange, accounts to update, and a Point of Sale system to program. Bye bye!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Progress!

Afternoon, everyone. It's a bright, sunny day outside. I'm pleased to announce that all our major equipment is now taken care of. I just need to pick up a couple minor things like a microwave and a blender and we'll have all our appliances. My goodness but we just did out part to stimulate the economy. I still need to buy lots of little things like office supplies and cups and napkins and smallware like that, and some decor, but all the big stuff that makes the store work is wrapped up. I've got a couple new pictures. The first is the techinical drawing showing our sign in place on the store. Sorry it's not a good picture. Bad lighting conditions.


Construction continues at the store. The exterior walls have the sheetrock up, and the interior walls are mostly framed. You can actually see the layout of the store a bit now. Here's a picture of Amber, looking back into the semi-private seating area (with the bathrooms behind). The restaurant going in next to us just finished putting up the plywood exterior of their walls. It looks like most of the seating will be on the side opposite us, which is fine.




My next mountains to conquer are the small supplies purchases, hiring the staff for the store (any takers?), buying and setting up the sound system, and designing our menu displays (any graphic designers interested in giving them a bit of a jazzing up?). I also need to find an artist to paint a small mural on a wall above some cabinets. I've seen some samples from a number of artists locally; if anyone knows any good (not too expensive) artists who would be interested in painting a fun little mural for us (I already have the content and style basically worked out), drop me a line.

I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Boulder this next month, working with the stores up there, making sure everything is ready and we've got all our procedures figured out and making sure employee training goes well. As far as I can tell, everything is on track. I've been reading through all the manuals for the different parts of the business. I'm eager to get all the little prep work out of the way and get out there and start making and selling ice cream. Speaking of which, I have a number of distributors I need to call to set up our accounts.

Before I sign off, I'd like to take a moment to say a few words about our coffee roaster, Colorado Coffee Merchants. Eric, who owns the business, used to be a firefighter, and roasting is basically a hobby that grew and grew and grew until he became one of the premier coffee providers in the region. If you stop by their coffee shop/roasting facility during the week, you can see them roast the beans while you wait for your latte. It's pretty fun. I'm also glad to say we found a local (Colorado) company to provide our teas. Most of them are organic and a good number are fair trade, if you're looking for that kind of product. We'll be making drip coffees, espresso drinks, freshly brewed hot and iced teas, and some unique drink items (chai cider, espresso over gelato; things like that). So feel free to come by, pull up a chair next to the fireplace, pull a book off the bookshelf, and enjoy some cold gelato and hot espresso while you look out at Pulpit Rock.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Catalogs and Gelato

I remember complaining at length to Amber about the fact that I couldn't find a stainless steel mixing cup to make milkshakes in. Not in any store I went to. I'm sure she remembers it too. This was a long-standing grievance. Now I know where to get that kind of stuff. From restaurant supply catalogs.

I've got a pile of catalogs about a foot and a half high in my office right now, and I've been flipping my way through hundreds of pages of glasses, plates, ketchup dispensers, furniture, appliances, and cookware. The catalogue in front of me now has over 270 pages. It's enough to melt your brain. I've devised a clever system of different colored shapes I draw around items I'm interested in, and different symbols I mark the catalogues with to classify them. If anyone needs a meat slicer or a salad bar, let me know.

Everything is going great with the lead-up to our opening. All our major equipment is ordered now, and our spare bedroom is becoming a storage facility for various small to medium sized appliances and other items. I had a meeting to with our architect to go over our outdoor signs, and I'm really happy with how they turned out. We also went over the colors and samples, and I'm pretty happy with them too. I let our architect be my guide in choosing colors. Coordinating a whole store can be a bit tough, so I'm focusing on the decor more than the paint colors. Here are some pictures showing the glass tile that will form a border below our fireplace mantle and some samples showing our paint colors and the wood paneling that we'll be using on some walls and in a few other places (such as the front of our ice cream cabinets and the coffee bar). Oh, and we have a wall with wallpaper, so that's in there too. I've also put in a pic of our pendant lights. We'll have 8 of these, hung at different heights, three over the coffee area, 5 in the semi-private room. each piece is mouth-blown and original, so they'll all be unique.







Meanwhile, construction goes ahead. Keep your fingers crossed that we meet our deadline. Or rather that the contractors do. They're putting up sheetrock on the outer walls and framing the interior walls now.

That's your construction update for today. I've got to shop for office supplies and a water filter next. Before I go, though, let me give a (somewhat) brief answer to a question I've been asked a lot.


What is gelato? Gelato is an Italian style of ice cream. Gelato is frozen very quickly in small batches compared to ice cream. Because of the nature of gelato and how it is made and what it's made of, you only get the best results if your gelato is fresh (made on location) and it's made using European-standard equipment (which we have, but a lot of people won't spend the money for). Gelato contains less air than traditional American ice cream, but it also contains less fat (because it's made with low fat milk) and less sugar. It is traditionally flavored with fresh fruit purees, nut pastes, cocoa, and sometimes small amounts of chocolate flakes and small confections. It's also usually served at a warmer temperature. It's very light and creamy, as a result of all the above, but has a very intense flavor.

The picture above is of a gelato case in Italy. Gelato (and making it look cool) is an art there. We're trying to bring a taste of that experience to Colorado Springs. I'm not sure I can make it look quite like that (and usually you only can when your turnover rate is pretty high), but I'll do my best. I can give you the taste experience, though. Don't settle for gelato that has been shipped in from afar or that isn't fresh or that was made with machines that don't meet the European standards or that was flavored with syrups instead of real flavorings. For those of you who want to know some of the technical details of why this is all important, just read the wikipedia entry.