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Author Topic: Merely My Curiosity  (Read 5125 times)

Malaprop

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Merely My Curiosity
« on: 11 May 2011, 13:24 »


Disclaimer:  To be clear, this isn't a cheap advertising ploy or banner, popup, plug or spam.  It can't be, because the place I'm asking about does not exist.  It strikes me, though, that this forum may represent a particular market, and that I may use it for shameless market research.  That said, here's the pitch:

Pitch:  Is anyone else sick of cafes serving twelve-dollar paninis which are less filling than their coffee?  I pay five dollars just for a mug and a muffin...which I can't always afford the pleasure of.  Hence, broke college students nursing single cups of coffee for eight hours of free internet.  Not to mention the lines--half an hour is a bit long to wait for a chai.  What were they doing back there?  Did they have to kill the chai?  I half imagine a sequence with a barista in an african safari-hat, hunting wild chai across the plains, returning from the back room with scars and sunburn.  All this we put up with, often for spotty music selections and half-decent coffee which we could have made better at home.  Ah, and the free internet. (How do you suppose I'm writing this, after all?)

So here's my thought, though it has been subject to some debate.  I want to acquire a cafe, perhaps in or near a large east-coast city--one of those cities that still has open markets.  Have you ever been to those things?  You can fill up on bread and cheese and fruit for a few dollars.  Seriously, what's wrong with absurdly simple foods?  My cafe menu:  Plate--large, medium, small.  Coffee--large, medium, small.  Plates would have some bread, some cheese, some fruit--probably whatever looked fresh at market that week.  Let people go elsewhere for wider options or the experience of being waited on.  This place would be amazingly cheap and amazingly quick (no prep time), without being a McFeckingDonalds.

So my question is this--would you go there?  Why/why not?
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Carl-E

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Re: Merely My Curiosity
« Reply #1 on: 12 May 2011, 06:52 »

Wait - you're a college student. 

The college has free internet, no? 

Why are you even going  to that coffee shop if it's so awful?  Brew yourself a chai, they sell some really good mixes now. 

As for the open market cafe, I'm pretty sure most of them already have one, run by the market itself.  I know the one in Philly does.  It's a neat idea, but I don't think you're the first to have it! 
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StaedlerMars

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Re: Merely My Curiosity
« Reply #2 on: 13 May 2011, 12:31 »

yeah dude, my uni has an area called the chaplaincy where there's a kitchen and free tea and coffee. it's open to anyone for use. it's linked to religion somehow but no one cares, so it's just a space that's there and people hang out in. your uni probably does as well.

as a non college student though, maybe someone who freelances and doesn't have an office, that sounds pretty awesome. having said that, what you're not taking into consideration is the rent you are paying for the shop, the staff, etc.
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benji

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Re: Merely My Curiosity
« Reply #3 on: 17 May 2011, 10:05 »

It would be extremely difficult and quite expensive to keep fresh fruit in stock in amounts and varieties beyond what is already available at most cafes. Note how few restaurants do fruit and cheese platters, and that it tends to be the more upscale ones that do.
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Carl-E

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Re: Merely My Curiosity
« Reply #4 on: 17 May 2011, 12:21 »

That's the point, though - you don't need to keep it in stock, you serve what's available in the market.  In fact, what you're selling is food prep and maybe some atmoshere...

It's also great advertising fo the selers, listing which stalls the items came from on the menu. 
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benji

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Re: Merely My Curiosity
« Reply #5 on: 17 May 2011, 16:55 »

Yeah, but that assumes a ready supply chain, which is easy if you are actually attached to the market, but much more difficult if you're anywhere else. If you have a cafe near campus, several miles from the nearest market, you can probably only do one supply run a day, which means you have to have a clear notion of how many people are going to come to your cafe in a day. Since you can't really know that, your options are to over-buy and absorb the coast of spoilage into your overhead or to under-buy and risk running out of food. The other advantage of being attached to the market is that people go to markets prepared not to get exactly what they want: sellers run out of stock for the day and go home all the time. So if the cafe runs out of food and closes an hour early, someone might be disappointed, but no one is going to mind too much. A cafe not attached to the market has no such leniency: if someone shows up expecting lunch and finds out you only have coffee left, they're going to be upset. So generally, you'll end up buying more fruit then you think you need. This can be offset, of course, by making deals with local growers: they'll probably be happy to cut prices a little in exchange for a certain amount of guaranteed sale.

Anyway, you factor in the amount you spend on foods that go to waste, plus the cost of the foods that don't, plus staff and overhead, you probably won't any better then the muffin or the panini price wise. It might be better food, though, which is worth something to people. As for time, the big time killer at Coffee Houses is making espresso drinks, so your best option there is to only serve things that can be pre-brewed and served out of one of those pump things.
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