21 January 2009

All Hail the Candy

Back in November, when we were getting closer to opening The Curious Palate, Mark, Elliot and I had a heated debate (over different cuts of meat, of course) about whether or not to have an opening party, and whether or not to reach out to press. I thought it would be important, but frankly, we also weren't ready. And Mark firmly believed in the viral power of foodie bloggers -- and that they prefer to discover places themselves, rather than get an invitation.

Well, no question he was right.

Friday morning, January 16th, online culture mag The Daily Candy published its daily e-news on the best of the local scene. In their Los Angeles edition (they are based in NYC), the lead was The Curious Palate.

By noon, the line of customers was out the door.

Thankfully, we'd been given a heads up by the writer that the article would be coming out -- so Mark had spent much of Thursday making extra food in preparation for the crowds. Still, by dinner time, they'd run out of many things, and the weekend rush was still to come. Needless to say it was our best day ever by FAR. Frickin' incredible.

I was working at home all day Friday, but on Saturday I threw on the TCP T-shirt (our uniform) and headed down to help, so I saw the crowds for myself. 4:30pm and the place was still packed with diners.

Sadly (at least for some, in a way), one of the changes that's come about after the kitchen staff experienced work flow with this number of customers (which, by the way, was above and beyond our 12-MONTH target) is that we've had to drop our "Mains" on the menu and focus on our "Sandwiches." Mark wasn't happy about not being able to serve our signature Margarita Chicken straight out of the oven -- it's just not as good -- and it was just getting too complicated in our tiny kitchen. So, the "Sandwiches" section of the menu has been expanding, but for now, hot dinners to go (or to have for lunch) -- like braised apple cider pork -- are off the menu. The mac 'n' cheese and soups and sautéed spinach are still around, though, so there's plenty of dinner material, and we may bring back the meatloaf as a cold to-go, for reheating at home. We'll see.

We also needed to postpone our farmer's market debut (not counting the potato latke stand that we had in December, a one-time thing by request), because now we're suddenly getting orders like a special brunch reservation for 10, and a catered lunch for 20, etc. And our patio space is begging to be finished. We may need to hire more staff, since we're 7 days a week now and obviously I can't be there every day. But we also need to watch and wait to see the ebb and flow of customers.

For now -- thank you Candy!!

03 January 2009


The blogosphere is definitely starting to buzz about TCP: we've gotten articles in Triplecreme (12/11/08), LA Eater (12/24/08) and Chowhound. We've also been Yelped a number of times -- and we got a call from the LA Times as well, wanting pictures for their blog post. (You can find the final listing here.)

OH, and our official web site is FINALLY up! Check it out: www.thecuriouspalate.com. Updates and new pics will be ongoing, but at least it's out there for people to find. Hurrah!

When we first opened, each day was better than the next -- more people, more $, more love. Then there was a bit of a lull after Christmas...but now in January we seem to be back up to speed. Hopefully we'll start to see increased traffic from people reading those foodie blogs, and then of course we have MUCH to do in terms of our own marketing push. For starters, we're putting together a news letter... I know a reach out to the local library, firehouse and schools are in the works... and we've hardly scratched the surface of generating interest within the store -- more signs, discount items/sales campaigns, recipe sharing ideas, demos... Not to mention: the patio space needs finishing and...long story on the wine & beer license. So, much to do.

But the initial launch has been good. Spread the word! oxoxoxo