We moved for a chance to grow. We started building our new location on March 6, 2020, right at the start of the Covid Pandemic. We were committed. So we blazed forward thankful our build didn't get shut down before we completed.
We moved to succeed a location that only survived by our unpaid labour. To have the resources to grow a team. We moved to put an end to 80 & 90 hour grueling weeks, slinging food and pushing ourselves to extremes to push this business forward. We moved, and now are penalized for that inch of growth, locked out of all government covid subsidies for small business, due to an increase of revenue that came with a 50% loss of catering and food truck revenue, and an increase of expenses nearly 4 times what it was at our previous expenses at our Forest Lawn location. But, sure, this year, if we survive, we are on track to sell just over 1 million from $576,000 last year. It sounds like a lot, doesn't it?
Alas, when you're expenses are $80,000-$90,000 a month, it is game over pretty quick if sales dip any lower.
We, like many, have slipped through the cracks of a legislation that has condemned us, a locally grown brand in Calgary's food scene for nearly a decade, to closed potential doors if my wife and I don't move back into the kitchen and return to 80-90 hour grueling weeks and having to lay off team members just for them to apply for resources that we are being denied.
You can't fathom it, the insane work, the non stop multitasking pushing your body to extreme sacrifices, and the desperation for a day off that comes twice a year when you just can't open the doors that day. Days during stampede where you're pretty sure you didn't even change your underwear during your 2 hour stop at home.
In order to move locations and grow, we scraped by pulling amounts off all of our credit cards, unloading all of our RRSP's at a huge penalty, and draining every dollar from our business. We were that desperate for a chance to grow, after having been denied a business loan (not bc our business wasn't profitable, but bc we personally had sacrificed pay cheques for nearly a decade, throwing every dollar back at the business to push it forward and living off business crumbs to make ends meet. Well, turns out, the bank actually doesn't care that you have zero debt. Impeccable credit. Home Equity. RRSP's. Paid for all of your leasehold improvements and new food truck builds with cash. The fact was, my previous years' incomes were $16,500 and $24,000 respectively, so we were denied).
It didn't matter. We knew we had a brand with growth potential, and the two hardest working women we know. So we pulled every cent, I designed and managed the build from demo to final, glorious building inspection with zero previous restaurant design or contracting experience. and then on to my real job of opening and running restaurants.
When we opened the doors, we had zero dollars in the bank, and 4 full time employees to start. We had no idea if it would work, or if we were about to lose everything and more.
They started flooding through the doors in numbers we could barely handle. We had done it. But still, I had to pull the last accessible $5000 from my line of credit to make my first payroll expense. The business owes us over $200,000 to date, and an accumulating tax bill that by end of month there simply isn't enough money to pay currently. Still we are unable to take a pay cheque.