Wednesday, September 22, 2010

43. Hollandaise Sauce

We soon discovered that making and selling bakery products, while profitable, scarcely generates the sort of capital that oils the wheels of commerce sufficiently that one can think about other potential business escapades. After maybe a month, we hit on the idea of opening for Sunday brunch. Both Patricia and Joe knew Austin well. They also knew that Sunday mornings were sacrosanct in the Austin intellectual community.

We started with a simple brunch menu: basket of sliced breads on each table, whipped butter, homemade jam, Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, homemade sausage with potato pancake (latke style), and Emincé of Beef Tenderloin with Sautéed Mushrooms. The main profit generator in all this was butter, bread, jam, and hollandaise sauce. 5 hours of sales, from 9 AM to 2 PM, generated enough capital to cover up our microeconomic ineptitudes.

One learns by doing. I’m not sure some of the lessons we learned are ever taught in business school. But the canon in successful business is: provide what the customer wants.

We did that. The customer wanted hollandaise sauce, poached eggs soft as pillows, fresh bread, homemade jam far superior to anything they could purchase at the store, sausages like no other, and the immensely yummy potato pancakes with high quality sour cream (ingredients label says: cream, bacterial cultures, salt).

And, as JFK famously said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The Sunday brunch got people addicted to fresh bread that has never seen the insides of a plastic bag, and we became known for bread, croissants, Danish, cookies, etc.

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