The Dawn Of A New Decade

February 8th, 2013 | Rachel

New Haircut!

Feeling fantastic after a Birthday Spa Afternoon — I love the color, but I think the cut looks too much like Vivaldi or, perhaps, Howard Stern

Last week was a big week.

Arthur and I officially announced our new business, Drums & Crumbs, a stylish throwback to authentic Southern cookin’ made with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients.

I also announced that Steve and I will be moving to beautiful Sonoma, California next month.

I also experienced my first bucket of cold water dumped on my head as a business owner, but I’m afraid I can’t discuss it online. I know there will be numerous bumps along the way, so why not start now?

The other huge event of last week was my farewell to my 20s and open-armed welcoming of my 30s!

Birthday Cake

My Breakfast For The Following Week

I was not at my emotional best going into this milestone. I am so consumed with studying for the bar exam at the end of February and getting the new business up and running (and occasionally working my paying job to keep a roof over my head) that there is no time for the grand adventure I always assumed I’d be taking. I was thinking maybe a cruise down to Antarctica or, at the very least, sipping Malbec in Argentina over a steak dinner while people danced the tango around me. I have always declared that I believe in birthdays, and my 30th would be no exception.

Sadly, no time for tango dancers this year. And on top of that, despite having lived here a year, I feel like I barely know anybody.

It’s quite a change from my days in New York when Steve and I could celebrate the purchase of a new margarita machine with a healthy crowd of 20. For our last wine and cheese party, we somehow managed to stuff 60 people into our apartment.

Anyone who talked to me in the days prior knows what a sorry pile of marshmallows I was being about the whole situation, especially when I found out Steve wasn’t getting back from the ship until late the night of my birthday and would probably miss the whole thing.

The celebrations began the night before when I brought Oreo cheesecake cupcakes and a bottle of champagne to my church group (shhhh…) and drank a second bottle with some cool ladies afterward. The next morning I slept in and rejoiced in the fact that it was my first day off from studying in almost a month. I went into the office for a few hours and had a lovely birthday lunch with my coworkers out on the picnic table because it was such a beautiful day. Then I skipped out earlier for an afternoon at the spa where I had a remarkable massage followed by an equally remarkable facial.

I was walking from the day spa to the salon when I got my unmentionable bad news, and then had the unpleasant and time-consuming drama of ending up with a haircut I didn’t like. Perhaps if I hadn’t had the bad news I would have been able to fake it long enough to get out of the salon on time, but I couldn’t, and the stylist and I found ourselves at an impasse.

The problem is that I was truly spoiled by my hair stylist in New York. I was ready to accept the fact that I had lost a gamble on this particular salon, but the stylist was trying her best to fix the situation. An hour later, I finally convinced her that I wanted to take the ‘do out for a test drive to see if I warmed up to it. I didn’t. And I still hate it. But lesson learned. And I’m officially a hair snob.

By that time my dinner party had gathered, and I was frazzled because I was wearing a Vera Wang dress and hastily putting on make up in my car. I was also worried about my ragtag group of guests (church friends, old restaurant friends, and Arthur) whose only common denominator was me. As it turned out, those worries were unwarranted because by the time I got to the sushi restaurant (appropriately named I Love Sushi), everyone was bonding over sake and free appetizers. I ranted for a good ten minutes about my hair, and then let it go and had a great time. The owner of the restaurant kept joking that it was my 21st birthday and brought me several free bottles of sake along with a gift of chopsticks (pretty ones… not the plain free ones). And my delightful friends surprised me with a cake from The Buttery.

Birthday Cake

Three Wishes For The Big 3-0

After that we had cocktails at a cool bar, joined by a couple more random friends. And then Steve showed up. :-)

It wasn’t the most exotic of birthdays, but it might be one of the more sincere ones I’ve had. I definitely felt the love.

The next day Steve and I drove up to San Francisco where Arthur and I met with our new graphic designer (!!!). Arthur, Steve and I had greasy burgers for lunch, stopped by some fun little shops, and then Steve and I continued northward to Sonoma.

Sonoma, California

View From Benziger Winery

We stayed at the charming McArthur Place Inn and had an insane chef’s tasting menu for dinner at El Dorado Kitchen. The next day we drove around in Steve’s new convertible with the top down visiting wineries.

I don’t think I can complain about anything.

I felt birthday love from a lot of you out there, so thank you. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my grand adventure next year for the big 3-1. In the meantime, I’ll just have to settle with the fact that all I got this year was a new business. :-)

Giant Chess Set

Giant Chess Set At McArthur Place Inn

The Final Grand Announcement!

January 31st, 2013 | Rachel

Well, we’ve made it to the final announcement! This one has been our most closely guarded secret for the last six months.

[If you are reading this in an email, you’ll have to click in to see the graphic.]

Announcement 4

When the concept of the business was born, it was clear that it would be a meeting of Arthur’s penchant for fried chicken with my love of baking. We wanted a name that would represent both of these things.

After brainstorming with some friends, we ended up with Drums & Crumbs, a short, fun and clear name of a food brand with two signature dishes: Southern-Style Chicken and Seasonal Fruit Cobbler. It will also have an assortment of other traditional sides and desserts.

Keep in mind that we are still at the beginning of our brand development. We wanted to share the name and the concept with you so that you can help us make some of the fun decisions along the way.

We are keeping a simple blog of our progress while our graphic designer and web developer are putting the real website together. We’ll also post those sorts of updates on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

We are currently working on the logo and the design scheme (something we hope you all can help us narrow down when the time comes), so our pages will be looking a little colorless for the next month. All the more reason for you to keep checking in with us to see how things are coming along!

I’ll still write about my perspective of the whole process on this blog, but will have more regular updates on how the business is coming together.

Thanks again for joining in on this adventure!

On a more personal note, I will always remember this day that we introduced Drums & Crumbs to the world, because today is also my 30th birthday. A very happy birthday, indeed :-)

Grand Announcement #3!

January 30th, 2013 | Rachel

Before I get into the third big announcement, I want to thank everyone who has turned their attention to our enterprise this week. It’s nice to know people are interested in what we are doing, and we certainly couldn’t do it without so much support. So thank you :-)

And now for our third announcement: our first venture is going to be a mobile restaurant.

Announcement 3

Arthur and I are trying to be a little bold with our new business, but we are also going to be practical. Opening a restaurant (a brick and mortar, if you will) requires a huge capital investment, and you only get one shot to find out if you are in the right market.

As you have probably noticed on a street near you, mobile food has had a huge surge in popularity in the last five years. Not only is it fun to eat gourmet fusion food out of a truck with a catchy name, its also more economical for both sides of the transaction. The business saves on overhead and can focus on a few specialties, and the savings is passed on to you (usually).

I don’t think it is a coincidence that food trucks became so popular right as the economy was tanking. Money was tight, but culinary entrepreneurs still had great ideas to share, and customers still wanted to eat delicious, innovative food. Even now that things are picking up, people on both ends are still cautious with their funds.

I’m a lover of all food experiences, whether it is a gyro from a food cart or a five course dinner at a restaurant with a Michelin star. Although the price and the ambiance might vary drastically, the purity of ingredients and attention to detail doesn’t have to.

I won’t say too much about the projected plans for the brand except that there will be some bricks and mortar involved eventually, hopefully, but in the meantime we are really excited to explore the opportunities for a mobile restaurant in the Sonoma County and North San Francisco Bay area. We want to team up with wineries for regular and special events and will probably head up to Santa Rosa for the weekly lunch crowd. Once we make a name for ourselves, we want to join the San Francisco food trucks (who are super intimidating, by the way) for some of their events. And as I said in the last announcement, Petaluma is already putting itself on the foodie map, so we also would like to join forces with the breweries and other food businesses there.

Going the mobile route has its own set of challenges (many regulatory or political), but Arthur and I think we can handle it. Whether we can handle working in such a small space together without strangling each other, however, is another story.

Grand Announcement #2!

January 28th, 2013 | Rachel

The second big announcement of the week is that Steve and I are going to have a change of scenery very soon.

Announcement 2

Although I have loved living in Capitola and Santa Cruz the past year, the truth is that there is a much more promising market two hours north of here. Sonoma Valley already attracts a large number of people who love good wine. We suspect that many of them also appreciate good food. When Arthur and I were on a scouting trip a couple of weeks ago, we had lunch at a successful California country restaurant located between Sonoma and Napa and found ourselves surrounded by young professionals from San Francisco who had driven up for the day to enjoy the scenery, wine, and a bite to eat.

Also in Sonoma County is another city, Petaluma, that is already the home to a number of breweries and other food-related companies. The sources of fresh ingredients are plentiful, and we will certainly benefit from being in a community of other culinary entrepreneurs.

And, of course, all of this is conveniently located less than an hour north of a few other cities within our sights, such as San Francisco, Berkley and Oakland.

A small number of you might remember that I originally had my heart set on living in French wine country, and it was a trip to Napa and Sonoma that made me decide to move to California instead. Once again, the vineyards are calling, and I look forward to my daily commute through the rolling hills of Sonoma County and the north end of San Francisco Bay. I also look forward to see you when you come and visit!

Grand Announcement #1!

January 27th, 2013 | Rachel

The question I’ve been asked the most frequently in the past year is, “So… what exactly are you doing?”

Today, I will tell you.

Announcement 1

That’s right. We are developing a brand of food businesses.

Arthur and I have designated ourselves missionaries for true Southern cooking (or maybe I chose that term, but you get the idea). Although there are a few food establishments in Northern California who purport to serve some sort of “country” food (Arthur and I have termed them “California country”), all seem to be based on generic, undefined caricatures. Indeed, when I mention the phrase “Southern cuisine,” no one here seems to know what I am talking about.

In our business planning, we have been hard-pressed to find an existing food establishment that embodies the spirit that both Arthur and I recognize and value in authentic Southern cuisine. We see this void as an open door. Through this brand and the products it produces, we want to explore the roots of “comfort food” and demonstrate how much better this genre of cuisine can be when it is correctly and thoughtfully executed. Also, in joining the world of customer service, we hope to exemplify the truest form of “Southern hospitality.”

Of course, we’ve decided to add a little twist to otherwise old favorites, and so we have committed ourselves to using all-natural (and organic where possible) ingredients from local sources. Further, in recognition of the city that imprinted itself into our hearts and brought us together, we are approaching the brand and the business from a decidedly New York City perspective (read: it is going to look amazing, and we are taking the behind-the-scenes business development pretty seriously).

I realize this might spark more questions than it answers, but please stay tuned for the rest of the announcements this week!