The past few weeks have been heavily focused on figuring out the details of my menu. This is truly the fun part, a chance to bring together the food and drinks I've come to love. It's also about finding the right balance between what my customers will expect and what they will be enticed to try. Mini focus groups have been conducted for months, possibly over cocktails, as I work to get a feel for the must haves and the must tries. Everyone teaches me something, whether they were born in India, born stateside and raised by proud immigrants, whether they've traveled extensively around South Asia or always wanted to. And even those who admit they never dared to try Indian food. "Never had that but it sounds good" sounds fair enough to me. I will also accept "I would drive across the bridge for that!" And maybe best of all is "you better open one of those in [name of city where I live] soon!"
Needless to say, getting the menu right is the heart of the business. Beyond picking the right complementing set of items, I recognize my staff will need to be able to make everything quickly and consistently. All ingredients must be sourced and, the extent possible, delivered to my door. I'm grateful for some early advice from my chef friend Michael Strimban who said figure out your distributor(s), then build your menu. And from my former colleague Tuan Tran, who shared wisdom he'd learned from years of account management: "All your hopes and all your dreams will come down to distribution." It's so true!
Speaking of hopes and dreams, check out my new refined menu on the Menu tab and let me know what you think. What would you want to try? What are you not seeing that you'd expect? What might have limited appeal? What would make you plan a trip in? I'd SO love to hear from you!