starting a quick serve restaurant brand (part 3)

Dissension. Uh oh.

Since our namesake product (the Bombay Frankie) relies heavily on the bread, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY we are going to compromise on the oh-so-satisfying freshly baked tandoor charcoal taste that will make or immediately break the brand (and our rather unpredictable future in the food business version 2.0). Besides, if you’re one of those types that doesn’t eat carbs then when you actually decide to do so, it might as well be the most satisfying type — fresh, straight out of the (tandoor) oven, no nonsense, doughy goodness!

“Our brain is essentially programmed to enjoy carbohydrates because they give us a sense of fullness and a rush of pleasure. When people go on low-carb diets, they start to almost subconsciously experience distress from eating carbohydrates.”
— Charles Duhigg

Simply stated we needed to put a gag order on the following: whimsical opinion overload from our test audience (friends and family). And that was causing us to nearly fall prey to the open hunting season of I want it that way. And when this way then that way followed by my way or the highway comes into play, Pandora’s box is opened to an incessant stream of micro modifications which starts to invite feelings of self doubt and defeat. Our response quickly became: Stop trying to create your perfect meal at the expense of our limited R&D time and money budget.

Tandoori Paneer Frankie

Burger King seemed to have gone down this road with letting their consumers decide how they want it. But only after limiting their selection from the minute the entered the fast food chain’s doors. I wouldn’t call it false advertising and it does allow for some degree of customization. But c’mon, it’s totalitarianism shrouded in ‘land of the free home of the brave’ democracy. I mean it’s not like you could’ve ordered your burger sous vide wedged between double stacked avocado toast!

Nah. No way. I don’t think so. Ain’t gonna happen.

While, generally speaking, the abundance of opinions is very much valid, after many (exhaustive) dough recipe iterations and cooking manipulation, we’ve decided that a stretched naan that yields a doughy and crispy texture works best with the ingredients that it will hold. Like I had mentioned in my previous post, we were told to perhaps consider a tortilla, lavash, or imported Romali roti. Au contraire mon frere. We’re completely committed to a ground up ‘no shortcuts’ approach that’s focused on creating recipes that can’t be so easily replicated. I wouldn’t consider it obstinacy by any means. It’s coming from a place of determination and methodical testing.

Haters gonna hate. And if that means losing the battle so that we can win the war, then we’re 100% ok with that!

The more the merrier. Too many cooks spoil the broth of destruction.
-Gareth Roberts, Dr. Who: Shada

Equipment Failure

Slight snafu. Our refrigerated prep counter decides to stop working at the 11th hour. No biggie. It’s just that we’re about to open tomorrow and are heavily reliant upon it. A single point of failure. But since we’re expecting a rather erratic stream of customers, it shouldn’t be much of an issue since it’s expected to be fixed in less than 24 hours and we’ve found another cooler that we can use in the interim.

Back to that ‘stream of customers’, well, secretly praying to get just one. Slight validation would be comforting. Anything more than that, well maybe we’ll sleep more than just a couple of hours!

The Frankie Is Real

Bread — done. While we were originally stuck at the only conceivable option of using Romali roti, as mentioned before, a stretched doughy and slightly crispy naan seems to fit the bill even better than we had imagined! Serendipitously found. Let’s just chalk it up to a testament to The Power of Broke.

Chickpea spread — balanced. And done! Sorry we can’t reveal the exact ingredients because it’s kinda like our secret weapon. And besides, think of it like an Indian version of hummus. Pure taste. No reverse engineering afterthought necessary!

Jeera (cumin) and ginger pan fried potatoes — done. And a last minute addition that seems to round out the Frankie in an even more satisfying way.

Chicken tikka / tandoori paneer — marinated protein perfection. The marinade recipes came from our chef. But to make the tandoori taste really kick, the key is to have the chicken or paneer sit for at least 12 hours.

Crispy cucumber, diced tomatoes, and marinated lemon pepper minced onions— well calibrated.

Balance of mint and tamarind chutneys (separate application one after the other), cilantro, a super enhanced version of raita, and creamy spicy sauce — harmoniously working. Our foodie sister suggested we tone down the sauciness factor to the concordant tune of our chef and team openly praising the measure.

Roll it up like a burrito in wax paper and foil, and here we have our own take on the Bombay street food favorite.

We’re well aware that we’ll get slammed by the Indian food die hard purists but let’s call it a California adaptation. In our defense, there have been no shortcuts taken on taste or even the use premiums ingredients. It’s authentic to the genre. Yet also an adaptation. In fact, let’s call it an evolution.

Square POS SKU Import Woes

I ran into an issue importing the convenience store entire SKU and price list via the CSV file method. Major issue! More like a showstopper.

The manager from our sandwich QSR (for which we had recently started using the Square POS) called me frantically mentioning something along the lines of no longer being able to scan many products that customers were attempting to purchase. At first, I thought the iPad hadn’t synced properly but then I remembered that the night before, I had tried to copy over the item list to the Bombay Frankie Company Square location. After all, all that seemed to be required was to set the individual location flag from ’N’ to ‘Y’ while leaving everything else exactly the same.

Somehow the Square online portal item management tool doesn’t preserve leading zeroes for SKUs when performing a CSV export. That means you have to individually edit the SKUs, write a script/macro, or embed a padding function if using a spreadsheet application.

The inventor of the bar code symbology should’ve seen this coming. Or maybe software developers need to start using regular expressions (REGEX) on numbers that appear to be UPC-A or UPC-E digits. That way the digits don’t automatically get converted to numbers thereby stripping the leading zeroes. Glaring ‘oversights’ like this make me wonder whether they were meant to spawn entire consulting sub-industries (think about the tons of cash Y2K consultants made). Given that slight techie digression, if I didn’t have an extensive background in software development/engineering and data science, I would have immediately considered hiring a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr to take care of this!

Social Media Posts

Priyanka has been managing the Instagram feed while I’ve been taking care of the Twitter one. She’s all about the razzle dazzle image collage #hash #tag game while I’m more about the storytelling and behind the scenes. Both approaches have merits and prevents us from just copying content from one platform to another. But the ultimate test will come down to the number of (real) followers. We’re neck to neck at a less than impressive 21 and 23 followers respectively. Friendly competition, nonetheless!

Creating a Facebook presence never seemed to be much of a consideration because we collectively came to the conclusion that the platform doesn’t seem to lend itself to helping the brand’s presence. And when trying to get a feel for what social media experts have to say? It’s a necessary evil. And that seems to me it’s more like an exercise rooted in futility if you don’t care for the platform. The content you put out will be a product of a routine exercise when compared to the creative work you release on platforms you continuously use and enjoy even for non-commercial purposes. But maybe we’ve missed the mark on this one entirely. Either way we’ll re-evaluate a month down the road but I have a feeling it won’t be necessary.

As a parting thought, we’re both equally not adverse to paying a social media influencer to help spread the word. And of course, if you’re located in the Los Angeles area, please come in and try the food!!!

Stay tuned for part 4 (opening day)!

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