We are truly unique because we offer beignets by the half dozen or dozen, we hand-craft our dough from scratch and always serve them hot, fresh and delicious right out of the fryer. There is no other bakery quite like us!
Our intention when we started was to construct a mobile kitchen that would fit under a 10'x10' canopy and work as a made-to-order beignet bakery - suitable for operation at markets and festivals. It wasn't easy, but we managed to scout out and secure equipment and a set-up that worked, we designed a logo and started our brand, obtained all the necessary licenses and permits, signed a lease at a commercial kitchen, and booked ourselves at great events throughout the spring and summer. None of this came cheap, but we put it on a personal credit card because we believed so strongly in our recipe and concept, and we were confident that with a few markets under our belt we'd be able to pay back most of our debt.
We were so excited - we practiced setting up our booth, we practiced ramping up our recipe, we even scheduled a soft opening to practice serving customers...and then COVID hit. One by one, our markets and events were canceled, and we never even made it out to a single event. We suddenly found ourselves with a pretty good chunk of debt and no potential business income. Then Greg lost his day job (his career was in the live-entertainment industry, which came to a grinding halt) and we obviously became even more concerned about our business debt.
Determined to weather the storm, we applied for a food manufacturing permit in order to sell our frozen dough so people could make their own beignets at home. We plugged our signature coffee blend and branded coffee mugs. We were making a little money with these items, but not even enough to pay the rent at our kitchen. We needed a new plan, so we got creative and came up with one.
With the help and blessing of our kitchen manager, we started our beignet operation for pre order and pick up on Sundays right out of the commissary kitchen. We advertised like crazy on social media and on local websites and blogs. Our grand opening saw lines around the block - and subsequent Sundays began to sell out within a few days of opening orders on our website. We became very popular very quickly. We added Saturdays, and those began selling out, too. We have continued operating in this way (adding walk-up orders in addition to the pre orders and occasionally popping up at other venues) for 6 months now, and we are showing no signs of dropping off in popularity. People rave about our beignets...you can read our Yelp and Google reviews to see what we mean.
But now we are facing a new set of challenges. The Seattle winter weather is coming in quickly and we need to get in out of the cold. We are looking for kitchen space to share for the winter and have a few potential leads. But this will only be temporary - not a sustainable solution financially or logistically in the long term.
We have always had a vision of moving our business to a mobile food truck or trailer, and we still have our sights fixed on making that a reality. We have done our research - compared quotes, driven across the state to look at trailers, weighed all the options - and it will cost $50,000 to build the ideal trailer for us. The build itself will take several months, and we need to put down a sizeable amount to get it started. Even though we have been completely affected by COVID, we haven't been in business long enough to qualify for any relief grants, and we have spoken with business finance mentors who have told us that traditional small business financing is nearly impossible to get in the current climate. A financial boost at this point could get our trailer build started, which would align with our plans for the future and keep us operating and growing despite the challenges we have faced during the pandemic.
This is why we are asking for your support. We appreciate that many people have been impacted financially by the pandemic, and it's difficult to ask for donations for that reason. But we also know that many people are rallying to help support small businesses, and we are hoping that some of those people will feel like our cause is a worthy one. Many of our customers ask about our future plans, and when we mention a trailer the response is always supportive and enthusiastic. If we can reach our fundraising goal we will be able to start the trailer build and that would be a huge milestone for us.
Community is so important to us. We team up with other local small businesses every week because we care very much about keeping our community vibrant and dynamic and we feel that great local businesses are the essential backbone of a great community. We have been so fortunate to be a part of the local business scene the past few months, and we are incredibly passionate about what we are doing. We love hearing the stories our customers tell us about their last experience eating beignets, their honeymoons in New Orleans, taking them to their house-bound elderly mother who is from New Orleans and making her face light up. We have people approach our booth clapping, and they whoop and give us the thumbs-up as they drive away all covered in powdered sugar. We feel like we are truly bringing sweetness and joy to people in these difficult times, and that is something we are so touched by and proud of.
We want to continue to do this - and we are ready to take it to the next level. With your help that can be a reality.
Thank you so much for reading, and if you are in a position to donate (any amount helps) we would appreciate your support more than we can express.
- Sarah Whitney
- Cathy Dodd
- Cajun bauman
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