WE ARE REALLY OPEN!!!!
So sorry it has been two months since I last posted! I think I have enough material for a book at this point. It is amazing the lessons you learn along the path; some expected, most of them not. I can add "restaurant" to the things I know. Our sumer has included feral bees in the barn, hatching out baby chicks, our daughter's wedding, and now opening a farm to table/store local market.
What really has been most amazing is the level of support that we have gotten from friends and community members. Some we know well, others we look forward to knowing better. Do come on in and support our local farmers, our incredible chef, Jared Austin, and our new venture. The coffee is on...we are finally here!
The time has come to take matters and ladders into our own hands. We are now busy at the store tearing down walls and ripping up carpeting in anticipation of a building permit. With a midstream downsize of the original build out plan, we now have something that feels doable whether or not the various banks and grant writers that think we have a great idea EVER come through.
"Another f$%#^g growth experience!" is a quote from a colleague that seems to apply here. We are certainly learning a lot about opening (or not) a restaurant and market. We thought we could build out the space with conventional financing. We thought we could be open this summer. We thought we could create a timeline and stick to it. And now we have learned otherwise. SO, PLEASE consider becoming a member of the Cow&Quince CSR if you live nearby or plan to shop our online store once we get it up and running. Or you can just donate to the cause. We have decided to utilize our website rather than a crowd-funding site. Although Hallie did inform us that someone raised over $20,000.00 on Kick Starter to fund a sandwich. So now that strategy is taken!
We are excited about the new, scaled down farm to plate menu and space design. We still hope to be open before the first snowflakes fall this winter (how is that for not setting a hard and fast deadline?). And we continue to be dedicated to supporting our local farmer friends with access to a commercial kitchen for season extending farm products that would also be available for purchase at Cow&Quince through the menu and on the shelves.
Thanks to everyone who has offered support in time and labor. We are getting closer to taking you up on that! If you live in New Glarus, peek in the windows during the weekends. After Lori teaches morning yoga and we feed our B&B guests at Lucky Dog Farmstay we will head down to the store to keep things moving. And do consider becoming a member or funding our dream. Visit the CSR page for more information about all of that.
So much has happened and yet nothing has happened. As more folks find out about our vision for Cow & Quince, we can feel the excitement. And we are incredibly blessed to be creating a space for community along with healthy, local foods. Hallie arrived from Portland to keep us moving this dream along.
After she arrived we had countless meetings with bankers, potential chefs, architects, building and zoning folks, economic development, and friends who knew friends with restaurant equipment. And yet, after all of that flurry of activity, we are still not open.
However we are excited to now be able to start collecting members through our Community Supported Restaurant model. I am in the midst of writing a grant that would enable us to purchase equipment that could be used by our farmer friends to create season-extending products with local produce. And we continue to hope that a bank or investor will come through for us. Apparently restaurant build-outs are nearly impossible to fund...now they tell us.
But we do believe in this dream. Collectively and individually when we close our eyes and envision Cow & Quince open, it is a busy and bustling place. Someone is playing the old upright piano, while others shop artisan grocery and gift items while they wait for their food order.
And no doubt we are creating anticipation and gathering followers that will be there with us when we do finally cross the finish line and throw open our doors. (At least that is what we keep telling ourselves.) And we are learning a lot! Do keep checking in with us! It was a long winter and a slow spring. But things are growing and blooming. On the farm and at Cow & Quince.
So at some point in the past two weeks I have developed small twitches. It started with the right cheekbone under my eye. This morning it has moved to my left eyelid. I am sure it is not stress. I met Jeff, our fabu local architect at the building to go over plans...and potential requirements that we will be compelled to enact as our plans move through the various state and local approvals. It all feels so random and non-sensical. I have certainly spent my time as a public servant, ensuring that laws are followed and the world is saved. But somehow this feels different.
But we are indeed living the dream. In my head the quote that keeps winding through all the doubts is "what would you attempt if you knew you couldn't fail?" I have been amazed by the amount of support, offers to help paint, and promises to be our 'best customers' that have found their way to me. Watch for the chance to support us through a "community supported restaurant" opportunity that will enable you to pay ahead for delicious, locally grown meals, grocery items and products from local crafters and artisans!
So, my left eyelid is twitching a little. And I am fully awake. And we are making it happen...as if we cannot fail.
On April 3rd a small crowd of new and experienced farmers gathered at the building and future home of Cow & Quince. With the middle wall down, it was suddenly possible to have a sense of what the space will be like when we are up and running! Borrowed scaffolding created a table for delicious food from farms in Green County. I contributed pasture-raised Berkshire pork stuffed mushrooms with Asian inspired spices and an accompanying cilantro infused slaw. (These might just have to be on a small bite/appetizer menu since they were delicious and went fast!) There was local cheese, including a lemon pepper chevre with home baked rye bread; incredible chocolate ginger cookies with a kick (thanks Circle M Farm!); and a basket containing delicious tastes of farmstead relishes. The perfect foods to set the energy for our farm-to-table eatery!
Colorful twinkle lights festooned more scaffolding that will hopefully give us the opportunity to peek under the ceiling drywall to see if the tin ceiling evident in a historical society picture of the space as grocery still exists. And all the gathered were incredibly supportive. From the new farmers who came that were attending the nearby "New Farmers' Summit", to New Glarus locals that were happy to see the lights on in the space and a crowd, we felt incredibly supported and hopeful for this new venture.
For my part, I am taking this as it comes. Incredibly grateful for the impending arrival of our restaurant-experienced daughter, who will serve as our general manager. Happy to hear wisdom from others who have started restaurants, gotten SBA loans, written grants, leveraged collaborations, and were willing to take a leap of faith and follow a dream. Some days I wake up and see so clearly all that Cow & Quince will be, and others I cannot believe that I have started down this path. But today, in this place, with these folks, the stars are definitely aligning, all the right people are gathered, and we gear up to nourish bodies and dreams.