Day 1

common ground open house signI started a new business this year. Well. I took over a business from a friend. Two friends. They had this little cafe. They were moving away and wanted the cafe to continue.

They asked me if I would step in. I said yes.

How much backstory do you need? It’s a vegan cafe in a little Midwest meat-and-potatoes community. It operates out of a church basement. It’s pay-what-you-can. It came with a fully-equipped kitchen (circa 1940) and very low overhead, which is good, because when I agreed to take over I had no money.

As in, none.

But I really, really wanted to run my own business again. It had been four years since I’d closed my last business — a little cafe, coincidentally — four years of working for low pay for other people while I tried to figure out what to do with the remaining decades of my one precious life.

Running another cafe was not something I was considering. It was so far from being something I was considering that a few weeks before I was asked to take over this one, I’d had a conversation with another friend in which I stated categorically that I did not want my next business to be a food business.

And yet.

Four years is a long time to wonder what’s next. Sometimes we need to be pushed along the path. I’m reminded of that question, asked of another woman, in another city: “What is your useful skill in a tangible situation?”

Me? I can cook.

Plus, I saw untapped potential, and that gets me every time. I look at a space and think, “If this were my business, here’s what I’d do.” I saw opportunity.

I also saw my friends working 12-hour days there and barely scratching out a living. That part gave me pause. That, and the church thing. Because I’m not a church person.

But they had a loyal following. A few dozen regulars, a few dozen more who wandered in from time to time. I wouldn’t be starting from scratch.

And the affiliation with the church was in the form of a percent-of-gross lease. A simple business relationship. I could work with that.

So I changed the name, changed the hours, prettied up the space. Cleaned and organized the kitchen. Worked out a plan of sorts. Brought my 21-year-old daughter on board to help get things going. Started cooking.

For the last 31 days of 2017, I’m going to share the story of this cafe with you. Because I think it’s a pretty good story, and we need good stories, and it’s unfolding in this unlikely place, which might give you inspiration if you live in an unlikely place, or have no money to start a business but really, really want to, or don’t know what to do with what remains of your own precious life.

Or all of the above.

I’m barely a year into it, so it’s all a work in progress.

Everything that matters a work in progress.


photo credit: Daniel Knight Photography

 

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3 thoughts on “Day 1

  1. Oh, Peggy! I was so glad to see the email notification that you had posted. As I began to read the post, I thought “I wish Peggy posted more often”. Then I got to the part where you said you’d be blogging daily this month! Woohoo!

  2. And I’m so happy to know that your business is going well. I see your posts on Facebook and it always looks delicious, so lovingly and skillfully prepared and presented. And these posts ARE inspirational, especially to someone who’s still trying to figure out what to do with her remaining decades (right now, just a paycheck would be nice), preferably in the Big E ….

    Looking forward to more posts from you!

  3. I think about you often, my friend, and I feel your struggles with the job situation. I suspect we could talk for days. Come to town and I’ll feed you a good meal.

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