A good start

Last night we had a pretty good opening. We had a lot of workers on hand so things were pretty chaotic and inefficient, but not too bad for the first day. We opened a bit past 5pm and with no advertising and everyone having been told we open Monday morning we had 33 sales with a total of 45 sandwiches sold.

Now it is Monday morning and we are getting ready for our first full day. We’re all worried we’ll have a very busy lunch time today.

3 days left

Today we had one group of employees in to do training on the high speed toaster oven and to clean up the store in preparation for training. We cleaned pretty much everything top to bottom, unpacked most things, etc. We had the delivery of the main food and supplies in the afternoon which was a lot of stuff. Found out that the toilet is still leaking a bit and a guy came by to do further repairs. We may end up being short on employees at first, though we’re trying to get enough in.

Almost there

My manager is Vincent Chen and he started work for me yesterday helping finish up lots of loose ends and get prepared for opening. We also needed to call more people to come interview. With all the delays some of the people we hired already found another job. Now we have all the equipment up and running and most of the non-food supplies. Tomorrow the bulk of the food and vegetables will be delivered and the branded items like cups and sandwich wrap paper. Tomorrow we have some of the employees coming for training on the high speed toaster oven and also do cleaning of the shop to get ready for opening. Then Saturday and Sunday we will split into two groups for training each day 12-5 and 5-10. Then Monday morning we will open for business!

Opening Date Set

Everything is coming together now. We’ll have training Friday through Sunday and then open on Monday. We have all the equipment now. The high speed toaster oven and bread oven were installed today, and the tables and chairs were delivered. There are a few odds and ends to be installed or fixed, but nothing major.

People walking by have been very interested in the store now that it is looking more complete. We even had a few people walk in today thinking we were already open, lots of people asking when we are opening, and asking for “DM” (which I have no idea what it stands for but are store leaflets). I set up the floor stand at the door stuffed with leaflets after a bit of this and lots of people have been taking them. Things are really looking up.

We’ve got the equipment… err, hey wait!

Yesterday the equipment finally got out of customs and delivered to the shop. The delivery guys unloaded everything on the front sidewalk since the pallets were too big to get in the door. This was no problem for most things because there were lots of individual boxes most of which I could carry in myself. Only one of the boxes was too heavy for one person. The bread oven was another matter though.

That thing is quite literally built like a tank. Maggie called up one handyman who came with two other guys and that wasn’t enough to move it, so some more guys were called and finally with six guys they were able to move it just up the step up to the front door. After that it was possible to roll it on its wheels over in back of the counter.

While unpacking and checking the other boxes though, I began to realize that a lot of things were missing. After an inventory of the items I was able to narrow down the list of missing items. They include things like bread baking pans and forms, all the vegetable cutting equipment, the trash bin and the floor sign. All stuff that’s kinda hard to do without.

After going through the paperwork I think I’ve pieced together what went wrong. The shipment was supposed to be a total of four packages. I received three pallets and another two large boxes that were packaged together as what I was told was the fourth package. The paperwork indicates that those boxes were part of one of the pallets I received and that pallet got split up somewhere along the way. All the missing stuff was packed together on one pallet, so it appears that that pallet got lost somewhere along the way.

So yet another snafu to get sorted out…

Meanwhile, another funny delivery mishap occurred today. The uniforms I ordered were delivered by mistake to an office several blocks away. They were nice enough to track us down and Maggie and I went over to pick it up. When we were leaving the delivery guy was just coming back. Apparently he pulled the wrong box off the truck over there and didn’t realize the mistake until later.

An Update

Well, I suppose I should give an update on the store progress. We had been waiting for the oven, menu boards and miscellaneous other equipment. It arrived at the airport early last week but it is stuck in customs due to a paperwork issue. The customs department here requires individual detailed reports of the contents of each individual package. The shipper only supplied one master list without any breakdown, and some of the descriptions are too vague.

Apparently they have changed to a new shipment system and unlike the old system where the shipper had a local Taiwan office, the new one doesn’t. They just dump it on a random freight forwarder and then nobody knows who is supposed to talk to who if there’s any problems like incomplete paperwork. The good news is that the new shipper’s contract says that they can’t charge more than their quoted shipping rate, so they get to pay for all the extra fees for sorting out the paperwork, storage fees in customs, etc. The bad news is I still have to wait for it to get sorted out.

There’s been some delays on other things, but they *should* all be sorted out in time.

Meanwhile I’ve hired a manager and have plenty of other people who want to work in the restaurant. 104 Job Bank has worked out well for hiring.

Yesterday after accepting a delivery at the shop of some supplies I went over to McDonald’s to get lunch. There was another white guy in line there and things were moving slow so we made some small talk for a bit. A little later when I was waiting for my food, my bud Casey from Forumosa walked in. He was there to meet the guy I’d been talking to, who happens to live just two lanes up from my house. Casey, Jon and I went over to Jon’s house for a while to chat and then after Casey left Jon came over to my house to visit for a while longer. Jon has also been kicking around a lot of business ideas but hasn’t really landed on one he likes yet, so it was fun to talk about those kinds of things.

Getting busy

Well, I’ve been getting busier as the opening date approaches. I’m still aiming for second week of May, but it all depends on when the rest of the equipment ships from the US. Outdoor signs are up and look really spiffy. Ironically enough the best vantage point to see the signs clearly is the front door of McDonald’s. 🙂 I’ve set the signs up on a timer so they’ll automatically come on from 6p-11p daily. Already I’ve heard a lot more people talking about the shop as they are walking by now that the signage is up.

104 Job Bank is sending me about 100 job applicants per day in email, so it’s gonna be a huge help in finding staff.

Tomorrow morning I’m going with the accountant to the tax office to get invoices. Here there is a VAT of 5% that is included in prices, and you have to use official receipts to be legal. Like most things in Taiwan there are lots of small shops that don’t use official receipts and hence don’t pay sales tax on the purchase. To encourage compliance they have a receipt lottery every two months where if you match all the numbers on the receipt with the draw number you win TW$200,000 (about US$6,000), and smaller prizes for winning fewer matched numbers.

Today I went out and bought an LG LX-M340A bookshelf stereo system for the shop. The shop has three speakers in the customer area which I hooked up to the stereo in the back room, with the speakers it came with also hooked up. It’s a pretty basic system, but it has 30 watts per channel of power which is plenty for background music in the restaurant. It has a cassette deck (do people still use those?), a CD player with MP3 support, radio, plus an aux input for hooking up an iPod, etc. Pretty nifty system and not very expensive. Sounds pretty good in the shop too.

Tonight all three of us hopped on Maggie’s scooter to drive to the Yongkang Street area for dinner. Maggie recently picked up the scooter second hand from one of the guys who ran a vegetarian restaurant next to her shop that recently went bust. First we went to a Tainan style restaurant where I had fried fish soup, which shouldn’t be too unexpected if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, then over to the Vietnamese restaurant where I had beef ball soup, and then to The Italian Job to finish up with a Chicken Parmesan roll and Peroni beer.