I have never been a big fan of folks who use crowdfunding for small businesses (indiegogo, kickstarter, etc). I have been self employed my entire life and have relied on myself. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. The risk is mine. I believe in helping people, and I do so when possible. I cringe a bit, though, when small businesses try to solicit private funding to stay afloat. For the first time in my life, though, I admit that I find myself in that position where I am at a crossroad due to circumstances beyond my control. Approximately 5 months ago I decided to open a small restaurant in the great little community of Alstead, NH. The spot was perfect for a little breakfast and lunch place, and the town seemed to really need it. There had been one in the space for most of the past couple decades I believe. Being cautious I knew that the little town of Alstead may not be able to support a 22-seat restaurant on its own which could be the reason that there have been multiple businesses in my location over the course of time. My business plan compensated for that by only relying on the brick and mortar location for approximately 25 percent of the revenue. I purchased a canteen truck which would be licensed out of the commercial kitchen and form a route in the Charlestown and Claremont area servicing businesses during breakfast and lunch. This is a business that I knew well, having run one for a friend back in 1989. The plan was to launch the route when I got licensed in October and to do all of the cooking myself, load up for my route, and build it over the course of time. Within a couple of months with a profitable route to rely on, I would hire employees and open the restaurant to the public. Unfortunately October came and went and my license still wasn’t back from the state. Over the course of jumping through hoops for septic approval and licensing, my paperwork somehow got lost by the state, and it ended up on the wrong person’s desk where it sat for the better part of 6 weeks, slowing the process down even more. By the time I finally got licensed it was after Christmas. Staying afloat for all of those months while paying rent on an empty restaurant and trying to now finish the project with nothing coming in used up all of my cash reserves that had been set aside as well as using up all credit available to me which was earmarked as a reserve. I had spent $18,000 to license and equip the restaurant, in addition to the canteen truck purchase, and the warehouse full of commercial equipment that I had been stockpiling for the past decade. It was now the middle of the winter which was no longer the time to attempt to lure workers from their cozy warm workplaces for breakfast and lunch in an attempt to build the lunch truck route. With no reserves left, I took a gamble and opened the restaurant and planned to do my best to grow it (despite it not being my original plan). The folks of Alstead had patiently waited 4 months already from my initial announcement that we would be opening in their town. It has been 5 weeks now, and we have a steady customer base. Our food is complimented. Our decor is loved by the locals. We get happy diners that eat-in and a regular crew of folks calling in take-out orders. At the request of the townspeople we added a full breakfast menu to accomodate them and provide them what they wanted. We also added to our revised business plan the addition of a beer and wine license and adding dinner hours on Friday and Saturday nights. This is also in response to what the good people of Alstead have requested.
The problem lies in the fact that we now find ourselves, due to circumstances we couldn’t have forseen in our timeframe of getting state approval, attempting to ride out the slower days that every business faces during stages of growth. There is no longer any sort of cushion at all to absorb these shocks. We find business steady, with a wonderful amount of familiar faces returning to the Foodery. Our business plan; however, called for this piece of the project to only be a small portion of our anticipated revenue. This leaves us short from day to day without the capital necessary to stay properly stocked and staffed to get through the next two months until the time that the route can be added and the final (and most lucrative) piece of the puzzle is added. I am a proud person who does not ask for help; however, I have had friends and customers suggest this as an option, so here I am. I am launching a campaign to raise extra operating capital to sustain and build the business to get back on track with the original business plan. Instead of asking for a hand-out as many crowdfunding campaigns do, we are exchanging donations to our cause for gift certificates valued at MORE than the donation value. A $50 donation will receive in the mail $55 in Alstead Foodery gift certificates with no limitation as to their use. A $100 donation will receive $110. We are giving the contributor 10% more than the value of their donation. This plan will give us the capital to sustain until the final pieces are in place and will provide us the capital we need to put the truck on the road, expand our restaurant license to include beer & wine (and allow extended hours), and to have a cushion so that we can do what we do best without having to worry about not having enough propane to get through the week or whether this week’s food order can be delivered the day that we need it (instead of two day’s later after another banner day of sales). All businesses have growing pains. We are asking for the support of our friends and neighbors to provide us the tools to get through ours so that we can serve this community and surrounding communities for many years to come. We thank you in advance for your consideration. Any questions or comments are appreciated. Private correspondence can be sent to[email protected]. Thank you for taking the time to read about our campaign.
If you do make a donation, please leave us your mailing address so that we can mail your gift certificates.
Lee C Hentschel
Hench’s Alstead Foodery