Sweet Revenge Candles Inspired By Our Cupcakes!

August 27th, 2014

Sweet Revenge Dirty Candle & Dirty CupcakeIt brings me endless joy to take a big whiff of our Sweet Revenge® candles. They are outrageously delicious, and and they smell amazingly like our cupcakes at my restaurant & wine bar! I picked the Pure (Mexican Vanilla), Dirty (Dark Chocolate Truffle) and Fleur de Sel (Salted Caramel) to start my collection since these are popular cupcakes.

I made these candles using a beautiful soy wax in the kitchen at Sweet Revenge®. The quilted glass jars are quite special. They are recycled from my wedding when I used them as wedding favors for a delicious triple berry jam.

For the Dirty candle, I sprinkled the top with our lovely Valrhona cocoa powder, the same rich dark chocolate used for our Dirty cupcake. The scent is intoxicating.  Rich and luxurious deep dark chocolate notes waft, even as the candle is unlit. I apologize you cannot eat it! As consolation, have a Dirty cupcake :) .

My new candles are available for sale at Sweet Revenge and online at SweetRevengeShop.com. Unlike our cupcakes, we do indeed ship our candles!

“When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile” (Regina Brett)

Cheers to living life deliciously!

Marlo

Behind the scenes scoop: Belgian Waffle, wine & beer pairings!

August 18th, 2014

Sweet Revenge Red Velvet Belgian Waffles, wine & beer pairingIt’s a handy life survival skill knowing the art of pairing booze and food :) .  I consider this one of my special talents, and I’m proud to say it sure beats patting myself on the back for mastering an excel or powerpoint trick during my ole corporate days.  Most recently at my restaurant & wine bar Sweet Revenge® in NYC, I followed my bartender Charysh’s advice to incorporate our wine & beer pairings onto the brunch menu. I decided to keep it simple to start, knowing we can expand the recommendations in time. So to start, we offer Belgian waffle, wine & beer pairs for brunch and weekday breakfast. I count my blessings for my business savvy & thoughtful staff.  Thank you Charysh for the suggestion and the offer to help me figure them out!

Developing an expertise in this tasty skill is certainly one of my most fave job responsibilities. With 100% confidence, its my staff’s fave to-do with me as well :) . When I developed the pairings for our Mexican vanilla, Red Velvet & Blueberry Belgian waffles, my chef Danielle and I tasted and sipped our way through bellinis, various wines, bubblies and beers around the world.  Tough day at the office I like to joke. Although we’ve been doing cupcake, wine & beer pairings for the past 6 years, I recognize that as a small business owner, I have to keep innovating, providing my lovely patrons with more reasons to stay loyal and in love with my restaurant & wine bar.  Pictured are our outrageous red velvet Belgian waffles (yes! inspired by our Crimson & Cream cupcakes) paired with Belhaven from Scotland and a delightful vanilla bellini.

It’s a constant dance as an entrepreneur, and I’m always learning new moves.  Since the beginning of the year 6 restaurants have failed within 1 block of me. It’s a bit mind-blowing this is happening in year 6 of being in business in my charming and affluent west village neighborhood. My hubby Gurhan and I recently strolled up Bleecker street (a main artery in the village and a massive tourist attraction which is one block away (and yet a universe) from Sweet Revenge®).  This street is also a ghost town of commercial vacancies.  I’m only sort of joking that the art of pairing food & alcohol is a life survival skill. This has been SR’s point of differentiation, and it’s helping us hang in there.

I’m on the hook for letting the editorial community know about these delicious new developments. I’ll keep ya posted so stay tuned for more behind the scenes scoop on their reaction. In the meantime, please come & try & enjoy for yourself. They’re available 7 days a week for breakfast & brunch (and breakfast is served through 2:30p M-F!). Please spread the word, share the love and keep your fabulous social media shoutouts comin’. They’re a huge help, and I really appreciate all the support for my small business.

Cheers to deliciousness,

Marlo

CONFESSIONS of A Small Business Owner: To-Do Lists

August 1st, 2014

Recently Jason Womack, an incredibly generous & very inspiring irregular regular of mine visited my restaurant & wine bar Sweet Revenge®.  Jason lives in Ojai, California and is an author, coach, speaker & expert in productivity excellence. I am blessed that when he is in NYC consulting with clients, he makes Sweet Revenge® one of his home-away-from-home bases. Jason dropped off his book Your Best Just Got Better filled with thoughtful handwritten notes. I’ve been engrossed ever since, folding the corners of A-ha pages during my subway rides.  In the book, Jason talks about MITs – Most Important Things. He challenges his readers to consider the traits & skills that have gotten them to the present and if these same traits & skills can take them to the next level.

Your Best Just Got Better by Jason WomackI don’t get anything done unless I put it on paper. Writing down my to-do gets them out of my head and into my hands.  Literally. While I’ve been reading Jason’s empowering book, I’ve been examining my to-do lists. They are very action and verb-oriented, and they are 100% focused on nuts & bolts of running the business day-to-day. Stuff like: update the powerpoint menu, update the website photos, post a blog, review credit card reports, review vendor payment vs credit received, follow up with xyz patron re: wedding cake/gestational diabetes friendly cake, send staff email re: waffles now are served with wine & beer pairings & a side of bacon. Yes, all stuff that is necessary to keep things ticking and tocking and steady state. Guess what’s noticeably absent on the list? There isn’t a single item that will ever change the game. And yet I dream of bigger things for my small business. I can’t believe the big picture aka my Most Important Things never make the cut on paper.

When I had that A-ha moment over this past weekend, I made a commitment to prioritize my MITs. First things first – I made myself sit down and write for the first two hours of Monday morning about what exactly those suckers are. I felt Tony the Tiger GRREAAAT after completing that exercise.  I spent the next two days devoting my first hours of the day to the big picture. I did not let email, social media posts and nuts & bolts distract me. I gave pure focused energy and attention to my MITs. WOW. The momentum is palpable, and I’m  really excited. For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m focusing on the right things smartly.

I am so excited about this development, I needed to share the love & the learnings. Pick up a copy of Jason Womack’s book!

cheers to actualizing on the Most Important Things!

Marlo

A Few Thoughts on the Crumbling of Crumbs and Life in Small Business

July 14th, 2014

Sweet Revenge Pure cupcakeWith the recent announcement of the closure of Crumbs, a cupcakery that got its start in 2003 on the upper west side of NYC that became a public company in 2011, I’ve heard lots of buzz, shock, awe, horror and opinions from friends and patrons.  It’s the end of the cupcake era! The cupcake bubble has burst!

To be blunt, a business model that relies on selling a $3 item and its own brick & mortar requires crazy volume. This is very tricky to pull off. The wrong location, excessive overhead (ie taking on a larger location that whats needed), and overstaffing can keep a business upside down until its last breath. There’s a blessing and a curse being out in front, and Crumbs was the leader of the pack in going big. The blessing of being first is attaining that proverbial “first mover’s advantage”, getting in before others do. The curse of being first & having hysterical success is that its possible to attribute success to the wrong factors. The truth gets revealed when like-conditions are not maintained. And sometimes, the truth just isn’t very pretty, especially in the not always sweet world of desserts.

When I concocted the business plan and brand of Sweet Revenge®, my restaurant & wine bar, I wanted it to be experience based, not reliant on any one particular product. I’d read about the success and failure of Krispy Kreme and wanted to steer clear of that unsavory trajectory.  Big things can go against you in small business that are far out of your control. I built in flexibility in the event the cupcake fad turned into a cupcake fade.

By no means am I saying I’ve got it all figured out and have perfected the business model. Quite the opposite. I’ve stayed really small and not because I want to. Location, location, location. If I would’ve had beginner’s luck & a heftier appetite for rent risk, I might’ve chosen a well trafficked location on Bleecker street or one on the upper west. My hunch says I would’ve achieved brilliant financials, but I wouldn’t have known that those were largely due to phenomenal foot traffic. Proof: there’s a lot of mediocre establishments in primo locations doing seemingly well. Their financial success has nothing to do with the service they provide, their menu or their ambiance.

It’s important in small business to look out for the what-ifs and have contingency plans. By doing so, I babystepped my way from dessert & wine bar to restaurant & wine bar. Its a tricky transition asking yoru patrons to think of you and treat you as something different from what they’ve known you for. Having the resilience of a tortoise, patience, a commitment to excellence and an appetite for the long distance race come in handy. I make a lot of mistakes as an entrepreneur but manalive do I “note to self” myself.  And I keep going.

I’m not shocked that Crumbs didn’t make it. I was more shocked when they went public. Fundamentally, the business model has to be sound. As a business owner you’re on the hook to nail the crazy tidal wave of factors that create and sustain success. Similarly you’re on the hook to fix what’s broken and to look out ahead to avoid Krispy Kreming or Crumbing your business.

“Failure is a great teacher” (Steve Harvey)

Cheers,

Marlo

 

 

Fireworks & Magic

July 3rd, 2014

Marlo making Sweet Revenge candlesWhat a whirlwind week it has been! For quite some time in my “spare time” I’ve been noodling away at very yummy Sweet Revenge® branded lifestyle products.  The process has been pure joy. I’ve been concocting, daydreaming, researching and planning. And FINALLY I’ve gotten around to the doing :) !  From the earliest days in my 2007 business plan and for the last 6 years, I have believed hand-on-heart that the deliciousness inherent in the brand could be expressed in all kinds of fragrant & stylish ways beyond the outrageous food & dessert we make at my restaurant & wine bar Sweet Revenge®.

We’ve been selling Sweet Revenge® perfume, apparel and some gorgeous cards with the bird on them for years, so I’m familiar with the build it and they will come philosophy of Field of Dreams. However in the real world, possibly unlike American baseball (or presently FIFA world cup :) ), you can’t just build something and expect it will go and grow on its own. You’ve gotta nurture it and give it love, resources, time and attention and focus. My day-to-day reality as an entrepreneur is that there’s a lot of moving parts that take a hunk of that time, love and focus, and it’s just not possible to do it all at the same time.

When facing a deadline, super powers activate. Time compresses & magic happens. I stared down an intellectual property deadline, knowing I needed to get out of my own way and get ‘er done. Missing the deadline costs money for the lawyers to file extensions with the USPTO. Been there done that. No need to repeat feeling crummy for not being on my a-game in managing my time and limited resources. Its an interesting coincidence that I got over the finish line this week and July 4th is tomorrow. What a perfect pairing: sparklers in the sky and all the giddy good feelings of bringing these magical beauties to life.

I took inspiration from our cupcake flavors and as a staunch proponent of quality, I used gorgeous raw ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera, Japanese peppermint essential oil and vitamin E among many others. Here’s just a few of the items I’ve been making. They’re on the website www.SweetRevengeShop.com. By next week, Fleur de Sel (salted caramel) and Dirty (dark chocolate) candles and Pure Peppermint lip balm will be available. YUM!

Sweet Revenge Reed Diffuser OilSweet Revenge Pure Body ButterSweet Revenge Pure candleSweet Revenge necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers to fireworks and magic in your life and Happy 4th of July!

Marlo

RIP Dinner & Be Merry

June 16th, 2014

Sweet Revenge Chicken & WafflesWith heavy heart I bid adieu to our truly delicious Dinner & Be Merry menu at my restaurant & wine bar Sweet Revenge®. After plowing a mega investment into it for the last 8 months, I analyzed the numbers to see if they backed up my hubby’s big picture observations & rainman-like number crunching talent. Indeed the data showed, at best case, it was a break-even proposition.

The Dinner & Be Merry menu for me was a source of pride. I loved it. I was enamored with its presentation, the wine & beer pairings, the quality of the ingredients, and I knew intimately the amount of hard work behind the scenes in its development. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. I have a litany of reasons why dinner was not successful.

I had to suck it up, put my pride aside and take the emotion out of the decision process. We 86′d dinner last Friday. Our yummola Small Plates & Be Merry menu is available every day 3-10p which our fabulous bartenders plate at night. The menu items are prepared ahead of time by our chefs during the day. This is a much better use of resources on many levels.

Being freed up from dinner allows me, my hubs G and our staff to focus on the next adventure. I’m sure will be delicious. Glass half full.

To quote one of my fave lines from Semi Sonic’s ‘Closing Time’: “ Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Cheers,

Marlo

 

Sweet Revenge Featured on Native New York!

June 16th, 2014

We are happy as clams for the sweet coverage on New York Natives! They’re singing our praises and that makes us want to sing “New York, New York!”

Read the story

Our Outrageously Delish Lunch Special!

June 5th, 2014

Sweet Revenge Lunch SpecialIn an earlier blog post I discussed how we’d gone through a rough patch. An excessively long, cold winter; a beloved neighborhood joint coming back to the street after a year & a half hiatus (the much admired great Grey Dog); and frankly what I call a mass exodus of humans in my nook & cranny of the west village all contributed to our lean times. When the Grey Dog re-opened, they took a big ole bite outta my breakfast, daytime coffee and lunch sales.

My hubby Gur observed the Grey Dog’s enviable take-away & dine-in lunch crowd and informed me we needed to offer a to-go & dine in lunch special ASAP. I quickly brainstormed ideas for wraps with the chefs and then promptly sat on the project. Eventually I found time to set my goals and analyze the anticipated new menu’s food costs. I wanted the lunch special to 1) turbo boost our lunch sales 2) be profitable 3) be easy & fast to assemble for the chefs and 4) impress the heck out of everyone who tries it.

The recipe costing model very clearly showed our delish ideas would be 1) very time-consuming for the chefs and 2) not profitable due to fancy shmancy ingredients. I freed my mind and and scrapped the original ideas. Instead I chose simple cold salads easily scooped into wraps, a side salad and a bowl of soup. I put that into the recipe cost model while our talented chefs Shannon & Danielle busted a move on yummy recipe development. Bartender Miguel demonstrated madskills with chalk and created the new chalkboard. I updated the menu and my hubby put it up on the window for display. Voila! Our new $10 lunch special was born!

Fellow small biz owners, you will appreciate that this simple menu addition is boosting our lunch sales. I’m delighted to report that I’m accomplishing my above mentioned goals. The chefs agree the lunch special is a snap to assemble, and my daytime bartender-servers are happy campers, hustling during lunch.

Stay tuned….there’s a breakfast special in the works :) ….

Cheers to delicious ideas and a great team effort turning into tasty results,

Marlo

Sweet Revenge® is in The Huffington Post!

June 4th, 2014

It’s quite a thrill that Sweet Revenge® is included in The Huffington Post’s article on the best cupcakes in NYC! Not only did two Sweet Revenge® cupcake, wine & beer pairings make the list of twelve, but they mentioned our breakfast, lunch, brunch & dinner too!

Read their story “12 New York Cupcakes That Are Better Than Magnolia’s”

Shiny & New

May 19th, 2014

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been chipping away at changing to a direct supplier for electricity, finding a new POS (Point of Sale) platform, and switching phone/internet providers in an effort to reduce costs while improving the level of customer service. I’ve also examined food suppliers and trash removal companies. It blows my mind how long it takes to research and then implement something that should be simplistic and a minor admin to-do. To be fair, one of these has been a snap, which was signing up with a direct energy company, but that was thanks to doing business with my friend Nick Gerome who works in the energy industry.

Sometimes macro conditions lead to changes in the micro (soft) level, errr something like that. Microsoft recently discontinued support for Windows XP, and my current POS vendor used this situation as an opportunity to jack me with a ridiculously expensive quote to purchase all new equipment  instead of making an affordable software patch available.  So I’m using this situation as an opportunity to change POS vendors. I’m in the process of getting set up with TouchBistro‘s POS solution and Paypal’s credit card processing and going all new fangled like with an Ipad. Its a really exciting, savvy platform, and I’m excited to launch it. With a little luck, we’ll roll out the system early next week.

I wish I had inspiring news to share about my switch from Verizon to Time Warner for Small Business phone/internet. Alas that process, which began in January and finally made it over the installation finish line last Friday (nearly 4 months later with a lot of high maintenance intervention), was fraught with epic fails by Time Warner at every step. They waited until I called them in March inquiring about the install date to let me know they were reneging on the signed contract since it was supposedly going to cost them more than $5K to do the install. This was highly suspect since 30 residential units in my building have their service. They repeatedly misspelled my husband’s name on the contract and in correspondence. Generally speaking, a lack of attention to details is not a good sign, but most definitely a sign of things to come. When we finally got a Time Warner sales rep to meet with us at Sweet Revenge a couple of weeks ago, we were promised their guys would ensure a smooth setup on the day of install. This promise was re-iterated by the installation scheduling rep over the phone, who assured me we would not have any service interruptions during the install. EPIC FAIL for Time Warner. We had no working phone for several hours, and the tech rep explained that it wasn’t his responsibility to set us up on their system. We had no way to process credit cards, had no internet or wifi, and our ADT and camera security systems went down. When we called the rep who had visited us, he completely punted, even telling his technician to re-install Verizon. Shocking. The on-site tech rep explained he saw the “oversell” happen all the time just so contracts got signed. Needless to say I could not be more underwhelmed or less impressed by my first and all subsequent impressions of Time Warner. They’re lucky their internet speed is an upgrade to Verizon’s and they’re cheaper.

A funny thing happened on the way to change. I turned at the corner of black & blue and went on the Say Whaaaaat Roundabout. But would you look at that  - there’s light there yonder. I’m really looking forward to seeing these shiny & new relationships turn into bedazzling bottom line results.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” (Lao Tzu)

Cheers to change,

Marlo