Sunday, May 24, 2015

Marseilla Cafe: How Did It All Begin

What kept me busy for almost a year now is my home-based coffee shop, Marseilla Cafe.  We are still on a dry run since we (my fiance and I) took a risk on putting this up along the street of Marseilla in Rosario, Cavite where it is mostly residential and people won't normally pull over just to eat.  Much to our surprise, we have locals and people outside our town, like Bacoor, Paranaque, Taguig and Cubao, and even foreigners who stayed at a nearby hotel, who exerts their time and effort just to try our dishes and drinks even though our place is out of their way and there is no parking for cars (but motorbikes and bicycles can park at our driveway).

But, of course, there are down times as well.  It does bring anxiety, but I'm fighting it by coming up with marketing or promotional ideas to keep the people coming back.  And, of course, watching YouTube videos and movies that focuses on culinary arts really helps.

Having a business is a real challenge.  It will affect all aspects of your life, wherein you have to sacrifice most of your time and lifestyle.  But I'm very blessed to have the people around me with endless support--who never gets tired of encouraging me to keep going.

How did it all start?

I really see myself as an entrepreneur in the food industry since I was young.  I drew cookies using crayons on a paper, cut it out, insert those in a small brown envelope, and sold them to my classmates in grade school.  There was a time when my classmate and I thought of mixing all the chips we have, place it in a container, roll paper into a cone, and scoop mixed chips to it and sell them to our friends!  So, yeah, I'm a business-minded person.  When I got the opportunity to study culinary arts, I focused on that and became a top-notch of our batch!  Not that I'm bragging, but I'm really proud of my achievement!  Due to circumstances, I decided to go back to back office job so I could support my dad's medical needs since there's no medical benefits when you work in a kitchen here in the Philippines.  Sad truth.

There were numerous business attempts I did for the past years where I came up with a pie that I sold to my colleagues while I work in an office.  Then I decided to put up an online pastry business called Esmis that I eventually developed with a colleague from my internship in a restaurant and created Esther as our brand that sells homemade jarred desserts (when those kind of desserts weren't popular then) dips, sauces, and did catering too.

I can say that Esther was successful, but there is still something missing.  I want a real shop where people can just come by and get their cravings fixed and not stress myself on the ingress and egress of each event and the logistics of delivering our products, because I do everything--even deliver right at the client's doorstep.  Yet I don't have the money and the guts to do so.  That's why I went back into freelancing in production, online work, etc.

But everything changed when I met my fiance, Arjay.  I used to be a person who lives day by day, without worrying about tomorrow or depress myself with the past.  Since our relationship needs more responsibility since I said yes to his casual proposal last year, I decided to have a focus and plan on my career (since I'm a freelancer in so many fields).  I applied for cook positions on different restaurants and was hired by an upcoming Italian restaurant but they went MIA after I asked about my salary.  So I went back to zero and confused on what would be my next step.  Then Arjay and I thought of putting up a small cafe/resto where he can sell his shirts and have a mini cafe on the side.  Most of our days were spent scouting on commercial or residential spaces that we can rent, but the costs were too high.  Rental fees in the metro will really burn your pockets.

He found this heart-shaped pebble (?) at the beach in Ternate, Cavite. :)

Then one morning, Arjay made me a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast -- using pan de sal instead of the usual white bread, then sided it with potato chips that he bought from the sari-sari store.  I told him I can make potato chips from scratch and we discussed about selling it, etc.  Planning came next, proposed it to our investor and decided to put up a home-based cafe, then we execute.

Great thing we both have the same taste, whether it be on food, decor, music, anything!  We really enjoyed our trips to Wilcon Depot, other local hardware stores, the mall, gardens, etc. for canvassing of materials and whatnot.  Pinterest, Google Image, and blogs helped a lot too in planning.  The construction of the restroom was a headache since the workers were not on their right minds because they made the ceiling too low that I can bump in it if tiptoed (imagine, I stand 5'7"), so I have to have it reconstructed.  Then there goes the added expense.  Materials were way too high even if we had scouted for the cheapest seller in the area.  Arjay and I installed the carabao grass we ordered from the garden, and it was fun!  We also bought other materials in Divisoria, like the cloths that I hanged on the ceiling of the cafe.

While the construction was ongoing, I did the research and development of the cafe's menu, then registered at DTI, which was my mistake.  I was too scared that maybe someone will be registering "Marseilla Cafe" as its business name, so I went ahead and had it done while the construction is ongoing.  Never register your business at DTI if you don't plan to open any time in a month.  BIR will be charging you with late fees if you happen to register your business at DTI months (like 6 months) before applying for Certificate of Registration on their bureau.

For more details on registering your business as a single proprietor, you might want to check out this post that I made.

Before and After construction of our front yard.

Hiring staff was tough.  Although it's very easy to sort out the good ones from the 'blah' because all they have to do is follow SIMPLE instructions.  Some backed out during the interview since they were skeptic about the location of the interview, which was Starbucks by the way.  I can't blame them because I might think twice too if I were in their place.  But I had explained to them that there was construction going on at home, so I don't think it will be a good place to conduct an interview.  Training was quite fun.  I learned so many things along the way too!


I still can't believe that we pulled this thing off.  Imagine, we were just doing our own thing before then here we are running a business?  Well, I can't say that I'm successful doing this now.  There are a lot of trials and errors along the way.  Being a hands-on entrepreneur might make you go crazy, but it brings joy to me in so many ways--but I still have breakdowns, you know.  I'm weak too!  Haha!

If you are thinking of putting up your own business, I suggest that you should.  I really am encouraging you to take this huge risk.  There are a lot of things that you will learn along the way that will help improve you to be a better and responsible person.  Plus, you'd get to help improve the economy and get to help create jobs for our fellowmen! :)  And a piece of advice, come up with a business that you're passionate on.  Don't put up a business because of the money, it will come soon if you have great quality.  Do it because you're passionate about it.


Follow my cafe on Instagram:  @marseillacafe
Like our page on Facebook: marseillacafe

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Afols! One day sana makapag dine-in naman kami dyan sa cafe mo.