Here’s Where The Rubber Meets the Road
We open our blog as we are just getting up to dust ourselves off. Of course, we had hoped Baba’s story would begin with ribbon cuttings, fireworks and champagne. But this is not ABC launching a new reality series where hardships are wrapped in a warm blanket with a handsome host ready to change your life. This is actuality, where no one hears if a new business minded person falls in the woods. One must get scrappy and loud and get back up to fight.
We had no illusions that this process would be easy, or without blood, sweat and tears. You think you can predict and plan for the worst, until the worst is something you didn’t even know existed. Here we give you the backstory of how Baba’s Backyard went from opening in the Fall of 2014 in the quaint Italian Village, to being a homeless idea.
After a brutal winter of slinging smoked meat from the That Food Truck, and the in-between moments dedicated to putting our dreams into a structured business plan, spring had broken and the writing was finished. Thawing out from the subzero temperatures, our plans were getting warmer with each person filling in the spots needed. Our baker, pastry chef, and gardner had rounded out the super hero team. The realtor, the architect, and the lender all fell into our laps. A location was found, and our dreams were taking shape and moving closer to reality. All quicker and with fewer roadblocks than we had anticipated. Things were looking good!
A quick pre-approval letter from Ms. M at Bank X had us moving forward quickly. Everything she asked for we got. The amount of cash she wanted upfront we received from our investors in no less than three months. In the meantime, our architect worked with us to rezone the property to fit our special needs, our lawyer had written up document after document to make sure everything was sound and legal. And the bills began to add up. Still, pretty smooth sailing.
Time was closing in on the end of our contract with the property owners. We had not heard from Ms. M at Bank X for a questionable amount of time. Ms. M’s phone had to have been on fire as we and our realtor had been calling incessantly. Finally, our phone rang showing Ms. M’s number. Our hearts soared and our nerves eased. Finally, we can cut the check and get to building.
Not. So. Fast.
Her exact words to start the conversation were
“Now that I am looking at everything…”
We are not sure what she had spent the last 5 months looking at. Maybe there was an adorable chipmunk doing cartwheels on her windowsill, or a UFO circling her building? I mean, who can get work done with that kind of action happening? The picture became clear that something was very wrong as she began to lecture us on student loan debt and the culinary industry. Ms. M is clearly versed in the culinary world as she stated she knew a guy that worked in a kitchen once. Our hearts were in our asses as she curtly stated that Bank X would not be lending us the remaining amount. Nevermind the preapproval letter she signed 5 months prior, or the 32% of the total loan amount she asked for, already in the bank. There was no way this was going to happen.
We daydreamed of all the ways to deal with this. Call Monica Day at channel 4? Show up at Ms. M’s Bank X to tell her boss just what we thought of her shenanigans? Go out and drink every bar fly in Columbus under the table and pick a few fights? You see, no one likes to be judged. We are pretty sure Ms. M from Bank X, took one look at us dingy, denim wearing, tattooed youngsters and figured it would never come together. And so, she just didn’t do her job. And when we showed up, cash in hand, with every ridiculous piece of information she asked for, all she could do was attempt to blame it on us and rudely dismiss our dream.
The next two days were spent trying to make sense of what happened, receiving many apologies from people involved (Not Ms. M from Bank X), and explaining the entire situation to those waiting on employment from us.
In one last push to save the spot we had already invested time and money into, we found a non-profit lender willing to give it a try. The property owners, being lovely people, gave us an extension. We had 15 days to go through the entire lending process, one more time. It was a 50/50 shot, and we may have been down, but far from out.
In the those 15 days, emotions ran the gamut. Monday we awoke with hope and patience, feeling secure that we would get what we needed. Tuesday closed with feelings of defeat and resignation that this was over before it had begun. The hours rolled on and days crept by. On day 15, the non- profit lender came back with 5 to 4 voting "no". We had all the money. We had all the credit. But the sheer nature and risk of the industry outweighed anything else. A quicker no, but still a no. A no delivered with sympathy and professionalism, but still a no. We lost the property and a bit of our sanity.
It is bittersweet to let go of a property that housed our original dream of a restaurant, bakery and garden. A special place for small ceremonies and romantic dinners. A place where the taste of the dish begins with a seed, planted 20 feet from your table. Alas, the world keeps spinning. With every fall comes a bloodied knee, a scraped elbow or a black eye, but the energy transforms into a deeper determination we had no idea existed. We must move on, leaving the garden only a future goal and begin again. Our philanthropic idea must be tamed for the time being.
As of today, we are restructuring our ideas and scaling back to start smaller. Of course, that is the advice people will give you. But we had a grand idea, a grand team of supporters and even grander hearts. So we went big, nearly touched the stars and fell hard. Not hard enough to vanish in our loss. This vulnerability simply creates more courage.
We urge you to follow us on this stark raving mad ride. We risk it all to bring you honest food that comes with an unabashed story for you to digest along the way. Opening a restaurant ain’t for the faint hearted, the insecure or delicate. It takes elephant skin, a steel coat around a bleeding heart, and blinding determination some call recklessness.
Welcome to Baba’s Backyard.