Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Putting the “Oooo!” in Bloomy’s.

Last week, the Rhino and I discovered that the long-standing Gopher Towing, a.k.a. the home of Bloomy1, was going out of business. This was devastating on several fronts - mainly because it made our truck homeless and secondarily because we have to provide the bank with a storage lease in order to get our loan money. No Gopher Towing = no home = no lease = no loan. Yikes! You can imagine how big a wrench this threw in our plans. However, never fear! The Rhino stepped in and found another home for Bloomy1 in less than a week*. He even brought me there for a visit on Sunday! Now, we have a new home for Bloomy1 that is equal in awesomeness and slightly less expensive than its previous home. Rock. On. I praised the Rhino on his industriousness and gave him a kiss (on the cheek; we are not married yet).
*Why I adore the Rhino Reason #671,794.

Two Fridays ago, the Rhino accompanied yours truly to my day-job department’s holiday party. Yes, we have our holiday party in January. The party, coincidentally, was also held at Chino Latino (just like the Rhino’s holiday party was!). We got to stuff our faces with delicious food such as shrimp curry and also do awesome (at the time) things like this:

I wish I could say that this holiday party turned out differently than the last one, but it surely did not. The Rhino and I once again plopped into bed well after 3am and spent the next day rubbing our bellies and cursing our love-hate relationship with Bacardi Limon.

In any case, we recovered and were incredibly excited about our big important meeting at the…

Sysco Test Kitchen
Last Thursday, the Rhino and I took some time to visit the best place in the world (or at least the best place in Blaine), the Sysco Test Kitchen. Stocked far and wide with delicious ingredients just waiting for us to eat and judge them. Which we did. A lot. Accompanying us to this dreamland was the official taste testing crew, comprised of (in no particular order).

1. Our culinary specialist, Budda,* who brought over a decade’s worth of experience in catering, kitchen management, and creating culinary masterpieces. And a passion for agates.
2. Rhino’s BFF since 8th grade (think Stand By Me meets … Starsky and Hutch?), Ron*, and his lovely wife.
3. Our awesomesauce Creative Director, Jamie D* (the D stands for Deelightful or Deelicious, depending on your preference)
*Names may have been changed to protect the identity of our taste testing crew, or not. Probably not.

Jamie D, Rhino & I were super early to the test kitchen (ooh anticipation!) so we decided to stop off for a quick beer (it was lunch time, BTW, and therefore acceptable). My GPS wasn’t working, so the three of us were forced into looking for beer the old fashioned way*.
*By actually looking with our eyes.

Between the solid input of his car companions (KJ: “I think I might see something over there!! JamieD: No, that’s… not a place that sells beer,”) Rhino calmly navigated us to a strip mall where he found us a Chinese Buffet. We proceeded to order some Blue Moons, and I was happily surprised when the beers arrived along with three fortune cookies! I tried to trick my hunger with the beer carbonation, but it backfired, so it only took me about 5 minutes to start hoarding and devouring everyone’s fortune cookies. Sorry guys. Then we headed back to the test kitchen.

After a slightly uncomfortable yet slightly informative meeting with a salesperson, we were ushered into the super slamazing, super huge, and super HOT test kitchen. We got to sit around at a little table and have four people wait on us! And then they started bringing out food. And more food. And then they brought out some more food. By the time they brought the roast beef out, I was so excited I nearly burst into song. I believed for a moment that my life had reached its pinnacle and am about 90% certain that I also heard angels’ voices. I wondered for a moment what it would be like to live in the test kitchen (JamieD: “Awesome! It would be awesome!”). But it was just too hot… and there was no shower, which is a really bad combo. So we did eventually leave.

In any case, despite all the decisions we made on chili and coleslaw and roast beef, we still have over half our menu to go. Most importantly, we need to decide on the bread. I am head over heels for bread as it comprises the majority of my meals so am incredibly excited about this decision. However, the Rhino believes that bread is “just a vessel to get the beef into your face” so a convincing session may be in order. Another test kitchen visit?? Yes please!! Except for one small problem.

KJ and the Clean Program
(For those of you who think detoxing is a scam, feel free skip this part.)
Yes, I have decided to start a program. It is called the Clean Program. During this program, I cannot eat any of the following things: cheese, eggs, French fries, ranch dressing, bacon, bread, beer, tomatoes, pop, ice cream, pizza, Carnation Instant Breakfast, or pretty much any other thing you can think of that’s delicious and fun. I’m approximately 99% sure I’m going to pass away from lack of bacon, seeing as it has only been two days and it’s already all I can think about. Especially while I’m busy burning quinoa and trying to figure out how to cook a chicken breast.

The Rhino is “supporting but not participating,” as he enjoys the aforementioned food and beverage items way too much to give them up (Insert Rhino comment here: “Totally! Why do you think I look so good in a white t-shirt?”). Touché.

I think we are both very nervous at what lack of grease can do to this girl’s mood but hopefully we will both make it to the end of the program. Stay tuned!

So that brings us to two days ago Sunday, during which we began the quest for the city-mandated

Commercial Kitchen
All Minneapolis food trucks are required to partner with a commercial kitchen, which doesn’t sound that difficult until you realize that there are like 20 food trucks and like 2 commercial kitchens. Yikes. We’ve been on the search for awhile before narrowing the pool to two equally magnificent commercial kitchen options:

(1) Kitchen in the Market
On Sunday, the Rhino and I ventured into unknown territory, a.k.a. Midtown Global Market. We were there to meet with the charming Molly who runs Kitchen in the Market, a wicked cool commercial kitchen smack dab in the middle of all the market glory. (If you haven’t been to the Midtown Global Market, I’d suggest going immediately. It’s the bomb. Even despite one particular woman who, every time she saw me, asked me if I was Kimberly. Um, no. But if you keep asking me, I might suddenly decide that I AM Kimberly. Oooh, what now?!)

So we got to tour the kitchen and all its slamazingness. Afterwards, we calculated the distance (7 miles) and time (20-ish minutes but we made all the green lights) between the kitchen and our storage facility. Not bad, not bad!

We were so excited that the Rhino took yours truly to JJ’s Clubhouse for a ”Katie’s last meal before her program” feast of Bloody Mary’s, sandos*, and Cajun fries.
*sando (noun): sandwich

(2) Kindred Kitchen
Last night, we met with the adorable Terese at the Kindred Kitchen. Kindred Kitchen is our second commercial kitchen option in Minneapolis and specifically supports new foodies trying to get their businesses off the ground. The Kitchen also offers a workshop series where you can learn about everything from writing a business plan to marketing strategy to Quickbooks. Dope! It is also conveniently located just 1.9 miles from our new storage facility! And across the street from a cookie shop! Go Team Rhino! We also got to meet other aspiring foodies including a chutney enthusiast, a baker, and a pasta maker. Three cheers for foodies!

It will be very tough to decide which kitchen to go with and we only have until the end of the week… because of some very best news, which I have saved for last!

Some Very Best News
As I was leaving work yesterday and walking through the parking lot to my car, I got a call from the Rhino. Here is a 100% accurate transcript of our conversation:

Phone: “Ring ring!”
Me: “Hello?”
Rhino: “Hi honey.”
Me: “Who dis?”
Rhino: “It’s Ryan.”
Me: “Oh, hi honey!’
Rhino: <Rolls eyes> “Do you want to hear some good news?”
Rhino: “Well… I just got off the phone with the bank…”
Me: Heart rate increases from 90bpm to 110bpm
Rhino: <Pause>
Me: “AND?!?!?!”
Rhino: “They said the paperwork was approved!!”
Me: (not exaggerating): Drop everything I am holding into a parking lot snow puddle (this includes: purse, lunch bag, laptop bag, high heels, water bottle) and start screaming as loud as my vocal cords allow. Then I kick up my heels and do a little jig.
Rhino: lol, lol.
Me: “Eeek! Eeek!”

So, for those of you who have been following our story, we were scheduled to close on our loan in December. Well, it is not December anymore and we have yet to close on our loan. Some “at-least-60-days-or-maybe-more” paperwork approval process came into play, and the Rhino and I have been sitting on edge for 6 weeks now, hoping and praying for the approval. Now we have it! Early! You know what that means…. BLOOMY’S IS BACK IN ACTION BABY!!

That’s all I got, for now. I wish I could say that I was off to pop open a celebratory bottle of wine but… water will have to suffice for this roast beef lover. At least for now.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter Break & A Homeless Bloomy

As an end-of-year treat and so we wouldn’t lose our “use it or fuhgeddaboudit” PTO days, the Rhino and I decided to take the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s off of work (day job work, that is). This means that we had ten whole days where we really didn’t have to do anything except dream about Bloomy’s and the day when we wouldn’t have to live in cubicles anymore. I was super excited as you can imagine, since this meant a break from the following things:

1. Uncomfortable work clothes
2. Alarm clock
3. Hair dryer/static machine
4. Driving
5. High heels
6. Going outside

It also meant that we could sit on the couch in our pajamas and eat pie and pistachio pudding bars like tomorrow would never come. But, it did, and now we're left wondering how every single pair of pants we own managed to shrink so much in just one week. I blame the dryer.

The day before we were scheduled to return to our exciting* day jobs, we decided to put on some normal clothes, venture outside, and move Bloomy1 from Rhino’s mom’s yard to the parking lot of
Chameleon Concessions. As you may remember, Mark Palm from Chameleon is the wonderbrain behind our food truck makeover, and he was just about ready to get started on transforming Bloomy1 from empty boring truck shell to slamazing diner on wheels.

*not exciting at all.

I was looking forward to visiting Bloomy1, seeing as it is the closest thing that the Rhino and I have to a pet and I had started to miss its crappy white paint job. You can imagine my terror and devastation when the Rhino went to turn it on and IT WOULDN’T START!!! I was on the verge of having a whack attack, but the Rhino’s Mom calmed me down by reminding me that it had been sitting in the cold yard for several weeks and just needed some TLC. She was right, as Moms always are, and the hand-off to Mark was a complete success. We are proud to say that our vehicle-pet is now undergoing a deep cleaning and complete transformation that we will document via pictures in this very blog.

Anyway, the next day was the dreaded end to our PTO dream holiday staycation. I had to force myself to act like a grown up instead of pitching my alarm clock through the window and throwing a small* whack attack like I wanted to. I did attempt to wake the Rhino up with my sobs, but he just rolled over and put the pillow over his head. I proceeded to drag myself to cubicle home-away-from-home where it took about two hours for my stress to reach pre-holiday levels. At least my pants fit again.

So now that it’s officially 2012, it’s also officially the YEAR of BLOOMY’S (if the world doesn’t end, which would be really lame). Already during this year, the YEAR of BLOOMY’S, Rhino & I have done the following things:

1. Scheduled the pre-launch sponsor celebration event!!!
2. Started interviewing for our very important
Food Truck Manager position
3. Scheduled a visit to the super huge Sysco Test Kitchen a.k.a. heaven on earth
4. Conducted an intense prayer/law of attraction session during which we begged & pleaded that our bank loan would close by February 1. The results of this session are still TBD.
5. Found out that the home we had lined up for Bloomy1 is going out of business, which left us with a great sadness in our heart and a big white homeless truck. Wonderful.
6. Transferred the title from the previous castle-dwelling owner to us regular house folk (see below for the ridiculous “I can’t believe this actually just happened” details)

So here we begin the tale of the:

Ridiculous Title Transferring Debacle
The Rhino and I were looking forward to transferring the title for Blooomy1 so we could become the official owners, and also because it’s the law. I had just gotten a fix-it-or-else-you're-gonna-get-a-ticket for not having my address changed on my license, so I really didn’t want to break the law again so soon. We decided to meet up over lunch to drive to the DMV and conduct the very easy title transfer. Remember that we have allotted one hour for this very simple and not-complex-at-all errand. Here is a synopsis of what ensued:

·  KJ arrives at Excelsior DMV and reads the large and prominent sign that reads “CASH OR CHECK ONLY”
·  Calls the Rhino and politely asks if he happens to have approximately $600 in cash in his wallet. He checks his wallet and says that he has about $4.
·  Rhino picks up KJ and they drive to Wayzata Anchor Bank to get a cashier’s check (government requires paper trails, which we are getting very good at leaving.). On the way, we realize:
·  We don’t know how much to get the cashier’s check for.

· We arrive at the Wayzata DMV and wait in line for approximately three minutes. The nice lady types out a receipt for how much the transfer will cost.

· Rhino & KJ arrive at the bank and get the cashier’s check.

· Back at the DMV, Rhino & KJ successfully complete the transfer and go to Chipotle for some burritos to celebrate.

·  We breathe a collective sigh of relief. That wasn’t too bad!
·  Wait for it…
·  Wait for it…

The next day:

·  Rhino realizes that we transferred the title into our individual names instead of into the business. KJ has whack attack.
·  Bank confirms that title needs to be in Bloomy’s name.
·  KJ calls DMV and learns that she needs to obtain elusive IRC code to avoid paying sales tax twice. She learns that:
· No one seems to know what an IRC code is or how to get it. A mystery solving operation begins and lasts several days.

Several days later:
· KJ goes back to DMV to expedite the original title which otherwise would have taken 3-4 months to get back. Cost: $20

3-5 days later:
· KJ gets title in the mail. She goes back to DMV and realizes Rhino hasn’t signed the title.

That night:
·   KJ watches while Rhino signs the title

The next day:
·  KJ goes back to DMV and successfully transfers the title! Yes! Except…
·   Once I get back to work, I realize that I didn’t put the bank on as a lien holder and have to break speeding laws (sorry) to get back to the DMV before they close.
· KJ doesn’t tell Rhino about this until everything is fixed. He says thank you.

So, a one hour very simple errand has turned into a three-week mega-fiasco. Good job! Apparently, 10 days of couch sitting has not only shrunk all of my pants but has also made my brain a little mushy. No biggie. I’ve started taking Ginko Biloba and am almost back to normal. Let’s hope this is not indicative of how the YEAR of BLOOMY’S will transpire.

However and without further ado, it is now time to spill the beans on our latest and greatest creative project:

The Bloomy’s National Television Project Debut:

I wasn’t going to say anything about our project as I didn’t want to ruin the surprise or jinx the Bloomy’s marketing team, but then I figured a bit of positive energy from peeps wouldn’t hurt. So, here we go.

As you know, the Bloomy’s marketing team is comprised of our awesomesauce Creative Director, Jamie D, and yours truly. As you also may know, Bloomy’s has done a pretty solid job so far of getting some interest from the press. In true ambition, we decided to go for more. More as in national. National as in national network television.

So I started thinking… how does one get the attention of a national network television show such as the
Food Network or the Cooking Channel? Phone call? Even I would hang up on myself. E-mail? Easy delete. Carefully handwritten and subtly perfumed letter? Passé. That left just one cool and solidly popular medium: YouTube. Home of Justin Bieber and the Honey Badger. Bring it on.

I was nervous about making another video for a few reasons, such as:

1. The fact that video making does not agree with the Rhino or me and results in several severe dagger eye death stare matches.
3. We can’t ever remember our lines.
2. HD video makes my lips disappear and my hillbilly tooth become more prominent.
3. I had recently self-cut* my bangs slightly too short and the result was similar to what happens when a six year old discovers a pair of safety scissors.  

*cost control

In any case, we invited Jamie D over to assist with the shoot, and she calmly fixed all of the above using relationship counseling techniques, script highlighter and interesting topic prompting questions, really bright lipstick, and wicked eye makeup (I assume to distract from the bangs). Jamie D then proceeded to whip out some sneaky Steven Spielberg moves and, before we knew it, we had over half our video recorded. We all still liked each other too.

So we’re half done with the video and hopefully will have that uploaded and ready to leave the show-deciders so wowed they will immediately want to give us a few moments of screen time. Ready… go!

That’s all I’ve got so far. I’m off to freak out about the realization I just had that we’re launching in just three short months and our food truck still looks like this:

Well, at least it will be an interesting ride. See ya next time!