We are six months old. What a whirlwind! Yet, it seems like this has been the longest year of my life! April seems like a lifetime ago and I mostly want to take a 56-hour nap.
Noel and I are thrilled with the response to our concept and space known as The Burley Market. It truly is a unique place with terrific ambiance and I love creating my little corner of happiness. We originally wanted a market with a little café that offered a simple, made from scratch menu utilizing as many local ingredients as possible. We quickly learned that Cynthiana was HUNGRY for different food, appreciated the fresh, quality ingredients, and wanted an inviting breakfast and lunch spot. My idea of a market with a little café suddenly became a full restaurant with a little market!
We knew this venture would be A LOT of work. The hours are relentless. When we’re closed, we are still working. We’re always working! We are learning to be more efficient and getting smarter with resources- every small business owner’s learning curve when embarking upon a new industry.
Our family and support team is phenomenal! My mother has washed dishes, grocery shopped, run errands, served food and scrubbed windows. My brother has served as tech support, security camera maintenance guy, organizer, and demolition crew when we had to add a few new plugs in the wall! My dad has built walls, storage shelving, made emergency runs for crackers….the list goes on. I’m also pretty sure that every member of Noel’s family has helped with cinnamon rolls in the middle of the night. A few of them seem to be just fine trading out labor for crème brulee!
While we knew they were delicious, we had no clue that our family cinnamon roll recipe would be so popular.
As of this very minute, we’ve sold 5,578 Cyn City Cinnamon Rolls In fact, we’ve sold so many cinnamon rolls in the Burley kitchen, that we had to upgrade to larger convection ovens four months after opening and even baked at a professional bakery to keep up with the demand. We’ve had people drive from an hour away just to eat a Cyn City Cinnamon Roll! We’ve provided cinnamon rolls for bridal parties on their wedding day and have been the featured dessert at wedding receptions at local venues! Who knows what is next for these giant, deliciously sinful treats!
Soon, we’re going to gather our entire staff in our tiny kitchen and take a picture. It really puts it into perspective when you see us piled in there. Our kitchen is soooooo t-i-n-y. It is in use nearly 21 hours each day because we must rotate our baking schedule when the kitchen isn’t in use during business hours….because we can’t cook, bake, and take orders at the same time! Magic happens in that tiny kitchen.
We’ve had a ball creating stellar craft cocktails, hosting wine events, and we’re ecstatic about the bourbon scene developing in our space. Upon launching The Cynthiana Bourbon Society, we’ve had three major distilleries present monthly tastings and many glencairn glasses have been filled with top shelf bourbons at The Burley Market.
Oh, and we’ve sold several hundred ALE8 Bourbon slushes. Kentucky sure does know how to fill up a glass of deliciousness!
These six months haven’t been all fun and games. We’ve learned many things the hard way. We’ve made bad purchases on equipment that didn’t last, requiring expensive repairs and sometimes replacement. We’ve been hit with five basement floods that we now know were caused by a water main leak that eventually burst the pipe. We’ve learned that marriage and running a food establishment is tough stuff. The same goes for parenting. Like many other food establishments, it’s taken time to develop a core team of dependable staff members. We’ve hit some home runs and we’ve struck out on some of our evening concepts. We’ve had staff changes at inconvenient times that caused a lot of stress. But we keep on going, trying to make it work for us, our family, and our guests.
Some decisions aren’t popular, but necessary. Changing our hours over the summer to close early and closing on Mondays was completely a numbers game. Numbers don’t lie and if the sales aren’t there to support those hours, hard decisions have to be made so that the business can survive.
Though not many, some folks have commented on our higher pricing. We had to make a decision. We could either buy the cheapest ingredients and sell items for less or we could select the best ingredients and charge more for great food and high quality. We decided on higher quality over lower pricing. We hope our guests understand because we value healthier ingredients, locally-grown goods, and actual COOKING that costs more labor than the heat and serve meals other restaurants offer. We run specials and discounts to help offset some of those prices from time to time. Again, some decisions aren’t popular, but some of those unpopular decisions are part of what makes The Burley Market special.
Success is defined in a variety of ways. For us, finding balance with family, offering Cynthiana a unique and beautiful space, and owning a financially secure business is the biggest success—an we haven’t achieved that yet. Balancing the business and family time is a struggle in itself. Doing so while parenting a special needs child is another and it has been difficult. We’re working on it!
Success is also contentment and happiness with what you are doing. Hauling gallons of water out of the basement, moving heavy equipment, and addressing old building issues that interfere with business don’t always evoke those feel good emotions. But overall, I’d say we’re at a good 8 out 10 on the happiness scale! It’s a joy to come into this old building every day and see life breathing through her again.
Lastly, success is financial security. That’s to be determined and it’s going to take many months to figure that one out. Cynthiana is a tough market. She is transforming and we hope to be a part of that change for the long haul.
We’re excited about some upcoming changes and improvements we are making to the space and our services…..but you must wait a few more days before we reveal what awaits. Thank you so much for your support, cheering us on, sipping and eating at our tables, and telling others about The Burley Market. YOU are the best part of the business world and serving you at The Burley Market these past months has been an honor.