We must write a special thank you to Steven Leeds of Smoke Ribs, Not Crack (yes, that’s the name of the blog) for the latest Schnitz write-up. We met via a mutual friend Stav Vaisman so we thank Stav for the connection. Steve first tried Schnitz at Hester Nights and immediately fell in love.
The Smoke Ribs Not Crack website looks fabulous. Go check it out for some food humor, recipes, reviews, and the one of a kind foodcasts. We hope to work more with Steve in the future as we develop the menu further (more on that to come soon!) His take on the food world is fresh and lively. I believe there are great synergies between our brands.
Click here to see the posting. The Schnitz photos look great!
Since September 2011, Schnitz has been a Citibank client. As a small business, we opened a commercial bank account. Being new to the retail business world, it was very interesting to learn about the different fees that banks charge businesses. It’s very different from the personal banking that we are all accustomed to. Below are some terms that we have for Citibank.
- Up to 200 monthly transactions
- Up to $5000 in monthly cash deposits
- $19 monthly maintenance fee
Schnitz has extremely simple banking needs. We don’t require any merchant processing services to handle credit card transactions because we do all of that with Square (who by the way is revolutionizing Point of Sale systems). All we need is a place to make weekly cash deposits and a debit card to purchase weekly materials and supplies.
After reconciling our bank account in quickbooks over the past few months, we’ve noticed two things:
- monthly service charges are quite high (~$30/month)
- the Citibank online banking system is HORRENDOUS.
Citibank requires four pieces of information to login plus we have to carry around a token that displays random numbers every 5 minutes that are needed for login. I understand this may be considered a high level of security but it’s completely unneccessary. We really don’t have much to hide in our bank account and a simple username and password will do just fine. Second, the user experience is extremely poor. It takes about 8 clicks to get to a list of recent transactions! It also prompts to log me out every 5 minutes. Even if I indicate that I want to stay logged in, it still signs me out sometimes. This can be very frustrating when you’re trying to go through weeks of transactions.
We’re now planning to move over to Bank of America in the next couple weeks. While B of A, like most banks, may not have the best reputation, it does have a nice online banking system. A couple of us at Schnitz have used it for our personal accounts and it’s the same experience on the business side. They have a great mobile app as well. There is also no monthly maintenance fee as long as you complete one debit card transaction a month… that’ll be easy. The only charges we’ll receive are on cash deposits of over $5000/month which will happen but it’s not so bad. Let us know if you have any other tips. We’ll all be meeting at the bank soon to sign signature cards and get debit cards.
In today’s virtual and hyper social world, it’s not enough to simply deliver fresh food and run an efficient food operation. You have to constantly create content and points of engagement for your customers to interact with your brand and get to know the company. Schnitz has been able bootstrap the delivery of content over the past 12 weeks since the warm weather arrived. You can see our recent videos on ABC’s The Chew and I’m In the Kitchen. Video content is the wave of the future now that people can stream to their phones but it’s still somewhat expensive to create professional material. We’ve been fortunate for the last two videos and we’re lucky to have been blessed with another from Rebecca Yale of Rebecca Yale Photography. She stopped by the Smorgasburg a couple weeks ago and was inspired to snap photos and shoot some video which she has edited into a complete piece below. Thanks so much Rebecca!
It takes A LOT to make Schnitz happen, well it takes a lot to make GOOD schnitz happen and I want to take a quick moment to get a little sentimental about my little bro: Yoni :)
I am so proud to have such an amazing brother and business partner and we are doing three markets because of his unrelenting devotion to this business. He runs around like a crazy person for the better part of each week to make sure our kitchen is stocked, our uhauls are booked, our staff is ready to go, our fryer is fixed, our chicken and bread are scheduled etc. etc. and etc.
So not to get TOOOOO wound up, let me wrap up by saying thank you, Yoni! You are the most hard working man in show..schnitz!
I’m In The Kitchen Covers Schnitz!
We recently received some phenomenal coverage from I’m In The Kitchen. Check out the beautifully edited video below. You’ll get to see some behind the scenes footage of the prepartation that goes into Schnitz each week.
IITK is a real-time information community custom tailored for chefs and food enthusiasts. They have a beautiful website and are publishing some great content about chefs and restaurants. I recommend everyone take a look. Click here to see a video about IITK.
About a month ago we wrote about Mario Batali visiting Smorgasburg and paying us a special visit with his camera crew. We then heard from the producers for ABC’s show, The Chew, that we’ll be included in a special segment on the Smorgasburg food market. We were invited to the airing where they showed our sandwich on the set. It also happened to be one of the craziest days in our company’s history.
We’re proud to announce that the episode officially aired on Monday afternoon and below is a link to the video where you can see Mario’s visit to Smorgasburg.
Yoni gives a great description of the Bamberg and you’ll then see Donna and Yoni in the audience at the end of the clip. We hope you enjoy the video. It was a special moment for us.
[We apologize for not giving everyone advance notice. We were originally told it would air Friday, June 22.]
Yes, it’s here…..the new Schnitz Wesbite:
www.schnitznyc.com - CLICK TO CHECK IT OUT!
For the past 8 months, we’ve been using Launchrock which is a service that let’s people design splash pages by leveraging high resolution photos. Our menu and business has developed and we’ve outgrown our splash page. No longer are we in a “Coming Soon” phase. We’re alive and well and we needed to have a more robust website.
Over the last week we’ve been experimenting with a couple of different layouts and we’re happy with what we’ve launched. The homepage maximizes a lot of the content that we want visitors to see without having to scroll or click. Our locations, a nice splash photo, our twitter feed (where we are very active) and navigation bar are all easily accessible the minute you hit the site. The challenge in building a website, and more specifically a homepage, is including as much information on the top half of the screen (or what they call “above the fold”) yet still giving a clean and uncluttered design. The key things we want to highlight are our locations which is important for us as we’re a mobile business and people want to know where we are on any given day; our social activity which is something we emphasize; and our style which is where the splash photo comes in.
We used a service called Wix to design and develop the site and I highly recommend it. It’s a website creation tool that can be used by non-programmers, which means you don’t need to know HTML code. You may need to watch a couple of video tutorials to tie up some loose ends but for the most part its very straight forward. Other similar tools are Yola, Weebly and Moonfruit. These services typically come with beautiful templates which have been created by professional designers. You may still want to consult with a designer for advice but for $8.50/month, you can go live with an extremely professional website in a matter of days! Ah, the power of technology.
The site is in HTML5 so it should be viewable on your mobile phone without any issues. It’s also rather easy to update the content which is extremely important. We want to be able to implement new ideas and update the site with new press or media coverage.
If you have any suggestions or questions, please comment or email us. We’re all ears!
My Fellow Schnitzers,
Another week in the books and yet another important lesson learned. As has been well documented in this space, Schnitz has certainly been riding a wave of good press as well as high praise from our customers and supporters. In addition to the write-ups and interviews we have done recently, our sales have also been quite good. Smorgasburg in particular has been very steady for us. Even on a cloudy day, the foodies over in Williamsburg make it out to the water to get their fix. Hester has been so much fun and awesome, barring any rain we are always poised to kick some ass even with the shorter time span (4-9pm). We at Schnitz obviously pride ourselves in being one of the freshest, most delicious and efficient stands at any market we are involved in. We do this by working our asses off every week. It’s that simple. We never take short cuts, and we never settle. The only factor that is entirely out of our grasp is the weather.
This past week, both Thursday and Saturday brought some erratic weather. There were some sprinkles over at Hester during the beginning of the event, which also happens to be the same time most midtown workers are set to go home. Saturday was generally gloomy and showered us for a good twenty minutes. Neither days featured torrential downpours, but were enough to make an impact on potential visitors. Being in the trenches, I sometimes get frustrated on these types of days when business is slow. This is completely unfair. The logic here is fairly easy to understand; no one wants to stand outside and eat food in the rain.
Such is the business that we have chosen. Right now, Schnitz’ livelihood relies entirely on weather and we must plan accordingly on a week to week basis. Some weeks the weather looks utterly spectacular throwing our plans into overdrive as we prepare to break our previous gross record only to be greeted with rain in the morning. Other times, it’s the exact opposite; we are cautionary not to overspend due to impending thunder storms only to see sunshine throughout the day. While the latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it usually results in us selling out too early thus leaving some cash on the table. Nevertheless we continue to make the necessary adjustments every week and fine tune the operation as much as we can to make our product and customer experience the best it can possibly be. The key to our success has not only been to roll with the punches but to never grow complacent and never stop improving. No matter what the weather looks like, you can bet your ass we will be out there.
It also makes me feel better that this Thursday and Saturday look like Pleasantville type days…hope I didn’t just jinx it!
A lot has happened since we last spoke. The past week has felt like a real leap forward for Schnitz and I couldn’t be any prouder of all the good ol’ fashioned hard work we’ve put forth to get here. It hasn’t been easy and there is still plenty more to come, but in the next few paragraphs I’d like to take a minute and update our loyal supporters. As many of our readers know, Schnitz has seen an astonishing level of press recently. It all started several weeks ago when Mario Batali graced us with his jubilant presence at Smorgasburg. We knew then that we had to parlay his tweet into something bigger, and that ABC was planning on using the footage they shot of our booth in some way on “The Chew”. Things were certainly on the horizon, but nothing could have prepared us for the news we received last Wednesday.
Waking up that morning, I received a text from my girlfriend, Angelina, that seemed strange; “Hester?? You’ve got some scrambling to do…” Curious, I grabbed my phone and saw no emails from anyone at Hester Street Fair’s camp regarding our application status for their new “Night Market” we so eagerly awaited. I then checked their website which made my jaw drop. There it was, on their official vendor lineup for the grand opening of Hester Nights, “Schnitz”. Oh boy. My next move was to call Donna and see if she knew anything. She didn’t. A few minutes later she calls me back, her tone was way more desperate. “Yoni, holy shit. I just saw that I got an email from Jane at 3am, a vendor cancelled last minute and we’re in!!”
A logistical nightmare began to take shape. How on Earth can we pull this off? Less than 24 hours’ notice, kitchen is NOT stocked, and we have no commitments from any friends or workers to help us. I started the day thinking of ways to gently tell Hester that while we are more than thrilled to be participating, we may not make it for opening day. At this point I figured they’d understand and hopefully we can lock down the spot for next week, and maybe the rest of the season. Then the next big email dropped in.
As it turns out, ABC’s “The Chew” had been working on the footage they shot of us (and several other vendors) for a segment that will be part of their summer fun program. They want us to prepare 5 Bamberg sandwiches for the hosts to eat on the show after they show the segment on Smorgasburg. The episode is set to air on June 22nd, but the taping was for the next day. Yea, same day as our supposed premier at Hester Nights! The proverbial shit had hit the fan…quickly. I had no choice but to leave my day job early and run over to our kitchen space to begin prepping the sandwiches for ABC. All the while, we awaited a response from Hester regarding whether or not we could start the following week. Then at around 4pm, just as I had finished putting together a cooler of the mise en place for “The Chew” hosts, they gave us their response.
Being that it is their grand opening night, Hester is expecting a lot of press to show up and an empty booth is simply not an option. Jane, the organizer, made this point very clear. Even if we could simply throw something together that would be fine, the main issue is that we show up. We now had no choice but to start clambering everything together. On top of this, Donna and I were scheduled to arrive at ABC studios on 67th street the next morning at 7am. Needless to say, I had a long night ahead of me. We decided to just offer Bamberg at Hester so I headed to Trader Joe’s (which ain’t that cheap!) for all the veggies and dairy we would need to prep that night. Due to how late in the day it was, bread and chicken would have to wait until the next day. I sent our sales reps over at London Meat and TomCat bakery an emergency email notifying them of our predicament. Then I crossed my fingers.
The next morning I picked up Donna at the ass crack of dawn and we headed to Long Island City to pick up some fresh pretzel bread for “The Chew”. Batali must NOT have crusty bread! As we pulled up to the side entrance of ABC, iron chef Michael Symon was just finishing his morning cigarette. Donna and I exchanged looks of excitement, “here we are!!” Once we found parking, Donna and I were greeted by associate producer, Dan Aldworth (aka the sweetest man in the world). Dan escorted us through the set and into the kitchen where Donna and I would explain the sandwich assembly in detail to their kitchen staff. Once they had been given the run down, Dan brought us to our seats where the Bon Chovie team was already hanging out. It was then when we learned that of all the vendors Mario Batali visited, they chose only three to feature on this segment; Schnitz, Mighty Quinn’s, and Bon Chovie. This morning, we were rock stars. Surrounded by some of the most talented culinary minds in the world and it’s us they want to talk about! Before the audience began filing in, the producers played the video of the Smorgasburg segment for us as a sneak peek. I’m not gonna give anything away because you all better have your DVRs set, but it was nothing short of awesome! Chef Batali describes the markets and their spirit in such perfection it nearly gave me goose bumps. They show our booth, some of my interaction with the iron chef and of course the sandwiches. We are more than pleased with the way it came out, but the entire segment was genuine, tasteful and conveys exactly what these markets are trying to accomplish.
After the taping of the actual show (and some dancing with Carla Hall), we left the studio on an absolute high. Both Donna and I had huge smiles on our faces as we walked over to the car. However this moment of sheer joy was quickly replaced by worry once we headed over to London Meats. I didn’t have to time to call ahead so we had to bite the bullet and just show up. Hopefully they will still have some boned out thighs for us! On the way over I got a phone call from Jamie, our sales rep at TomCat, with some great news; they have some extra pretzel dough left and can fill most of my order for Hester Nights! Phew! Now all that is left is chicken. Donna managed to get a couple of our prep guys to come meet me at the kitchen to pound the chicken and then head straight over to Manhattan to set up for the night market. We now had only 2 hours.
Even the good vibes I had gotten from our taping at ABC couldn’t bring my nerves down. We managed to find the last box of boned out thighs London Meats had to offer and sped all the way to Greenpoint with them. I had the guys (DVD and Angel) pounding it as fast as they could while I started to load the car. The minutes kept ticking away and I was feeling the pressure now. Even with the torrential downpour consuming the entire city, we kept pushing forward. It is now 1:15pm, chicken is pounded and tender, bread has arrived nice and fresh, sauces and pickles are also loaded and ready to go. As soon as I clapped my hands together in my patented “here we go!” fashion, my phone buzzes. It’s Donna. I can already tell that something is up before I slide my finger across the screen to read the text; “They cancelled!!!”
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt a small wave of relief. Yes, I had just sacrificed sleep, money, and sufficiently pestered all of my vendors but it was at this moment that I could finally stop moving and breathe a bit. We unloaded everything, cleaned up and I bought the guys some pizza (the perks!) for all their hard work. That evening, after I had settled everything, I called Donna and asked, “Did that day really just happen?”