I’m pleased to announce that Schnitz has received its first bit of media attention! A special thanks to Molly Yeh for writing a phenomenal post on the Forward’s blog, the Jew and the Carrot. The link is below for everyone to check out.
As we approach the date of our launch into the food markets, we are working hard to finalize the product we’re going to introduce. Our plan has always been to offer both a platter and a sandwich option. While we believe the platter will be more appealing and popular at a storefront, we have decided to finalize our sandwich option first. The environment at the food markets is very casual and most are picking up food and walking around. This type of setting is a lot more conducive to a sandwich. Most of the vendors offer finger food or items that can be consumed while standing. The platter may work but requiring customers to find a flat surface in order to use a fork and knife is a deterrent we want to avoid in the early stages.
This past weekend we held two tastings sessions for diverse focus groups to try the sandwich options. Below you will see a sample of the comment card we distributed for people to leave us feedback.
This was our first time hosting a tasting and we learned a lot! Fortunately, thanks to our chef Jordy, we were able to use the kitchen and dining space of a restaurant called Hachi which has not yet opened. I talked here about finding commercial kitchen space and you would have to look into one of these options for tastings and preparation. Hachi was actually the perfect setting to hold a tasting. We had place settings on the bar for our 9 guests each day (Saturday and Sunday) including tall glasses of ice water and lemon wedges for the schnitzel. Donna, Yoni and I arrived on site at about 10AM to begin learning with Jordy how to prepare the menu. Our goal is not only to get crucial feedback during this process but to ensure the product is simple to create.
During the first tasting we revealed the individual components of the sandwich first. So the participants got to rate chicken schnitzel with 2 different breadings, then 2 pickeled sides and 4 sauces (a final post on our menu to come soon). At the end we brought out two sandwiches with a combination of schnitzel, pickeled side, sauce and bread. After the first session, we went through all of the feedback and realized that it was difficult for people to discern what they were eating and what they liked in each sandwich because the ingredients they tasted individually at first were much different when combined in a sandwich. For this reason, we altered the format of the Sunday tasting to start the participants with three sandwich options (we figure its better to show more since this is really what we’re trying to perfect) and then taste the components of the sandwich individually. This way the participants can enjoy the sandwich as a whole and afterwards pick out the ingredients they liked/disliked and what components they’d like to see more or less of.
For our final tasting before the Hester Street fair on September 17th, we need to work on a few areas further:
- Improve the ratio of ingredients in the sandwich. A few of the participants complained about too much bread.
- Trial the entire sandwich eating experience. Does the sandwich hold together well? Does it drip? Is it filling? Does every bite have a consistent amount of ingredients?
- Trial more sandwich combinations and get more feedback. It’s important to see what people like about each sandwich.
If you’re interested in participating in our final tasting on Sunday, September 11, please e-mail email@example.com!
We are happy to release some exciting news today. We were officially accepted into the Hester Street Fair and will be launching Schnitz to the general public for the first time on Saturday, September 17! We’re extremely excited and absolutely cannot wait to show New York what we’ve been working on. The application process for the Hester Street Fair is pretty simple. We filled out the application here and waited for a response. In general the fairs are looking for the following criteria: Experience or connection to a restaurant business; Food handler’s license; Poof of commercial kitchen space (which we talked about here) so they know you’re not making food in your kitchen and bringing it over to the fair like a bake sale; And an interesting concept We were able to fulfill the loose requirements pretty easily as all three of us (especially Donna and Yoni) have restaurant working experience, Donna has a food handler’s license (Yoni and I are getting one too), proof of commericial kitchen is being done through Mark burger (more details on this to come), and of course, the concept is intriguing. :-) There is a lot to do before September 17th, most importantly finalizing the product. We will be hosting a couple of focus groups/tastings where a few select individuals will get the opportunity to sample the schnitzel and provide us with critical feedback on the menu we’ve been developing. We will be sending out a newsletter and registration form for those of you who would like to request to attend the tasting on Sunday, September 11. There will be a lot more details about how we conduct the tastings as well as our findings. Also, in the coming weeks I will be posting information about general business tasks we’ve had to complete such as: forming an LLC drafting an operating agreement selecting the appropriate insurance obtaining the proper licenses and permits Stay tuned!
The Logo Has Landed
We’ve finally put the finishing touches on our logo! We ran over 3 polls with 99designs and collected ratings and reviews from over 40 people. Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback. It means a lot to us. The three finalists received similar ratings (partially my fault for giving similar options) but after some minor touch-ups, above is the final logo!!!
The process of choosing a logo for a food business has been an interesting and mind-consuming experience. We’ve worked with two different graphic designers and received over 180 designs via the contest on 99designs. Many people have given us feedback along the way but what stood out as the most important point is: clarity. We experimented with lots of fonts and creative ideas like replacing the C of Schnitz with a lemon or replacing the dot of the i with a lemon drop but at the end of the day we don’t want to confuse people interpreting our logo. Schnitz is not always the easiest word to read and register in one’s mind. The name and spelling are unique, especially for those who are unfamiliar with schnitzel and it will certainly make people think. The last thing we want is for a potential customer to stumble as they read. Keep in mind, when Schnitz has a storefront, people need to be able to absorb the logo even as they drive by. For this reason, we chose a simple font that signals a modern, young twist on a classic food. Look at the logos forStarbucks or Chipotle. Both are super simple to read. There’s no confusion. As for the lemon wedge, well, the three of us are really into it. It’s the one thing we all love. Lemons will be served on the side of every order of schnitzel; they will be a part of our decor; and most importantly they elicit fresh and natural vibes. We want our customers to experience Schnitz and leave with a clean image in their mind and a delicious taste in their mouth. We hope this logo instills those feelings. As difficult as it is to design a logo, we will have plenty more opportunities to brand Schnitz in our storefront, food market stand, website, twitter page, and so on. So this is just the beginning!
For a start-up food business, it ain’t so easy locating an officially licensed commercial kitchen to use in developing a menu and preparing for events. We don’t have a store front so we need a place that has all the supplies at an affordable price which is not easy to do in New York City. Luckily, we are fotunate to have some resources available to us. The Thalia kitchen and Mark burger have been convenient meeting spots in the past which is how we were able to conduct our first tasting with Jordy. However, this is not the case for most restarateurs and it doesn’t really work for us either because the facilities are not available during normal hours when we need them.
So we started looking into commericial kitchen space for rent and have found a lot of interesting incubators. Incubators in the restaurant world have a mission of helping start-up food businesses grow into sustainable cash-generating companies. They run programs that let companies grow for the first 2-3 years without the cost of building and equipping their own commercial kitchen. Most start-up food enterprises begin in a home kitchen but once the final recipe is ready for the marketplace, the home kitchen becomes a liability. However, it is difficult to get the proper licensing from the state to manufacture and sell products made in a home kitchen so legally you have to find a professional kitchen.
This is where start-up incubators come in. The spaces offered by these kitchens legalize the activities of food entrepreneurs because they are professional spaces that can be inspected by insurance companies and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets. In addition, they come at affordable rates ($15-$20/hr) on a flexible time-share basis and they provide support in recipe development, product marketing and scaling your business. The spaces are typically equipped to handle most of the needs of bakers, caterers, cooks and food processors.
The following is a list of resources we are using for commercial kitchen space:
- Mi Kitchen Es Su Kitchen
- Hot Bread Kitchen
- Institute for Culinary Education (a little more expensive)
- Entrepreneur Space (partnering with Queens Economic Development Corporation and Mi Kitchen Es Su Kitchen)
- Neighborhood churches
- Senior centers
- Anywhere they have a licensed commercial kitchen!
Let us know if you have any more ideas!
Our logo contest is complete and we finished with 180 entries from over 30 unique designers in little over 10 days! We’re really pleased with our decision to crowd source the logo with 99designs. We got to see people’s different creative perspectives on our Schnitz concept. During the process, we gave feedback 56 times to help guide the designers in the right direction and we’ve narrowed it down to 3 options.
Using the link below, you are all free to rate and comment on the finalists from the winning designer SW7. We have had him/her (not sure!) prepare a few different variations. As you may have seen from the contest brief we posted about 10 days ago, our goal is to design a logo that is clean and serious yet young. All of the options have a lemon wedge resting on the side of the Z in Schnitz. We feel a lemon evokes a fresh image and its a good-looking pictorial for the logo. Of course, every schnitzel will be served with a lemon wedge on the side. Let me point out some of subtle differences while you evaluate. We would love your opinion as we fine-tune the design.
- Spacing of the letters
- The color of the lemon rind (brown vs. dark yellow vs green tint)
- Lemon drop over the ‘i’ in Schnitz (yes or no)
- Size of the lemon (bigger or smaller)
Rate them and be specific as you like in your comments. We’re going to take all things into consideration and choose a logo by the middle of next week!
Thanks in advance,
~The Schnitz team
So if you could please disregard the link to 99designs.com from our previous post. First of all, it doesn’t take you to the correct screen to vote. Second, since we have never completed a project on 99designs, we did not realize that there is a 2-week period after the contest ends where we can deliberate and poll friends, family and the Schnitz community before awarding the final winner. We’re currently in the process of narrowing down the options. We’ve been speaking privately with a few of the designers that we liked and asking them to make some adjustments before presenting to all of you. We may extend the contest one day so that the new designs can be properly submitted.
In a few more days, we’ll be posting a link on the blog as well as sending an e-mail to those who registered on our website for voting. We can’t wait to get your feedback!
Our logo design contest is ending very soon. Designs are pouring in left and right. We’ve narrowed down a bunch that we like. What do you guys think?!?!
Get a custom Logo Design at 99designs
We’re soon going to start developing the menu for the food markets. We want to try and give customers a similar experience to the future storefront. The menu, although abbreviated, will be organized in the same way:
- Choose your protein
- Choose your breadcrumbs
- Choose your side
- Choose your sauce
One glaring difference we anticipate with the food markets is that a majority of orders will mostly likely be for sandwiches whereas a brick and mortar will likely facilitate greater sales in platters. Seating at the markets is hard to come by so most vendors serve food that is friendly for eating on your feet (although the Smorgasburg is flanked by a park on either side).
The sandwich option has us thinking a lot about the BREAD! Yes, extremely important. We’re looking for a bread that’s medium-sized and soft on the inside. It shouldn’t be too doughy though because schnitzel is thin and we don’t want the bread to overpower the filling. If you’ve ever tried the banh mi sandwiches Num Pang, they’re great; a baguette style loaf that’s hard on top and super soft on the inside. I had a good friend of mine bring back a special treat from Breadzilla in Wainscott, NY. It’s a sandwich and baked good store and they serve their sandwiches on a bread called squishy bread. I took a couple of pics for you guys to see below. Its a french style loaf and the sandwiches are incredible with this bread. It holds the filling well and it melts in your mouth. In general, there are really tons of options in terms of size and style; semolina bread, rye bread, sour dough, brioche. Any suggestions??
As some of you may know its been some time since we’ve worked on the logo. We’ve consulted a couple graphic designers over the past couple months but in the end we’re going to go with our original gut feeling and we’ll use 99designs to crowd source the design! Crowdsourcing a design essentially means we’re holding a contest. The community of designers at 99designs will review our rules (requirements) and submit logos for us to review. The winning designer will get the prize money.
We started the prize at $300 for the winner. 99designs says that we can expect ~30 options to review at that price level. If we don’t like the options then we can raise our prize money to attract better designers and more options. $500 typically gets ~60 options and $700 gets ~90 options. 99designs also offers customers to pay between $90 more to move your listing to the top and highlight it. We’re going to monitor the contest over the next couple days and raise the prize money accordingly. I’ve read and heard about a lot of great experiences with 99designs. FYI, Logo Tournament is another equivalent to 99designs.
The key to running a successful contest is to provide designers with prompt feedback. As the logos are submitted, we are expected to vote them up or down and give detailed feedback. Below you can see a bit of the description we gave the designers to see. We’ll keep you posted as the contest progresses. Get ready to see some options and help us decide!
Preferred logo type: word mark, pictorial mark
We are a young, cool, start-up company with a passion for food.
This will be classic food with a modern twist.
It’s high quality food served in a casual environment.
WE’D LIKE TO USE A LEMON AS OUR PICTORIAL MARK. WE PREFER A WEDGE OR CROSS SECTION OF THE LEMON. WE WANT TO CONVEY CRISPINESS & JUICINESS.
Please note: We are not striving for a German/Viennese concept of schnitzel. This will be a modern, updated, young twist; not old world European. Our business will be primarily take-out; not sit-down.
Business Location: Manhattan, NYC
Target Demographic Age: 19-35
Target Demographic Education: college-educated