I can`’t recall when was the last time I wrote blogs about my Chinese restaurant of Cuisine AuntDai and sure, the time has wings, fast ones.
I did keep writing a lot of blogs in Chinese and if you read Chinese and are interested with my real experience of running a Chinese restaurant from far, by far I mean, not physically in the restaurant, please visit the website www.firstcrab.com to read the blogs.
From Feb 5th 2014, we opened our restaurant for the first time, too many things are worth remembering for life. The unbearable mental tormenting of seeing very few customer at the beginning of this business journey, seeing absolute no clear future. Then Montreal Gazette newspaper wrote a really nice review piece on their July 5th 2014 weekend edition claiming Cuisine AuntDai as Chinese restaurant version 2.0, I really admire the author`s creativity on this since I am an IT engineer, we do like giving everything a version number.
From the time point of this Gazette newspaper review, we were starting to break even and we saw some light at the end of the tunnel. From the very beginning, I held the belief of that with all my intelligence power and soft skills, I should be able to create a Chinese restaurant which can make customers happy, a Chinese restaurant carrying a good reputation and can last longer time way passing my retirement. Most of all, I want to have a Chinese restaurant that people really like, that`s the original dream, day time dream.
We worked hard and were really lucky, at the end of March 2015, CTV news audience voted Cuisine AuntDai as the number one best Chinese restaurant in Montreal. From the evening this news was aired on CTV news, customers were just pouring in and the phone kept ringing for the whole night. We’ve never seen so many customers in our small restaurant and for sure our staff in the kitchen were overwhelmed. To be honest, we made a huge mistake here. We did not have the man power to handle this MANY customers and when the business (or the money) was right in front of our eyes, we just could not move our eyes away from it and we kept overworking our kitchen and did NOT limit the available seats to reduce the numbers of customers which should have been the right move from hindsight. During that one month, we had so many customers coming and leaving without satisfaction. With the staff we had at that time we simply could not handle that amount of customers and we did not know how to manage that situation. Clearly, I did NOT know how to take this golden opportunity to push our restaurant to another level, at last, I do admit I lack that kind of business IQ and vision, we all learn from mistakes and grow as we age.
The kitchen was a total mess during that period of time and customers were no longer happy with us and we paused a little bit and regrouped to focus on the quality and staff training and with the increased customer base, we won back a lot of customers and have one foot on the firm ground.
For the majority of year 2016, we were doing well and a lot of customers liked us. It’s like on cruise control for a little bit time. Even we are a small Chinese restaurant on Cote-des-Neiges street, we got good reviews everywhere, Yelp, tripadvisor, Facebook, Google maps. Everything looked fine except the physical condition of the restaurant. The restaurant I took over was in a rundown building and there is no way the landlord would invest money to improve the building. You got do with whatever you have, I told my staff to make a nice room even it means to we need to do a lot more. If you have visited our restaurant before April 2017, you would tell the dining room was clean but really modestly decorated which was the nice way of our customers saying the place looked cheap. But with all the daily improvement and we saved some budget for complete makeover in year 2017.
Now if you come to Cuisine AuntDai on Cote-des-Neiges, it’s a nice cozy restaurant.
I will save the makeover for another blog since it’s really late in the night, I need to get some sleep.
See you next time. please check our website for all the information.