"One of the saddest lines in this world is,'Oh come now - be realistic.'

The best parts of this world...were fashioned by those who dared to look hard at their wishes and gave them horses to ride." - Richard N. Bolles (author of What Colour is Your Parachute?)


I had originally planned a different topic for this post (the first in some time!) - but it seemed just too on the nose to avoid speaking about one of the big factors that found me making time for this blog today - so I switched gears. 

Let's talk about... marrrrrketing. 

Or, somewhat more accurately, marketing in the age of social media. 

As a blog once dedicated to the books I read about food - it likely doesn't shock that I acquired a lot of business books prior to beginning C&Q. One of my favourites was written in the mid-80s (and no, not the Parachute) Sure, their examples are hilariously outdated but the advice as a general rule is sound. Except for one particular thing. The advice related to marketings suggests the following list as an example of the most important steps to a successful campaign:

1. Get some branded freebies (pens, magnets, etc. for 'promotional giveaways')

2. Take out at least a quarter page ad in the Yellow Pages

3. Purchase a list of buyers and cold-call them (use the word 'Sample' aggressively)

I'll go ahead and assume that you are sniggering at this list as much as I was. When I put together a list of my own a few months ago, it looked more like this: 

1. Design some carrybags & 'cool' flyers that double as art statements (branded freebies)

2. Make sure the website has good Google rankings

3. Build a thriving account on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter -  throw in a couple of obscure new sites (Foodstand, Frilip, Vine, Medium) - try to build relationships and surreptitiously offer samples "just for funsies" *

I'm sure that Señor Ninteen-Eighties' list was plenty difficult at the time - but it didn't require the same kind of emotional commitment that today's list does. You have to give a genuine part of yourself to Twitter in order for it to work successfully. And frankly, today's items could be subdivided into about a thousand other tiny categories that carry their own lists. Taxing doesn't cover it. Especially item #2. 

Google just doesn't make it easy for you! Nor should they, of course... The whole reason their brand is now a verb is because the results of a search seem fairly objective. Or well, the general public has at least bought into the fact that the whole google indexing/algorithm/thingamajig (mostly) only throws up appropriately applicable results. And whether it's blind trust, or the results are truly accurate, Google reigns supreme.**

I will be the first to admit that, when starting out on this journey, I held tight to the naive belief that a product of good quality would be sufficient to ensure a successful business. I won't say that I have completely changed my tune on that - but I've come to accept that a business needs more than that to survive. I use the word 'survive' deliberately... Eventually, you might thrive, but you'll need more than good products to make it to the point where good products only are sufficient. I have a fantastic example of that, by the by. Open up a new tab and do a quick google search for 'British Cheese'. Notice anything missing? Yup. Neal's Yard Dairy only shows up on the 2nd page! How about them apples?! *drops mic, walks away. 

Not all of us can be NYD though, so I've spent many weeks fiddling with html, changing domains (you might notice that we're not technically eating.literally anymore?), and using words like 'crawl', 'seo' and 'robot.txt'*** And huzzah! http://curedmeats.london is now on the 1st page! 

In the interests of helpfulness, here are the few tips I've gleaned in the process:


Get as much content as you can connected and/or pointed at your domain.

Basically, if you've got a blog (*coughs knowingly), you'll want to make as many high-quality, well-clicked posts as  you can, and make sure that the blog domain will feed into Google's read on whichever site you're focusing on

Also, yeah, some press wouldn't hurt. 

Plus, if you're proactive and snapped up more than one suffix (.com/.co.uk), those should all be feeding into one ultimate domain as well. Otherwise you're just splintering your results. 


Pay attention to what you've got down in the subtext of your site

If you aren't the web-savvy who built the site, make sure that you get thems who did to show you how to look at and adjust the index text files. These are the behind-the-curtain files that form the background of your website. Again, too fancy for this post (or my brain, frankly), but all the images you see when you bring up your url are controlled and placed via words. The internet is the truest, most opposite, expression of 'a picture is worth a 1000 words'. A load of those words can't be seen except when for when you're looking at the index text files but Google takes all of them into account when gauging your site for search results.  So you'll want to adjust the title and the meta-tags to make sure they contain all the keywords you expect people to be googling. Again, ask those savvies to show you where these live in the text file and you're good to go. 


Pretend that Google wants to help you... No, seriously. 

Well.. They kinda do! As I said, Google has a vested interest in ensuring that their search results are representative and accurate. So if they aren't including you, but they should be, they do want to know about it. And as such they have two apps that you can make pretty awesome use of. Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. The former is particularly helpful. Once you've included those words I mentioned, you can ask that Google 'crawl' your site... Which is rather as it sounds. They'll send sneaky internet spiders**** to rummage all over your site and check out the keywords. And behold... you're suddenly showing up in the searches for those words. 


And Don't Be Afraid!

It will feel extremely intimidating when you first start. You heard it here first. No puns intended, but the internet is a language onto itself. So googling "How to improve your Google results" (how meta is that?!) will most often lead you to sites earnestly helpful and just as earnestly confusing as f*ck. But push though it and some day you'll get  to be half-way down the first page rankings just like a certain successful cured meats business I know! (Also, read this. Reading always makes things better). 


NEXT TIME: I'll try and cover the other two items on my list before I update you with where we are now...



*It's beyond the scope of this particular post but I do urge you to note that if you distill each item on both lists down to their key elements - marketing hasn't really changed that much. But let's avoid looking at the man behind the curtain for the moment, shall we?

**'Course, it must be a reasonably safe assumption, because if you were forever getting recipes for delicious desserts when you typed in 3.14, or if you turned up images of Canada's majestic when you typed in mousse, Google would have long ago gone the way of Dogpile and AskJeeves. And yes, if you're curious, I googled food homonyms before I wrote that last bit. 

***Not a word. 

****Spiders crawling the web. Get it? Yeah. I agree... It's pretty creepy. But there you are. 


"I consulted with my two brothers, Dr.Reason and Dr.Experience...

and took a voyage to visit my mother Nature... and, being warned by Mr.Honesty, a stranger in our days, to publish to the world, I have done it." - Nicholas Culpeper. 

So there is this guy named Nicholas Culpeper.

Pretty active around England in the early 1600s, he was kind of the Robin Hood of medicinal herbs. Not to say that he stole the herbs from the rich, I mean it more in connection with his desire to bring medicine and pharmacology to all levels of society, and not just the wealthy and the latin-speakers*. Frankly, he was pretty reviled by the physicians of his day.  He treated the ill for free and published books actively encouraging laypeople to source their own cures from the surrounding wilds, rather than paying top-pound for a complex concoction from Dr.Bespectacled. 

Culpeper gleaned his knowledge from spending many years mucking around in the English countryside. He wrote several books cataloguing the various herbs and fungi that grew there and detailing how these native plants could (with the judicious application of astrology) be used to heal everything from excessive flatulence to an ectopic pregnancy. Not that he called it that, of course, but you get the idea. He also lent his expertise to some imported herbs from that time. But, given Culpeper's political leanings, I'm inclined to believe that he stuck to whatever was properly accessible. No point in giving a farmer the advice to soak his gouty foot in a bath of gold bullion, is there?

I was introduced to one of his books: The Complete Herbal...

Culpeper's complete herbal
What a sexpot, eh?


when I was first trying to suss out how authentic some traditional recipes I found were. "Would they really have had access to that then? What can I include in my list of 'British Spices'?" and other questions. I, and a billion other internet users, got a hold of a copy pdf-ed from the library of none other than my-once-upon-a-time neighbour: The University of Toronto. 

And I was put in mind to pull this post forward after our first market this past Saturday when I couldn't answer a question about cayenne pepper**. I had written most of this post some time ago, but I didn't give Nick the credit he was due back then, so he's headlining now. 

ANYWAY, moving along. 

This manual of herbs is truly great. Maybe not so much if you're actually seeking medical aid - I can't speak to the accuracy of any of these remedies - but if you're trying to determine what spices you can get away with including in your 'British sausages', you could hardly ask for more. 

Going by Culpeper's inclusions, and a couple of more modern botantical books, I came up with a list of herbs and spices that were not only delicious but also in line with C&Q's mission statement. 

Now came what I didn't realize would be the tricky part. 

Just because it comes from here, just because it still grows here...well, that doesn't mean you can actually buy some. You remember that Hilarious Acronym from my last post? One of the most important control points in any business is sourcing. You can't just buy ingredients from any schmo off the internet. How do you know whether they are being as careful about safety as you are? All the HACCP plans in the world won't help you if you make your products out of malarial-infested peppercorns.*** 

So I contacted every spice and herb merchant I could find - many of whom advertised using British farms as suppliers... and nothing. Zip. Bupkis. They rarely wrote me back when I asked about which items were being sourced from inside the country, and when they did it was a pretty clear shut-down. In one memorable case, a purveyor who advertised their use of British farms all over their website told me that: "We cannot maintain a list of which herbs come from British farms because we cannot ever guarantee that this is currently the case." When I said that I just wondered if they had an idea of which herbs might ever, EVER, even if they rarely had them, have come from England - they wrote back the rather succinct response of 'no'. 

This is amazing to me. I know this grows here! And you mean to tell me that I cannot have it? 

When we discuss the odd problems that come with our economies going global, the 'global village', and the high cost of low price, I never once suspected that it might reach as far as an herb garden. Would you? More than once, among the few merchants who I spoke with, the words quality and consistency came up. "We would source our juniper berries from England - but they are just so much better when they come from Croatia". Now, it's worth mentioning that juniper is actually having trouble surviving recently in England and Scotland. There's even a Plantlife conservation effort drive dedicated to trying to keep this native bush around. One of the key elements of encouraging new seedlings to grow, wouldn't you know it, is harvesting the berries. So our reliance on Croatian imports is hardly helping. 

And what does this mean for Crown & Queue? 

Well, let's just say I hope you appreciate how much work went into our statement of "as many indigenous herbs and spices as possible". After a long and generally fruitless search (pun definitely intended), I finally managed to find some very small producers with whom to work. Rich, pungent Sage from Hampshire. Bone-white Sea Salt from Cornwall. Spicy Elephant Garlic from the Isle of Wight. To name a few. 

But I'm not going to deny that it is tougher than it should be. And from a entrepreneurial's point of view, that it is more expensive than I might wish. Plus, I won't lie, there are some ingredients that I had to make the second-best choice of working with a small-scale family-run British importer to get because they just cannot be had from a local producer. Black peppercorns, of that malarial-mention, spring to mind. (But hey! India was a colony, right? Still counts.)

Ultimately, my hope is, if I continue to do my part, no matter how difficult, and maybe if other producers take the time and money to as well, we can look back 20 years from now and revel in a cornucopia of local abundance. 


Here's hoping. 



* Some context. Medical texts were still written in Latin around that time. Medicine and the practice of started in Greek and Arabic mainly, and when these were less commonly understood, it moved into Latin. Not just the terms mind you! The sentences explaining the terms too. Even after colloquial language had moved to Shakespearean English (Will actually passed away the same year our boy was born), medical texts were still completely in Latin - all the way until the 1800s actually

** I know that Cayenne isn't indigenous to England. It's named for a city in French Guiana - that's a prettttttty big hint. So I omitted it when I found it in a recipe for collared pork recently. But when a market-goer questioned whether a writer from 1807 would even have had cayenne, I was stymied. I pulled out my copy of Nick's book to settle the question, and it turns out, yes, they were using it as far back as 1653... so it makes sense that a Lady a couple of hundred years later might have had it in her larder too. 

***I'm pretty sure you can't infect peppercorns with malaria. Sadly, Nicholas Culpeper wasn't as helpful about solving that query. But I'm pretty sure. 

The Hilarious Acronym All Cooks Promote

Breaking from tradition today in terms of post naming - It's been a while since I managed to post correctly in timeline, so I wanted to quickly reference where I was picking up from (take a look here to refresh yourself on my dilemmas about quality vs legality vs budget). 

So the H.ilarious A.cronym A.ll C.ooks P.romote. More commonly known as HACCP. Let me be clear here and explain that HACCP actually stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point - though I like my mnemonic better. Essentially, this is a system for controlling the health and safety hazards that pop up during any type of food production. If you're usually the order-in-slash-use-your-oven-for-storage-type, like my partner is, you may not realize that germs and bacteria love my cooking as much, if not more than, my dinner guests. So there are several cardinal rules that I must always follow to keep those nefarious gate-crashers at bay, and HACCP helps to identify at what point in my process I left the door open wider than in others. That's the Hazard Analysis portion. 

Once I know when my door is open, I can get an idea of what sort of barriers I should erect (baby-gate, padlock, cold-storage-below-8-degrees) and when I should be double-or-triple checking that these barriers are accomplishing their purpose. That's the Critical Control Points part. I.e. At what point is it critical that I maintain control (in order to keep the food safe from foodborne pathogens from farm to fork). 

No matter what your familiarity is with keeping your cooking safe, unless you've opened a food business here in the UK, you probably don't know that having a HACCP plan in place is a legal requirement for anyone producing food for public sale. 

Because of this broad brush requirement, there are loads of template plans available out there. Basic paint-by-numbers, fill-in-the-blanks type. Simple, easy, and straightforward. Of course when you model your whole business on something unique and new and try really hard to do something never or rarely done before... well... yeah, hardly likely that you'll find something that fits without a significant amount of rework. But the government is here to help!*

Enter myhaccp.food.gov.uk

Answer every question, and boom, by the end of the, hmm, maybe 20 page site, you've got a print-ready HACCP plan of your very own. 

I wanted to share this website with you fine readers, because when I first found it, I thought it was heaven-sent. So much information on how to consider your situation - it supported all the information I had previously learned during other HACCP courses - and it sure felt like it was going to help make the analysis and ccp set-up a breeze.



Yeah. Only the super sarcasm of Hugh Laurie could convey how wrong I was. Not to say that this program isn't as helpful as expected - it's just that it cannot save you from yourself. And if you are hell bent on considering every single possible moment where there are even just tiny cracks around the edges of your door (are you still following this metaphor?!) then, it's going to take a while, whether you use a tool like myhaccp or not. I've been seriously working on this plan since December 2014. That's a long time, yo. 

But, on the flip side, once I'm 65 and the plan is actually complete - you can be guaranteed that everything you purchase from Crown & Queue Meats will be as safe as I can make it. And frankly, as opposed to the typical cooked dinner, raw fermented meats carry a teensy bit more risk. Plus, myhaccp was super helpful with shining a light on areas of safety I hadn't originally considered.

Yeah, you might think that, as anal as I already am, the LAST thing I needed was someone pointing out where else I could obsess, but that isn't so. As a sole business owner (and the only producer, accountant, janitor and delivery driver) you can easily lose sight of the grander picture of what you're doing. And even with the best of intentions, you can overlook something terrifically dangerous. I remember reading about this woman who poisoned 47 police officers with tuna sandwiches - and just thinking: "She probably didn't set out to do that!" According to the poisonees, they quite liked this lady and often purchased items from her kitchen. Close your eyes to one thing because you have 100 sandwiches to make, and well, it can really snowball. 

That AIN'T gonna happen to me. So, I'm just going to keep pushing on with my 4-month-and-counting plan. And it will be the gold standard for any cured meats producer to come after me. Or, at the very least, one more template to add the heaving online mass. 

Tune in next time for a herbaceous take on the "water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink" adage. Yeah, sure, it grows here... but you can't have it.

Tah ta till then!


*Don't fuss, libertarians, I'm not saying that they are in every situation. Just for HACCP. 



"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

...For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother" Henry V., William Shakespeare

When you gather together all the decisions I've had to make in the dreaming, creation, and realization of this business, there has only been one that has really weighed on me. 

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that is because, generally, I have allowed my personal ethical, moral and flavour preferences to guide me. Decisions are pretty easy when you have the hubris to believe in your own good sense and taste. But the decision I am going to share with you today (and yes, gather your opinions on) wasn't so easily negotiated.

I can argue my future customers over to my choices regarding animal husbandry, because the defenses are so logical. It's rather harder to argue them over to my sense of humour

So I set about trying to get a carry-bag designed. I thought it went well with my mission to offer a sustainable option to market purchasers (and hey! It doesn't hurt my advertising dreams neither). I thought I would get it to say something HILARIOUS, because who doesn't love a bag that tickles the silly bones? And that's where I hit a snag. My first instinct was to plaster "Get my meat in your mouth - and like it!" all over them and be done with it. 

... yeah. And then a load of people rather vehemently objected. And I realized that I would never pick the right phrase on my instincts alone. SO: I put it to you, dear readers. Please pick a bag style and sentence from the options listed below. And help a lady out. Everyone who helps out with the decision (as long as it is not a hung jury! That ain't no help!) will get a bag when they are finished. They'll have the ultimate sentence on one side, and my logo, designed by the amazing H.D., on the other. Incidentally, the bags themselves are completely fabulous. Super heavy-duty, hand woven and printed by a really cool co-operative that gives economically disadvantaged women the skills and equipment to help support their families. Tres cool. So here we go. 


Once more into the breach! 

(Remember that this is primarily for a British audience... and they aren't always as ribald as you North Americans...)


OPTION #1 - 

We know where our meat comes from... Do you?


OPTION #2 - 

Do you know where your meat comes from?


OPTION #3 - 

I know where my meat comes from... Do you?


OPTION #4 - 

I know where my meat comes from./We know where our meat comes from. 


Alright - and now the design.

It'll always be black lettering on natural canvas. BUT, it could also be: 

- All natural bag and handles

- Natural bag with Black handles

- Black handles and black reinforcing

- Black handles and black gussets (the bag has gussets that allow it to sit square  - please note, the reinforcing, if made a different colour, does not continue onto the gussets) 


And now, some pictures to help you visualize. My apologies that I don't have mock-ups of all the options.



Choice of Handles

Choice of Handles;Sentence Side
NOW VOTE! Which sentence, and which style of handles? 

Please leave your email address if you would like a bag afterwards, I'll need that to get your postal address. 

 Fine Print: Limited to the first 50 comments; Limited to one bag per person. 

A little Test

Hi! I'm doing a quality check on my email notifications - if you came to check out this post because you received an email notifying you - could you please let me know if the email look and read alright in the comments? If you found this post by RSS feed - I wouldn't mind a comment to that effect either! Thaaaaaaanks! Xx Addie

A Quick Update

I can guarantee that this will shock many of you - but... this blog is a little behind the times. 

Don't get me wrong! I mentally write and revise the posts I put up here through out my whole working day. Not to sound obsessive but I am committed to taking you along this journey with me, and I don't want you to miss out on any steps simply because I couldn't find the time to write this week's update. 

So when I do run out of time (running a business is surprisingly consuming. Shock, I know), I just post the next event whenever I get around to describing it. So - going by this blog, you might be tricked into thinking that I just have some floors and drains to my name. And that's not strictly true

Normally I wouldn't break with precedent. But I just HAD to show you what's happened most recently.. even if it is somewhat out of sync with this blog's plot. 

First my fellow director and I moved in what equipment we've assembled (a post on that when we go back to our regularly scheduled programming)


The Treeby's
Moving Day Selfie!

And then...

This past Monday, at around 8am, a gang of burly, well-trained men arrived at my arch... and, well... I'll just let the pictures (mostly) speak for themselves. Don't worry - not a plumber's crack amongst the lot of them!




And at the end of the day? We had.... drummmmmmm rollllllllll....


Yeah. I've got aging and fermentation rooms. You love it. 

I just had to share. 



P.S. When the next post goes up... Do me a solid and just pretend that you don't know this already happened, 'kay? Thanks. 

"Always Do Things Right...

This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." - Mark Twain


I want to share a dilemma with you today. I'm not sure if this is of immediately obvious concern to anyone who hasn't tried to start their own shebang, but maybe it is... I'm so deep down into this whole process that it was often difficult to remember what life looked before!

In a nutshell, the dilemma is: How do I get what I consider to be of adequate quality, while satisfying legal requirements and keeping inside my budget?

The 'what' in the sentence above refers to a great may things - from equipment (New of everything! Best brands! Top of the line!) to systems (Checklists for all! Accept no mistakes!Throw out everything that doesn't taste like a 10!)

There have been many places where this dilemma has taken the limelight - but perhaps first and foremost was during the time I described in my last post... when I was getting into Floortown (with a slight layover in Drainageburg). 

I sketched out a little picture for myself during that period... And here it is in all its doodle-glory. 


Perhaps stupidly, I have a line below which I will not go, quality-wise, even if it meets standards and fits the budget - but just how high can I go before I fall out of spec with one or the other of the other conditions?!

As if I couldn't get the grasp of it when I made my first doodle - I made another. I guess I thought it might be easier to understand as a Venn diagram? Sheesh. 



Essentially - there is a magic, holy grail (yup - that's the cup pictured in the center!) where my personal quality standards compromise to meet both legal and budgetary requirements. And yet, as I am basically crazy - and anyone who is trying to start a business has no business being otherwise - I STILL cannot accept middle of the road. I simply must be better than average (the word 'best' is a frequent visitor to my lips), so I inevitably spent more money than most trying to get to Floortown (and will again to eventually to retire in Cureroomopolis with summers by Lake Gonnarunsosmoothly). 

These are dangerous places to visit or stay in with a disposition like mine - because I can easily get talked into spending much more than my budget can handle under the unassailable logic of "It'll cost more to fix/re-do/maintain if I cheap out on this now!" also known as the Savings-in-The-Long-Run argument.  

Reasonable logic, but the Dilemma then argues that if I agree to too many of those, I will find myself skimping on items that I need right now. Or...even.. worse... (the true horror for any new entrepreneur)... I could completely run out of liquid cash. Imagine those last few days before payday where you're trying to make ends meet and you're completely strapped? Now imagine that in order for payday to actually arrive, you need to keep spending money... That's the horror of running out of cash as a business owner. 

I wish that I could say that I have come up with a satisfactory conclusion. 

I will say that my tendency to let myself be swayed only by quality has been on the decline... Basically, as a function of obscenely high-priced purchases at the beginning of this journey ("Sure! £700,000.00* for drains sounds about right. Where do I sign?"), I am now scrounging around in the bins of my neighbourhood for anything I can jury-rig, DIY, into a functioning piece of equipment... But always falling above my personal limits of course! 


Next up - The Hilarious Acronym All Cooks Promote... Anyone who knows what I am talking about gets three points. Anyone who doesn't will have to tune in next time!


*Prices changed to protect my wallet. 


Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 4

"The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists" - Charles Dickens


There is one step in the voyage towards self-employment and own-business-hood that cannot be avoided. That is to say, if you're going to purchase a whole pig's carcass, from a British farmer who lets his heritage breed animals frolic in the forest, doesn't use antibiotics except for therapeutic reasons, and refrains from feeding them animal flesh, you need a place to put the pig.  

And generally speaking - if you're going to try and sell what you make out of that pig - it cannot be just any old place. It needs to be the right temperature, have proper ventilation, pest control... (I really cannot stress the amount of etceteras I could add to the end of that). And, arguably most important of all, you gotta lay all that down on top of appropriate flooring

Getting both of those things (a place and a floor) has been an interesting adventure. 

Sometime ago - I mentioned that I tentatively asked to become a part of an amazing food community based in South London (I say 'tentatively' because even as I asked them to let me in, I knew that personal reasons might well have kept me have been able to accept). At any rate, they said 'yes', my personal situation resolved itself unexpectedly, and a few weeks ago this happened:



Anyhoo - I have already shared pictures of what a total construction zone the place was to begin with (they're here, in case you'd like a refresher). But even though those keys let me into a much cleaner space...


it still wasn't the kind of place that you could butcher a pig in. Well, you could, but in this adventure, I've learned that there is a very fine line between professional and psychopath, and it's best to build up as many accoutrements as you can to keep yourself from veering towards the latter!

Probably not the moment to share that picture of me wearing a pig's head.

But I digress. 

What I needed, first and foremost, were drains and floors. Drains are pretty key, by the way - they allow you to keep a much cleaner space than you might realize. Think about the difference between cleaning your tub and your bathroom floor. Way easier to keep the tub clean when you can just run the water all over that bad boy and it disappears, no?

But it's not like you can just drill down and pop a grate in there. They have to be in the right place, leading to the correct sewers... and it costs a whole heck of a load to drill through whatever is between you and the underworld. More than I've spent on anything for this business so far - and at the end of it, you're still basically just looking at the exact same arch. I could post a picture of the finished work - but it would be like playing one of those 'what's different' identical photo games. 

Next came the floors... non-slip, scrubbable, resilient and hard-wearing. And blue! So pretty. 


I don't think I will be able to really communicate how much stress and effort and money and time it took to get from the simple key holding stage to the beautiful, albeit empty, arch above. Hours and hours of phone calls, having to pre-muthafrickin'-pay! (yeah, that's a lot of money to watch go out of your account without anything to show for it), long-distance arranging of keys and several successive quotes where the price just kept rising.  

I particularly enjoyed* the bit where they took 16 hours to lay the first layer, than soaked the paperwork they needed me to sign with chemical, left with the floors only half-finished and then left them that way for three weeks. And, since they forced me to pay in advance because I didn't have any credit history as a company, I was basically up the creek without any leverage, or a paddle, or whatever. 
But all's well that ends well, right? Next time we'll talk the balance between buying the best of everything, satisfying legal requirements and staying on budget. They'll be diagrams! Ooh! Razzle, dazzle! Swish! You'll love it. 
*Sarcasm. Just in case that wasn't super obvious. (oops! More sarcasm! haha)

"It is Impossible to Love and to be Wise" - Francis Bacon

Alright - So my original plan was to write about the troubles... err.. I mean JOYS I've recently experienced trying to get appropriate premises nailed down. You remember how they were the last time I wrote about it? Anyways, we've moved quite aways beyond that and I'm excited to post about it - but before I do - I just had to take a time out and talk about swineology, a.k.a. baconophilia,  d.b.a. PORK LOVE!

It started when my brother sent me an email about his recent visit to Toronto - where, as this picture proves, even the Vegans dig on swine, no matter what Samuel says. 


I'm rather shocked by this restaurant's aesthetic, I have to say. I'm sure that the food is great (my spies tell me that it was true in fact), and I can even come up with some southern-style ideas that are dairy, egg and meat-free, just off of the top of head! Braised collards, étoufée, red-beans-and-rice, mirliton. Plenty of delicious options there! So, I don't get it - Why porkify your message?! Because they (despite being animal-hugging vegans) have fallen prey to bacon-maaaaaaaaaaadness!

Bacon-madness shouldn't be anything new to you, let's get that out of the way. There's been plenty written on how bacon has seeped into every aspect of our dining experiences over the past decade. Bacon salad, Bacon Apple Pie, Bacon JamBacon Brownies and Bacon Ice Cream (the last one actually first came out in 1976 as a joke, but thanks to Heston Blumenthal, now it isn't). 

Bacon Varieties
Marvelous ways to celebrate without eating a bite!

Anyways - this email and vegan-photo prompt set me on a dazzling, rabbit-hole-esque internet adventure where I tried to relive as many "Now, surely, THIS is the height of bacon-madness. Nothing can be more bacon-mad than this" moments I've had in my life. 

And yeah, there were waaaaay more than I expected. 

Ranging from the arguably non-edible, where youtubers Epic Meal Time headed to my old alma mater to make a campus building out of bacon (and poutine and meatloaf, but who's counting - check out the section around 1:21 where they argue about whether they have enough bacon), to Zingerman's yearly ode to the salty, belly, treat: Camp Bacon

Feel free to watch the video below, but the faint of stomach be wary. 



But amongst the many shocking options, from the Bacon Bra (I don't want to link this - just google it if you must) to Bacon Toothpaste, I did find one thing that actually ought to have more support. 

Not that my limited readership will really help this project along, but it doesn't hurt to try:

behold...  ILIKEPIG.COM

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 10.33.26 PM

Bascially, these guys are trying to raise the profile of heritage pork farmers who are doing the right thing, animal-husbandry-wise. Obviously this is something that I want to support. And they're trying to bring their project to the UK so double-whammy there. I don't 100% agree with their prospective itinerary once they get here (Jimmy's Farm? Really? Though the Gotts, that's Sillfield Farm, are definitely porcine royalty) but it's all for a good cause. So I'm definitely going to donate some funds. 

At some point in the future, be prepared to see me in a I LIKE PIGS T-shirt.... Yeah, yeah, I drank the koolaide. I AM THE BACON MADNESS. This like what, shocks you?! 


Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 3

"We're funded! And this [article on me from the Wall Street Journal] makes it official." - Alex Bloomberg, CEO of Gimlet Media and famed Podcast host.  

Money, money, money, money, money. 


I hate to start a post this way - but money is on my mind. You mightn't be shocked to know it. A dream like mine takes some intense capital. I've written about the dilemma I've faced regarding trading parts of my business for funding previously. And, while I may not have mentioned it since... doesn't mean that it hasn't remained an issue. 

I thought the problem solved for a while - but when backers back out.. well... it forces you to be inventive. SO: How best to earn some funds on the fly, and without losing too much of my shirt!

Enter Start Up Loans (For once, this is not a pseudonym - I definitely think that this program deserves a little publicity). It's a UK Government backed program designed to help Brits feel as entreprenurial as we Americans do. *laughs. No, seriously. That's what they're billing it as! Check out their 'About' page if you don't believe me. Colour me ironical. 

Essentially, they pair with different charities to distribute the money, each charity with its own unique laundry list of qualifying characteristics. Along with a sizeable loan, at a very reasonable rate, StartUp Loans partner charities provide mentoring, business advice and all around emotional support. 

According to their bio - they've given out £128,271, 272 to 24,377 companies so far... And next week (ish), it'll click up to 24,370 and 8. Don't let the shiny side fool you though - it took a pretty serious amount of hoop-jumping to get this far. I learned quite a bit about pitching to investors by working through this application. Maybe I'm alone here, but I THOUGHT that investors wanted to be shown that I had really analyzed the situation I was approaching, that I had thought through every eventuality, that I was being realistic... uhhhh... Turns out, they mostly want to see pretty numbers! Well, at least that's how I felt. What do you MEAN you don't want to take a look at my carefully crafted market analysis?!?!

Le sigh. 

As excited as I was for the loan, I was confused about how it was playing out... Until I was introduced to another StartUp. This one deals with businesses too - but its a tad cooler, if you don't mind my saying so. If you haven't listened to this podcast yet, wow! Start now. The first four episodes felt like they were actually made about Crown & Queue. And amid the many valuable pearls that the host Alex Bloomberg (lately of Planet Money and This American Life) threw out, he mentioned one thing that really sunk in for me regarding my loan. In one episode, he talks about the insane variety and variability of  investors that he met while trying to drum up financing for his startup. Sure, some of his wanted to talk numbers, numbers, numbers, but other ones were more interested in getting  "a sense of him" and whether his "passion was convincing".  He doesn't say as much, but his success pretty much shows, that if, at the end of the day, they both believe in you, then who cares?

Not meeeee! 

Here's to having enough to make ends meet, my friends!!



Tune in next time for another exciting adventure a Contractor tries to convince our heorine that the logic of leaving a job half-finished is floorless. Prizes to anyone who guesses what he left undone.