Quick Summary For Now

There’s been no time to catch my breathe. I have so much to write about and so little time.

Here is the quick summary and hopefully over the next few weeks I can dive into each one.

Grand Opening was crazy but good. Exhausted from big 2 week push for opening. Two days later, my mom had a minor pre-scheduled surgery, almost died from sepsis, (was in ICU for 3 days and hospital for 10 days), My laptop was stolen out of my car so I was computer-less for about 2 weeks, we’ve been understaffed in Echo Park from the beginning with people calling in sick right and left, my family is a bit of a mess with my mom’s medical situation, 5 out of 8 of my cashiers/servers asked for the same week off in Glendale during 4th of July (with people calling in sick at both stores), popping lots of popcorn for our Blue Warrior/Cracker Jacks flavor, and all the regular business owner juggling. Plus one really AWESOME special order of pints that I can’t talk about.

I feel like I haven’t slept in 6 weeks.

Now we gear up for Yoga-urt’s 4th Anniversary on July 20/21.

And then, hopefully some normalcy and some sleep!

More to come!

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So Much

So much to write about and so little time.

It’s been a whirlwind since we passed the health inspection. Hopefully next week, I’ll have a moment to catch my breathe, but for now, my mix of exhaustion and excitement has taken over.

Grand opening weekend starts tomorrow. Here we go!

Defeated, Deflated, & Destroyed

I should start by saying that I know these feelings are only temporary and in a few weeks these feelings will likely be nothing but an unpleasant memory.

But that’s how I felt this past week. On Wednesday, when we had the health inspection and didn’t pass because of one thing that should not have been an issue and should’ve worked properly, I felt defeated. Just completely defeated. I had done everything I could think of to pass health, and it didn’t happen. And not for any reason I would’ve thought. For something so simple and beyond my control. I had this defeated feeling many times during construction, but we managed to overcome. But once again I felt defeated.

I begged the health inspector to come back on Thursday (the next day) as he doesn’t work on Fridays and Monday was a holiday, and he said not likely but to call in the morning. I called. I went to the store and waited all Thursday afternoon and nothing.

Then I felt deflated. I was hopeful all day as he knew how badly I wanted to be open for Memorial Day Weekend, and nothing. All hope was gone. We weren’t going to be able to open for the holiday weekend and there was nothing I could do until Tuesday.

I felt stuck and destroyed. I was so angry on Thursday. I did a small Yoga-urt catering event on Thursday night so it was a good distraction, but I was so angry.

And on Friday, it turned to sadness and tears. I had to meet someone at the echo park store at 9:30am to put up some graphics, but when I left, I just cried and cried. I couldn’t stop crying. I cried on and off all day. To have the store so beautiful and ready and just sitting there, just killed me.

And what was I going to do all weekend? I had nothing planned as I was supposed to be opening echo park. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the store as it just made me sad. And I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts either. I needed a distraction because otherwise I would be sad and crying all weekend.

I decided to try to go out of town, so I contacted my friend and although he couldn’t go out of town, he said he would do fun activities with me all weekend locally. So we did. Biking at the beach. Walking Hollywood Blvd. Saw The Avengers. Went to Barcade to play video games. Saw my family. I am so grateful to him for keeping me company and letting me cry on his shoulder.

I’m scared about this week as I don’t have an appointment locked in yet with the health inspector. I feel very vulnerable. But I am going to go there tomorrow morning and see how quickly I can get him there. And I will go back everyday this week until it happens as it’s my top priority.

It’s so hard being so very close and not having this step within my control. I’m going to try to stay optimistic and do everything I can. What other choice do I have?

Inspections, Inspections, Inspections

Like everything on this journey, inspections have been difficult and are taking much longer than I hoped.

The ones that were pretty easy: mechanical, plumbing, & final city.

The one causing the most problems: electrical. Not only has he had to come back 4 times as of next week, but he keeps postponing the day he will come, sometimes by 2 days. This has been going on for over 2 weeks and is so frustrating and stressful. It doesn’t seem right to postpone a scheduled appt, and yet he does. He really doesn’t care about the consequences for me and how much money I’m losing. He’s supposed to come back on Tuesday and I hope he doesn’t postpone again and that it’s for the last time – OMG.

And although I was told the health inspector could come within 1-2 days of calling, I am now waiting a week. It’s so infuriating to be ready to go and just waiting on inspectors. All I can do at this time is hope we pass on Wednesday when he comes. Fingers crossed.

Because we have to wait, I’m trying to rest a bit this weekend because once we pass health, it’s game on. There will be so much to do as we can’t stock the store with food until we pass. We can’t make product. Nothing with food.

The store is looking really good. Some designs were added this week. We are basically ready to go besides some small tweaks.

Most of the team has been hired but I’m sure I’ll have to hire a few more people once we get going.

As for when we open, it’s the million dollar question. If we pass health on Wednesday, current thinking is soft open Memorial day weekend through May 31. And then grand opening on June 1 & 2 with media/influencers in between.

I really need to get this place open to start making money as the bills are coming fast and furious.

And really hoping the weather warms up soon. This has been a much colder Spring than we are used to in Los Angeles. The Glendale store is doing ok, but I think we would be doing so much better if the weather was hotter.

As for my mom, she scheduled her surgery for June 11th. That brought me much relief, but the more my opening slips, the closer it gets to her surgery. It’s time to get this baby open!

Sharing Excitement

Every time I’m at Yoga-urt, people are asking me about the Echo Park store and telling me how excited they are for it. People are messaging me on social media. Emailing through the website. And just sharing their excitement.

It means the world to me.

First of all, I’m spending money like crazy on Yoga-urt #2 and it’s scary. These things are expensive and big financial risks, but knowing people are waiting for it to open brings some reassurance that it will all work out.

Second of all, although my family is excited for me, my family is preoccupied with other things, most significantly my mom’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and overall health. Over the years since Yoga-urt opened in 2015, her health has deteriorated a great deal to the point where she barely leaves her house and has a caregiver most of the day. It has been extremely hard on her and the whole family.

And my mom needs to have an outpatient surgery very soon for a kidney stone, might be around the time Yoga-urt #2 opens which is very stressful and hard. Overwhelming for me. And will once again pull my family in different directions and I just really hope her surgery can happen in June so I can be more present for all.

My dad is as involved as he can be, but has real limitations under the circumstances. And my sister is with her family in OC, and I have no idea really if she will come out to support.

It saddens me that my family can’t be involved in the way that I would like or wish but I’m trying to accept it in a loving way.

Although I hope my family can be a huge part of the Echo Park opening, I’ve decided that either way, I will celebrate the opening of the Echo Park store with my Yoga-urt family – my team and our customers.

And I can’t wait to celebrate!

This last week was very stressful. My GC and I had a few tough moments. Conversations that we had weeks ago that weren’t remembered. Changes needed to pass inspections. Where things go. Who pays for what. There were some tense moments but we are good now. Onward!

We made so much progress this past week. Floor was finished. All equipment was delivered. Cameras and music were installed. Lights and AC were on and working. Subway tile went up. Shelving went up. Started training people at the Glendale store. Graphics were sent for printing.

We start final inspections this week, but the final health inspection probably won’t be until next week. Really hoping for smooth inspections but you never know. So stressful!

We also start the big PR/Marketing push on May 1st. We have a great press kit and video and will reach out to all we can to get Yoga-urt the love and recognition it deserves.

As for the opening date, can’t confirm until final inspections are passed but we are getting close! Still SO much to do though. I am way overwhelmed but up for the challenge as I bring this baby home!

Here We Go!

Here we go is right!

We are probably 3-4 weeks away from opening the Echo Park store as long as we don’t get anymore curveballs.

The place is finally starting to look like Yoga-urt although not there yet. The most exciting thing was to see our exterior sign go up – it’s beautiful! And then our new gate went up. Paint is almost done, mural is up, counter is almost done, and floor is being done this weekend. Next week, all the equipment will be delivered and lots of details have to be done.

I’m really starting to feel the pressure now. All of the stuff that I pushed off dealing with until the end I now have to deal with.

I have to go back to the health department and the city to get some changes signed off on. I have to order all of the items left on the list like chairs & tables. And the thing that is occupying a lot of my time is interviewing potential team members, calling references, offering jobs and soon to be training. Not to mention finalizing the press kit, getting graphics and signs for the store, and soon ordering all the ingredients, toppings, etc. Putting the recipe book together. Buying a safe. The list is endless.

I’m at the point where I need to prioritize as I can’t do it all at once. So that is what I’m doing. And it’s stressful that this has all taken longer than I thought for a million different reasons. I lose money every week we don’t open and there is a lot of planning involved around the opening date which we still don’t know.

I just keep telling myself a week delay here, a day delay there, won’t kill us. To just push as hard as I can and then accept what comes. And try to enjoy the ride. Because once we open, everything shifts in a way that I can’t control.

Over the next few weeks some new Echo Park hires will be training at the Glendale store. It’s going to be a bit crazy, but should get us off to a good start when Echo Park opens.

The countdown is on and after being pregnant for 9 months (literally signed the lease 9 months ago), the baby is coming soon.

Here we go!

Vegan Street Fair & Smorgasburg

In the last few months, we’ve done a couple of festivals/events.

Back in February, we were signed up to do Super Vegan Sunday at Smorgasburg which is where Smorgasburg increases their vegan options for this one Sunday each year. We had prepped big time for this, but around 8pm the night before it was cancelled because of bad rain.

What a bummer, both financially and because of all the prep that went into it. I had spent the last 24 hours getting us ready and my team prepped for weeks. But I thought it was the right decision under the circumstances. We were offered a few make up dates and so we came out the following 2 Sunday’s. It rained one of the Sunday’s so it was pretty much a waste of time. And the 2nd Sunday was much better but it was still a cold day. I think I realized that maybe it’s best not to do events in the winter.

And then we had Vegan Street Fair a few weekends ago, which was our 4th time there and the very 1st event we ever did back in 2016. This event is the biggest vegan festival in the country. In the past, we’ve had nonstop lines, but wasn’t sure what it would be like because it was expanded to 2 days, weather wasn’t the best, and lots more vendors.

Plus, for the 1st time for VSF, no one from my family came to help and they are like my safety net. I had to rely solely on my team but everyone showed up and did a great job.

We introduced a new flavor and brought some favorites. The first day was good but not great, but we still managed to almost sell out of everything we btought. But the second day was great. We had nonstop lines for most of the day which I’m so grateful for.

It was interesting because for both of these events this year, we did not get a lot of love from the social media influencers. In the past, we have, so I honestly didn’t know how that would impact us. Definitely for Vegan Street Fair, it didn’t seem to matter. People came to our booth, waited in line, and we had one of the longest lines there.

We completely sold out of the soft serve scoops on Sunday which is great for many reasons, including that it makes it so much easier to pack up at the end of the night.

And then when I got back to the store around 8:30pm – for the first time ever – we were sold out of all of our soft serve in the machine. Nothing was left. All we had were pints & ice cream sandwiches. Craziness!!! Luckily o had 2 soft serve makers coming on Monday morning to get us caught up for Monday.

Man, these events are a lot of work. That’s why we do just a select few each year. They are physically hard and since I’ve had back issues, I have to make sure I have enough help for the heavy lifting. And the days are like 16 hour days for me. Exhausting!

But it’s fun meeting people, seeing our friends, trying other food, etc. Doing another small event in Orange County this Saturday, our first time in the OC.

But then that’s it until after the Echo Park store opens. I need to focus. Things are moving full steam ahead and it’s time to make it happen!