Three years ago, when Caitlin Adler decided to open a restaurant in
Having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in
And when New York Times columnist Brent Bowers called to ask my opinion on Adler’s new venture, I was hesitantly skeptical regarding the young entrepreneur’s potential success.
Three years later, Adler, now 28, is the proud owner of a growing business, Sweet Bites Cafe. And guess what? Adler has managed to experience the one ingredient of the industry that alludes so many: profit. And although it isn’t a huge profit, it still is a positive in the world filled with negatives.
When Adler opened in October 2007, her sales for the day were $329. And only eight weeks later her sales hovered around $7,000 per week. An impressive number for any startup.
But the road to Adler’s success has not been without bumps. Her first obstacle was her revenue projections were high and her payroll projections were low. Exactly the opposite of what every entrepreneur expects, but usually the norm. It took Adler months to trim payroll to her projected number and even longer for sales to approach projections.
Adler’s creativity, not only in the kitchen, but with marketing and the development of outside revenue streams has a lot do to with her success. Currently the entrepreneur wholesales her brownies and does small catering events to add to the cafe’s revenue. Adler also sells Sweet Bites logo apparel in the store and online.
Although Adler doesn’t take many days off, she loves what she does and is passionate about her business and future.
“I haven’t had a vacation since I opened,” Adler said. “But I am taking a few days off every couple of weeks, now.”
Adler went for a lengthy stint before even thinking of taking a day off. She recently moved above the cafe so she is continually close to it. And, she is glad she did.
Living above the cafe has its pluses and minuses. Although she is never completely detached from the business, living close turned out to be a huge benefit some months ago.
“One of my neighbors told me there was a lot of smoke in the cafe,” Adler said. “I went downstairs and saw the entire restaurant filled with smoke. My neighbor ran in and ran right back out, the smoke was so thick,” Adler claimed.
“I couldn’t see any flames but went in anyway and realized a stack of freshly cleaned linen was smoldering. I grabbed the pile and ran outside. As soon as I got out the door, the linen combusted, and burst into flames. Fortunately, I went in just in time. If I didn’t live upstairs, I don’t know what would have happened,” Adler said.
Once again Adler proves (aside from passion) that one of the main ingredients of entrepreneurial success is not being afraid of jumping into the fire.