Café ProFusion is a small restaurant in Summit County, Colorado. A “little gourmet hole in the wall” serving an amazing and eclectic menu of curries, braises, soups, and stews. In addition to the fabulous flavors, we are 100% gluten free. While the restaurant has been successful, we could use your help. Here’s the story …
We started Café ProFusion on a very small investment. Okay, on a shoestring. With Bill’s personal chef experience and passion for curries, and a longtime professional chef with a proven track record for opening restaurants, we jumped in with all six feet. So it’s appropriate that we opened on leap day 2012—completely undercapitalized.
To such an undercapitalized restaurant, the highly fluctuating (seasonal) population of the county proved a challenge, but we survived, and our reputation continued to grow. But such undercapitalization comes at a price—the bumps in the road that all restaurants experience can feel like earthquakes…large unexpected setbacks. And recently we hit a really big one.
This past summer we were dealt, ironically, a highly unexpected setback from an improvement to the town of Dillon—the increased capacity of the amphitheater. We say ironically, because the amphitheater is such an asset of the town. We were offered a spot to vend right inside the amphitheater, but we had to pass—with our limited personnel there was no way to cover both the restaurant and the venue. In previous years, the free Friday and Saturday evening shows had boosted our dinner business considerably, so we expected that, with the larger capacity of the venue, it would be more profitable to have just our dining room and takeout. Unfortunately, people now have to line up before the gates open and can’t leave the venue without risking not being allowed back in. So groups who would previously have sent one person to pick up takeout food can no longer do that. We plan to vend there next year….but first we have to get there.
In Summit County spring and fall have traditionally been very quiet. Many small businesses, particularly restaurants, closed for a little while at these times of year. We (and other restaurants) count on the revenues from the summer and winter to get through these slow seasons, which is why the changes in the amphitheater have put us in a bind. While we’re still struggling with how to advertise it, we are currently planning on staying open weekend evenings this fall. Advertising this is essential, since many people familiar with the area will assume that we are entirely closed during much of October and November.
While the population of Summit County is growing, and more condos and high-end second homes are being built—some very close to Café ProFusion, workforce housing is not keeping pace. Several businesses have recently closed due to the inability to find staff. We have a great crew, and our move to being open weekends throughout the slow seasons would help us to retain them.
With these population dynamics, we are introducing “Family Style Supper Boxes.” These recently developed lightweight insulated boxes maintain food at a safe and enjoyable temperature, and are absolutely perfect for groups. Instead of herding a large group of people into a restaurant vestibule to wait for a table for who knows how long, these boxes can be picked up or dropped off at the vacation rental or home for a much better customer experience. It’s a form of inexpensive pickup catering. We spoke to several vacation rental companies, and this concept was excitedly received by them. Given the overwhelming condominium development (and the prices these places command) we foresee an increasing demand for this type of service. We want to be in on the ground floor to meet this growing need, but additional funding is required for marketing and additional Supper Boxes
Despite the tough location and unique (for Summit County) food, Café ProFusion has prevailed. However, being undercapitalized at the start has resulted in some debt and also made it near impossible to develop good cash reserves or working capital. This leaves us no funds for marketing and advertising – imperative aspects for such a business. These options require working capital that we don’t have at this point.
Our need: Funds to augment working capital, decrease debt, strengthen marketing and advertising to drive a sizable increase in our patronage. This will allow us to weather the slow seasons and endure the small bumps in the road.
We have thought about seeking a more traditional investment structure, but are hesitant after seeing circumstances where investors seek to make changes in businesses solely in order to increase revenue without understanding the effect. As an example: we could lower costs by buying pre-prepared spice mixes rather than toasting and grinding the spices in-house or by not taking the time to build the flavors in the sauces. But these are the things that make Café ProFusion’s food unique and incredible, and bring people back time and again.
Become part of the team that l helps us get to this…and don’t forget to come see us. Every donor becomes a “family” member and gets a tasting sample when you stop by! No contribution is too small!
Cindy, Bill, and staff