Our Sweet & Savory Path Forward : A Check-In & Lessons Learned

Over the last 19 months, since opening the doors at Vanillamore, I’ve started writing this blog several times. My business has experienced many significant changes during this period, and I finally feel that I see a path towards what I would consider success. It’s exciting to feel that my restaurant represents my personal food style, which continues to evolve and grow with each new menu item.

Since I first started putting my thoughts down about building, opening and running a restaurant, I’ve been tested beyond my wildest expectations! The first few lessons, seemingly so difficult to learn, were nothing compared to the ongoing reality of restaurant ownership. Truly, every day- sometimes every hour – there seems to be a new challenge with a lesson to learn.

At the 6-month point, I felt as though I’d be able to take a deep breath and appreciate a moment of accomplishment. I believed things were stabilizing and I was relishing the forward momentum. Instead, we soon experienced major growing pains. Typical for the restaurant industry, high-quality staffing continues to be the hardest part of this business. I am committed to building the best team in the industry to help me bring my vision to life. Every change is a challenge, but each trial produces opportunity and growth. In addition, at the 6-month mark, I took full command over the kitchen learning how to execute the complete savory menu. During the initial opening period, I had relied on a sous chef to run the savory line. With this change, I experienced a major personal evolution. While working up to 10 shifts per week on the line, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I would as a chef. It’s given me creative freedom to invent monthly 5-Course Chef’s Tasting Menus, and the confidence to work with young line cooks who I’ve learned from as much as they’ve learned from me. I am pastry trained, but my dessert-centric restaurant concept has metamorphosed drastically as I realized the Montclair clientele wanted something more.

Here are just a few of the many moments I am grateful for:

  • Dozens of accolades and press features (links here).

  • Established relationship with the Montclair community: Local Residents who have become ‘regulars’, local business owners and loyal employees all who have become part of the Vanillamore Family.

  • Our new marketing partner, Amanti Vino, is helping us pair all of our dishes with their wine selection, helping our customers choose and enjoy great wines with their meals and desserts.

We are always looking to expand our local connections and are excited to be working with Le French Dad’s bread and local farms. We are particularly thrilled about the wine pairing blogs (coming soon!) by Veronica Kalas at Amanti Vino. Finally, I am excited to announce my forthcoming cookbook (publication date: holiday season 2019) discussing my life and entrepreneurial experiences through the lens of Montclair’s Vanillamore. More details to follow in our upcoming blogs.

xo, Risa

If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen. – Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo

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