Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Following your dreams, even if no one else understands

This afternoon, my mom and I went to a newly opened dim sum restaurant in Johnson City. My parents' friend from church is the owner/chef so we decided to show our support with our stomachs. It's a very cute and cozy space on Main Street across from BAE, which of course is the largest source of business in that area. The main dishes offered are different varieties of noodles, fried rice, and dim sum "appetizers" such as fried green scallion pancake or red bean buns.

Apparently, this very kind-hearted woman has been wanting to open a restaurant for a long time. When the opportunity arose, she seized the opportunity with little prior experience, but with a great deal of enthusiasm and determination. Maybe the location isn't the best, but after speaking with her and her husband this afternoon, it seems like the main challenge will be figuring out how to attract BAE employees who only have 30 minutes for lunch with a limited staff (only one person cooking, and one waiter). Granted, there are only four tables which could probably seat at most 20-25 people. But, if all of the orders come within a short period, trying to prepare that much food on a conventional home sized stove is very challenging.

My mom and I enjoyed the noodles and dim sum QinTian pancake (fried dough with pork, tastes better than it sounds). While we ate, we tried to offer suggestions on how to maximize the 30 minutes of peak demand (12:30-1pm); perhaps try different menu options, sandwiches are quick and easy to make, offer a pre-made lunch special, encourage people to call ahead and place their orders. When we finished eating, the owner wasn't going to let us pay since we were friends and that's part of Chinese culture. We tried to pay and sneak out the door, but she caught us on our way out, and made us take half of the money back. Ai yah... still, it was a very nice gesture.

I am a big supporter of local family owned businesses that are quaint and personal. I know it's not going to be easy for this family to establish a strong reputation, build a loyal clientele, and to figure out the "perfect" menu. But, it's nice to see people taking risks to follow a long-cherished dream. I really hope and pray for their success. It's an inspiration for me, since I'm not exactly following a typically prescribed path, and many people might even suggest that I'm making a poorly informed decision, but if it's what you've dreamed and prayed about, why can't people just be happy and supportive? By the way, those noodles were quite tasty so spread the word.

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