Our journey is your journey too, I need to hear your voice to aid my decision

The focus of this week’s ‘What on my mind?‘ blog post is just going to give you a glimpse of what’s going on in our world for the moment and also ask you for some help in making a rather large decision. Considering you are the people most affected by it, it’s your voice I want to hear when I’m making it.

Sometimes we are in the midst of things in motion that I chat about that aren’t concrete yet but I chat to you about them so that you can let us know how you feel about them and to keep you connected to what we’re working on or even sometimes just thinking about.

Whilst I chat to you about all that when you’re in the store, I know I also need to be talking to those that aren’t often in and that’s why the newsletter and the website  helps to keep us connected and in dialogue even when our daily paths don’t cross.

We know we have outgrown this store and its coming up as a topic of conversation all the time.

Having you backed into the kale when there is a queue, is obviously not what we want. The store was right for our first toe step into a retail concept but it’s now becoming counter productive for what we need to do and to accommodate our growth.

I am comfortable with how the store was first setup as I believe in the necessity of growing through evolving. We arrived here without a cotton picking clue about how to be in a shop after being online for 5 years – and had to just make it up as we went along. Something I now understand as being utterly vital, following traditional retail advice just doesn’t work here at all, something we learnt the hard way (always the best), too.

We were designing something new and it was valuable for our growth to learn – on the ground – running and feeling our way and we still are. We’ve learnt that there is no such place as a comfort zone when you accept evolving and we no longer expect one or think it’s a bad thing (though tiring) that we can’t find one.

We’ve evolved into the next step which is about getting into the right space when prior, we were learning how to work in a less than ideal space.

We need to evolve into a larger space for the convenience meals too which is our next challenge and I need to make some decisions about where we’re going to go.

I ideally envision a space that is large enough to give us more room in the store, can accommodate a larger and more defined convenience meals section, skin care, cosmetic and home cleaning range. One that includes a book corner and that is large enough that half of it can accommodate a harvest table concept bistro style restaurant and coffee shop.

I have felt ready for this for a while.

Basically, the concept is, the store gives you the space to eat in and shop at leisure. The focus will be on preparing platters with the best of what we have in-store. This includes dishes made with the free range chicken, Brenaissance Beef and Aldersyde Lamb so that healthy harvest table options don’t only cater for vegetarians and that is also a space you can work, eat and drink in without any compromise to nutrition – in fact – the opposite – you’ll leave full of nutrient dense nourishment. It’s also a space where we’ll ask your farmers to come and eat with you.
You can either serve up from the harvest table or have a take away platter and it’ll be priced on weight.

That’s the broad brush stroke concept for now.

I firstly want your feedback on whether this is something you would enjoy and what you would like from that type of concept.

We will never be doing set menus as organic, seasonal eating means that we make up dishes dictated by the best of whats in and it means changing the dishes regularly and each week – with which I’m confidant. Between myself and our incredible new chef Neo – who I will introduce you to shortly – we know how to cook on the fly and make up great dishes that are both nutritious and delicious and have the same language for it which just works.

I keep noticing how many of you are starting to talk to each other in-store. I love it when this happens!

It’s tough out there to find people who are on the same page when it comes to conscious living and eating and its good for all of us when we chat in-store and the reassurance that you know you’re around like minded people that share the same values as you. It is super special and very much in line with the community we want to create around this Jozi Food Revolution of ours going forward.

I think a harvest table restaurant and place where you can be around people like you eating silly delicious, nutrient-dense food around a table, with a place to read and have access to books related to the food revolution and health, just helps facilitate that sense of community.

It also means I can be amongst you when I’m working and not stuck behind this humming fridge, engaging and connecting with you more and not running out to have my meetings at other coffee shops.

We have been offered a larger space in this shopping centre that at first glance looks like it can accommodate all of this. I’m still waiting for plumbing and electricity drawings to see what we’re in for in terms of cost to set up the kitchen as that will make or break the decision, I don’t want to sink capital into costs that aren’t transferable to a large degree so we’re still looking at all that.

What the rent will be will also affect that decision as we cannot put the price up on this food while we’re doing our level best to make it more accessible, – to pay high rent – that is counter productive for our food revolution too. There is much to consider.

So if the rent is ludicrous in terms of what it gives you – access to a whole shopping experience that suits in the right centre and doesn’t benefit us, that’s a deal breaker too. We know that the right location means good parking, means that it is a centre of space where you can get more than one thing done at a time and that is convenient to get into and out of.

This leads to our most important consideration, that of location.

My question over and above whether you want us to go this route, is also – do you think this is the right centre for it?

Would you want us based here in Bryanston?

The re-launch of our online delivery service

We are re-launching the online service in the next 3 months because so many of who subscribe to the newsletter battle to get to Bryanston.

We will be able to get back to those of you who want access to this food but can’t get here.
But I’m interested to know whether general consensus is that if we go for the larger concept store – whether you would want it to remain in this centre or for us to keep a small store here as it is and put the larger store and restaurant in another location? This will enable has to reach a new audience where there might not be similar stores.

Your feedback really helps my thinking and our decisions so please pop me a line with your feelings.

Chatting in-store this week, I’ve had a range of opinions from customers and I look forward to more discussions. The feedback so far this week ranged from to open the larger store in Cape Town, to yes please stay here and go for the larger store, to no keep this store and move closer to the Parks side, to no please get a bigger store but elsewhere in Bryanston.

The predominant opinion seems to be for us to stay here and move to a larger store in the same location but that is coming from people in store who are already coming here and I know I need to hear too from those of you who can’t get to us to get a balanced view.

  • Will you use the delivery service once we re-launch? We want it be done far more efficiently than in the past with all lessons learnt but it will work the same in terms of being an every-day service. We will streamline the offering on the website to make it easier to view products and shop online for deliveries.
  • Would you want to come to the harvest table restaurant and a more community oriented eat in restaurant in-store, does that interest you?
  • Where would you like us to be?
  • What decisions affect where you decide to shop?
  • Is it parking, other amenities and stores in the centre, proximity to your school route, having a place where you can eat good food and shop?
  • What is it that drives your decision about where to shop and that would most effect how easily you can get to us?

The delivery re-launch has much to do too with the fact that we need to be able to get the convenience meals out to a larger area. Very often – the people who need them are the same people that are stuck with not being able to find the time to drive here so that has come up as a huge need.
More people are aware of the farms we support now than prior and we’re hearing too often now from people who have a great interest and desire to access to this food but really can’t get to Bryanston.

Are you happy with us staying in the Bryanston Shopping Centre or are there other locations you’d like for us to consider?

I want to give you a view too of the projects planned at the moment.
We’re building up the catering kitchen, building up the convenience meal offering, planning the re-launch of the delivery service, doing the new store drawings and planning and looking for the right location. If we moved the new concept larger store to another venue, we would keep this store as we have it now just with a more efficient design so no fear that we would leave this area in entirety.

We’re still planning the launch of Jozi Food, the (R)evolution and working on how our connections with like-minded farmers, chefs and artisans will work and will start our events series. The delay has been space – in the new concept store we’ll be able to have our events in the store too, so we’re just trying to get all the right puzzle pieces into place to best serve you.

Please email me feedback and can you copy Linda – events@jozirealfood.co.za on your feedback. Linda Thompson is instrumental at the moment with helping us define ourselves more clearly and helping us get ready for the Jozi Food community piece and so much more. We all know I’m a little too far oriented towards emotional decisions, it sometimes takes my head days to catch up with heart decisions I too often make.

Linda really helps me balance my thinking, actions and decisions as she aligns so much of what I want to do with more head and more planning and it’s a great balance so please include her in our chat. She is an expert at getting into the heart of what people want and listens intently to your feedback while she helps us define our forward journey so I’d love for you to get to know and interact with her too.

Our intent – as always – to connect you to the best nourishment from South Africa’s most sustainable farms and to create a community to uplift our eating experience in Jozi particularly.

I’m off to Zimbabwe next week to accept a very special invitation to be a part of a game count on a wild life game conservancy there, connected to holism and I’m pretty sure I will come back with renewed inspiration for our work and with an even greater understanding – that I always seek – for the great connectedness of it all.

This year has been all about a huge push from the moment I got back from my break and the pace of change and creation and new projects has been extremely intense and it won’t let up.

We now need to take the next jump while we have 4 new projects all up in the air waiting for their birth time but it’s all worth it.

Year by year we get access to healthier food because of it, thank you, as always for co-creating this new way of eating and relating to food in Jozi with me. All the right people are coming our way to help us evolve this journey, like Linda, like Neo and of course our rock steady team that are always in this with heart and head. We’ve had some tense months this year but generally we’re a happy team in this store.

I think mostly because our work has meaning. It makes all the difference.

It always seems ludicrous to me when businesses make growth decisions and change without consulting their customers, why I needed to talk to you about where you want us to go as this is as much a part of your journey as it is mine.

Much love,

Debbie