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« Lemon Marmalade Recipe | Main | Katmer making: video by Anissa Helou at Orkide, in Gaziantep, Turkey »

03 June 2010


Would love to guest author, but filling those big literature and eloquent shoes might be a challenge but I'd offer to try.

So happy you posted this. Making data bases was one thing that saved me so many inventory and purchasing headaches. Not to mention that it helped the ex. chef a lot when I had to miss work because of flu or what not.
Thinking about you and can't wait to read the menu when it's ready!

Good luck with it all! Just getting my head around all the spread sheet stuff myself. Makes you feel so good when it works.
By the way thanks for the baking powder recipe have been using it for my muffins ever since you posted the recipe.

Awesome Shuna. Glad the vlookups etc. make sense.

Hope to eat @yours sometime

Can't wait to hear more! g

Good luck for your restaurant!

I've been using a couple of linked Excel spreadsheets to do the same thing for a couple of years with moderate success.

I've just bought Filemaker and am about to start making the transition because I can do invoicing and stock control with it - all linked (I hope)

Sounds exciting - and exhausting, but thrilling nonetheless. Your database sounds wild.

So this is what "June Is" for you this year.

Good luck. I can't wait to walk through your door.

Congrats! Seems to me that you are absolutely going about it in the right way. I think the reason people get in trouble opening any business is that they don't have a plan and they don't take care of the back end of the business.

How about Melvis doing a biscuit tutorial? I would love to read that...and congrats on all this!!!! xoxo

Congrats Shuna! What a wonderful, exciting adventure!

vlookup is a friend of mine, too.

it's fascinating reading the backlog of posts, knowing that you are in NYC now. it's like an enormous mystery novel to see how you arrived there.

Your spreadsheet sounds great. Make sure to save it in two locations. It would be a shame to have to rebuild it. Good luck with your restaurant opening.

That spreadsheet sounds frickin' awesome! I don't know why every pastry chef doesn't have that. If you do your front end work, it makes it easier to keep track of where you are.

Shuna, i am so excited for you and cannot wait to come to your next venture. The excel sheet, especially the VLOOKUP stuff is just fantastic. Excel is REALLY powerful and awesome and I know, being a nerd, that most people roll their eyes at this, but I think you get it too!! Very excited for you!

I think my husband could actually fall in love with you..not only can you bake BUT you can do a restaurant business plan on are an accountant and a bankers' dream client...


More power to you!

Well, all of this seems pretty damn exciting. It will be interesting to see it all evolve, if you have time to share some bits with us here. Enjoy those field trips while you can.

Oh wow, that excel stuff sounds super cool and is so important. At some point I need to incorporate all that stuff into a business plan before I embark on anything bigger than a dream.

I cant wait to hear more about your new venture! Good luck!

Congrats! I can't wait to hear more about your venture.

Shuna, just thinking about you and how inspiring you are to me. I hope to be able to experience your trade again really soon! I am trying to bring your theories of guilds to fruition here in Houston. wish you the best!

Opening a restaurant is an endeavor that both thrills and scares the living daylights out of anyone. I may have a piece that might interest your refined readers. Having opened a few restaurants, I have gathered a few feathers that needs a bit of ruffling.Perhaps I can invite you to spill over your adventures my way as well.

I feel it! Film making is like that, too-- hurry up and wait. And any little human frailty can bring it to an expensive, screaming halt.

But it's exhilarating, an all-engrossing thrill ride. And like opening a restaurant, you can swing loose better during the hairy times if you have done your prep to an excessively high degree. If only every poor dreamer knew that before they put put their soul into the mixing bowl...

In the last year, I've seen over a dozen different restaurants in my small corner of WNY fail-- all kinds, but mostly new-- started on a shoestring with no real idea of what the running costs would be. I know of three little pizza/sub/pasta joints right now that are unlikely to last the year. And two upscale "bistros" that are in their death rolls as I write.

I think what they all have in common is that the dreamers who opened them expected talent alone to carry them through. And it's sad, because there was talent. But not enough financial prep work. It's just another type of mise en place, but they couldn't see it.

I'm glad to see a talented cook embracing the technologies of business, too. In a time when an institution like Gourmet magazine can suddenly fail, much less Tavern on the Green, every drop of forethought counts, just as much as the drops of vanilla. Best luck and energy to you and all your crew.

Mari, I want to give you a big, wide THANK YOU for this comment you took time to write! And I really hope you don't mind-- but I have made bold the lines I think are especially brilliant. thank you for stopping by and leaving your words & experiences. ~ shuna

Shuna I was wondering if you had incorporated costing into the spreadsheet and if so how do you calculate the cost of each ingredient since those vary depending on when acquired.

Hello Jon-- man of knowing!!

I have one Master document. In that one we have one price for an item. We can do one of 2 things when that number changes: round up or down to give us an approximate or change the purveyor name so we know which purveyors give us what price. The hope is that with two restaurants under these owners' belts we chefs will be able to have better buying power. And the ability to "lock in" certain prices for products we are guaranteed to buy a lot of :} ~ shuna

I hope that all goes well for you in your endeavors. Congratulations on your journey into uncharted waters...(excel land!) lol

Congrats on your new restaurant.
I have really enjoyed reading and learning from your blog.
I am curious about your excel speadsheet. I work in a kitchen and we have been trying to use an already assembled spreadsheet system but it's not working very well for us. Your post above has given me pause to think that maybe I should create a new database from scratch.
Good luck and best wishes!


So excited for your new restaurant. I cannot wait to hear more about it. I fell in love with Excel myself when I decided to use it to catalog my cookbook collection. Love Flour and I can't wait to add Joanne's new book to my ever growing collection.

P.S. If you ever decide to come out with a book it will definitely be something I would purchase and I'm sure use.

congrats on the new post. Looking forward to hearing about the new menu/restaurant. Tom

Cheering you! Just keep channeling your inner Foxy Brown (Pam Grier...not the Hip Hop artist)

Oh I got a new blog called eat drink divorce.

I am adding you to the blog roll. Oh and add some type of non-dairy (milk, cheese, butter, whey) dish to the menu so I can eat there from time to time...

hello lovebabz, I see you are the same you-- vever slowing down! always positive! I'm sorry I can't always keep up with you. Yes on the non-dairy foods. Do you consider lard to be dairy? The food is going to be American but I'm trying to push the envelope & include all of America, not just the obvious cliched junky stuff!

p.s. I've created a hyperlink for your new blog. I wrote the code in and you can too, next time, if you want people reading the comments to be able to click on it. I wrote a post about it many moons ago-- it's called How To Create Links In Your Comments. xo shuna

Shuna, you are fantastic.

Mari's eloquent words of wisdom -- financial prep work is just another type of mise en place -- these are words to live by, and ones that could prevent a lot of food businesses from meeting an ill fate. Brava!

when you have a business, you should know how to use the excel because it is really a powerful program which is mainly utilize as a database. simple yet powerful.

as always you are profoundly correct in that "DUH!" kind of way. now how about some date tags in your DB to keep track of fluctuating prices? (this is what I payed on this date, etc.) any chance of getting my hands on your .xls files? (minus important intellectual property, of course) I have been trying to do some of the same things and don't have time to read help files. a hands on playbook would blow my mind. anyway, you rock.

I would back up the spreadsheets/database in THREE places *and* print a periodic hard copy. I've found that it is wonderful to be able to look back a year to see what I was paying for something and how much we used. A lot of that historical data gets lost in the ever-flowing living database.

In computer programming, it is important to track changes, so I also have an extra spreadsheet in every Excel file that is simply a chronological list of changes made. For instance, if you change butter sources, type 07/07/10 in the date column, butter in the subject column, and Changed butter source from Sad-Late-Salty Dairy to Happy-Prompt-Yummy Dairy. Yes, A/P will show to whom and when the checks were written, but it won't say why. If SLS Dairy tries to cut a new deal to win you back, having that note in your file will help in the decision making process.

Good luck with your new venture!

Hello Sylvia,

I would like to state for the record: i heart you.Or, you fuckin' rock. Thank you a lot lot. Wow! I am floored and humbled and excited by this advice. This comment is what keeps me and eggbeater buoyed on this flailing sea of epic proportions. If we ever meet I hope I am working somewhere where you'll accept a baked good of my affections & gratitude! ~ shuna

Shuna, glad to help. Periodically you can copy the notes worksheet contents into a word doc and that makes it easier to search for keywords. Never copy something from word into excel -- it's like introducing walnut moths to a cupboard. Word is *always* corrupt.

My daughter used to go into SF to eat your pastries. Keep writing, please, whether it's about spreadsheets or kitchen attitude or doughnuts (nutmeg!). Your prose and poetry are a gift.

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