This is a great read for anyone at the beginning of the process of opening a new shop from scratch. (Something you probably should NOT be doing considering the number of good locations for sale on the cheap right now). Actually, it's a good read for just about anyone.

http://www.cafetango.net/Index.htm

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John P said:
5) Menu problems. Catering, wine, extra foodstuffs to salvage/increase sales poor idea. You have now lost your identity.

I would argue he lost his identity much sooner than that. One of the first things I assumed when I saw the pictures of the place was they must be doing food. If you want to be the kind of shop that focuses on coffee, then look the part. Every decision from your layout and square footage to what kind of tables you use registers in customers minds in a split second to convey what you are about. Make sure your message and your image match up. The corporate shades and the laminate tables suggest a cafeteria at worst and a Panera at best.
Matt Swenson said:
My favorite part:

"While the space was being demolished, I continued to focus on
the many other aspects of starting a business:

l Budget and revenue forecasting"


I wonder if this was before or after he ordered 372 cases of cups?

:) well said. His time would have been better spent focusing on the demolition... and finding someone else to focus on the budget and revenue projections.
The Barista Formerly Known As JavaJ said:

The corporate shades and the laminate tables suggest a cafeteria at worst and a Panera at best.

We have wood laminate tables... the architect/designer team made some ridiculous underestimations on other elements. We needed something, and that was all we could afford with the remaining budget. Four years later, we still have 'em. And lighting from Home Depot/Lowe's after we shot down their $18,000 lighting design budget. It's not perfect, but nobody confuses us with Panera.

Then again, since we're talking about Tango, I guess once you've spent $400K, what's another $25K?
Actually we had laminate tables too! But it is a whole picture thing, and at least they were a dark wood laminate, ala Peet's. We certainly could have done a better job of projecting what we were about, starting with our name! But overall, few people were confused, or expected a sandwich shop.
It must be painfully difficult to operate a business when you have as much contempt for your market as this guy does. His resume discloses that he is a graduate of one of the most elite prep schools in the U.S. (Deerfield Academy), which may have contributed to his inability to relate to the "teenage riffraff" that hung around his shop during the day. Other owners know how to convert teenagers into customers. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is especially successful at this around L.A.

My office is in a community (Pasadena, CA) that is practically a mirror image of Stamford, yet it manages to support a large number of coffee shops, despite being half of Stamford's size. He should have hired a coffee shop consultant (and lawyer, 'natch) from the get-go, which would have helped him (and his architect) avoid many of the problems he encountered. Bellissimo should link to this story on their Home page. :-)
" With the Punch List complete, the employee training over, plus all local, state and
federal government permits and licenses obtained, Café Tango opened for business
on August 1, 2002…$403,000 over budget."

Gulp ...

Marshall Fuss said:
It must be painfully difficult to operate a business when you have as much contempt for your market as this guy does. His resume discloses that he is a graduate of one of the most elite prep schools in the U.S. (Deerfield Academy), which may have contributed to his inability to relate to the "teenage riffraff" that hung around his shop during the day. Other owners know how to convert teenagers into customers. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is especially successful at this around L.A.

My office is in a community (Pasadena, CA) that is practically a mirror image of Stamford, yet it manages to support a large number of coffee shops, despite being half of Stamford's size. He should have hired a coffee shop consultant (and lawyer, 'natch) from the get-go, which would have helped him (and his architect) avoid many of the problems he encountered. Bellissimo should link to this story on their Home page. :-)
Marshall,
Bellissimo could've saved him a few bucks... or all of it if they'd done their research.
From Delocator:
Pasadena within five miles of 91101: 299 Starbucks, 285 indies.
Stamford within five miles of 06902: 4 Starbucks (not one actually IN Stamford), 5 indies (includes the place that took over for Tango and a new deli-cum-espresso bar.

There are two shops in all of Fairfield County (pop. 900,000, 626 sq.mi., median income $60K) where I'd go for a decent - not good or great - cappuccino. Both are 20 miles from Stamford. Someone will succeed there eventually, but I wouldn't open up shop there. At least not with my money.
WOW! It was like reading the story of our opening. We did the build out ourselves and everything else involved. The only thing is, we haven't got opened yet. We are dealing with the NYC Department of Buildings, so every time you read about a building falling,crane accident, or anything else having to do with a building, it slows down all inspections and causes them to question everything, whether it was existing or not. I really feel for you and wish I would have used my website to show everything up to date, but as you know, it can be gut wrenching to talk about. I wish you the best of luck with anything you may do in the future.( That was to the person who did all the work)
EspressoFein, I wish you luck. Hopefully you are drawing some info from both the original site and the comments posted here on how this owner could have responded differently to have a better outcome. You have the benefit of some great accumulated wisdom here, I hope you use it to your advantage.

Good luck.
Some interesting comments about my business have been posted here... Some of them are accurate, some are naive/ignorant. But then -- in defense of those in the second group -- unless you've done opened your own business or unless you were here with me to know and understand the "dynamics" plus the un-specified (mentioned) facts of my particular "case", you'll come to the wrong conclusions. Nevertheless, JavaJ, thanks for comments, publicity... and the reminder that it's time to take my website down! ~Tango
Please don't. Mistakes are part of the game, and your web page is a useful tool for many people. Thanks for putting yourself out there, it takes guts.

Tango said:
Nevertheless, JavaJ, thanks for comments, publicity... and the reminder that it's time to take my website down! ~Tango

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