Almost a year ago Alberto and I opened our Café. We assumed that it would take us about three years before it would have a good following and provide enough income to pay all of our bills. It has taken much less time than we thought it would to get to where we are now. We aren't yet to the point where it will really pay for my trips back to see the kids (or to bring them here) but it is paying our bills.
There are several factors that have made this progress possible in less than a year:
- We offer food that no one else in the area has, and at reasonable prices.
- Leaving behind our teaching jobs, which was hard at first since we were making more money from them. It made it possible for us to be open more hours and be awake and friendly when we were open.
- A very good friend has introduced many of our neighbors and her friends to our Café - and good word of mouth really makes a difference.
- We were able to move into what had been the family store - which was set up better to make the place an inviting place to relax and eat.
- The better set up also had the added bonus of allowing us to expand our menu greatly - and more variety added more customers.
We have been doing almost all of the work on the Café ourselves, which really helps to cut costs. (The few times it hasn't been just us, it's been family members lending a hand/their expertise.) I have been doing some of the decorating with different craft projects and Alberto has painted a couple of accents on the walls. He made the beautiful brick bar in front of our prep/cooking area and people really enjoy being able to sit there and chat while waiting for their food. We're expanding the sidewalk this weekend all the way to our property line so that we can have an outdoor seating area as well. It's really fun (but demanding!) to build your own business from scratch and see it grow. Last night a frequent customer came in for a coffee and to study and was here for two hours. It's nice to be able to provide a place where someone feels comfortable and relaxed enough to do that.
Now all that fun is great, but there's one thing I've learned here, and that is the fact there's always another shoe waiting to drop. For us that shoe is having to renew my residency visa - which we have to fill out all the same paperwork again and pay again too! It's frustrating, because we don't know what all they will demand of us by way of income level and we don't know how many years this visa will be good for (or how many more times we will have to renew before I can be a 'permanent' resident). So, wish us luck. Hopefully this won't be as difficult as last time (it took us six months to get the approval - and my tourist visa was about to expire).