Well. Let’s just cut to the chase – we are raising our prices. It’s the same story that Californian consumers are used to at this point – minimum wage went up and most small businesses have to buffer that cost in somehow. And with plans to continue raising minimum wage, this isn’t the last time we will see the price dance.
That being said – I am all for minimum wage matching the true cost of living in an area. It’s the foundation to a strong community. But as a small business owner, it does make this even more challenging.
We have spent our first 6 months in business finding our own internal balance. With any new start, it takes a minute to find homeostasis. Unexpected challenges in the beginning lead to tests of resiliency. And any restaurateur will tell you that managing labor and labor costs are the most difficult areas to direct and maintain.
I think for myself and my business partners, when it comes to those crucial decision-making moments, our bottom line always can be gauged by asking one question: Will it lessen the quality of our products and services? And if the answer is yes, then forget about it (or in the words of my father – fuhgetaboutit). The whole concept of Momona is Hawaiian and Japanese influenced food made from scratch; Asian street food made through our Chico-centric lens. But making our food takes time and human power; a lot of it. And we’ve finally found our balance in the kitchen to be able to make all this food without compromising our recipes or our ingredients. And that’s it – that’s our bottom line.
So now, how to stay in business? Here comes the other way to create financial balance if you can’t cut your expenses any more – a price increase. It is with much reservation that this is the final answer but, in the end, we just want our restaurant to survive so that we can continue to cook you the best food we know how to make.
I’ve found that the general perception of Asian street food, ramen, bao, etc., is CHEAP. And that’s obviously logical, with Top Ramen being the #1 college cheap eat for the last 45 years. And even with the nationwide food trend of valuing quality and process over convenience, it’s hard to knock a perception of packet ramen for $.97 in a college town.
So what’s the good news? Well for us, it’s that we’re moving forward. We still feel that you want quality over convenience. We still feel that you want diversity and uniqueness. We still feel that you want, not just a strong local community and sustainable food platforms, but also a strong local economy. Every dollar we spend inside our community and with our neighbors, as business owners and as individuals, makes this town even more special.
We’ve done everything we know how to do to avoid raising prices. It was a last resort. Raising our prices is to keep us from going out of business. Raising our prices is not for personal gain in any way shape or form. Raising our prices only reflects our integrity to our concept – quality, over everything else.