Back Alley Waffles “closed indefinitely” in Mt. Vernon Square, Blames Groupon.

Back in April 2012 we learned that Back Alley Waffles was coming to the rear of 1209 10th St, NW in Blagden Alley near the Convention Center. A reader stopped by at 1pm on Sunday and found it closed with the sign pictured above on the window. There is a bit more info on their Website:

Back Alley Waffles
This is DC. This is world-class waffling. If you want to make it in this town, you better have a good waffle.

closed indefinitely
due to the bloodthirsty
business practices
of groupon

Waffles are now $450 each by appointment only.

Here’s what you’ll get:

a fluffy 7″ Belgian waffle with fresh-churned butter and real maple syrup
a 4′ x 4′ mosaic similar to the one shown below (which was stolen—if you can believe it—by two black guys and a white guy at around 3 a.m. one Friday night/Saturday morning several months ago) of the subject matter of your choice*
the materials with which to make the mosaic (roughly $225 at Home Depot)
the unparalleled experience of creating your own piece of art

On June 19th Back Alley Waffles tweeted:

“Welcome to Back Alley Waffles Twitterstream! We currently have a great deal with Groupon!”

PoPville flickr user thisisbossi also stopped by and writes:

“Back Alley Waffles” / “Waffles and Brew” (street address 1209 10th Street, but facing into Blagden Alley) recently closed over a dispute with Groupon. I’m not 100%, but my best guess is that the owner hadn’t capped whatever deal had been issued, resulting in a pretty substantial loss.

These coupon deals can be great for places like recreation or entertainment venues, where you’re selling a product that would have been there anyway — seats in a theater, for example. But for restaurants: you run the risk of selling your product at a net loss, so if that’s the case: you’re supposed to limit how many of the deal can be sold (that is: cap it). Then the money you lose is limited; it’s an investment in hopefully getting new customers.

For a place like this — a tasty product but hidden in an alley — it can be immensely useful at making people aware you exist… as opposed to higher-end restaurants where everyone already knows you exist, knows you’re tasty, but will *only* come when there’s a special deal. That’s how I work with places like Rasika.

But that’s really only beneficial if you cap it, reducing your risk. I’m guessing that didn’t happen here, leaving the businessowner with no other recourse but to close his business and refuse to honor the details. I hate to say it of a neighbor and purveyor of tasty fare, but unfortunately with this information I would best place blame on him. Though Groupon could’ve certainly advised them that they should’ve done an offer that wouldn’t put them under.

Photo by PoPville flickr user thisisbossi

93 Comment

  • Similar to the “greedy landlord” excuse.

    Everyone loves to take credit for success, but failure is always “someone elses” fault.

  • The Groupon/Living Social deal model doesn’t work for all businesses. Definitely should have capped it or had it only for a limited time (one day?) to drive traffic.

  • jim_ed

    Huh. I read that sign as ” I’m a terrible businessperson and can’t honor an agreement I made, so I’ll blame EVERYONE but myself for my mistakes. “

  • I tried to get waffles on several occassions early on, and they were never available. I stopped trying after a while. Was anyone ever able to eat one?

  • Groupon for a waffle? That doesn’t even seem like a good idea on it’s face.

  • Sounds like a total jerkoff to work for. I’m sure his employees won’t miss him.

  • Sounds like a passionate foodie who was too cool to read the fine print.

    Groupon is a crap deal for food business owners; I’m not sure how the waffle people didn’t spot that immediately. You give buyers 50% off the usual price, Groupon takes half of what you do get, leaving you with 25%. Given the slim margins of food purveyorship, I can’t imagine why ANYONE signs up. Not that I don’t take advantage when they do.

  • The one time I tried to go by (excited to try their product), soon after their opening, they had a sign posted that they were closed indefinitely due to some strange reason that I can’t recall. Seems like they never had their act together from the start. Blaming Groupon for a deal that you agreed to does, indeed, seem pretty thin. Unless this whole business was just a long guerilla performance art piece that never actually sold a waffle. Which would be sort of awesome.

  • Wow. It’s not as though the proprietor was being forced to sign up for a Groupon deal.

  • This place has been a mess since day ONE. The first time I went there, I was told that they needed more ice and would be back from CVS in an hour.

    Second time there was no one there.

    I have often walked by the place and there are literally dirty dishes and batter all over the counter and the place is locked up and closed.

    It serves as a good reminder that all these great things happening to the Shaw neighborhood are not by accident and require at least a LITTLE BIT of follow through on people’s behalf.

    that being said, lets hope this place can gets its act together, it would be such a good business if run properly!

    • I am surprised to read this — I tried to buy one of those Groupons, but it was sold out!

      I had a similar experience to Anon 10:37am. I showed up, note on the door saying they couldn’t get people to work or something, come back later.

  • UGH, I miss the days when you had to watch where you stepped in Blagden alley and you could party all night at fight club. I’m sorry but selling gourmet waffles in a somewhat obscure alley just sounds like a terrible idea. Who is reviewing these business plans?

    Hey anyone wanna go to happy hour at mud bugs?

  • They simply don’t know how to operate a business. That location is a death knell for all but the best of class operators (like Sundevich, which is successful despite the location).

    • Sundevich is a pretend bad location. Its almost ingenius. It keeps that allrue of a hidden gem, but in reality, its on the busiest alley in the city and visible from the street.

  • What kind of world do we live in where waffles need to be obtained in back alleys? More of the Republican ‘War on Breakfast’, I guess.

    Also, the owner really should have just Googled “Groupon horror stories” to see that he might have to make 102,000 cupcakes at a $20k loss.

  • This guy may be a ‘poor businessperson’ (who just learned a whole lot about running a business the very hard way) but that in no way invalidates the critique of Groupon (and Living Social, the like) which are premised themselves on a dubious – highly dubious – business model. It’s not really clear what is new or revolutionary about groupon – it’s just coupons after all – other than selectivity of the targets (people who own smartphones which is kind of like saying people with extra disposable income). Groupon got spanked themselves for having a poor business model with their IPO flop and horrible stock performance over the past year (well, not even traded a full year yet).

    This guy, whatever his faults, doesn’t appear to be a pump-and-dump vapor-ware purveyor like dot-bomb startup Groupon.

    • ah

      Actually, he seems to be exactly that if he:

      (a) promises great waffles at a great price
      (b) doesn’t actually produce those waffles

    • What are you talking about?

      The rules and obligations of a deal with groupon or living social are clear. Even if you choose not to read the fine print of your deal, the interwebs is filled with horror stories.

      Despite all this, he chose freely to do a deal with them. You may dislike the kind of business Groupon is, but it wasn’t like he was forced to do a deal with them. On the contrary, he is the one who I imagined contacted Groupon.

      And yes, he does appear to be a pump and dumper. Right on his sign, he is telling all the Groupon’ers to go “eff” themselves and if they want their money back, go to Groupon.

      Real classy this guy. He got his money up front and now he doesn’t care what happens to everyone else.

      • “he got his money up front”….whaaaa? This guy is going out of business. I think Groupon got their money up front. I think this guy was not careful and did sign a deal to sell his waffles at a loss and when he realized he was paying people – including groupon – to eat his waffles instead of making any money, he packed it in.

        I didn’t say he was a good business man and I didn’t defend him, but Groupon is a similar scam/joke both from an investment and marketing perspective. Very expensive loser. “make it up on volume” kind of stupidity.

        Yes, yes, “Caveat Emptor” and all that…and pay-day lenders are legal loan-sharks too – shame on you for falling for their rapacious bleed-you-dry terms, it’s all your own fault. It’s definitely always the sucker’s fault, never the conbusiness-man’s fault.

  • I’m usually sorry to see small businesses go under, but this guy has only himself to blame for maki g a bad deal with Groupon. I know a lot of restaurants later find out that Groupons are not always a good move, and the slim facts here seem to show that the business owner might have overlooked some crucial details.

  • The dude also sounds a bit racist. NPR recently ran a story about how bad groupon/living social were for small businesses.
    Failure to do research is the faulf of the owner not Groupon.
    Could the owner not have simply emailed, posted on FB, bought an advert on PoP, Google or FB and offered his own 2 for 1 special? Lazy owner = closed store.
    Also that comment on the mosaic makes him sound a little racist.

    • Agree that he sounds petulant, but how in hell is his comment racist? One of the thieves was white, and two were black. He doesn’t draw any kind of conclusion about them or others of their race, which would have been racist.

      Is the mere mention of someone’s race now considered offensive? Are you that hypersensitive?

      • beep-bleep-bleep-blop-wuuuu

      • I’m not hypersensitive. Rather I just feel that using race to describe someone when it is irrelevant can often hint at latent racism. If you are describing someone (criminal, person in a crowd, etc.) then race (as well as gender, height, weight, clothing) are relevant. The owner could just as easily have said three guys.

  • from what i hear, the place was great, so regardless of the reasons, a loss for the city.

  • I’m pretty sure no one forced them to join forces with Groupon in the first place.

  • ah

    Maybe he can start offering cereal instead of waffles–it’s a time-tested, proven formula for a successful restaurant.

    • The Cereal Bowl in Cleveland Park only sold cereal. It closed and now is a Chipotle.

      I got a waffle here last week. It was really yummy, but not a great business model. The interior was cool, but definitely not run well. It had interesting art. I feel bad that it closed b/c I try to root for small businesses.

      While the owner did not have to do a Groupon deal, I have no doubt that a dubious sales person pushed for the deal and did not suggest the cap on sales or time limit. However, I’m sure the business was in trouble before the Groupon deal, and he though the deal would save the store, but instead pushed it under.

  • Everybody’s so quick to blame the owner, when we don’t know the whole story or exactly what Groupon’s terms were.

    • The presumption is that, whatever Groupon’s terms, they were available to the owner in advance of him signing up for Groupon.

      • having had some experience with another similar company, i can tell you that you are not correct to make such an assumption.

        • In the midst of the agreement, a similar company inserted new or otherwise changed existing terms? And your lawyer said it was legally binding?

        • If they were not available to him, then it was stupid of him to sign up. Regardless though, whether the owner made a stupid mistake or was cheated, he would do much better to appologize and say something like “I made a bad deal with groupon, and, while I’ve tried my best to honor everyone’s groupons, I can no longer afford to continue my business. I’m sorry.” Instead he has blamed everyone else for his problems – even telling off the “grouponistas” who are his potential customers.

      • Since this is DC, I’d not be surprised to learn that you are actually a lawyer and you do read and understand every line of your credit card agreement contract…right?

        • No, but I accept that if the company then tries to execute a legal section of that agreement stemming from terms I’ve agreed to, the fault is mine for failing to fully know them.

      • If only the payment structure was listed on Groupon’s website.

        Oh wait! IT IS.

        Under “Groupon Featured Deals” the sixth question:

        When do I get paid?
        Most merchants get paid in thirds—33% after 7–10 days, 33% after one month, and 34% after two months.

        • “Can I limit the number of Groupon vouchers I sell?”

          Yes! And we have specialized calculators and a knowledgeable staff to help you figure out the right number for your business.


    • Unless Groupon forced him at gunpoint to sign up, the owner had a certain amount of choice in the situation.

      • Exactly — the terms are spelled out before you sign. If a business owner isn’t smart enough to read through the contract beforehand, well, whose fault is that? Doubly so if they don’t bother to do any sort of research on the mechanics of group deals, since they’d have found almost instantly the warning about capping the deal to avoid selling so many that it’s a huge loss.

        • so what is the penalty for simply backing out of the deal or non-compliance? it seems groupon refunds might be in order… that happens, right?

          seems you pay a reasonable penalty, rather than go bankrupt and lose your business?

          Sorry folks, this “you read it you signed it, so your family can go ahead and starve” defense is a bit ridiculous on fscking **2-for-1 waffle deals**.

          get a grip.

  • I’m going to assume that these were Groupon’s terms:

    – Groupon sells a $10 coupon for $20 worth of waffles.
    – Groupon keeps the entirety of that $10.
    – Business gives Groupon $100 for each coupon it uses.

    All the while completely lying to the business about it, and in fact telling the business that they will see nothing but pure profit.

  • The guy has the full story up online. It sounds like his main beef with Groupon is that they’re so slow at reimbursing. That sounds like a legitimate complaint. I wonder if Groupon collects interest on the money…if so, that’s not ok.

    • I’m not a small business owner. In fact I don’t even pay attention to the news that much. But EVEN I KNEW HOW GROUPON PAYS OUT. Why would you blame Groupon for them paying you under the terms of payment to which you agreed?

      The other thing that this guy seems to be forgetting to mention is that unless every single groupon-user comes in and buys exactly what the coupon is for, he’s getting money from them. Further, the cost of product in the food service industry is a minisucle portion of their cost of goods. A customer walking in the door is worth many, many times more than the 12 cents worth of flour and eggs that went into the waffle he complains about having to give away. Unless every single customer has a groupon; spends exactly the value of the groupon; and never returns again, I don’t see how this couldn’t at least be a fair deal in the big picture.

      But regardless of all that, let’s get back to point 1. Even I knew that groupon pays out over a period of several months. How could he not? I doubt groupon had anything at all to do with this failure.

  • Groupon is a mess. Also, I’ve noticed that most people who use group-on, will only patronize the establishment when they have a coupon. I wonder how many clients are retained from groupon deals.

    • I have little sympathy for business owners expecting groupon users to then become loyal full price-paying customers. If you don’t like it, don’t offer coupons to your business. If the customer likes it, they will be back but there certainly could be other problems if your business needs to take the risk to offer a groupon in the first place.

      • so using your logic, every restaurant that participates in Restaurant Week is a troubled business? It’s basically the same thing, a way to get customers in the door in hopes they come back and pay full price later.

  • The deal was capped – I wanted to buy a 2-waffle Groupon but those were sold out when I went to buy. I think they spent lost too much money on the fresh churned butter – we got at least 3 times as much butter as we needed.

    • Oh, the butter! We walked by one afternoon and one of the employees told us he’d been up the entire night making butter. The butter was nothing special and, yes, they gave you half a plate of it. A waste of their time and money, and just my favorite experience of how ill-equipped they were to run a business.

      I really wanted to like this place, but in 8-10 visits, it always took at least 20 minutes to get our waffles. No matter what time we showed up, they were always running upstairs to get supplies (one item at a time, it seemed) or to wash something. The owner was always totally frazzled and never apologized for the wait. I got my own waffle-maker and now we enjoy stress-free waffles at home. Too bad, though.

  • The coupon companies are beyond predatory. I dont understand how none have gone out of business yet. Personally, I dont find the savings worth dealing with bitter businesses (and their undisclosed restrictions on making appointments/reservations) or the unhelpful customer service at the coupon companies when trying to resolve a problem.

    That said, this guy should have realized what he was getting into and done the math a bit more carefully.

  • Jeebus this is so petulant and annoying on so many levels. Whatever happened to the good old days of siccing your lawyer on folks when you had a business disagreement with them…. or hiring lawyers to read your contracts in the first place?

  • do you expect us to believe that a well funded corporation like groupon did something so advantageous to their large business that it adversely affected a small business specializing in waffles so much that it actually lost money? poppycock!

    don’t you have to be an mba or lawyer to open a business anyway? at the very least, an IQ of 148 should be mandatory.

  • The business should have known better, but I still place fault with groupon for not performing any sort of merchant research. They should have taken a look at the company and said “a guy with three waffle irons running a restaurant out of his house probably needs a voucher cap, whether or not he thinks so.”

  • file this under social Darwinism. there’s nothing I despise more than apologists who try to defend people like the waffle guy. go to their yelp page – their inability to comport themselves as competent businessmen far pre-dates their groupon issues. the world needs ditch-diggers too…

  • Allison

    I wonder whether it would have been better to breach whatever contract they have with Groupon and stop honoring the coupons. As a financial decision, might have saved them more money to settle any lawsuit– if one materialized– w/ Groupon. Would be curious to know the contract terms for businesses participating in Groupon, and whether they might be unconscionable.

    Random: I know Groupon is currently involved in a heated patent dipute regarding their software. Happened to hear the oral argument on the issue at Fed Cir a couple weeks ago.

  • I have a friend who works at Groupon and had a long talk with him about the company a few weeks ago. They are very customer (as in the consumer, not the merchant) focused, and are quick to not do any more deals with a merchant if their customers report issues.

    In short, I don’t think Groupon is out to piss off merchants or pull a fast one — their reputation is at risk if they do so.

    What these coupon firms bring to the table, which has not been done well before, is a way for really local business to get their name out easily. Take the example in the article — a waffle shop in an obscure location. If he wants to market, what can he do? Advertising on TV or the is probably out of his budget. But with a daily deal site, your name gets emailed out to a specific group of potential customers who are pretty much guaranteed to be local. In the DC area, the deals are even targeted down to the county level, so someone in Montgomery County is unlikely to get a deal for a restaurant in Woodbridge. On top of that, as a merchant, you pay nothing up front. In fact, you only “pay” when you have a customer, in the form of giving them a discount on the product. At most places, customers are likely to buy more than just what the deal offered, like maybe buying a high-margin beverage to go with it.

    It sounds to me like this merchant just didn’t read the payout scheme, and has cashflow issues to start with.

    I’m no big fanboy of the daily deal sites (I don’t have any stock in them), as I think long-term, consumers will get deal fatigue. However, I don’t think this was a case of evil Groupon plotting an attack against the little merchant.

  • an interview with the owner about it:

    and he says “I might have jumped without checking very well.”

    Exactly. So quite your crying.

  • This place was an episode of Portlandia ready to happen. Disaster!

  • I went in the early days to this place and when I saw the Groupon deal I knew it spelled trouble. This was a one or two-man shop and certainly a… fledgling business. I won’t speculate on the disagreement with Groupon, but suffice it to say, I’m not surprised to see this turn of events.

  • If the Groupon business model sucked so much, it would not still be in business. In fact, the real threat to Groupon is not unsatisfied customers, it’s the large number of competitors that have entered the discount group coupon business – which has really low barriers to entry. And given the way businesses are collecting customer information, at some point they will eliminate the group coupon middle man and offer group coupons directly to their patrons.
    According to what this person posted on his website, the problem was the rate of reimbursement, not the volume of coupons sold.

  • The one time we visited Back Alley Waffles we had to wait because they ran out of batter and no one in the shop knew how to make batter. You offer one thing to eat, I would hope your staff would know how to make that ONE thing.

  • I can feel the agony of the restaurant owner, but he should have done his homework before signing up for the deal. That’s business 101, anything you sign, read it first!

    And there are many businesses that have voiced their opinions about Groupon. I totally agree that the advertisements targets to business owners that their revenues will increase 10x or 15x or they will get X many new users are baseless. It may work for some businesses and it may not work for others. Regardless, this is a gamble(or an investment) a business takes(make) just like how it would invest in an Ad Campaign, you may, or may not get new customers.

    I feel bad for the owner, but its a lesson for him to be more careful in the future.

    As far as the reasons given by him to not like Groupon, that is just not a good business practice. He screwed over Groupon, and he screwed over the customers who bought the Groupons, which means you DC People!

  • We visited Back Alley Waffles once. The guy was friendly and appeared to be working hard, but in over his head. It was like going over to a friend’s house and sitting in the kitchen while they made you breakfast, except too many people decided to drop by and things got pretty hectic. In my opinion, this guy is an artist first and wanted to get something else going but his business model didn’t make sense. He was selling one Belgian waffle for $8, but a more labor-intensive ten ingredient smoothie made from fresh fruit to order requiring the use of a juicer and a blender for $6. The idea was good, the product was good, but the scaling and execution weren’t there.

  • Just checked the city’s records. Back Alley never had a C of O to operate there in the first place. The last one on file was for a gym which was the Pilates studio that operated there before he setup his art installation. So even if they had survived their groupon disaster, the city would have eventually been tipped off and would have shut him down. I kind of wondered that given they didn’t even have running water in the space they were preparing their food.

    • I looked on the dept. of health’s website and they did seem to have a license.

      Would be interesting to see if they paid sales tax or if this is a Murky Coffee situation…

  • The Groupon/LivingSocial deals do seem risky for the small-volume businesses who probably view it as advertising. Meanwhile, Kushi does a $30 for $60 every few months and it must be serving them well, but it’s easy to spend $100 or more there with booze.

  • My dad made the best waffles ever – every Saturday morning. It was like a religious ritual – all ingredients at room temperature, the egg whites beaten to perfect peaks and carefully folded in – the waffle iron just right (a real waffle iron – not a silly Belgian) just using the simple recipe from “The Joy of Cooking.”

    Decades later in his old age, my sister made some Bisquick mix waffles one morning. It was one of those – kind of the saddest thing ever moments – as we all ate them and realized they were really kind of good.

  • I am–was–the owner of Back Alley Waffles, and, yes, I am completely responsible for the bad business decision to engage with Groupon. With other online coupon-type companies—like ScoutMob and Living Social—we had positive or beneficial experiences, but with Groupon our experience was disastrous.

    Yes, I should have read the fine print in the Groupon agreement, but didn’t. I should read the fine print in my contract with Comcast, too, but don’t. Do you?

    And yes, we were under-capitalized from the start. My art gallery at the same location had been struggling financially, so, some months ago, to help bring attention to the art, we were going to have weekly art shows and give out free waffles. That turned into Back Alley Waffles, which I was trying to put together on a shoestring.

    At the beginning, we had one waffle iron, no bathroom, no cash register, no employees, and almost no refrigeration. I made the tables and signage myself, bought chairs at Good Will, and, with my partner Sherman, opened the store, ran to Safeway for ingredients, made the waffles, closed and cleaned the store, and then opened again at 7 a.m. every morning, 8 a.m. on weekends.

    On the first day we were open, we had four customers. On day two, this blog mentioned us, and we had a line out the door. We were so not ready. It was a disaster. I’m still trembling!

    It was exhausting and embarrassing, but little by little as the weeks went by we were pulling it together. We added an employee, then another, got another waffle iron, a cash register, credit card capabilities… And, for the most part, people were extremely forgiving (Groupon customers excepted, incidentally).

    We stuck to our original plan of serving waffles with fresh churned butter (most people have never tasted butter that has never been chilled) and real maple syrup. Butter-churning can be time-consuming (it varies) but we figured it was worth it. For those who wanted corporate efficiency in their food delivery, our thinking went, McDonald’s is everywhere, and it’s perfect nearly every time.

    And, by the skin of our teeth, we were making it. Every week we got better at what we were doing, we got more of the equipment we needed, we could get more items from wholesalers instead of Safeway, we got a cleaning guy, and a good staff of seven, plus me and Sherman, and even my art was getting noticed (yayy!).

    And every week, business was improving–even in that gawdawful heatwave.

    Then I heard that a neighboring alley restaurant had been put over the top with an outfit called Groupon, a company with which I was unfamiliar. So I signed us up. Busy as I was, I did it without adequate research, without reading all the fine print.

    Here’s what happened:

    Right out of the box, we got a glut of Groupon customers. They’d sent money to Groupon and received coupons for double the amount. We had to lay out the money for the food and labor up front for these customers, then “redeem” the coupons from Groupon. Groupon takes a big chuck of the money for its share, but then, instead of depositing our share overnight in our bank account like credit card companies do, they hold on to our share. For a month. Then they issue a check. Then the check has to “process”—for up to ten days. Then they send the check snail mail.

    And get this: the check is only for a third of what they owe you. The next third goes through the same thing a full month later, and the final third a month after that!

    That’s the part I didn’t understand. That’s the part we couldn’t swing.

    I owe every one of my employees several weeks of back pay, but not one quit (except the cleaning guy–and he asked for his job back yesterday). The employees are urging me to reopen, in fact. They are willing to keep working, even though I still haven’t gotten the money for the second installment from Groupon (the check finally arrived in the mail Saturday, but has yet to clear).

    How rotten is it that a corporation that earned $1.6 billion last year will hold a few thousand dollars of a small start-up’s money for so long that the start-up’s employees have to work for weeks with no guarantee of payment?

    So yeah, I was under-funded, and didn’t do my research, and leaped too quickly. I screwed up, it was my fault, and it cost me everything (I’ll lose my gallery now, too, most likely, and my place to live). But I would rather the business world was populated by people like my employees, and not by corporations like Groupon.

    • Craig, thanks for writing in and sharing your thoughts with us. Your type of entrepeneurship and unique flavor of enterprise is what makes a city like D.C. great. As someone who loves both art and waffles, I do hope you find a way to try your enterprise again. I also think that Groupon was only part of the issue. I am one of the people who made a special effort to show up at your place, only to find it mysteriously closed. I am apparently not alone. Opening a restaurant and succeeding is really, REALLY hard under the best of circumstances. But without an adequate business plan, staffing, financing, and so on, it is basically impossible. I hope you take this experience as something to learn from, and find a way to try again with a fresh start and a bit more preparation to weather inevitable storms of small business ownership (whether Groupon-related, or other inevitable yet impossible to anticipate disasters). First and foremost, you should try (and I know it’s not easy, but I also know it is possible) to raise some capital from investors so that you aren’t wholly reliant on one source of income to the point where 30 days will make or break your entire enterprise. And hopefully you will be better prepared for the early rush of customers, which any good new business will experience, and most frankly have difficultly dealing with. With blogs such as this widely-read, it is now easy to generate a lot of free publicity for a business that fills a desirable niche in an underserved neighborhood. You clearly have the work ethic, now, I hope, you have the experience to be a bit more careful and better prepared in what, as I said, is a herculean task under the best of circumstances. Good luck, and I hope you land on your feet with a successful new venture.

    • Thanks for responding. Starting a restaurant is one of the toughest ventures out there, and requires a lot of experience as well as some luck. I guess you saw first-hand how difficult it can be. If you haven’t seen it before, I recommend you watch Restaurant Impossible on the Food network. It’s a good view into how many different things can go wrong in a restaurant, and how challenging it is.

    • I’m just amazed you got licensed with minimal refrigeration and no bathroom.

      Sounds like if you weren’t shut down by the groupon deal, the next health dept. inspection would have done it for you.

  • Good luck for your future endeavors – it might turn out to be a good lesson to have made so many mistakes so drastically in so many ways so quickly! If your real passion is your art – pursue that.

  • As someone who has also run several Groupon specials. They do warn you to be prepared and cite examples of what has happened to businesses who were not prepared. Groupon’s not a great idea for everyone, but you still make the decision to run a groupon. This is just a person who can’t accept responsibility for a mistake.

  • I guess I’m surprised a dine-in restaurant can get a license without having a restroom.

  • To most business owner, new or old: JUST SAY NO! no to groupon no to living social, these companies make money on your money. do the leg work: good service, good products. that’s it. other companies that do the same damage: belly, swipey. I have seen them all. DO THE LEGWORK. SERVICE AND PRODUCT. that is the recipe.

    • Yep. I think doing Groupon-type deals cheapens the product or service the business is offering. If they’re good enough, word-of-mouth and Yelp will get them the business. They shouldn’t need to charge 50% of the regular price. Most of the businesses I respect the most happen to be the ones that don’t offer Groupons.

      • That’s just ridiculous and insulting. A business isn’t “cheapened” by offering a Groupon. It would be wonderful if every business could get by on word-of-mouth alone (or by earning your “respect,” whatever that means), but get real. Yelp isn’t necessarily a help either unless your yelpers are consistent reviewers, most reviews will stay hidden otherwise.

        And don’t think that Yelp doesn’t try to get money out of businesses either, because they definitely do — if you sign up with Yelp you get better placement and other perks, and you pay a lot for it too. These include keeping ads for competitive businesses off your page, and Yelp comes in to make a video that will run on your Yelp page. I’ll bet that a lot of the businesses you patronize because of their Yelp reviews have paid Yelp to make them more prominent, or make them come up higher in your Yelp search. So much for the purity of your Yelp experience.

        • Sorry to have been so knee-jerk and rude about your comment, it’s just that I think it’s wrong to tar a business that tries a reasonable tactic to boost sales — you might not use them, but Groupon and other offers can be a good tool for business if used in the right way. It’s a shame that you’d consider not patronizing a business just because it had done a Groupon.

  • Did he show anyone a C of O for that business? Did he have permits? Healths inspections? Actually, it doesn’t even have running water to wash dishes or utensils! Bathrooms? What a damn joke. This is not only an insult to costumers, but to all legit restaurant owners in town. Good riddance.

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