Ready for Respite.

This old girl is ready for a vacation. Without going into every exacerbating detail, work yesterday was simply exhausting, we sold a record amount of food, and I was on my feet at least 14 out of the 16 hours of my day.
The bar business is a blast, don’t get me wrong, but some Saturday mornings I wake up and don’t know how I’m going to physically get through another day. Weekends obviously are our time to shine, make money, and throw amazing parties, but I will admit sometimes the motto “fake it til you make it” is my mantra, and I just have to diesel tank my ass through the longest days.

In February, when our intern went back to school, we made the idiotic executive decision to not fill his kitchen manager position immediately. The rationale was we could save some money by doing it ourselves as we had in the past, get caught up on some bills, and hold off on training someone that wouldn’t be a perfect fit. Though the extra finances have been nice, I am pretty run down at the moment. When we made this decision, we hadn’t taken into account that our business has grown exponentially in the past 3 years, we now have our own house to take care of, and my father in law (who holds down the morning shift) was going to be out at least a month for surgery. In hind site, we bit off a little more than we should have, but we always do, and that’s why our business thrives and moves forward every day.

I get all my college helpers back starting next weekend, which means party time!! I can start working on aspects of my business that I love including menu development, customer service, advertising, and I will also have more time off than a half day every 3 months or so. This makes me so pumped but I am surely counting down the days at the moment.

Some cool stuff happened this week at the bar – we were mentioned in North Hills Monthly, which is really exciting for me, because I’m originally from the Pittsburgh area so getting a little love from there makes me proud that my bar isn’t just good for my town, but good in general!

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I decided to feature weekend specials based on stuff I like to eat, and it went over better than I anticipated:

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sweet and spicy salmon – I can’t get enough of this lately!

Even through chaotic times at work, and less than ideal training circumstances, I definitely make staying on a healthy path a main priority. Eating mindfully has kept my immune system from tanking, taking the time to take care of my body has given me an outlet for my anxiety as well as something to look forward to. I cannot stress enough how much making a healthy lifestyle second nature has improved every aspect of my life. I know if I was eating like crap, drinking regularly, and being sedentary in all my down time, I would not be able to give my business the attention it deserves, lead my staff to excel at their jobs, or respect myself enough to confidently weather anything the restaurant business has to throw at me.

That’s why for my training today I did something nice for myself. After a long day on your feet, the morning after aches and pains can translate into a really shitty day. I treated myself to an hour of gentle yoga, and I definitely have no regrets about it, because I’m definitely good to tackle whatever happens between now and 5am.

I am going to live vicariously through you all today, because my time will be spent at work, so tell me something fun you’re getting into if you so desire. Happy Saturday!

Act for Yourself. My big break.

Yesterday I threw up a very vague tidbit on twitter about being really excited about an announcement I had to make. Although I have confided in a few friends about said announcement (and close family,) I still can’t come out to everyone I know, and it’s driving me freaking insane. Ah, the beauty of having an anonymous blog where I can run my big blobby mouth with no repercussion.

Earlier this week I was approached by a close friend with an amazing business opportunity. Basically, I was invited this summer to open and operate a bar in a popular tourist district about 2 hours from my home. I not only have financial backing, but my fiancĂ© and I have free rein to run it however we please. This area is a notorious celebrity hang out, and we are encouraged to book giant weekend events with national recording artists. It’s a dream gig.

The only downfall is my own personal fear. The small town bar I own and operate now is my life. Although we are not closing it, I feel like I am “abandoning” the place and staff I care so much about to take this leap. I am afraid of living away from home for half of the week, I’m scared to not have my dog with me all the time, I am afraid I’m going to hate it – or worse, everyone is going to hate me. I’m also afraid if I take away the “me” I put into my business now, if it will somehow fall apart. Even worse, I’m scared that my bar, my baby, will function perfectly fine without its mommy.

My stomach has been in knots for days. I am trying not to talk too much about it, because I’m concerned it will fall through and I will look like an ass. So my secret is safe with you all, my Internet confidants.

The one thing I’m not concerned about, though, is my ability. I know I’m spectacular at my job. I am really good at creating one of a kind menus with food people will love. I’m a whiz kid at beer and wine pairings. I can create cocktails that will drive anyone to drink. I have an ear for music. I throw fun events that people talk about for months. I’m good at accounting, law, advertising, and being a “boss.” I need to keep reminding myself that these strengths, plus having a business partner who is equally as strong, will help make this a huge, life changing, amazing career choice.

It’s funny how comfortable I’ve gotten with something that initially scared the shit out of me. When we first opened the bar, I was clueless. I had bartended for many years, but every other aspect of it, we had to figure out along the way. The fact that it is successful now, and most days everything moves like clockwork is clutch. Last month though, I went into a bout of depression. I have never opened up to really anyone about this, but I just felt “stuck.” I felt like my career was at a standstill, and I didn’t want the rest of my life to be being a glorified line cook with part ownership of a business. I felt like my abilities were being stifled by my circumstance, my staff was so tiny that my function was doing all the things they didn’t have time to do. I was putting 10 hours of my life 7 days a week into standing in a kitchen cooking. I will be the first to admit, that’s the WRONG way to run a business. Other things go to the wayside, you don’t have the opportunity to grow or get better as a business. Sometimes it has to be done like that until things get straightened out, but I was straight up sad and miserable. It reflected on my relationship with Aaron – all we did was fight. And it was about scary hurtful things too… Who does more work around here was the biggie – and there were many days of crying myself to sleep and praying for a solution.

Well, the solution not only presented itself, but it’s a million times more than I could ask for. Although this blog has mostly been my voice as a fitness aficionado, I really look forward to letting you all in on this part of my life. I also think it’s important to act as a resource for other aspiring entrepreneurs so they can not only see that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but also that if you dump every possible resource you have into something you feel passionately about, you will get back tenfold. Not only financially, but in the enrichment of your life, your very being as a whole. So as I am off to daydream about fun details like creating a great menu and what kind of uniforms my staff will be wearing, I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite modernist minds, Katherine Mansfield –

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Ripped Cream – Behind The Scenes and Giveaway!

When I first started working on this product review, I was pretty sure I was going to just be sharing my opinions on a unique quirky protein supplement, giving a bag away to you guys, and moving right along. Ripped Cream, a powder based coffee creamer containing as much protein as an egg, and featuring such delicious flavors as Lean Vanilla Bean and Chizzled Chocolate, is definitely an innovative and much needed creation for us fancy coffee lovers who put nutrition first. I know I’ve been a black coffee girl for well over a year now, so the fact that this sweet treat actually has a reasonable nutritional profile really piqued my interest.

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I went straight for the Lean Vanilla Bean – and it is so so good. It mixes like a dream, and isn’t overpoweringly sweet. For anyone who’s ever tried to drink protein powder in a warm beverage just to be disappointed by ruining a perfectly good cup of coffee, with Ripped Cream, you don’t have to worry about that.

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Ripped Cream is delicious delicious and helps us get more much needed protein in our diets, and that could be the end all be all. However, that’s not the case. There’s a whole lot more to the Ripped Cream story than just the finished product. As you all know, as an entrepreneur myself, it has become one of my mini life missions to encourage other females to do the same for themselves. Creator and CEO of Ripped Cream, Robin Dimiceli was kind enough to do an interview with me about her life as a business owner and mother and give me some behind the scenes information about Ripped Cream. I hope Robin’s story is as inspiring to you all as it is to me, because it is such a shining example as to how standing behind something you genuinely care about and feel passionately about can help turn your dreams into reality.

Robin and her family - the inspiration behind Ripped Cream.

Robin and her family – the inspiration behind Ripped Cream.

What inspired you to start your own business?
Robin: My youngest son was diagnosed with a learning disability and his doctor recommended I give him a high protein breakfast every morning. I started mixing protein powder for him in a sippy cup, and adding it to hot cocoa to increase his protein intake. I started using his concoction in my coffee as well knowing I needed protein first thing in the morning. I didn’t like the taste and did a google search for protein coffee creamer. All I could find were blogs with people looking for it.
I was on my sofa on a Saturday watching the tv show “Shark Tank,” drinking my not so tasty protein coffee creamer. I never missed an episode and was always trying to think of my own invention. In my research I found that nearly 75% of Americans drink coffee, and with so many of us searching for ways to improve our eating habits, I was motivated! I knew nothing about the food industry, but I was excited to learn!

What are some things you struggled with during the start up of your business?
Robin: Ha ha. Besides money?
I think the biggest challenge was the flavor. Keeping it healthy as well as yummy was a juggling act! Also, it wasn’t easy finding a high quality protein that could withstand the heat and acidity of coffee. We tried to come up with an unsweetened version, but we learned after months of working with some of the best chemists that the little bit of organic cane sweetener in Ripped Cream is necessary for the dissolvability of the protein and vitamins.
Chizzled Chocolate was a challenge as well – the organic cocoa for it was only being harvested when we were ready for production. It would still be 5 months before it was ready, and it wasn’t an option for us to change the ingredients on the already printed packages. We searched and found the same chocolate in France. Chizzled Chocolate is my favorite… Maybe because it was so high maintenance.

I am so in love with your packaging/design, and clever names for the different flavors of Ripped Cream! Did you come up with all that yourself?
Robin: I love angels, so I knew the logo had to have angel wings and a coffee mug. My dear friend Joe Lacono is an artist who loves retro style hot rods (he developed a stroller called a “Roddler” so dads can feel manly pushing a stroller?). I told him what I envisioned, and in a day he emailed me our logo.
The names of the flavors were really fun – I’m not really in touch with the 20 something names in the fitness world, so I had my kids and their gym friends for words like “cut,” and “chizzled”. We have a savings bank of names now – hardbody hazelnut, smoking hot cinnamon, and yoked eggnog! (Note from Martha… Dear Santa (or Robin), I want Yoked Eggnog for Christmas next year!!)

Ripped Cream was tested and granted the seal of approval by Whole Foods!

Ripped Cream was tested and granted the seal of approval by Whole Foods!

What’s the best part of owning your own business.
Robin: I love that dialysis clinics are using Ripped Cream. We ship it to them. I had no idea how important it was for those patients to get protein! We have done some really fun things like an air drop to our troops in Afghanistan. Being able to say yes to decisions I want to make from my heart feels really good.
It’s very surreal still to see Ripped Cream in a store. Kind of crazy because I’m not known for my cooking skills, but people love Ripped Cream!

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Robin: For sure I would say… Believe in your dreams and your abilities. Even if you have no experience. Doors will open, you will meet people… You can do amazing things! Oh, and you can pretty much Google anything for answers (lol.)

Anything else you want my readers to know about Ripped Cream?
Robin: I researched every ingredient before it went into Ripped Cream. Whole foods found us and put us through their 3rd party food safety audit and we scored 100%! I have to say as long as it took and as tedious of a process as it was, I gained huge respect for whole foods. They may charge more, but they themselves make sure what’s on the outside of the packaging is on the inside as well. Getting an A from them means a lot!!

Since my blog is so fitness-centric tell us what you do to keep in shape:
Robin: I am a Bikram yoga addict! I have to drive 45 minutes to the nearest studio, so I can only do it 2 times a week. It is amazing and it works every muscle as well as the inside of us.
As a single mom, I have learned to LOVE many DVD workouts. I rotate – no excuses – barefoot, hair in ponytail, still in PJs, no one can see you!! Exercise is the best way to deal with stress and always gives you a glow!

I want to thank Robin for taking the time to answer these questions, as well as for hooking me up with 2 big bags of Ripped Cream – one for me to try, and one to share with you guys!
All you have to do to enter my contest for a bag of Ripped Cream Chizzled Chocolate is –
Leave a comment below and tell me how you like your coffee!
For a bonus entry tweet about my giveaway! Make sure you tag me (@mychickenbutt) and @rippedcream – and let me know you did in the comments below so I can count that.
On Friday, I will pick a winner via random.org and contact you ASAP, so keep posted!

Update! Robin is throwing in a bag of Lean Vanilla Bean too – that means 2 winners! Get to tweeting and commenting, and best of luck to all of you!!!