SJ HotChefs was started with the mission of providing locally sourced food right from our own backyards. We wanted to craft a hand tailored experience so unique and individual to each restaurant, that people would want to come back.
It worked. 10 years later we are still following that same path.
We think one of the driving keys to our success was diving into the world of craft.
According to webster, Craft is the activity of skillfully making things by hand, or engineering products from scratch.
Products that involve skill and dedication, especially by hand or a trade, are becoming increasingly rare these days for two specific reasons.
The first is time. We are becoming increasingly more busy and it is becoming harder to focus on the projects that really take dedication because our busy schedules don’t allow time for it.
The second is patience. In an instant gratification world, going back to school, or training for a marathon takes dedicated time we just do not have.
It seemed for awhile in America, we lost a culture of creating, and believing in our own products. For a long time we went the way of fast and easy, because it was simpler.
That brings us to an interesting intersection.
Products that involve craft trades have been rising over the last decade. We can think of the amount of distilleries growing, locally sourced coffee houses, and arguably the most famous, craft beer.
Erci says “the rise of craft beer started on the west coast, then jumped to the east coast. Craft brewing was a counter reaction to the blandness of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Coffee was instant, bread had 40 to 50 ingredients that bore no resemblance to bread whatsoever. Beer had also become tasteless. People started re-discovering flavor. Craft beer accelerated it’s growth in one of the worst recession’s we have ever seen. People were most certainly not buying new cars, or new homes, but they were not willing to give up their identity or their taste buds. The thing that really enabled the craft beer boom to succeed was the internet, because now it was possible to have a one on one dialogue with the consumer and to relocate back into cities where you could survive.”
Opening a local brewery is risky, especially from a profit stand point.
As of March, there are over two thousand three hundred and sixty craft breweries in the United States. These are the small producers of better known beers such as IPA’s, or the anti Budweiser beers. In 2013, based off of data gathered from the Brewers Association, The New Yorker created an interactive map detailing all the breweries around the country, how much they were producing and the demand for their beers. It’s mind boggling. For instance, New Jersey ranks 27th in the country with 26 craft breweries that produced 37,468 barrels of beer in 2012, with a 10% increase in growth.
That’s why the rise of craft has been so monumental in shifting the way people think about commerce, especially locally.
“In the midst of the recent recession, more than 4,500 craft beer makers disrupted a centuries-old industry. Craft beer sales soared between 2007 and 2012 and now make up 14.3 percent of the $100 billion-dollar beer market.” –Drew Marshall
Drew went on to give some tips worth highlighting for small businesses and big dreamers.
“Don’t follow the big guys
Highlight the ‘friendly’ in friendly competition
Don’t stop pushing your limits
Advocate for your industry.”
According to the Brewers association, in 2014, Craft Breweries sold 19.6 billion dollars in beer. That’s a 22% increase and it’s growing, rapidly.
This craft revolution has implications not just for people in the “restaurant industry” but for anyone that wants to take a chance on sharing their dream innovations.
Just because it isn’t made by the largest companies, just because it tastes and looks different than what you are used to, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a shot at sharing your product with the world.
At SJ, we try and continue to push the limits every day we show up for work, and we hope you do the same as well.
There are not enough hours in the day to settle for generic, so try settling for great.