Both in need of a fresh financial start, friends Matt and Andrea were looking to launch a brand-new business together, their first-ever restaurant that would ideally feature an eclectic menu and offer live music. They looked to Buy This Restaurant for help in tracking down the ultimate location to open, and after scouring a few spots with Keith Simpson, they decided on the 1,100-square-foot restaurant in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain on account of its prime location.
FN Dish checked in with the owners a few months after filming to find out more about their eatery, now named Aurum. Read on below to hear from Matt and Andrea, and learn about their experience in purchasing the restaurant and how the business is doing today.
What is the name of your new restaurant, and when did you open?
Matt and Andrea: Aurum, January 13th
What was the most-influential factor in choosing the Jamaica Plain location over the Oak Hill Pizza and East Side Wings locations??
Matt and Andrea: Location
Speaking of your finances, what have the weekly (or daily or monthly) sales been at the restaurant? What is the greatest expenditure at your business?
Matt and Andrea: It’s been only a few weeks, so sales figures are not fluid yet. To date, labor and operating expenses are my biggest expenditure.
What has been your greatest struggle and the greatest success in working to open your restaurant?
Matt and Andrea: The greatest struggle was trying to determine an accurate inventory and labor needs without any history to base it on. My greatest success so far has been the great support from the neighborhood.
Did you run into any trouble with the uncleanliness of the kitchen and dining room as you worked on renovations — grime issues, broken appliances, etc.?
Matt and Andrea: The amount of dirt, grime, grease, etc., was definitely an obstacle, but it didn’t cause any issues that hard work couldn’t overcome.
What do you think was the most-important design aspect of the restaurant in order to achieve the eclectic cafe feel you were hoping for?
Matt and Andrea: Easily the most-important design aspect was to open up the restaurant by removing the old “pizza style” menu boards and incorporate my blackboard menus. By adding various and miscellaneous artwork, I’ve been able to gain the eclectic feel I was hoping for.
In terms of your menu, what’s proved to be the best-selling items so far?
Matt and Andrea: So far the pies have been a huge hit, with the Whiskey River and The FahMah being the best-sellers.
Matt, how are you adjusting to working a restaurant kitchen? What have been the best and worst parts of back-of-house management so far?
Matt: The kitchen is my comfort zone, as this is where most of my experience is. I’ve been able to establish a good flow in the kitchen to easily get food out in an efficient time frame, while keeping things fresh. Working the kitchen alone has been a bit of a challenge, which will be short term until I hire a full-time cook, so that I can better manage the business side of things.
Andrea, how are you managing the front-of-house business?
Andrea: I’d say I’m managing the front-of-house business well. It’s a lot of fun sharing the Aurum story with customers, planning events and coming up with promotions.
Have you hosted any live music nights so far? If so, what has the turnout been like, what kind of singers or musicians play, and do you offer any food specials on event nights? If you haven’t hosted music nights yet, are you planning on doing so in the future?
Matt and Andrea: Having been open for just a few weeks, we’ve hosted only one music night. The turnout was fantastic with every seat in the house occupied! But we’ve got a few events for February and March we’re excited about, from art openings to beer and wine tastings, and they all include music. I’ve also spoken to some neighboring businesses in the community about creating a once-a-month collaborative event with promotions, music and live art.
Who has been your typical customer so far — families, business people, lunch crowds, etc.?
Matt and Andrea: My typical customers have been local neighborhood people, interested to see what I’ve brought to the neighborhood. I’ve also had a great turnout from local media and press people.
Matt, so far has this business venture proved to be the new start you were hoping for?
Matt: I’ve wanted to open my own restaurant for years, and this experience has not disappointed. It was certainly a challenge to get it open exactly how I wanted, but I’ve had a great team of people helping along the way to reach my goal. Although the challenge has really just begun, I know that my experience, as well as my great team that’s helping me run and manage the place, will help us to become a success.
What are you most looking forward to for your new restaurant?
Matt and Andrea: I’m mostly excited to continue to introduce my unique menu to people and watch them enjoy my food. I’m also excited to try new and innovative items moving forward. In light of the recent death of my father, I’m also looking forward to having an outlet in which I can work and create — to help carry on his memory, as many of my menu items come from recipes that I first learned from him.