28 April 2011

The Sandwich

So this week we got nominated by the British Sandwich Association for the award of Independent Sandwich Bar of the Year. It came in the same week that a descendant of the Earl of Sandwich tried to reclaim his legacy.

At first I was thrilled. And then I wasnt. Really, are we just a sandwich bar?

But now i'm thrilled again. Acid Jazz is also Jazz no?

05 April 2011

Letter XX: True love and Randomness

Dear Son

If you are the son I would hope you would be then you will have noticed that this letter is the first with a subject title. These are two important topics I hope to expand on in this letter and others.

True love, your grandmother once said, is "when you have lost your limbs in a car accident and your partner washes your bum after a semi-solid number 2". Admittedly your grandmother was, at the time she told me this, in the thrall of her latest yogi but there is a lot of truth there that I want you to remember. I will not bore you about ditties on love, but I would just tell you to remember two things. First, read the great C19 poet, Ghalib, to understand the true meaning of the idea of love and, in his own life, the dangers of marrying young and being imprisoned. I should add that at the very least if you are hoping to find a bride from the sub-continent (I wonder if they still call it that) then have a copy of Ghalib's book in your pocket, visible to the eyes of the world. This will impress any Asian lady with an interest in history and the mughal era. Second, do not forget that any relationship you have must give you the space for the randomness of life and give you the space to dream. Some people hate this but our family has a tradition of embracing it, which is why I had to divorce your mother (I discussed this in my previous letter).

Randomness and dreaming brings me to a topic I have not touched on in a few letters, mooli's. As I write this you have just left the room for your Latin lesson, and mooli's has gone from strength to strength, with more reviews in the natonal press. Its expansion is imminent. But I wanted to share with you some ideas I had - I am not sure how concrete they are but they represent my current thinking.

I was wondering what makes mooli's mooli's. Or what was it or is it that attracted me to it and its idea. Beyond just the bond of friendships, it was the idea of mooli's. Driven by passion, mooli's was not trying to follow the party line for other food stores. That idea, for me at this moment, is key and must at some level feature in the mooli's story and growth. But how? One way would be to avoid too much standardisation. Why does every branch have to look the same? Why can't an active interest be taken in giving each branch its own personality. This may seem mad but it is not as anti-brand as it may sound. It should be possible to maintain some unity or link to all the shops without sacrificing or giving in to the chain store (even if it is just 3 or 4) mentality affecting other brands. Similarly some of the branding that has been done well must be refreshed and replaced with new ideas - some of the posters are fun, cute and random but the randomness quickly dissipates if it is displayed frequently. At core, one reason why mooli's can continue to lay claim to being a bit different is that it has not succumbed to having a big a menu - the founders should not give in to temptation here. Keeping it simple is the biggest scream that "of course we would like to be profitable but at the same time we have a philosophy of doing a few things well and here they are". Many established and growing brands can't say that.

With this I will leave you for today.