Thursday, January 9, 2014

Quintessence mourning death of an owner; wrapping up crowdfunding campaign to save restaurant

We heard that sad news that Steve Bohen, an owner of Quintessence and the husband of co-founder Mun Chan, died Tuesday night following a short illness. He was 62.

One friend of the couple shared this about Steve: "He was dedicated to making Quintessence a success and a truly wonderful human being."

Meanwhile, Quintessence, the 13-year-old vegan restaurant on East 10th Street, is currently fighting to keep the doors open.

The owners launched an Indiegogo campaign back on Dec. 27, and are not even close to their goal by midnight tomorrow. (Sorry for the short notice — we just learned of this ourselves.)

Here is part of the appeal from the owners:

A business such as this is not a money maker, or get rich and retire operation but more of a non-profit community serving operation serving a needing market. Therefore if we do not maintain a certain level of business to generate a certain level of cash-flow we will not survive. We do not have backers or investors to float us through a low season or even a momentary lull. We need customers daily to keep things moving.

All this said winter is particularly difficult for us as patrons tend to eat more cooked/hot foods pulling their business from us and going somewhere else. I understand and realize this as each year for the past 13 years this has been the case. We have run special incentive programs during the winter months in the past and they have help us until business picks up again but it was not so easy and it was only a small part of what carried us through the winter months.

This year has been particularly tough as the economy has forced our patron to spend less at the same time as Organic and Raw Products have jump in price to an all-time high. We try our best to offer our very special foods at a reasonable price but our cost of goods sold is simply too high for any substantial profitablility. All Quintessence owners work second jobs, our employees are paid first and the rest goes to operations cost.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if they might be better off closing the restaurant and creating a non-profit organization, bringing vegan food to the community via workshops, etc. That they wouldn't have the overhead required to run a business. Like they say, they aren't in this to make money anyway and they already think of themselves as a non-profit. They would also save mightily on taxes.

Anonymous said...

As the owner of a small business I can empathize with the daily and seasonal challenges along with unpredictable things like increases in expenses. When my business was going through a rough patch I took an unemotional look at what was working but more importantly what was not making my business money. I don't know anything about the restaurant business but I've heard it is probably the hardest to maintain not to mention succeed. This place might consider changing parts of their menu to address the seasonal dips they are having and in turn expand their customer base. They could also consider raising their prices especially if they cannot pay their bills and if they offer something unique in the neighborhood. A business plan cannot be so rigid that it leads to failure, adapt, evolve and survive.

Anonymous said...

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, et al.- I’m willing to bet most our lives are run like a not-for-profits, so perhaps we should all start campaigns to have some suckers in the ‘hood pay our rents? I’m also willing to bet Quintessence is organized under the laws of the State of New York to conduct business within same. If a company doesn’t “maintain a certain level of business to generate a certain level of cash-flow” that company goes out of business. Those are not my rules, that’s just the way of the wicked world. Yes, it’s unfortunate when a small business is forced out of operations; especially for the employees. (And in the not so distant future, the “small business,” no doubt, will occupy a dusty niche in the Museum of Great American Relics.) But to solicit people who clearly haven’t been patronizing your establishment in a bid to stave off the inevitable strikes me as selfish and just a little underhanded. The employees have my sympathy but these pleas for free money are shameful.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, this is terrible! Quintessence is one of my favorite restaurants. Try to find a place that serves raw food like this for the prices they offer. I also don't understand how all the health conscious establishments making up that block on 10th street are going to get by, I sort of though Quintessence was the string holding them together. I already lost my favorite veggie spot (Kate's Joint) a couple years back, and now they're coming after my new favorite. Jesus, if you can't be a happy vegan in the EV, where the hell CAN you be a happy vegan?