Moving the needle
On Monday mornings, I’m not in such a rush to get into work and start a fire like I am the rest of the days. We don’t open until Tuesday, so I all have to do is get a casual head start on Tuesday with a fairly easy going Monday. Monday has a day off feel to it even though I’m working.
About the time I got in my truck to head over to work a bunch of notifications began to rattle my phone. Tweets, text messages, and Facebook tag alerts were lighting up my phone. The radio in my truck came on just as a lady caller on Michael Berry’s radio show was describing food at Tejas Chocolate and she did so as a follow up to a previous caller that I missed. I thought well, here’s a Monday that might not go as planned.
Then my phone was ringing as the counter phone will roll over to my iPhone when the main phone is tied up with a call. That meant that at least two people were calling us at the same time on a day when we are closed. It was another lady who wanted to know where we are located. I was starting to learn first hand how a radio show like Micheal Berry’s can move the needle.
It turns out that Micheal Berry had asked his Facebook fans and listeners where they would take Vice President Mike Pence to eat barbecue in Houston. Vice President Pence ate at Pappa’s BBQ on the way to the super bowl which stirred up a lot barbecue fans. Eater Houston covered the reaction. Texans have strong opinions about where to eat barbecue.
Several of our loyal regulars were kind enough to mention our place on Facebook and some took the time to call into the show and put a plug in for us. I can’t express thoroughly enough how much we are flattered by this and appreciate the gesture. When our customers move the needle for us it sticks, and does so over there on the right side of the meter.
Hobbs sent a link to my phone so I could find the podcast. I couldn’t believe our good fortune in getting so much great publicity for free which is a price we are able to afford. A guy name Cody started off the chain reaction.
When I got to the shop, Billie was there waiting for me. Billie didn’t seem to be bothered by all the Monday attention.
That’s an alley cat who ain’t got it all bad.
There were some people who tried to visit us on Monday not knowing we are closed. We received a message on our Facebook page from a person describing how they had made “The Trek” all the way over from The Woodlands only to discover we are not open on Mondays even though our hours are posted on Google, Yelp, Facebook, our web site, and on our answering machine. They wanted to know why we are closed on Monday.
I spent a fair amount of time running the cooker on Monday wondering whether or not we wuz cooking enough for Tuesday.
We sold out of brisket by 2:00 pm on Tuesday. We hadn’t been prepared for that but we were going to fix it for the rest of the week as by then we got the idea of what the rest of the week might have in store for us.
We sold out Wednesday at 4:30, Thursday at 5:30, and on Friday right at closing time. Perfect. You see, we are trainable.
Some other really cool stuff happened all week too. Let me tell you about it.
On Tuesday, a bearded Brewmaster from Brash Brewing picked up cocoa nibs for a chocolate milk stout they normally sell as Smoglifter.
This is an in your face brewery with a heavy metal following. I told Vince I needed to swing by sometime and that’s when I learned that while I might enjoy the beer, the scene at Brash might not be my cup of beer. Courtney and Janie agreed with Vince’s assessment about whether or not I should take a day and visit the Brash Brewery. I’m a little offended by the old fogey stereotype they put on me.
When I heard a train on Tuesday morning I almost didn’t bother to look over but I’m glad I did so I was able to see this passenger train rolling along. It reminded me of the day when a gentlemen with a heavy British accent asked me if I knew when the next train would be passing by. Those Brits are on those train schedules.
This BNSF nostalgic passenger train came by with something to do about high speed rail going on up to Dallas. You never know what you might see while having a beer in the front yard. I’d sit there and drink more beer if I were in your shoes.
Mike Baxter made a cool video using his drone of the train passing by The Tomball Depot.
I happened by the cutting table one afternoon about the time Hobbs was cutting into the center of a brisket. I had him cut me a slice.
This cut of brisket is my favorite. The cut comes from an area of the brisket where the flat and point merge. On the bottom is lean, and on the top is marbled. It’s the best of both worlds. This slice of brisket was tender, seasoned well, smokey enough, and juicy as all get out. You can see how the grain of the meat is changing direction from the flat to the point. I worked at a BBQ place when I was in high school where they had us separate the marbled portion (the point) and set it aside. They had not rendered the fat properly and it was tough to eat, so they would simmer it with sauce to make chop beef. After I ate this slice in my picture, I thought about how fortunate I am to do what I do today with what I know about barbecue now.
Due to a little mix up in our deliveries we couldn’t do pork cheeks for Friday, so we introduced a beef barbacoa street taco special instead.
That worked out pretty good.
For the last couple of Saturday mornings we have been offering barbacoa breakfast tacos like this one.
We sold out of barbacoa Friday and Saturday. It is safe to say beef barbacoa is moving the needle. Ours is smokey, tender, juicy, and rich. I can see why its popularity is growing rapidly.
The chocolate operation celebrated the last Saturday before Valentine’s Day by introducing a new Red Velvet Chocolate truffle.
Our Tres Leches dark milk chocolate combined with a butter cream for a ganache. The truffle was then hand rolled, like all of ours are, coated in dark chocolate and dressed with more butter cream.
Stop it. If allowed to I could completely crush this entire tray of Red Velvet chocolate.
Winner winner Valentines dinner.
On Friday when the Michael Berry show got started a listener called in to give his review of The Tejas Chocolate Craftory. Hobbs and I looked at each other and said “oh shit, here we go”. The caller gave us a great review with many flattering details. It’d be hard to ask for better PR to be honest. He made a comment about a manager or owner giving him crap about saucing the meat which I truly did take as a well intentioned comment, but I was worried that other listeners would be concerned that we might be uppity about how one should eat barbecue. I think the caller was trying to pay us a compliment about the barbecue not needing sauce.
I called in to clear the air as to prevent saucegate from happening. Mr. Berry was kind enough to give me a little air time so I could explain how sometimes we will encourage people to taste the meat without sauce first. If a customer wants sauce its right there for them and we make 3 great sauces so there’s no shame, by any stretch, in using sauce on our barbecue. We don’t judge how people want to enjoy barbecue was the point I wanted to make on The Micheal Berry Radio Show.
The caller had also mentioned that he saw the candy but didn’t take time to try any candy. Michelle gave me a load of crap about not explaining to Mr. Berry that we don’t make candy. We make craft chocolate is how she would have preferred the story about our Craftory be told. I figured I had pushed my luck on free air time so I didn’t jump into that side of the conversation. We are indeed a little uppity about our hand crafted chocolate I have to admit.
Cody, the first person to mention us on Monday, dropped by to say hi on Friday. For the life of me I can’t understand why I didn’t take a picture.
As Saturday rolled right up onto us it was becoming increasingly clear that we were about to have our asses handed to us.
The line persisted all day. The building was humming. Beer was flowing. Barbecue was smoking. Chocolate was swirling.
In the middle of the storm, little Noah paid us a visit.
He turns 1 on Valentines day you know. Noah’s birthday is on Valentines Day. Can you imagine how that’s going to work out for him when he is of dating age.
The little bugger ain’t exactly little anymore. Kid is a sack of taters is what he is.
I looked out front and saw a line to get inside the building.
At about 3:00 pm the sell out board was all filled up.
We did not get the license plate number from the truck that pancaked us on Saturday. I looked at Michelle who looked at Janie who looked at Cat who looked at Dana who looked at Hobbs who looked at Norm, Paul, Gist, and Austin, who looked at Chef Greg, and we all collectively said “sweet Jesus, what just happened”. The whole day was a non stop beat down which when it was all said and done we collectively exclaimed: “Bring it on Tomball. Show us what you got. We’ll see you on Tuesday okay”.
The Michael Berry Show truly did move the needle for us. I listen to his show most mornings. He’s a champion for small businesses, and I appreciate how he uses his position to help out several local independent operated businesses every week. Hits on our web site spiked, our phone rang more, new faces were in line, and more Facebook page likes happened. One lady told me she’s had her floors cleaned by Oops Steam, and her windows installed by Gulf Coast Windows. She wanted to try our barbecue and soon find time to go Drive Tanks. She’s a loyal listener for sure.
We had a bunch of new customers with lots of questions all week. We wuz doing lots of customer training which is rewarding and exhausting at the same time. There’s a lot of explaining to do for a first time visitor. I did catch a couple of regulars helping out which was cooler than the other side of the pillow. AND, never not one time did I tell someone to not sauce their meat. 🙂
Saturday night, a well earned whiskey drink happened over at Brautigams. That is where I plopped down for a bit.
Michelle and I had a night cap on the back patio.
I love it when the lights from a nearby baseball field illuminates clouds on a breezy night.
It’s kind of weird when its warm like today and the trees are still nekkid isn’t it.
Same patio chase lounge in case you was wondering if I was still on the patio for this picture. I did go inside to sleep for a little bit before returning to my chase lounge with a beer in hand and a nap in mind today.
So Tuesday is Valentines Day. You probably knew that. We sold out The Tejas Quarterly Dinner a few weeks ago and now it’s time for us to deliver. We will close the restaurant at 3:00 PM on Tuesday so we can get ready for the 5 course dinner. It looks like rain is in the forecast but that will just make things that much more romantic. Great food, good drink, and nice sounds will fill up The Craftory on Valentines Night.
This dinner, chocolate, beer & wine is the most romantic thing you can do for your lady except for getting the groceries which I did for Michelle this morning.
See ya soon okay.