Have you heard the news? Good Stock is growing! It feels like just yesterday we opened our small but stylish stall in Urbanspace Vanderbilt, though it’s been nearly two months. The weeks have flown by, as we’ve made new friends and regulars, slung hundreds of soups a day in dozens of flavors, and have handed out enough brownie bites to give Ovenly a run for their money.
And now, just in time for the New Year, we’re setting up shop in the West Village. It’s almost ironic, as we are planning to sell hot soup in a space once dedicated to selling frozen dessert - what was once Victory Garden, a goat’s milk soft serve shop, is now our newest home.
Our new location on Carmine Street will be the first brick-and-mortar establishment for our quickly expanding company. We’ll serve tried-and-true favorites like our Fried Chicken & Andouille Gumbo, Roasted Tomato, and Short Rib Chili, while offering a daily changing menu of new soups and sides. Opening our newest outpost has not been without its challenges, and we’ve gotten quite a few questions about the process itself. We’ve broken it down below with owner and founder Ben LeBlanc. Consider it an expansion primer, or How We Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Our Contractor.
How did you hear about the space? Tell us about the path to taking over Victory Garden.
One of our friends, Mark Gravel heard that Sophia, owner of Victory Garden, was considering letting someone do a pop-up in her shop over the winter. That’s the heart of soup season, so he naturally thought of us. I got in touch with Sophia, we hit it off, and decided to take over the whole space for the next 5 years. That really escalated quickly!
Do you feel that it was the “right time” to grow? Is there ever a right time?
Yes and no. Going from mobile ops – home delivery, pop-ups, and catering - to a permanent home in Urbanspace Vanderbilt was a huge jump for us. In terms of time, brainpower, and cost, it was easily the biggest thing we’ve ever done. And I thought that would be it until next spring or summer. But when Sophia and I started speaking, we realized it was too good of a fit to pass up. The size was perfect, the location was fantastic - it’s right in the middle of one of my favorite neighborhoods. Plus it’s a little closer to our home delivery customers in Tribeca. So I don’t know if we were or are ready, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
How much has your previous experience (opening in Urbanspace) helped?
A little? A lot? I’m still new to this business so I’m constantly realizing that there are new things I don’t know! I think it comes down to two main points:
1) Expect the unexpected. Delays and distractions pop up ALL. THE. TIME.
2) Work with (skilled!) people you trust. It helps so much to have a team of experts you can rely on. I don’t know where we’d be without our architects Carpenter & Mason, graphic designer Jason Hammel, and Tine Design. And of course, Let There Be Neon for our kickass signs.
What advice, if any, would you give to other small food businesses looking to expand?
It’s going to cost more than you think, and it will take longer than you think. So have some funds in reserve, and don’t freak out when things don’t happen as planned. NOTHING moves as fast as I want it to.
You heard the man. Don’t pass on a golden opportunity, and don’t freak out when things don’t go as quickly or calmly as planned. We’ll see you soon.
Good Stock opens at 31 Carmine Street, New York, New York.