The Spreadsheet Phase

We’ve been quiet for a little while, and I just wanted to give everyone a head’s up. Last week was pretty rough for the Three Carrots Planning Committee (3CPC): my grandmother died and Scott, our main design/marketing guru, was diagnosed with cancer. So yeah. That sucks. Scott is writing about his cancer treatment at his blog. So check that out, if you desire. There will also be benefits for the cost of his treatment that we will be participating in and advertising for. So stay tuned for that.

As far as Three Carrots is concerned, we are now fully into “the spreadsheet phase.” In the   past two weeks, I’ve made probably a dozen or so different spreadsheets. Spreadsheets pricing out each ingredient per menu item. Spreadsheets figuring out labor costs. 6 month financial forecasts, 3 year financial forecasts, operating costs, opening expenses, food as a percentage of net income, labor as a percentage of net income, etc. This is all super tedious work, but- in my opinion- its necessary. Not only do we want to have awesome food and provide an excellent experience, we also need to be a sustainable, financially viable business. It’s not as much fun as designing a menu, but I’m stoked to get through this because I have some great ideas for brunch service.

Also, we’ve been looking at a few spots in several different locations throughout town. They all definitely have their positives, but we also know that we’re never going to find the “perfect spot,” either. That being said, I believe we could, potentially, open in any of these locations and thrive. It’s just a matter of finding the one that is perfect enough.


Gluten Free? Short Answer: Yes.

Long answer: with a caveat.

The second most frequent question I’ve been getting since posting the menu is “are there going to be gluten-free options?”. The short answer is yes. From my count, we have at least 15 items on the menu (over half of it) that are either gluten-free or can easily be modified to be gluten-free. We are working on developing GF brunch items and GF baked goods/desserts (which we will post soon). Similarly, our seasonal menus are going to be based much more around seasonal and local vegetables, which I feel are more likely to be naturally gluten-free.

But here are the caveats:

  1. Our kitchen isn’t going to be gluten-free.  We can’t make any claims officially to say that we are serving completely gluten-free, because of the potential for cross contamination. We will do our best to avoid cross-contamination and will try our best to ensure that any allergy is taken with utmost respect for food safety. 
  2. We aren’t serving gluten-free sandwiches. If you want to order a sando, we are offering the options for GF modification: where you can have the sandwich served on quinoa or as a salad. And this boils down to a philosophical rationale for me: we don’t want to serve anything that doesn’t meet the high quality standards we set for our food and I don’t want to up-charge for modifications due to dietary restrictions. So, instead of carrying gluten-free bread, we offer these tasty and satisfying GF options.

Long story short: I have no doubt saying that Three Carrots will be one of (if not) the most gluten-free friendly restaurants in Indianapolis. We are very cognizant to dietary restrictions and food allergies, and will always be willing to accommodate for individuals’ dietary concerns.

Day 1- Getting Involved

Umm…Wow. I figured that people would be excited about the prospect of a vegetarian restaurant in Indianapolis. I had no idea that people would be this excited. After I made the announcement yesterday, our Facebook page and my e-mails have exploded with interest and people wanting to be involved. So, first of all, thanks so much for your interest!

People are wondering what they can do to support 3 Carrots to help make certain that our dreams actually come to fruition. I know that not all of us have $400,000 lying around to help with opening and initial operating expenses. However, there are some small things you can do for cheap (and free!). I’ve listed them below by price:

Free- “Like” and share our facebook page. Tell your friends. Stay excited! It feels silly for me, being a grown man, working hard to get Facebook likes, but it matters. It is something we can show to potential investors to demonstrate that we have a substantial interest in what we’re doing.

$10-$200- As part of fundraising, we’re going to be offering gift cards for when the restaurant opens. However, since this is to raise funds, we are encouraging people to “double up” the price of a gift card as an initial investment. That means, essentially, that if you want to purchase a $10 gift card, we would encourage a $20 purchase. That helps give us seed money and then, after we open, you get $10 worth of free food. Email for more details.

$100-$500- Have a party or meet-up and let us cater it. One suggestion, I’d have is asking about $30 from each guest and we’d provide a three course meal including dessert. That is a steal! And, if you get 20 people to come over, we are able to raise $600. Email to set up an appointment.

Over $500- Email and we can talk in more detail.

We can host a Superbowl. We can have a Vegetarian Restaurant.

What’s up, Indianapolis!

Here are some facts about our beloved city. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Area consists of over 1.7 million people. Indianapolis, itself, is the 12th largest city in the US.  More people live in Indianapolis than the entire state of Vermont. Yet, compared to cities our size, we don’t have many vegetarian eating options. Certainly, Spice Nation exists. And there are a handful of other restaurants that make an attempt at being vegetarian-friendly, but overall- compared to cities like Columbus, OH, or Louisville KY, or Grand Rapids, MI our vegetarian/plant-based options are pale in comparison.

People have theories about why that is: Hoosiers love their meat; Indianapolis is more “conservative” than other midwestern cities; Indianapolis doesn’t have a market for vegetarian options. People will cite a handful of poorly managed vegetarian restaurants that cropped up about 8 years ago to demonstrate how we’re just “not ready” for an all-vegetarian restaurant.

I think those theories are bogus. And I can prove it.

From my own experience, I can tell you that I’ve- personally- sold over 1,000 lbs of seitan in just over 8 months in 2012. And I’m on pace to sell at least 2,000 this year. I can also tell you that the seitan wings are the best-selling appetizer at the Sinking Ship and are second only to hamburgers on the entire menu. I can tell you that the two vegan items I created consist of nearly half of the dinner orders at SoBro cafe. I can tell you that, by the time the Earth House met our untimely ending, the cafe had gone from a financial drain on the collective to one of the only sources of positive revenue.

We can also look at more generalized data. People in the US are eating less meat. More and more people are looking for vegetarian options, even if they’re not vegetarian. Bookstores have shelves upon shelves of vegetarian cookbooks. Farmers Markets are packed year round. People like Bill Clinton and Ellen Degeneres have made plant-based diets mainstream, while events like “Meatless Mondays” have demonstrated that plant-based food can taste great while being better for individuals and the environment. People have started to make the connection between CO2 emissions from livestock and global warming. The USDA (a long time nemesis of vegetarians) has even come out in favor of people adopting more plant-based food sources.

So now is the time. There is no reason why Indianapolis can host a Super Bowl, but not have an entirely plant-based restaurant. Everyone, even Hoosiers, are seeking out less meat and more plant-based alternatives. The market exists. The only question is “who will fill it?”.

Hopefully, that’s us. We’re Three Carrots.  Right now, we’re in the very early stages on planning and still looking for investors. Our goal is to open by the end of 2013, but there is still a lot of work to get done. The purpose of this web-site/blog is to help build and sustain momentum and to demonstrate to potential investors that there is a sizable market for a plant-based restaurant in Indianapolis.  Also, we want to use this format to document the ups and downs of opening a restaurant and to give you (the reader) some insight into why it’s just not as easy as simply opening a restaurant. I hope you stick with us and give us your support.