How will we pivot in 2020?

The world is currently experiencing a viral pandemic not seen for many decades, if not an entire century. Very few people alive today, if any, have lived through a global phenomenon like what we have with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Along with the effects and measures taken in response to the coronavirus, there are rumors that an economic recession is on the horizon, for entirely different reasons. Add to that all the hullabaloo surrounding this year’s Presidential Election, and 2020 seems to have gotten off to quite a start.

When companies, noticeably large ones, find they are lagging in the industry that they once found success in, they have choices to make. At worst, they can go out of business, sell off assets, and in short, fail. Sometimes they have enough value to them that they sell to and get acquired by another company in the hopes that the purchasing firm’s resources and insight can bring the company out of the doldrums. Or, they can take some fledgling ideas and pursue a novel, up-and-coming industry, or perhaps develop products for an otherwise established industry in which they have yet to leave a mark. This last strategy, that of remaining in business but radically changing industry or product, is often referred to as pivoting. A real-world example of this is the Segway company. Known for their two-wheeled platform personal transporter, they have recently pivoted to develop and market other products, notably an electric motorcycle. Before I delve into the matter of how Petrolhead Cafe will pivot in 2020, I’ll update you on some personal news.  

The winter months of our “off-season” have been busy in behind-the-scenes activities. The primary reason for this is that my twin babies, Sebastian and Ronan, came home after being in the St. Francis NICU for three months. Right as the new year began, my family set off on this new journey of having two babies in our home. It has been a joyful, but busy and sleep-deprived time, during which I have continued to work on the business of Petrolhead Cafe. Our Pivot for 2020We continue to make negotiations for a suitable location for the restaurant, which is positive and encouraging, albeit slow. Additionally, we have begun serious talks with a lender regarding acquiring a modest business loan. The location and funding are the final pieces of the puzzle when it comes to establishing the brick and mortar space for the cafe. My soft deadline has been September 2020 for the last year or so, as my desire has been to open the cafe while the racing season is still ongoing, during a time when many people will be around and going to restaurants (rather than away on vacation, which they’re likely to do in July and August).

Yet, the search for a location has been a bit of a roller coaster experience. One good spot opened up, then closed, then opened up again, but we decided it would be too expensive to build out. Two more spaces are available and have caught our eye, and each have their pros and cons. One space is a ready-made restaurant space, which would require less build-out but have higher rent, while the other is another warehouse spot, which would require a full build-out but rent would be much lower. Time will tell what works best, as the lenders I’ve been working with are currently waist-deep in issues facing their other small business clients, and I’ll need to wait it out for a little while until they can consider financing Petrolhead Cafe.

So, where does that leave us?

When pitching the concept of Petrolhead Cafe, I’ve often described it as a lifestyle brand that happens to serve food and drink. To me, as to many others, cars and motorcycles and racing and the associated cultures are things that have strong ties to our lives and our interpersonal relationships. Other, related categories, like industry, engineering, metallurgy, etc., have their own connotations, culture, and sometimes even fashion. In short, when people engage with a culture, it goes beyond just what they eat and drink. It impacts the clothes they wear and the media they consume.

Therefore, while things are on hold for our pop-up food booth and our plans for a brick and mortar space, we will pursue two avenues of growing our brand: clothing sales and a podcast.

I’m currently working on some apparel designs that have our logo on them, and hope to be selling them through our website shortly. I am also working with a friend of mine to co-host a podcast about all things related to cars, motorcycles, and racing. We’ll cover the latest industry news, talk about the local, national, and international racing scenes, and sometimes delve into related fields like engineering and aerospace. This podcast will also become a live show once the restaurant is open. We’re still working on a name for the show, so please feel free to send us ideas. Currently, potential names are The Motor Mouth Podcast, and The Petrolhead Podcast.

That’s all for now, folks! Stay healthy and stay safe!

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