The duo began selling their infamous fried anchovies two years ago at Smorgasburg, unsure of the response they would receive from the Brooklynite foodies. After two hours, they sold out all of their fish and never looked back.
Local Food Lab spoke with Renae, the head chef the seafood duo, about why they quit their 9-5 jobs for the food startup lifestyle, as well as the challenges, successes, and future of Bon Chovie.
LFL: How did Bon Chovie get started?
RENAE: Neill and I were recently married and wanted to start something of our own. We were both tired of the 9-5 grind, working all day for someone else. On the weekends, we loved to visit our local flea market the Brooklyn Flea. We figured this could be the perfect platform to experiment with a new business with minimal startup capital. When they launched an all-food market, we thought that was the perfect chance.
What shocked you most about the food startup process?
All of the hoops that you need to jump through for the city/state that seem pretty silly. Permits, licenses, and most of all the expense that goes along with "publishing" your LLC in New York city.
What business tools ended up being invaluable when launching your startup?
The most valuable tools that I have found are Vistaprint for printing and sineage and Leagalzoom for setting up our business structure and getting our trademark. Also, the city of New York offers many free classes for first-time business owners.
What individuals did you lean on the most when growing from idea stage to pilot stage?
As a husband and wife team, it was really helpful to bounce ideas off of each other, and play to each of our individual strengths. It also really helps to have a few friends in the legal biz.
What did you learn from your customers that surprised you?
The biggest surprise was that people loved our anchovies! Anchovies can get a bad rap, so we were amazed when we saw people lining-up week after week to nosh on our little fish. People were much more adventurous than we had imagined.
What are your plans for growing Bon Chovie?
Our plan is to expand beyond the tent into a brick and mortar restaurant. We have been looking for spaces for over a year now, but still haven't found that perfect spot.
What advice do you have for food entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
You need to be flexible and stay ready for any challenge. The business becomes your baby, it takes a lot before it begins to give back.
Anything else you would like readers to know?
A catchy name never hurts!
Follow Bon Chovie on Twitter.