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Fenrir

Business Model

Fenrir is a restaurant. More importantly, it is a restaurant that grows around the people involved, is built on a foundation of fluidity of menu and structure, interpersonal growth, and an incessant need to find the best-tasting and most sustainable foods. Fenrir’s operation relies upon personal connections between farmers, producers, educators, and team members.

Fenrir is an existing Scandinavian-influenced casual fine dining restaurant working with local producers to create a unique restaurant. We focus on hyper-local seasonality, attentive yet casual service, food history and education, creative plating and menu structuring, aromatic wines and modified classic cocktails, a scientific understanding of cooking balanced with a botanists approach to plants and produce, and a continual strive to educate the community about environmental policies and local food production and farming techniques.

We are currently in the process of relocation with the intent to reopen in the summer.

BUSINESS NAME

Fenrir is a Norse god, a son of Loki. He is an evergrowing wolf, trapped by those that fear and misunderstand him. He is an important figure of Norse mythology. Fenrir is a six-letter word, one that is distinctly not an English word and not difficult to pronounce or understand, and it is easy to write. For the record, we went through many, many names before we opened the first time and we still like this one the most.

Our website is fenrirpdx.com and we can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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ASSETS

We already have some assets. Our core team, including our executive chef, sous chef, chef of creativity, sommelier, Front of House manager, and #1 server + barista extraordinaire, all from our previous restaurant venture, are returning. This is our biggest asset. People. And not just people, but people who want to work in an environment that provides not just an income, but an education. Our ability to work with one another to improve ourselves both together and individually and teach newcomers who join our team is key to our continual improvement and success. Our monetary assets mainly include restaurant equipment.

The most difficult part of this new venture is holding ourselves to a higher standard than we ever have, getting our customer base to rapidly grow, and finding new employees who want to be at the same caliber that we are functioning. The unique part of Fenrir is its food/beverage and approach to service. Our food is wholly unique and not tied to any regional cooking in specific, though it draws heavily from Scandinavian countries, lightly from asian cultures, and the vast majority of ingredients are grown within 50 miles of the restaurant. We follow a micro-seasonal calendar and only cook with what is the most appropriate vegetable or meat for the week of the year. We will repeat this again by building the restaurant under the premise of a learning and teaching facility. Those who already work for/with Fenrir are ingrained into a “learn-everything-all-the-time” mentality. If we are able to pass on this passion for working with our farmers and are able to constantly able to challenge one another, to learn as much as our straining brains can facilitate, we can repeat it again and again.

HIRING

We will relentlessly hire people to work for us who want to work with us (as opposed to just finding people who are looking anywehre for a job). As our cashflow increases and we are able to hire out our positions (such as server, bartender, line cook, etc.) we will be able to solely focus on administration (creativity, research, conceptualising, paperwork, bookkeeping), and as we move people up the chain, we can step out of the minor parts of those roles as we all progress. In time, we will be able to leave our sous and creative chefs to run the kitchen, or provide a means for them to helm their own restaurant concepts. With a constant increase in customers, we will be able to spend more money on creative projects and research projects, thereby increasing the quality and innovativeness of our product. I will constantly be creating new positions to fulfill my obligation to promote myself to more creative roles.

FUNDING + CASH FLOW

We are seeking $100,000 in funding through private investments and loans to reopen. This covers the necessity for physical equipment and changes to the building we are looking to rent, decor, training, and working capital for rent and staff. I have a fully-detailed funding plan that I will not be posting publicly. Our company's cashflow is also not public information at this time.

PARTNERSHIPS

Fenrir operates as an equal partnership between Wilson, Hauptman, and Dudek, with the addition of a silent investor. The three named members have equal say in running the business, operating together and individually on the three key components of the restaurant: Food, Beverage, Marketing/Operations (respectively). The three of us have been working with equal ownership since the beginning of the company and will continue to do so into the future. The balance of work is provided in part by open communication and scheduling of tasks.

COMPETITION

Our food is unique. It is difficult to say that we have competition. In terms of Scandinavian restaurants, there are a couple, but we have befriended them over the past couple of years as we are all driving the education of newcomers to the cuisine.

HISTORY

Fenrir is a semi-Scandinavian restaurant with an emphasis on fermentation science, food preservation, micro-climate food economies, historically-important foods, anthropological research, education, and community-building. The fine-dining restaurant anomaly originally opened in April 2014 on the second story above a coffee roaster in southeast Portland, Oregon. By Fenrir’s closure, on August 2nd, 2015, the restaurant was being acknowledged by national food media publications, requests for large/company parties were pouring in, financially Fenrir was functioning in the green, and every detail of food, beverage, and service was hyper-analyzed by the growing team. When the restaurant opened, we were three relative unknowns in the local food industry with a plan that was always bigger than we could immediately achieve. Ian Wilson, our executive chef, was taking over the lease of a small restaurant space on 11th Ave. and Harrison St. in Inner Southeast Portland to do pop-up dinners with longtime collaborator Andre Duby (who would eventually become our Sous Chef). They enlisted the help of John James Dudek to run the front of the restaurant and social media, who was overseas studying permaculture farming at the time, and Tyler Hauptman, sommelier, to run the wine and spirits program, who at the time was running a casual but still invite-only wine club in Portland. After a handful of pop-up dinners in the space, Ian, John James, and Tyler decided to build out the location into a full-time restaurant on an exceedingly tight budget of $28,000. 

The dream was to create the best restaurant on the West Coast. In less than one year of being open, Fenrir turned from a dream concept into a nationally-recognized fine-dining establishment. We were featured in Life & Thyme Magazine, nominated for Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine, Top 101 Restaurants in Portland by The Oregonian, awarded Best in the West by Thrillist, and more. The reservations poured in. Creatively, we were able to explore our wildest concepts and test them on our ever-growing fanbase of adventurous diners.

The building we were working in was too small to accommodate our growth. As things became busier, we found our storage capacity and it was low. We did everything with only a home refrigerator, a home freezer, and one restaurant-quality double-door fridge. There wasn’t anywhere else to put another fridge, the apartment that we had converted into the restaurant was packed full. With only electricity available in the building, and shoddy electricity at that with no support from our landlord for tenant improvements, we flipped breaker switches up to twenty times every shift as fuses blew. Everything was cooked on two induction burners and a broken oven that refused to stay on for an entire shift. We didn’t like how it felt in the dining room when it got busy, either. Our once-cosy atmosphere started to feel crowded, and with no space to put a waiting area that wasn’t downstairs and outside, a waiting table of four people in the restaurant’s hallway instantly shifted the calculated chaos into a madhouse. Furthermore, our numerous projects with active biological ferments were in need of a home. There was nowhere to keep the increasing demand for pickled, cured, and fermented products.

What we want to do now is invent a formula for a new format for fine dining. In recent years, we’ve watched the movement of the pop-up dinner and set-menu concept take root across the world but we want to provide something more accessible to diners than setting aside the time and money for a 12-course, 3 hour dinner. That isn’t something that can sustain itself, except in the very upper echelon of the fine-dining world. Likewise, the tried-and-true non-changing menu style of most conventional restaurants is not only destructive to the environment in its sourcing methods, but cannot function in season. We are trying to provide an alternative to the standard narrative of food. That means being educated and sharing that education with the diners.

Now, we focus on relocating and reopening with a better understanding of how to make this into a reality.

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