Powell Street Festival 2016

Update: May 24, 2019

I created this post almost 3 years ago but never finished it as things got busy. Now that I have some time, I thought I would quickly jot down some of my thoughts in order to Chronicle the matcha adventure I’ve been on so far for posterity.

I remember this was the first time we had attended the Powell Street Festival. I had tried to register for the previous year, but had missed the application deadline. Luckily, I was able to register in time for 2016 and attended the mandatory meeting for food vendors in May of 2016. It was my strategy to attend all the major Japanese festivals that year as I felt that was the best customer base to grow brand awareness. Some of my competitors aimed for other events such as car free day and food truck fest, but I felt the spirit of my brand was most synergistic with combined with the Japanese cultural festivals.

The organizer, Michael Ouchi, was kind enough to give us a chance to participate. He witnessed the long lineups we had at Sakura Festival and was very encouraging, but at the same time, let us know that he had some concerns about our thruput speed and wasn’t sure if we knew what we were in for. I took his advice to heart and spent a lot of time redesigning the booth layout and was also able to purchase some proper equipment with the money we had earned at Sakura Days Festival. I purchased a hot water tower, an espresso machine for lattes, as well as some other tools. My temporary employee from the Sakura Festival, Mio, also gave me some good advice. She suggested we have waiting number cards for those who had placed orders. It seems so obvious now, but when we first started, it wasn’t necessary. 

Ichiyo and I stocked up the fridge with milk and cream at the Buddhist temple at the Festival site on the Friday before the event and surveyed our booth location. The next day, we arrived and set up. However, as it was our first time at this festival, we underestimated how long it would take us to prepare, so the festival began before we were ready. I wasn’t able to move my van since people had already began flooding into the site. The volunteers were incredible and Michael was incredibly understanding. They created an opening in the crowd for me to quickly move my van.

We sold out of everything several times over and I had to make multiple trips to nearby grocery stores for more supplies. It was an incredible experience! Very stressful, but I learned so much. Staff included myself, Ichiyo, Cindy, and Kunie from Platform 7, who wanted to become a matcha barista for the day.