Our First Clear Failure

September 22, 2014

My son, Francois, the historian (whose new book, When the United States Spoke French is available at Politics and Prose bookstore – shameless son-promotion – says, “It was a noble attempt but, like Scottish independence, defeat must be conceded.”

Francois Furstenberg

Francois Furstenberg

I wanted particularly to hear his view as it was his idea to put breakfast out on the sidewalk to make it really, really convenient. I thought it was a great idea. We have called it Break Furst.

We went at it for three weeks and our sales over the three weeks have not increased.

Neighbors steam by Bread Furst from 7:30 to 9:30, hundreds of people all walking past our store. (The sidewalk on the other side of the street is closed for a construction.) Of those hundreds perhaps 50 pause to look and 26 stop to buy. That’s 26 customer in two and a half hours.

We thought you would like it. Our freshly baked foods put into cellophane sleeves. Everything priced to the dollar. Cash only, no credit card delays. Coffee for those who wanted it. We had it all. Even the D.C. government added its encouragement.


If the sales had been increasing even a little over the three weeks, I would continue this effort. But they haven’t been increasing. They have stayed the same, about $90 a day. I don’t know why.

I don’t know why our neighbors didn’t stop. Perhaps you don’t want to buy near you home and carry downtown.

I thought you might decide to carry our baked goods on the Metro because, frankly, they are better than what is available downtown. I thought you’d pick up a breakfast treat and have it when you arrive at your office (as most of you can get coffee in your offices).

But you don’t want to do that. Perhaps you all eat breakfast at home. Perhaps you don’t eat it at all.

Francois says, “I blame the carpets in the metro, which I assume are the reason for the no-eating policy. What kind of self-respecting public transportation service installs carpets anyway?”

Whatever the reason I concede defeat.

No more Break Furst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *