Catherine and Oliver and I went to the Formosa Tea House earlier in the week. We showed up near closing time (which is now 7:30 p.m., by the way), so it was empty, and we had a chance to chat with the owners.
During that conversation, I commended them for sticking with it, knowing that the first “reputation building” phase of a restaurant’s life is often not only the most important, but also the most frustrating for the owners. They agreed, and said during the first month they were open, at the old location on University Ave., they were empty more often than not, and made a grand total of $400 for the entire month.
Of course today, in the new location with lots of room, an expanded menu and, most importantly, several years worth of word of mouth, you can often not get a table during the lunch hour. They stuck with it, and they’ve got a sustainable business now.
Monsoon, the new sushi restaurant that occupies the Formosa’s old location, is at the beginning of this curve now, and I hope they stick with it too. I was there for an hour today, and I was the only customer. Their sushi, freshly prepared, is very nice, and they serve a mean jasmine tea. While they’ve got some work to do on the interior decor, the owner is incredibly kind and helpful, and I’m sure that once word gets around, she will be as busy as the Formosa was in that location.
In the meantime, if you’re an early adopter, and want to get in some good sushi and a nice cup of tea before the crowds start to arrive, drop in.