Name: Tzadok Joselit
Business Name and Position: Palace Café, owner and manager
Address: 2603 Nostrand Avenue
Number of Employees: 8
Years in Business: 4.5
1. Are you the one who does the cooking here?
I know how to cook, but no, I don’t do the cooking. I do come up with the recipes, though.
2. That sounds like fun.
It is, but not if you want to sleep. I wake up at 4 a.m., and my mind starts working. I think, oh, this would really go well with this….and I start coming up with different combinations that we need to try out at the café.
3. Are you a foodie?
I enjoy good food, but no, I wouldn’t call myself a foodie. When I do cook, I cook the way I think food should taste. I think that’s the secret to good food. And we offer a lot of good food here at Palace Café. Our salmon, for example, is the best tasting salmon in all of Brooklyn. That was a 4 a.m. recipe, by the way.
4. What is the secret to that salmon?
I can’t tell you. Trade secret!
5. How long have you been in the retail food business?
About nine years. I was the owner of Pizza Palace on Avenue M, but we outgrew that location and moved here, where we opened this full-fledged café.
6. How does it compare to run this larger location versus the old one?
Well, the premise is the same. If you want a venture to be successful, you need to run it like a business. This means: know your costs, buy right, get your materials at the best price possible, and be careful of waste. Those things are true no matter how big or small the business, or what type of business you are running.
7. What are your usual hours?
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. I get here at 8 a.m. before we open, and if we have a party, I could be here as late as 11 p.m. My exact hours vary depending on whether we have a party booked and also what type of party it is.
8. Is dinner your busiest time of day?
No, that would be lunch. We offer a very good and filling lunch, and a lot of people come during that time of day to recharge themselves. There are a lot of working people who stop by, as well as students and residents from the area.
9. What’s your favorite part of the job?
What I like doing best is schmoozing with my customers. That’s another thing that has remained consistent with our former location. It’s always been what I enjoy most about having a retail business.
10. What do you do other than coming up with the recipes?
I wear many hats. I’m the bookkeeper, I handle product quality and control, I ensure that we are offering the best customer service, and that all our employees are doing their jobs correctly.
11. How has your menu changed over the years?
We’ve had to tweak it here and there, based on what customers seem to prefer. We actually started out with a menu that was a bit too extensive, so we shaved off items that were not very popular. Like veggie burgers, for example.
12. What’s the most popular item on your menu?
I’d have to say salad. We started off with a four-foot salad bar; now we have an eight-foot bar – it’s that popular.
13. Are people making healthier choices nowadays?
Yes. When I had the smaller store, salad was only a small part of the business. Now it’s a tremendous and integral part of the business.
14. Your party room seems pretty popular.
It is. It was decorated by Paterson Design. The design is genius. It’s elegant with ballroom-style fixtures and furnishings, but it’s not overbearing – so it’s suitable for everything from a child’s upsherin to a white-glove sheva brachos.
15. What’s the most interesting party you’ve hosted?
I’d have to say a sheva brachos where the bride was from Brooklyn, but the groom was a lumberjack from Oregon. A real lumberjack! I’d never met a real lumberjack before. I have no idea how the two of them met, but it was a very original sheva brachos.
16. Any advice for aspiring business owners?
The most important thing is to make work a place your employees want to come to. It has to be fun, or no one will want to be there.