Sorry about disappearing last month but i am still trying to deal with my arthritis. I win the battle most days but January and February are typically difficult months due to extreme temperature changes. I am up and winning the battle again and new medications are helping.
So many things happened and were happening so fast in January of 2016. To avoid a doubling of our rent by our landlords, we agreed to move by the end of the month. I'm dealing with my yearly extreme pains, the inspectors trying to make another appointment, unreasonable landlords trying to charge me too much, and trying to find a new place for us to make smokin salmon. It all just became too much to deal with as this was supposed to be my retirement from the hard working construction industry! The final straw was when i had to hand over all our Christmas profits to landlords, final utility bills and movers. Really i was done. Right there and than. As far as I was concerned , we were closing but our wholesale customers had other ideas.
Chapman's Essential foods immediately offered us space to make our smokin salmon in their kitchen and a cooler in their retail area. This was great at the beginning but as we all know now, it was not ideal. The worst of it was that it was too far away from our home and I now had to take a bus for an hour to get there. This caused huge trouble for trying to flip the fish in the brine and to smoke over night. As a matter of fact, it made over night smoking impossible so all our delivery schedules had to change. The little we were saving in rent now went to taxis for me on bad days or when i had to work late and helpers that refused to come up there to help without four hours plus in cash and i now had a storage fee for all our equipment. Cash; we just did not have! SO mom and I found ourselves on our own again and both of us just wanted to stay home. We deserved a vacation but no cash so no rest for the weary. The only good news was that the inspectors were going to back off and let us sort this all out as we were now operating under Chapman's city inspectors.
I was supposed to be retiring to look after my deteriorating health and I had minor operations booked to fix stuff like my toes that were growing sideways. The toe operation was booked for June and I had to get the company settled by than. At this point though, my heart was no longer in it and I was looking for a way out. In April Ann and I agreed to look for a buyer and slowly ween the commercial customers of our salmon and have them remove us from the menus.
I promised that before my operation, that i would try my best for one last time to get more retail customers from our new neighborhood and gain back the ones we lost from our move. I made home sauces, i ordered new products, i took orders and called customers. I worked more hours per day up at Chapman's than at our O'Connor store and was farther away from my home and kids. As June was approaching, we realized that we informed our wholesale customers that we were closing the doors sooner than later. Two of our customers suggested that I ask the owners of Central Epicure to purchase our recipe as they had been asking around about us and wanted a higher end line.
I met with one of the owners of Central Epicure May 2016 to begin negotiations in good faith. I was asked to adjust our recipe to include a kosher sugar and we agreed to a sale price as well as terms. We also discussed a potential job for me at to ensure the transition for our customers went as smoothly as possible. If all worked out we also discussed opening a local retail shop for our retail customers from the O'Connor location.
I spent my time before the June 3rd operation testing kosher sugars from every source I could find as well as from Central Epicure suppliers. We found one that worked well and began to even use it in our own production so that customers would not notice a big difference when they took over production. As soon as I was able to travel, I even had a friend drive me out to their northwest end location to discuss the actual production method. It took me three hours to get back home by the bus but I was happy that the deal was almost done. We booked a meeting to sign paperwork, begin production and receive our first cheque. I only had two weeks to wait for this to be final and to start a new chapter, or that i what i thought at least.
On the day of our meeting i made my way by bus and in pain from the stress of all this as well my incisions that were not healing. I was not concerned about the pain as I was going to be walking away with a cheque and could take a cab home. I was to meet with Mike and his family at 9 am and I was to start the production. I still had not given them the recipe and i brought a container of our mix with me to start the production. I got there on time but it seemed that the family not only did not know that I was coming let alone that i was expecting a contract and a cheque! Mike was no where to be found and not answering his cell phone. I was left to sit in a boardroom for hours with no offer of anything other than tea. I think inmates get more in a four hour span. Lunch was approaching, i had no money on me and Mike just arrived to go into a meeting with his family!
Another hour later I was given an offer of employment as a sales representative for them and a minimal payment for our recipe and customers. I stood up , dusted myself off, packed my things up and left. I went home and got there four hours later by the bus. The next day I reminded Mike and his family of the confidentiality agreement signed at the beginning of all this and ended negotiations. This left Ann and I with a bitter taste of mistrust in going forward with any sale of our recipe.
We still own it and Chapman's Essential foods is the only place that you can still purchase Valentino's Smokin' Salmon. Sri of Chapman's now makes it in very limited quantities and Ann goes up once a week to supervise and slice.
I have more procedures booked this spring to fix me and perhaps one day my sons or other family might want to try again. In the mean time, give Chapman's (416 444 4477) a try for not just our smokin salmon. They have fabulous ready made meals.