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Finding a Place in the Family Business, Even When You Don't Speak the Language

October 17,2018 11:22

I helped them claim their business on Yelp and make their profile nice. He might ask me, “Should I advertise on Groupon?” because he doesn't know exactly what the service is. So I will sit down and explain how that might work. That is kind of how I saw ...


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I also helped them with anything digital. I helped them claim their business on Yelp and make their profile nice. He might ask me, “Should I advertise on Groupon?” because he doesn’t know exactly what the service is. So I will sit down and explain how that might work. That is kind of how I saw my role, as explainer. And then he decides what’s best for his business.
We used to have an all-text menu but for someone who doesn’t know this food, it can be really hard to order. I showed my dad how to take pictures of our dishes and how to cut out the photos using Photoshop. My mom was more familiar with computers, so they did it together. Now we have a picture menu that he did himself.
A year ago, I quit my job. I was working at a financial start-up for three years.
Cynthia’s parents work side by side, keeping the restaurant moving. (Aaron Reiss)When I left my job, and I started helping out more at the restaurant, I didn’t want to touch anything they were currently doing—I wouldn’t feel comfortable. The waiters, kitchen procedure, ingredient sourcing, I don’t know that stuff. But I’ve always helped out with design and marketing, because that is something my parents struggle with, and something I really enjoy. And given what I know about social media, I’ve always seen that as a serious hole in their operation. I offered to take up the effort of getting them on social media, and managing their presence online.
At that time, they reacted like, “Why? You have a great job. Restaurants make no money, you’re on your feet all day. This job is hard. You don’t want it!” But they were receptive to my offer to help, they always have been, even if I don’t think they fully understood what I was talking about.
So I brought in a 23-year-old intern, and she does our Instagram. My dad actually pays her out of his salary, which is amazing. I had already designed them a website, something I had been wanting to do for a long time. After that, they started getting inbound English inquiries and reservations, and English press reaching out. I wanted to be an interface between the younger, English-speaking market and what they’ve always known.
Part of the reason I started doing this is because my father works so hard, and the food is so good, and there is so much to his story. It makes me sad that they are not more successful.
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is a multimedia journalist based in New York.
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