Scared away by the lines at the Liberty Island Ferry the kids and I decided to drop back ten and punt, catch a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. On the walk between terminals through The Battery, swarming with tourists and office workers, we spotted an immature, male wild turkey (a Jake, as they’re known).
Shorty (aka Josh Eden) and I have been meaning to add a Lemonade Stand Adventure to the activities offered at Daddy Day Camp since the first signs of Spring. The plan was to set up shop outside his restaurant on Prince Street Yesterday was D-Day. The first three rules of retail? Location, Location, Location!
First stop Staples for paper and markers, signage, we all agreed was very important for they’re new business. Staples rapes us for $47.00 for markers, paper and a pair of pouches (one for the markers and one for the money). “start up costs,” I explains, “can be paid back–amortized–over 60 days.” HRH nodded gravely. Bevan Jake asks if we could draw once we got on the subway.
Got off the Lexington local at the Spring Street station and walked across SoHo (passed the window at Agent Provocateur) to 199 Prince Street, Shorty’s .32. I’ve known Josh “Shorty” Eden since my first day on the job at New York magazine back in 1994. He was working Tom Valenti’s Line at Cascabel, has since run various kitchens for Jean-Georges Vongericjten’s operation, and is now running his own place.
Shorty is ready for us when we arrive. A deuce (table for two) already set up outside the French doors of his facade. As soon as we finish writing our signs, Shorty marched the children to the kitchen and set about making 8 quarts of fresh lemonade, asking a busboy to fetch the same amount of ice. “You understand, kids, I’m taking my cut, here,” explains Shorty.
“Hun, Shorty pays SoHo rent, he squeezed the lemons, bought the sugar, pays the electric bills on the ice-maker. He’s gotta get something.”
“But we don’t have any money,” says Bevan Jake.
“You will,” replies Shorty, confidently.
“How much?” asks HRH, ready to deal.
What about you cover my costs for now?” says Shorty.
“How much?” says HRH, crossing her arms.
“How about 30 bucks?”
“Thirty bucks??” barks HRH, “We’ll never make any money.”
“It’s not even 11:30, and nearly 90 degrees outside,” says Shorty. “You’ll make money. Anyway that’s just what the ingredients cost. I didn’t even charge you for the plastic cups.”
“I’m hungry,” says bevan Jake.
“No, Jakey. We have to get to work,” says HRH, sternly.
I ask HRH how much she’s planning on selling each glass for. She replies “Two bucks.”
I suggest that might be a little high for 10 oz. of lemonade. Ask what would happen if a family of four wanted to buy four cups of lemonade and you told them $8? Would you spend $8? If I was thirsty, she says, unconvinced by her own response.
Maybe better you sell each glass for $1?
“We could sell a large for $2,” chirps Bevan Jake.
“Yeah!” agrees HRH. I walk across the street to the deli on Sixth Avenue for 16 oz plastic cups ($5.27). When I returned there was already a line.
Bevan Jake is scooping ice into cups, HRH is ladling lemonade (and ONE lemon slice per cup) as fast as she can. Business is so brisk she hardly has time to put the money in her cash pouch.
A young mother from across the street remarks that she grew up here and used to sell lemonade all the time. “You don’t see that anymore,” she remarks. “It’s nice. I’ll have a large, hun.”
“Two bucks!” barks Bevan Jake, burning up with Gold Rush Fever.
“What happened to ‘please and thank you?'” I ask.
“Please and thank you,” Bevan Jake shouts after the neighbor pushing her stroller.
After an hour of steady business, HRH announces that we need more ice and more lemonade.
Bevan Jake wants some more Rice Krispies. In a twinkling, Shorty is back with another 8 quarts of lemonade and Bobby (the bus boy) has 6 more quarts of ice. I buy 26 more plastic cups.
“Anybody getting tired?” I ask, watching the kids depositing fistfuls of ice into cups and offering half-filled glasses to customers.
“No!” They reply in unison. In that case, I remnd them, no hands in the ice, and serve full glasses to your customers. Jake excitedly shows me a .20 Euro coin. “Look dad! Real gold!”
“Great!” I reply wishing silently that I’d been watching when the European Animal had pawned his dirty tourist money off on my kids.
Business slacks off a bit and Jake takes to hawking the product. “Fresh affordable lemonade!” he barks at passers-by across the street.
“Fresh and affordable,” laughs one local. “I’m sold.”
Shorty found time to fraternize. I enjoyed a pair of Red Stripes and a plate of Grilled Shrimp, Black Cumin Honey and Parsnip Puree $14 and a Chilled Green Bean Salad $7
After another hour, HRH announces that she needs more lemonade. Bevan Jake is sitting under the red umbrella eating his third bowl of Rice Krispies. Before I can protest, Shorty has 4 more quarts and more ice ready to go. “I gotta call my publicist,” he grins, only half joking–less than half.
A sure sign that she has been working to long in the hot sun HRH begins to sob when I tell her it’s time to settle up with Shorty and head home. To make matters worse I inform her that she’s paying for the cab ride home with her earnings. “But, Daddy??” After a brief intervention by my sister, Bevin–who had just happened by and heard Bevan Jake’s carnival bark “Fresh, affordable lemonade! Getcher fresh, affordable lemonade!” “from the corner of Thompson Street–the kids made good on their promise to shorty and each cleared $51.00. And, because Obama says we should, we’re opening savings accounts on Thursday… When Daddy Day Camp is back in session.
And next Tuesday, weather permitting: Getcher Fresh affordable lemonade!”