Restaurants and Women in Business and Retail and Real Estate & Retail and Small Business and Inside Dish

INSIDE DISH: Tulip Noir owner learns as she goes

July 9, 2010
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Welcome back to IBJ’s video feature “Inside Dish: The Business of Running Restaurants.”

Our subject this week is Tulip Noir, a north-side breakfast and lunch cafe opened in late 2008 by novice restaurateur Dina M. Romay-Sipe. Frustrated and unhappy in her career as an interior designer, Romay-Sipe, 48, took a three-month break to reevaluate her goals and began hatching her plan for the eatery.

"I started driving around and looking for spaces," she said. "I had put a menu together. I was baking. I was making all kinds of things, dropping them off to my neighbors."

Romay-Sipe knew what she was getting herself into. She grew up in a restaurant family; her mother was a chef and her father ran the front of the house for a steak-and-seafod restaurant in Toledo, Ohio. Her love of cooking stems from her childhood years helping her mother in the kitchen. But the restaurant industry also left an indelible stain on her youth.

"It's a tough life," she said. "It's extremely tough on family. It broke up our family. My mother would work all the time. ... I don't remember life with my father. He never had time."

Determined to keep her current home life healthy—and not just via the natural and organic offerings that dominate her menu—Romay-Sipe limited Tulip Noir to breakfast and lunch so she could be available to her family for the rest of the day. (She and her husband, architect Jeff S. Sipe, have three children: twin boys, 19; and a 15-year-old daughter.)

Although she grew up with parents in the industry, she had a lot to learn about the restaurant business as she developed Tulip Noir and opened its doors. In the video below, Romay-Sipe details the intensive research she did in advance of opening; what she learned from mentors; and the missteps that she regrets.


 

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Tulip Noir
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1224 W. 86th St.
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(317) 848-5252
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www.tulipnoircafe.com
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Concept: Breakfast and lunch cafe focusing on organic and natural products.
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Founded: Nov. 4, 2008
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Majority owner: Dina M. Romay-Sipe
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Head chef: Kim Cruz
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Start-up costs: $180,000
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2009 sales: $300,000
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Seating: 48
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Goals: Continuing to find inexpensive and creative ways to market the restaurant; possibly offering cooking classes and beginning an outreach program to area schools focusing on nutrition.
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Good to know: Tulip Noir does not offer dinner, principally because Romay-Sipe insists on being home with her family for dinner. She and her husband, Jeff S. Sipe, have three children: twin boys, 19; and a 15-year-old daughter. Sipe works out of an office at the restaurant and keeps the books for the eatery.
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