We had the good fortune of connecting with Tarit Tanjasiri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tarit, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For most of us entrepreneurs, starting a business is like needing to go to the bathroom. I can’t just not do it. There is a compelling reason in our minds that it is better to go ahead to do it than just not do it at all. In other words, it is more painful to not start the business than the risk of starting one.
There is an underlying reason we feel that we can do something better than what others have done before you come along.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My current two businesses are Crema Cafe in Seal Beach, CA and Crema Artisan Bakers, in Irvine. One is a retail cafe on Main street in Seal Beach and the other is a wholesale bakery focusing on breakfast pastries and artisan breads. These two businesses represents my 5th and 6th venture in my entrepreneur career.
I am so proud of both businesses because the represent my vision and goals to have both a successful restaurant/gathering place and also a prolific wholesale business that support and supply our hospitality businesses with amazing pastry products and great artisan breads.
Our cafe came on first as 5th business in the restaurant business. It started in 2006. It was not easy during the early days. I was coming of a failure in a chicken rotisserie concept in Los Angeles when our location in Seal Beach came along (in my search engine) while trying to figure out a way to overcome my then failing business.
It took all my courage to see the vision in this new idea when you are still suffering from your current one. I had to fake courage most of those days. Before taking on this new idea, I had been on vacation with my wife in Europe, thinking that I am done with the restaurant business. I should get a job and find some stability for our family. When we came home, I looked at my then camera roll and saw that I had taken very little of our trip but mostly all the interesting cafes in France and England. Why were some so popular and some not so…etc. My thoughts were all so occupied with trying to figure out what is the it factor in these successful places and what was lacking in the failing ones.
By the time I came home, I knew that my place is always going to be in this business. It had sucked all the sanity out of me and filled me with all these ideas of a gathering place where all comes to see their friends and be seen. Crema Cafe was born. The food and beverages was going to be amazing and the vision was clear. Accept, no one knew about my vision.. We grossed a total of $11500 in our first month of the grand vision. The hard lesson was that there is no shortcut to success. We had to win our customers over one at a time and impressed them with consistency and sincerity. Online presence was not quite a thing yet, but was about to come along.
In the end, it took 15 years to build our business to be where it’s at today, no days off. There was never an “easy” year. Just constant building off of the year before, and improving on ourselves year after year. The result was a stretch of 14 years of straight growth only to break the growth record this past year due to Covid -19.
Our Artisan bakery grow as an off shoot to the cafe when in 2011, I was in search for better breads for our cafe. I was also intrigued by the idea to bake all our breads in house all these years. I don’t know why but I have always felt that baking was a language I understood before I could ever speak it. So, in seach of knowledge, I applied to go to a short bread course at the French Pastry School in Chicago for an Artisan baking class for savory application as a start and continued to educate my self yearly. It was the best thing I had ever done for my career and in passion grew from then on. 2012 we built our bakery next to the cafe, and by 2016 we had to move out of the space due to space constraint and founded Crema Artisan Bakers, as a true wholesale facility in Irvine, CA. We now have 35 employee at our cafe and 27 in our bakery. I could not be prouder.
The lessons I take with me is many. “if you dont’ know how to so something, find the best teacher and learn it”. “Have passion be your work, you will always look forward to it even when things don’t go your way”, “importance of having meaningful relationship is real” and “treat everyone with respect and dignity”
The world seem like a big place for me or my brand. I just want everyone involved with us in the past, today and in the future to love and enjoy our relationship and partnership together.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Before I was married and in our business, I have always been super carefree and physically active. Now that I at my latter part of my career, I think and want that again.
I would be so happy to take my current friends camping in Baja, California where I used to always drive to. Its just 10 hour drive, but once you get there it is paradise. Hiking, surfing and windsurfing all day. Cook and enjoy the evening around a fire and do it again the next day.
Fly to Maui and do the same over there. It will be a lot cleaner to. Less dust.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My first person that comes to mind would be my wife Sora. She is a professor, educator, researcher and most amazing supporter of my career choices. I could not have started 6 businesses so far without her support along the way.
My next shout out would be my parents and family in Thailand. My parents are no longer with us but I know their sacrifices that made when they pushed for me to leave the comforts of home to be indipendant thinker and survivor in foreign land.
Instagram: Cremacafe, cremaartisan, tarittanjasiri