As you may know, I've been planning to open a restaurant. It's been a long road. You can read more about what I'm doing and why in this entry. Back then, I was thinking of a bakery. That's now morphed into a restaurant.

The idea is not just to make money, but to try to make the world a better place while I'm at it. We'll be reaching out to homeless shelters, veterans groups, and disability services to send us job applicants. We'll use locally sourced and fair trade ingredients as much as we can. We'll compost our waste and, if we can get permission from the landlord, use the resulting soil to grow herbs in a roof garden.

We still need to develop the menu. We had some ideas, but a lot depended on knowing the crowd we were serving. Now that we have a location (pending final contract details, landlord approval, etc.) we can start working on that. For the most part, we'll be focusing on simple food. Hamburgers and comfort food and the like. But we're going to try to make it interesting. That's one of the things I need your advice about. I'll get to that in a bit.

But we're not just going to be a cafe/pub/bar. We're also going to be an art gallery. The decorations on the walls will be from local artists. There's an art school not far from us, so we'll take some pieces from students there. There's no shortage of artists who live in Brooklyn, so we'll reach out to them. We'll encourage our employees to contribute, too. And we might just find some ways for our customers to make some things, if only by drawing on the placemats. If you see something you like on the wall, you can buy it. If, after a week or two, no one buys a piece, we'll return it to the artist and put something else in its place.

We've got a lot to organize and decide. We're still in the early stages. But there are a couple of things I'd like your help with.

First of all, we need a name. We've been racking our brains, tossing names back and forth, but haven't settled on something we really like. I'd thought of "Tikkun" (as in "Tikkun Aulam," Hebrew for "fix the world"), but I'm told the area is too aggressively secular. The best I've got right now is "Fair's Fare." I tried to think of what we wanted to convey, and the word "fair" just kept coming up. Fair wages, fair treatment, reaching out to people to whom the world has been unfair, fair trade, etc. And, as it happens, the homophone "fare" means food. But I feel like there's a better name waiting out there. Suggestions would be appreciated.

The other thing is that I've backed a Kickstarter for an illustrated geek cookbook. (Still ongoing, and heading for its first stretch goal! We're not far from unlocking a "Carbs Against Humanity" deck. Check it out!) It's from Kitchen Overlord, which already has some pretty cool books and recipes. The recipes are all for interesting and unique fandom-inspired foods which are simple to make and require no special tools. I was already thinking of incorporating some of her recipes into our menu. I don't think the neighborhood will support full-on geek theme, but a few geek items on the menu would probably go over well.

The Kickstarter, though, gives me a rare opportunity. My reward includes a custom recipe from the book, TV show, or movie of my choice. Which means I need to choose one. I need help.

I want it to be something with broad and lasting appeal. Something that non-geeks might relate to.

We're located in Brooklyn. So if it takes place in a recognizable city, it needs to be New York. Robocop would feel terribly out of place, for example. On the other hand, just about everything New York takes place in Manhattan, which tends to overshadow the outer boros (as you can tell by the term "outer boros"). So it's better if anything New York based includes the wider city, at the least.

Of course, it would also be cool if it was something that didn't have a White male lead. Who wasn't a sex symbol or a stereotype. (She once did a cake of Wonder Woman's one-piece uniform. Which looked cool. But I couldn't help but think of edible panties...)

Also: She's already done recipes from a whole range of fandoms. Which isn't to say we can't go back to those places. But the idea is to create a new recipe, and the obvious choice may already have been done.

Oh, and I'd rather it not be from a fandom that I personally don't like. (Sorry, Captain Janeway.)

Some ideas I've had:

Ghostbusters (takes place in NYC, includes trips outside Manhattan, has broad appeal)

The Fifth Element (takes place in greater NYC, is fun and quirky)

Klingon cuisine (Star Trek DS9 included a Klingon restaurant. The food would definitely be unique and memorable, and Chris-Rachel can likely find a way to make it actually taste good.)

Star Wars (very broad appeal, plenty of planets to choose from, a new crop of movies due out soon)

Metroid (strong female lead character, a first in action gaming, and still exceptional)

Portal (reasonably popular, features a female lead. Of course, the only obvious food choices are a very specific cake which has been made by others or a baked potato)

Galaxy Quest (fun and quirky, with a variety of possible food inspirations)

Jules Verne (still popular after more than a century, quite possibly the founder of steampunk)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I admit I've never seen it, but it's clearly got a lasting following and some unique possibilities)

Girl Genius (strong female lead, great sense of humor, some interesting food possibilities, and steampunk should go over well in the neighborhood I hope)

Wonder Woman (strong female lead, popular character... just have to find something that doesn't involve eating her clothing or body)

Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers is strong female superhero who is not a sidekick or a knockoff. I'm hoping she'll work her way into the Avengers movies one of these days. But not sure about food possibilities.)

The Avengers (Very popular geek franchise. Takes place in New York. We'll be seeing blockbusters from them for years to come.)

Superman (Metropolis is kind of New York. And Lois & Clark is dear to me.)

Batman (Gotham is another name for New York. And Batman is awesome.)

X-Men (takes place in New York state, has a wide variety of characters)

Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt is a highly skilled and intelligent Black superhero who does not have the word "Black" in his name and has the motto "Fair Play" on his costume. Unfortunately, very few people have heard of him. Also, I'm not sure about food possibilities. I'm not sure floating metal nannite spheres seem very edible. And I'm already planning to include the Kitchen Overlord recipe for Firefly Ice Moon in our menu rotation, so that fills our floating grey sphere quota.)

Any votes out of that? Other suggestions? Chris-Rachel has offered to make a poll for me on her website, but I'd like to narrow things down from this list before we do that. Also, I'd like your considered input.
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As you may know, my various medical conditions make me unemployable. (Even the state DVRS says I'm beyond help.) But I'm very lucky to have a supportive family.

My parents suggested years ago that I should start a local business. My high school classmate's father used to own a local Arby's. You put the money in to set it up, hire people to run it, and keep the profits as income. (Which he then used to support his family while he tried to make a successful biotech lab.) But it never felt real to me. I wanted to actually *earn* the money, if that makes any sense. I wanted to be productive and contribute to society.

But I have to face my limits. And I don't want to have to live off the generosity of my family for the rest of my life. So I reconsidered the idea. Dad suggested I go with a safe franchise. Something like McDonald's, which earns well even in a rough economy and which has all the infrastructure and plans in place.

Thing is... I don't like a lot of what McDonald's is, what it does, or what it stands for. I want to make a positive difference in the world, not buy into the things that are making it worse. I don't want to slash and burn the rainforest to raise methane-producing cows so that I can hire minimum-wage workers to serve unhealthy food to people at prices which more responsible local restaurants can't hope to match.

So I asked for ideas for something better. And someone reminded me of Greyston Bakery. You might be familiar with them as the bakery which makes the brownies in Ben & Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. What they do is extraordinary. They hire homeless people to do the baking. Provide good, honest work in a supportive, safe, and clean environment to people who are down on their luck and would have a hard time getting hired anywhere else just because they are down on their luck. Greyston built that up into a successful business which has been running in the outer boros of New York City for nearly three decades.

That's what I want to do. Their profits go to their parent company, Greyston Foundation, a nonprofit which helps the homeless in other ways. But I could make something like that. Something with that model, which is both profitable and making a real difference.

I don't know what, exactly.

Perhaps a similar bakery somewhere in NJ, in a place where poverty and affluence mix. New Brunswick isn't too far from home. It's a small city (or maybe a large town) where a rising tide of poverty has been slowly turned back by the presence of a state college campus and the world headquarters of Johnson & Johnson. Or maybe Newark or Trenton or Jersey City. Or Philadelphia.

Or maybe a different business working off the same general idea, but in New York, where there are so many people in all walks of life packed together. A friend has an idea for some kind of new business I don't fully understand yet which sounds like a cross between a coffeeshop, a function hall, and a small hotel. (I'm not really sure how that would work, but it could build a snack menu off Greyston Bakery's goods.)

I reached out to Greyston, asked if they might be able to offer any help or advice. I'd appreciate any constructive input you might have, too.

I don't know what I'm doing here. I never trained to go into business. I was supposed to be an engineer. But I have the financial resources to make a start at it, the will to do it, and, now, inspired by Greyston, I have the beginnings of an idea.

ETA: A couple of other possible sources of inspiration:
Doughy Dogs (which operates a hot dog truck with a similar idea)
Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen (which isn't quite what I'm thinking of and wouldn't necessarily translate to a for-profit model, but might have some good ideas)
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