Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Episode 24 - The Cafe

The Plot:  Another instance where two words defines the whole episode for fans: “Babu Bhatt”.  Another classic character.  The episode begins with  Jerry, fascinated by an empty and failing eclectic restaurant called "The Dream Café," offering his patronage to the restaurant.  Babu is the epitome of the attentive restauranteur, refilling his water glass after ever sip.  Jerry, concerned that cafe’s eclectic, but very American menu (franks & beans, turkey sandwiches) is not going to draw in the customers.  He convinces the owner, Babu Bhatt, to restyle his menu and decor. He suggests that Babu make his restaurant the only authentic Pakistani eatery in the neighborhood.  Babu is very pleased with Jerry’s suggestion and shuts down the restaurant to redecorate.  Unfortunately, the restaurant still lacks customers and Babu loses a lot of money. He becomes very upset with Jerry and blames him for causing his failure, yelling, "You're a very, very bad man!", waving his index finger.

Another plot line focuses on George’s concern that his new girlfriend, Monica, has asked him to take an IQ test as a sample for her education course.  George is concerned that after taking it, she will find out what an idiot he is.  After discovering that Elaine has a high IQ, he persuades Elaine to take the test for him.   Not surprisingly, the plan backfires. Elaine takes the test at the Dream Café, which Jerry says is quiet, but is distracted by Jerry (who gets her to order food) and then by Kramer (who spills food and coffee on the test), and so performs poorly with a score of 85.

Elaine insists that she try again and finally, George begrudgingly agrees. This time, Elaine takes the test at Jerry's apartment and does very well, but just as she's about to leave, Kramer locks himself in with her in Jerry's apartment to escape his mother's ex-boyfriend who is hounding Kramer for not returning a jacket he found.  As a result, Elaine is late returning the test to George instead finding Monica waiting to collect the test.

At the end of the episode Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer are standing on the same block as where the Dream Café used to be. Elaine learned her IQ was 151 from George's "second try", Kramer loses his jacket, and the Dream Café is shut down.

Fun Facts:
  • The jacket Kramer has and subsequently loses is a mainstay in show’s history.  It’s the jacket Kramer is wearing in the Parking Lot episode. Kramer contends that it has magical powers over women.
  • Babu Bhatt comes back in a couple of episodes, always alternating between appreciation and contempt for Jerry and friends.

Favorite Quote:   Jerry is looking out his window at Babu trying to entice people to come into his restaurant.

ElaineWhy do you keep watching?
JerryI don't know, I'm obsessed with it. It's like a spider in the toilet struggling for survival. And even though you know he's not gonna make it you, you kinda root for him for a second.
ElaineThen you flush!
JerryWell, it's a spider.

Favorite Scene:   Jerry is talking to himself about what a great guy he is to help out this immigrant restauranteur.  Classic in that even Jerry realizes he’s ridiculously self-centered.

Babu: You're a very kind man. Very kind, thank you. Very kind...
Jerry: (To himself) Very kind. I am a kind man. Who else would do something like this? Nobody. Nobody thinks about people like I do. All right, snap out of it you stupid jerk. You're eating a turkey sandwich. What do you want, a nobel price?

The Lesson:  Of all the episodes, this is one of the easiest, because the main focus of the episode revolves around the difficulties of an entrepreneur and his startup.  Babu is a hard working entrepreneur who has an idea to improve the neighborhood’s dining options.  He pursues his concept, discovers it might not be what his customers are looking for, pivots on his idea and retools the concept.  Unfortunately, like so many entrepreneurs, Babu discovers that it takes more than a good idea, a good location and hard work to be a successful entrepreneur.  If the essential elements were always the same and easily identifiable, no startups would fail.  The simple fact is that you can call it luck, the intangibles or some other undefinable element, but there is something in every startup that you can’t identify that is critical to its success.  There are successful Pakistani restaurants in New York.  Why wasn’t the Dream Café successful?  It’s that critical element that makes all the difference.  And that critical element almost always comes down to execution by the founder.  In this case, Babu tried his best, but he just wasn't up to the task.  It takes more than a good plate of franks & beans (or an IQ of 151) to be successful.  Execution is the essential element.

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