Monday, January 31, 2011

The highs... the lows...

So the son, Stan, called and we had a nice chat. Just about general stuff that I was planning to do to the facility, plans etc. He was so nice. I am currently hating how fatalistic I feel about the whole thing.

I feel so stressed and upset about the days earlier happenings (see early day's blog), but I can't let any of those emotions dictate what is happening in the situation. I have to be clear, calm and buisness minded.

Stan told me, "I think you will be surprised at how busy you are right away. You won't have to wait for customers." Which was sweetly reassuring.

I hate Chaos that I cannot control. I hate not being in control. I can deal with, even occassionally enjoy, controlled chaos, as long as I am the one dictating the flow. What I REALLY REALLY I hate is when crazy people who are not pragmatic, not smart and not careful are dictating the flow. This is the lowest depths of hell to me. In fact, if I thought that was actually what Hell was like... and the only way to avoid it was to be the most hard core born again Christian (as long as it was not the intolerant, right wing, gay bashing type)... I would be at church every day.

I am not sure how to come down from the disspointments of the day, even now that things have calmed down and are back on track. I am not sure how to manage the strange dynamic of the Broker and the Landlady? I can't be my typical brutally honest self either... it isn't going to change anything and will just make everyone uncomfortable and possibly tank the deal.

Biting my tongue is painfully difficult, and I am so stressed that my body has begun to ache in strange places. I am not sleeping. As miserable as it all is, I know this is just something I must pass through to get what I want. I am just praying that I don't have a heart attack on my way!

Most days I tell myself, look at how much love and support I am getting; it will all be worth it in the end. Look at my beautiful children and wonderful friends and family and how lucky I am. Most days these things, my reverance and appreciation for these things, is my armor. Today, my heart is like an oil slick spreading over the ocean on an airless, starless night. Black on suffocating black. I feel despondant and weary... and there is no rest, NO rest at all, any time soon.

And I don't have the luxury yet of even contemplating rest. I have to be mentally tough for the next several phases of the process...

1. all of the leg work for planning etc to get my permits to remodel
2. getting thru the work itself while gathering/buying my equipment, applying for all of the additional permits I need specific to the actual address (once I have a lease).
3. All of the pre-prepping of food
4. preparing the space for business
5. coordinating the product testing
6. getting the rest of my merchant stuff set up (mastercard/visa, payroll, etc)
7. Marketing my opening
8. opening itself

9. Then.. you know... running a business.

And I am pooped! Pooped right NOW!

All I can think to myself is... "NUT UP BUTTERCUP!"

LOL... that made me feel better... just seeing that in writing.

The Blizzard of the Now...

So much going on and happening but nothing huge... like so many single snowflakes are harmless enough until the mass of them become a blizzard. That said, I feel like I am getting used to the chaos and doing my best to make some sort of sense of it all.

Today I hit up the Health Department again. I really think I am getting a lot closer to a workable cohesive plan. Dave and I talked about "the plan" a bunch this morning and he seems to actually be excited about the project, which is pretty cool considering the size and scope of work he normally does (I am so tiny, so very very tiny).
SOooooo, tomorrow I need to go to the Restaurant Supply in Oakland and get my Hood system all designed out so I can include it in my submission to Building Dept. then go down to the building Dept and see if my plan will pass muster. I also have to get a lighting ceiling plan, so I am going to have to go back to the facility to measure and map that all out. Then I just need my flooring, wall and ceiling materials list etc. Hmmmm... there was something else?
And, since this blog is partially to help anyone else who wants to open their own restaurant, when I went and opened my business checking account, I needed my photo ID, my federal EIN number, social security number, plus the paperwork the city gives you for your fictitious business name (specifically the green copy).
(my to do list is looping in my brain)
Tomorrow I will go get my hood system designed at East Bay Restaurant Supply, plus a cost estimate from them. Then I will go down to the buidling dept and get a quick check on my plan and see if they need anything more complicated than my visio drawing.
I am supposed to sign the lease tomorrow, but I have not heard back from the broker (I assume he is still trying to get in touch with the landlord about some of the clarifications I've asked for), so I am not sure when that might happen, but I would like to do it before I go into Oakland so I can have an exact height for the walls (they need to plan the vent hood around that) plus see what my electrical capacity is... and maybe even get the keys!
Pause... hold... Just got a call back from the broker... I made the mistake of trying to clarify something in the lease and the Landlady now wants another $2000.00 in deposit money. I am just going to go cry... I f*cking knew it.
Ok after the flurry of calls... I have no idea what is really going on other than I am not paying another 2K and they want to see the visio of the things I plan to do to the facility. I am losing my patience with the situation. But the broker seems to be confident we can ge tthru this poart of the process. I basically said to him, "It just doesn't seem like they want my business and maybe it's time for me to stop wasting all of our time?" And he reassured me things would be fine once we get over this hump. Which was, in fact, somewhat reassuring.
I totally knew if I asked for any kind of clarification to the lease, she would try to change a bunch of stuff... which she did. It is SO bizzare. I could vent a bunch of stuff about the incompetence and bad faith all the way around, but it won't do any good. It is so f*cking annoying tho.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm a big kid now!

So there was this awful crisis where I was not sure how I was going to come up with the money to make the deposit on the lease (I don't get funded until the end of Feb), but then a bunch of clients generously offered to make deposits and then a friend offered to loan me the money for a month (YAY!).

Sooooo on Friday I went down to the bank and opened up my business checking account. It took quite a while but I am so releived it is all done! Plus BofA has a program where it is $20 a month for them to do your payroll, OR if everyone does direct deposit, it is free. And they have a merchant banker who will help you get your book kepping all set up so taxes are easier at the end of the year... how cool is that!?

I doubt Stein would have an issue with direct deposit, but I think our first hire with be a dishwasher and I am not as sure they will want direct deposit?

I've been dreaming at night about the Cafe... I've been working on it so long and felt so stymied at times... sometimes it feels like it will always be this distant dream. But I (supposedly) sign the lease on Monday... then take my little visio drawing down to get it checked out by Health, Fire and Building, then Dave can get started ont he more formal drawings, then I will get my permits, file for my beer/wine license and hopefully be ready to go at the end of Feb when I get my funding. It still feels so far away...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

wow.... WOW!

So I got a call from a friend this morning who was willing to loan me the money for the deposit on the cafe for a month... this came totally out of the blue and I am SO surprised and grateful! I really do have the most amazing and wonderful friends in the world!

I also had the coolest Tarot this morning telling me to keep going and that things should be a little easier for a while (knock on wood!).

Since so many of my clients agreed to send in deposits, I will be able to go file for my beer/wine permits and business license this month as well! Wow... what a difference a day makes.

I know there will still be many obstacles and trials... but today things are coming together... days like today keep me going!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And just when you are feeling the most down...

Something happens renew faith... all you have to do is be open to it.

With every new obstacle that comes my way, I have two choices... I can overcome it, or decide it is too hard and give up. There is not a solution to every problem the Moirae decide to weave into the fabric of our lives.... that said, I am a strong powerful woman and I have always known I am made of magic; a child of a gracious and loving god/dess.

Manifesting dreams into reality is powerful magic, and it seems reasonable this magic would be difficult to perform... so as I conjure my future, my dreams, I find my most powerful foes are my own demons... of doubt, of fear and disillusionment. In those moments, I look up from the darkness to find the smiling face of God/dess (and yes, call your higher power what you will; I am culturally Irish Catholic) reminding me of my passion, of my recourcefullness, of my strength. Sometimes in the darkest moments we look for a sign, ANY sign, that we are on the right path, that we are going to be ok.

So today, when I realized that I would not be able to get my funding a early so I could pay the deposit on the space I had one of those moments when, for the first time, I thought, "Maybe I can't DO this. Maybe I am insane for trying. Maybe it is just too hard?" I broke down and cried on the phone to my children's father. And then I got that tiny little nudge from the universe when the very successful businessman said, "You can DO this, you are so close! Don't give up; this is your dream! You've already done so much of the hard part!"

That tiny bit of encouragement was the kick in the pants I needed to really think HARD about how to get the money. I sent out emails to some of the clients I have later in the year to see if any of them would be willing to pay a partial deposit now. Every one of them wrote back yes! It is pretty common for people to pay a caterer a deposit, but I don't usually ask clients to do it more than a few months in advance. And it is REALLY short notice. So it was kind of a little miracle.

I feel such a renewed sense of determination... it was like pennies (only thousands of them) from heaven; the universe smiling down in my darkness and whispering in my ear, "You can DO this.... you can conjure your dream into reality."

I think sometimes that passion and tenacity are happy lovers.


So... We sort of got the Lease thing going... but I am not sure what part of "No rent for the First two months" they don't understand? So they put a clause in there that basically says, pay a $2000.00 deposit, plus the third months rent upfront (LOL).

(repeat mantra... The space is very cheap... there is nothing really available int his price range anywhere else... the building is really cute... there is lots of fun stuff happening down there... once you get in there it won't be so miserable)

So as it is written I need to come up with $3500.00 by Feb 1. But my investor does not fund until the end of Feb. So now I need to 1. Try to figure out a way to come up with the cash (and still pay my other bills) Or 2. Tell them my investor does not fund until end of Feb and then risk the possiblity that we launch back into endlessly dickering and bartering over everything (which is an unbearable possiblity).

I can go to some of my clients I am doing work for this year and ask them to pay small deposits on work I will do later in the year to raise some cash... or go see if I can work thru a regular bank to get an SBA loan for a small amount so I can get started now. I am getting a small amount back in taxes this year, plus Pliska and Mary will pay rent. But that is not going to cover the whole amount.

I actually broke down and cried a little bit on the phone to Dave today. I feel so discouraged. It is so not his fault, he is going WAY over and above to help me. When I said, "I just feel so worn down and discouraged. I think if I tell them I don't have the money, they are just going to be really shitty about it and things will fall through. There is really only so much douchebaggery I can realistically deal with before I lose my mind" and he told me not to give up on my dream when I am so close... which really meant a lot to me coming from him.

I think tomorrow I will go down to BofA and see if I can get a small SBA loan, plus I will send out some emails to the people I am scheduled to do work for and see if they would be willing to make some small deposits now for work rendered later. I will just have to figure it out!
PS. newest incantation of the space!

Monday, January 24, 2011

How? The never ending question...

Ok, so... if you want to get permitted by the health department you have to have a big plan that looks like (at minimum) this. On that plan, each of the numbers has to correspond to an item. Each item has to have a "spec sheet". A spec sheet looks like this
So you have to have a spec sheet for each number on the visio drawing.
SO, if you are buying used equipment and don't have a place to store the items while you go thru this process, and the inventory of used items changes all the time, how do you figure out which spec sheets to use? And, if you find something used to for sale on Cragislist and you use that spec sheet, and then in two months when your plans are all approved the item is gone... THEN what? Do you just submit the new spec sheet for the item you end up with?
And some of the stuff... like a hood, I mean that is pretty specific! And how long does this all take? I will likely be expected to sign the lease on Feb 1st, and I will basically have three months lead time to get all of this stuff done before I have to start paying rent. We are not just slapping a coat of paint on there now, I have to trudge my butt down to the Health Department and get them to sign off on my stuff, then I need to go to planning and fire and get them to sign off on my stuff and then get real blueprints from David and start... start what? I feel like I don't even f*cking know.
But... I already looked up a bunch of hoods and figured out that I can go to a local Restaurant Equipment place and they will do a simple lay out for me, which I can then take to the Planning Department. I have two potential lay outs currently and I want to see which one David thinks is the best. But I also want to know what the permitting process is. It's almost always Health Department first.
So tomorrow I will figure it out!! I am starting to feel pretty worn down tho. I knew they would screw with the lease and go back on everything they said last time we talked, but they were much smaller amounts of screwage than I was expecting. And of course the Broker implied it was my fault for trying to talk to them myself instead of letting him do it (which is also mildly annoying considering his return-call rate). But the lease option was much better than I expected. I think I assumed they would try to double my rent in the option but it only went up very mildly. So basically I got a pretty decent rent to start (which is what I wanted), and it only goes up 20% over the next 5 years, which is not bad considering I am hoping the economy will rebound a lot better than that over the next 5 years. It is annoying they cannot stick to a deal to save their lives, but I am still getting a pretty good deal I think and now it is all in writing. So I am hoping the finaggeling will stop lol.
But now... I am really worried about whether I will be open before I have to start paying rent... my seed money is not a lot and I don't want to burn it all up before we even open. But the only thing I can do is try to figure out the process as best I can and get going on it. I really only have three months from Feb 1st if we sign the lease then. Wow. Scary.


(I think... deep sigh)

Sooooo, I sent the offer to the Concord Landlord and he turned it down. He basically said he would rather have the current tenants who are paying full rent in there, than someone who was going to fix all the problems and wanted discounted rent to do it. I think it is clueless and short sighted, but I am not wasting any more time on that situation.

I had previously called the Health Department and asked if it was licensed. They said it was but the re-up was due next month. I wonder if they will be able to renew? They are not in compliance with current law (I cannot imagine how they got licensed in the first place, honestly). They still have three years on their lease too... I feel really bad for the young couple. They were suckered into 5 year lease on a site that was woefully out of date and now they have a landord that is getting ready to evict them, even tho they pay their bill on time.

This is the seedy underbelly of this whole process. But it does make the Martinez situation look a lot better.

SOoooo I called the planning department today and they said the only thing I would need architectural review on was the front entrance. Putting in a hood should just be a matter of the health department and fire department agreeing on my plan being ok. So I just need David to draw up some plans so I can go take them around to all the places and get them signed off.

I think I can do the health department with the visio floor plan, but I am sure I will need actual specs for the fire department etc. They want to sign the lease on Feb 1st and that means the clock will be ticking after that!

I feel like if I use used equipment... I will need to KNOW what I am using to get the specs and get them signed off on... I just don't know how I am going to do all of this in 2 months... bleh.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

RE: the new new space... or why is everything so complicated?

The Plot Thickens!

Cast of characters:

Owners of the Restaurant: A beautiful young Korean couple. The 19 year old who opened the place up for me the other night IS the owner. I am sure he is older than 19... but he doesn't look it. They have a daughter who is maybe 6. They want to sell the place for 40k. They bought it for her parents so they could stay in the united states. The parents don't want to work and have some alcohol issues (this is the story I was given). The place (myseriously... but there's more!) is open from 6:00 pm to 2:00am.

The Landlord: Elderly parapalegic who owns the buiding. Pretty sure has no idea what is going on in the place.

My children's father: Very experienced commerical contractor who is basically doing the work for me to pay off old divorce debt, also a great guy and very knowledgable.

So Dave and I show up... I speak for a short period of time with the landlord. He is appalled there was a futon on the floor when I showed up. Landlord says they let their daughter sleep on it when they are working. I tell the landlord that the hood is not up to code and will need about 15K to bring it up to code. The landlord argues with me...

I say that I doubt the Health Department has been there in years. He argues with me again and says they would not have been issued a business license if they had not been inspected. So I ask the Owners when they were last inspected... they say two weeks ago. I ask about the hood etc and he goes into the back room and pulls out the drawings they have had done of what needs to be done to make it legal.... Not only does the hood need ot be replaced, but the vent is not done properly either AND they have no grease trap. All in all about $25k worth of work. Ugh

(Hmmmm... so they are open from 6:00 pm to 2:00am only? when the Health Department is closed and not doing inspections... does this mean they were shut down? The blueprints were done in 2009. Have they been red tagged and operating illegally for the past two years!?)

I ask the Owner if he has his Servesafe certification... he has no idea what I am talking about. I strongly suspect they've been operating illegally since the day they opened. Neither of them had ever owned a restaurant previously, or worked in one.

Dave and I drive over to Kinko's to make some copies of the Owner's blueprints for fixing the space and making it up to code and we chat... he says, if you are going to do all of the work and money to add a hood and stove... why not check to see what would be involved with getting that stuff for the Martinez space?

This means go to the planning department with some simple drawings and asking what is involved in getting the hood added to this historical building. So today I will go get the drawings made and go check in on the planning department on Monday to see if I can just pull a simple permit, or do I need to go thru a full review.

So now I will be juggling two projects...

1. Try to hammer out the best lease in both places. I think I've got a decent set going into the Martinez place and they will be thrilled that I am making the improvements before I open, IF it turns out it is not too much trouble to do so. OR see what kind of deal I get on the Concord space. They both have their plus and minuses

Pros: Really pretty historical downtown, great lunch crowd and potential for weekend festival business. Quaint older buidling.

Cons: Really uncomfortable with the landlady. SUPER small space. Not ADA accessible.

Pros: WAY more traffic! Larger space. ADA accessible. Already has a four keg tap and walk in cooler.

Cons: Super weird current situation and not sure how that will pan out? Not nearly as pretty of an area.

Why can't anything just be EASY? My brain is kind of going... why not do the Concord thing full bore and then if the Martinez space is still available in six months, open a store front deli for my products?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Options are GOOD (Plan B)

So Bri and I met up with Stein at the new possiblity tonight. It was a very interesting possiblity! So we walk in and the guy clearly is not expecting us... he lets us go check out the space, but he runs into the back first. The guy is maybe 19, pencil thin, speaks a little Enlish... there is a cot on the floor with an old dirty futon matress and a coat rack loaded with coats near the back door. Coats in like size 3 Toddler, bright pink.

This all strikes me as super odd... BUT the upside is... they have a giant sandwich prep table, a really nice big walk in fridge and lots of stuff I didn't think I would be able to afford. The hood is really outdated and will have to be revamped and the range is not what I want (no oven etc)... BUT it's all THERE, so it should be (knock on wood) easy to get some simple permits and revamp it.

The situation is a little odd... but I will call the broker tomorrow and see if I can get some specs and space information and then call Dave and see if it will be workable.
It sounds like the current lessee wants to try and get some money out of the place. I might be willing to pay for some of the stuff (sandwich prep table, ice machine, freezer), but I still will need to buy specialty equipment designed for sausage making. I think Stein liked the set up better as well.
So wish me luck! This would explain all of the Tarot that said there would be some disaster with the Martinez place. Either I work thru it all, or I come out of this experience with a much better understanding of what I need to do to get this done. I remain focused and determined.

His ears must have been burning...

Just got a call from the broker a minute ago. He's been very sick and will try to get the lease done by Monday... It is still good to have options!

Or not...

Was supposed to hear back from the broker on "Tuesday or Wednesday"... but still haven't (Are you sensing a pattern here?)... and I really am getting the feeling they are not that into my business

SO... PLAN B! Yeah! Go Plan B!

(and first a bit of a query to the heavens) WHY are so many iPhone applications better than the full PC versions of various web sites? I am thinking today about Loopnet. Loopnet is a online database-type-of-thing where you can look up commercial space for lease. If you try to find things sitting at your desk on your full size PC, it is kind of a pain really. But, the app is awesome! It pinpoints where you are and then with some simple perameters it will find all of the spaces for lease on a interactive touch-map with a very nice drop down menu if you put your finger on any of the tags for the individual addresses. Ta dah! Genius!

Anyway, so I found a 1200 sq ft space near my favorite Asian store (Which I suspect is going out of business since they are also found in the Loopnet database) and Pho place. It Already has range and hood. FAR greater drive thgrough traffic AND every singe place in that area that has decent food is packed to the gills every day. There are no coffee shops, or delis in the area. In fact there is very little non-Asian or Mexican food at all. They just opened up a huge Casino across the street AND it is right near the freeway.

Apparently this guy bought the restaurant so his parents could stay in the United States and get visas for working in the place. Then... they decided they didn't want to work lol! I've seen the place a bunch of times when I go to Pho... and it's never open, which was always very curious. He paid 80k for it! Poor guy. I think he is trying to sell the restaurant, but I only want to take over a lease and not have to pay for a menu/name/stuff I am not going to use.

I have to admit that the thought of not having to fight the City of Martinez for major improvments on a historical building, plus not having to deal with the mom/broker issues is sounding very appealing right now. Plus that area is packed with people all the time. AND I would be able to make arancini, beignet AND french fries right away! WOO HOO!

Plan B, I love you. Bri and I are going to go check out the space tonight. The only sticky part may be the guy wants to get some money out of the restaurant. I need cash to pay for the many specialty items I will need to have on hand for a deli (deli case, all of the charcuterie stuff, sous vide set up etc). I am wondering if the clientel there would be open to things like Wine Makers Dinners etc? It is right on the border of a nice residential area, so I would assume the coffee shop will be a good thing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And a lease is born...

... at least I hope so! It is hard to tell...

I had not heard back from the broker so I called Stan, the (I think) owner's son and we chatted for a while about the space etc and kind of hammered out a deal. The place has been empty for a while and I suspect it is because the mom is... a special snowflake. I think she might be Russian? Stereotypical old world matron. She is petite with hair that was once red I suspect but is now peppered with gray. Tonight she had on a flowered dress and a black knitted headband with a black flower with some silver glitter thread. Sensible low flats. Support hose. You get the idea.

He is handsome and soft spoken in a 40-something way. Baseball cap, jeans. Drives a big truck.

So I called Stein and asked if he wanted to meet over there to check out the place. I needed to do actual measurements and get the information on the water heater. We met over at the place as Martinez was closing up, 4:45, in this gorgeous drizzle. I love the downtown area. Old stone buildings, an old railway station and the Martinez Marina. I love the stone sidewalks and the potted plants on the patio that will be mine .

Stein brought his uber awesome wife, Alicia (she is a boat engineer in the Coast Guard, pretty cool huh!?) and we started talking about all the stuff. Stan asked me if I wanted to to talk in private about the lease stuff. I said Stein was welcome to hang out for that part... so then the mom started going back on the stuff the son and I had already agreed to! It was SO stressful.

I suspect that whatever culture she is from finds bartering an expected, and enjoyable, thing. I, however, was horrified. When I said we'd already worked something out with her son, she said, "Well you didn't work it out with me!" Stein and Alicia and I just looked wide eyed at each other. I just sort of said I was going to go measure stuff for a while and did not feel like battering ad nauseum. By the time we came back in, she was ready to go with (I think, her acccent is really thick) what Stan and I had agreed to.

I think it is hard for me to understand why she won't take the deal. I am offering more than twice the going rate for the area (but the spot is THE best spot), I am going to do some really cool capital improvements, I plan to be there for a long time. And still it is like this constant messing around. And the space has been empty for like 2 years! I cannot tell you how uncomfortable I am with that kind of thing. But I stood my ground. I won't really breathe until the lease is signed tho because of the constant back and forth she seems to relish. Plus... it is making ME really uncomfortable about the working relationship. I think this aspect is the single most stressful part of the whole thing. I get it they own the building outright and don't really have to rent the space. But still.

So I finally had all the measurements and could start equipment shopping (theoretically). I need small things that fit into small spaces. My cold display case needs to be X big. The Sandwich station needs to be X big. The fridges need to be X big. Everything has to be about as tiny as possible. BUT at least I know what I am working with!

Now I need to do an excel sheet of all of the equipment I need. I wish the craigslist ads had the specs, I can't tell how wide this stuff is from a picture. I should just go down to the Vallejo used restaurant supply place and look at everything and take measurements. Maybe after I go get my new stuffer tomorrow in Berkeley?


So I called the broker on Friday with another offer ($1400 a month and 8 weeks to get into the space). He said he would call me back on Monday or Tuesday. But Monday and Tuesday came and no call (not a big deal, it is a small lease and I am sure he is busy with other things). But then yesterday and today still nothing. So I called the buidling owner and made the offer and we talked about it quite a bit (my long term plans etc).

I think they feel burned by the previous owner (who sounds like a real piece of work) and so I made my $1400.00 offer, with 8 weeks to get into the space. He suggested $1500.00 and a month free. We kind of compromised on $1500 and 8 weeks to get into the space (I am adding quite a few capital improvements in the next year, hood range, ADA bathroom). He said he would talk to his broker about the deal and we will meet in there tomrrow morning. I need to call or email Stein and see if he can come check it out tomorrow with me.

It was clear the inital offer I made really pissed them off. I am so worried this will color our business relationsip going forward and make them super suspect of me. I find this prospect extremely stressful.

I also am amazed this part of the process has been so difficult. Between the back and forth with the Health Department and the bad vibe on the negotiations... I also got the feeling he was upset I had not kept hi, up to date on what was going on. I talked to him in November and then he had not head from me until the super low-ball offer. But I was trying to pull together finiancing and all of the info on updating the space...

I am feeling really discouraged in some ways... I am just so exhausted by how difficult the process is. And I feel like I am pissing everyone off (not just about the cafe, but about everything) which is really disconcerting!

I have two pig heads I am working on today. I am removing the flesh from the bones to make Testa (a big head cheese sausage-y thing). And Ghislane is coming by to help me. AND I am taking a pig apart this weekend for Ajax, to be reduced down to it's compenent parts and made into yuummy things!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

List of Permits and Licenses needed

I am ALL over it!

The devil is in the details...

I am still trying to make sense in a blizzard of need/information. So I am going to get my thoughts organized (or attempt to do so)...

Money is the waiting game right now. I am totally fine with this and know the reasoning behind it. But this pause is not a bad thing. I have a LOT of stuff I can do and I am trying to organize my thoughts and activities going forward so I am best using my time. That way when I the money is there (probably int he next month or so), I will be as prepared as possible.

The first thing I need to do is deal with the lease. The broker said he would get back to me yesterday or today. So if I don't hear from him this morning I will send a gentle reminder. I want to just email him about it, but I think a phone call in this case will be more effective (bleh I hate the phone).

The second thing I need to do is talk to the planning department and see if what I have now is ok to get started on the kitchen part of the remodel. Then go get a permit from the bulding department, which should be about $200.

So the costs to take the next step are:

  • $1700 for the deposit on the Health Department review

  • $500 for my certification from the Health Department

  • $300 for my beer and wine license

  • $200 for my beer and wine resale license
  • $200 for the Buidling permit

I can't get my business license until the HD, Planning, Building, Fire all sign off on my stuff.

I have the specs for the sinks (I still need to get faucet specs) and tables etc. But not for the equipment. I started to go look around, but since I will be getting used equipment and the inventory varies and changes, it is kind of a waste of time to go gather what I think I MIGHT use. I am hoping the health department will be ok with what I have now and then when they come in to license the kitchen, they can check the rest of the equipment. The thing is, the process is paid on deposit/retainer, so I want to do it int he most efficient manner possible.

Other things I can do: Go start researching wines! I plan to buy four cases of each wine (two whites and two reds). All will small local producer wines, so I have to kind of ferret those out as well (with help, of course).

Also, I will be teacher's assistant for Chef Paul this semester in Advanced Cuisine. This means I should be able to do alot of my smoking for the restaurant at school. I like their smoker a lot AND it is a commerically licensed kitchen.

I have started to form a gran plan for my eventual remodel of the restaurant. Gutting the back bathroom and making that a storage room and office, and then adding an ADA bathroom in the front, plus fixing the door so it is ADA compliant and adding a hood and range, plus oven. I talked to Dave about it yesterday and he thinks it will all cost about 30k. So I have to save my pennies!

I just can't wait until people get to try my stuff! I think you have to have a bit of braggadocio to be a chef and I try to have a less obnoxious bit, but I am really proud of my meat.

Which reminds me! I need to check on my curing bresaola and Capicolla! Plus put that brisket in brine for more pastrami! I am going to play with the texture this time by pressing etc.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I feel like the poodle at the Circus...

Jumping through hoops! Tonight I feel stressed; like I am unqualified to jump through some of them. I swear the Health Department has the most user friendly booklets, plus SUPER nice and helpful staff. I walk in around 8:15 am and check in and someone comes out, free of charge, to look at my plans and tell me what else I need. But I still feel so out of my depth. I am not an architect.

Today the very nice man, named Jerry, said I needed to note on the plan the floor drains, the water heater specs, plus the specs for the tables, sinks (all four kinds), and... well everything else. But I don't HAVE everything else. I can do the specs for the sinks, because those are pretty standard... but I am buying most of my equipment used, so I will just have to see what is available when I get the cash in hand.

The plans ARE evolving though. I think I am mostly stressed because the leasing broker said he would call me back today, but he hasn't. I really don't have anything to work with until I know where I am going. I get the feeling he is really sick of the clients and doesn't want to deal with them any more. I totally get it, they are a small mom and pop building and it is probably the least money he would make on this type of thing for a LOT of headache. I can hear the frusteration in his voice and I think he is not happy he had to take my really low ball offer to them in the first place.

That and I have two friends having some pretty serious life issues and I am really worried about them both. Like losing sleep worried about them. On the plus side, my catering calendar is filling up pretty nicely, so if I do need to submit for SBA funding I will have work already on the docket.

Today was stressful on a lot of levels. I hate feeling unprepared or unknowledgable and I don't have 2 years to figure out how to draw up architectural plans. I am glad there are checks and balances, but I am shocked by how difficult the process is.

Today the Health Department and I... are friends...

So I went in with the drawings I posted last night and the guy I saw today said... "You don't need a public bathroom for this facility unless it was built after 2004". I kind of sat there and blinked for a minute and he said, "You just have to have a sign that says No Public Bathroom... in fact, we have them here for free we will give you."

So whew!!!! I got the packet today get thru the first step. I need $1659.00 as a deposit and I need to go to the facility and get some information on the water heater, and some of the other specs so I can write them in on my current floor plan. It sounds like on the main things I need going forward are to start collecting the specs on the stuff I am going to use. Sinks, slicer, etc.

I also found a sausage stuffer on Craigslist for $140! A 15 pounder, which is awesome. I am going to try and pick that up when I get paid this Friday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And then we get whiplash from the dissapointment!

Note: For people looking to open a restaurant, go to the health department FIRST.

So I traipsed down to the buidling deparment to see if I needed like... anything to get started on the remodel etc. They said, in that way that makes me think like DUH everyone is supposed to know this stuff, that I needed to go to the health department. The Health Department is the key apparently.

So I go over with my little drawing and they send a very nice man out to "plan check". Plan check guy says... if there is seating, ANY seating, you must have public access to your bathroom that does not go thru your prep area. Well the current layout is like this so clearly the access would go right in the middle of the food prep area, which is no bueno . So I call David in a panic and ask him what I can do?

He suggests a smaller water-closet type bathroom near the front, like this. But now, if we add a bathroom, this may mean I have to get real plans drawn up and a much more complicated permitting process. So I am feeling a little bit panicky about it all.
He seemed to think if I go in with my little visio drawing, I will have a much greater chance of getting it signed off on, than if he does it (they want a lot more stuff from a contractor). So tonight I am taking the 2000 page booklet from the Health Dept and trying to fill in all of the stuff they want. It seems so needlessly complicated.
But on the plus side, a freind of mine who is a real estate attorney has offered to help me set up a LLC to reduce my liability. The front entrance is not ADA compliant. It is grandfathered in until I try to change something, but you can be sued for not having handicap access.
I have to admit, I am feeling super anxious about the project again. BUT David seemed pretty cool about the idea of the added bathroom, and I do have this ginourmous booklet to help me try and figure it all out.
OH the other thing that is making me anxious is they are not going to let me use a smoker on site, so I will have to try and work something out with the school to come in a smoke the pastramis etc and just front load it until I can get the stuff done to add a hood. David had some good ideas on how to help get that done cheaply. It's so SO frusterating tho.
I just don't see how anyone ever opens a business in California! The Taurus in me is feeling extremely stubborn about it, however....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

CRAZY few days... lots of movement

SOoooooo... what happened is...

Let me give some background... my Ex is a very good business man. I trust his instincts and he is super smart so anyway, when he told me to ask for this crazy good deal for my lease, I did! So the broker called me yesterday while I was picking up a brisket for the next round of pastrami and said... well he said basically the little old Russian lady who owned the place swore at him when he asked her about it. I asked if she countered with anything and he said no... Which I was not expecting. GOD IT'S AMATEUR HOUR! (ok glad I got that out of my system)

SOooooo, today I talked to Dave and got a much better idea of timing etc. Tomorrow I will go to the planning Dept and see what permits, if any, I need to paint and put in sinks. Then I will call the guy back and try to hammer down the lease stuff.

I also met with US Foods today to set up my account. They were totally adorable! Bought my coffee like I was important and everything. They were really awesome. They were facinated by me, like in this non-creepy foodie way. They got more and more excited the whole time I was talking and have like ten meetings they want me to have with their specialists (esp the pork guy) Plus they kind of gave me a good idea how to solve my coffee equipment costs thingie. They also said I was the most prepared client they'd seen in many months... I was the first person of the last 10 who already had a resellers permit! Can you imagine?

The process to get a business license in Martinez is much more involved. They want everyone to sign off on my project first, health dept, fire etc. This means I have to DO the work, then hope everyone goes well to get the license at the end of the day. I already have alot of the stuff I need... the 347 permits and licenses... it's SO insane.

It is getting to the point where I kind of suspect the competitive demon in me is determined to get to the finish line. IT IS THAT F*CKING COMPLICATED.

I grabbed a bunch of pork shoulder the other day which needs to be converted to capicolla and another brisket. I am experimenting with texture, but I really wish I had a better smoker for this part of the process. I really want the Alto-Shaam one.

ALSO, I aneed one more unit of Co-op so I sent out a note to all of my professors to see who wanted me (for a teacher's aid) this semester and Chef Paul nabbed me first, so YAY!!! I will get to be TA for Advanced Cuisine! I cannot tell you how excited I am to get back in the kitchen. I miss it so awfully awfully much.

So my time frame is looking like... tomorrow I go check out the permit process, make my lease offer, get that info to David so he can get started on the remodel and then 8-10 weeks later my place should be ready to get started... Stein and I can get to work on prepping for possibly an Early May opening.

I know I still have a bunch of hiccups that could happen int he plan... but I just FEEL so much closer. So many weird little details to keep my up at night.

Stein and I like the jerseys for our "uniform". As much as I would love to wear all my fancy chef stuff, this food and my place NEEDS to translate to my sudience. I want to get cute Compass Star jersy's with funny sayings on them like "Lips and Asses, the OTHER other Wite Meat" and stuff like that.

I had such a nice day today... I can feel my dream that much closer, taking shape and form.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Feeling conflicted and stymied...

I know I should feel grateful and zen about the possibility of getting the Compass Star Cafe funded in Feb, with basically a gift of tens of thousands of dollars. I keep telling myself that if it doesn't come together, it wasn't meant to be. But the space has been empty for at least a year, maybe more. And I know Stein is eager to be working again after quitting his last job at the end of last year. I just feel like I am asking too much of the universe to keep these key pieces in place if I can't make this happen SOONER!

And working with my Ex on the project is so stressful for both of us. I want information. He is not sure when he will be able to get the cash. I know he isn't being malicious; he just genuinely doesn't know. But there is something really unpleasant about the nefarious nature of it all. I have only recently realized how much he dislikes me. I am surprised at this... then surprised I am surprised... and then suprised at how upsetting it is to me to be disliked by someone I share so much history with, not to mention three children! I almost wish I'd never asked him about it so I could live in my ignorant happy world of "look at how well we are doing this divorce thing".

I could go forward with the SBA lender (that is what I would be doing if this other thing was not on the table). I finally have all of my ducks in a row... but I am having trouble justifying that when I can get the money gifted to me? But it doesn't seem fair somehow to my Ex. I must find a way to make the karma right. Something about having the money given to me doesn't feel right and I need to wrap my brain around it all.

I am antsy and listless, plus feeling some time pressure so I contacted US Foods this morning and made my appointment to go get that all set up. US Foods is one of the larger food and dry goods distributors. I will meet with them on Thursday in Martinez to set up my account. It is a pretty impressive vetting process! 7 pages long, one of which is just information about my resellers permit.

I also did the scariest thing ever today... on my Ex' suggestion I made an offer for the lease. They were asking $1800 a month for a 720 sqft space. The comps in the area are around $1 a square foot. So I offered $1000.00 a month on a three year lease, with the first year deferred. So in other words I would pay nothing the first year and then $1500.00 a month for the next two years.

Since the first year of being in business is the hardest, this lightens the burden of my monthly expenses. If I don't have to pay back an SBA loan (which would be about another $1000 a month) as well, I will be in GREAT shape for my first year as far as low overhead. I emailed the broker today and he said he would talk to the building owner about it and get back to me soon. I am kind of nervous about this! I am kind of asking for a super sweet deal. I was SO nervous asking for that, but I am pretty proud of myself that I went for it and just stated what I wanted. I am sure they will come back with something, and hopefully we can find a compromise. This is a big... kind of irrevocable step. It is really not very easy sometimes to go for what you want... in fact it is downright terrifying on occasion.

But I am ALSO one step closer to... well doing my thing!

This brings me to the concept of passion and why, trite and true, you hear over and over, "PASSION is what you need to succeed in this business". I have come to suspect that it is more that passion, like true love, inspires tenacity to go the distance.

What IS passion? Two clicks from insanity really.

My brain is flexing to add all of the new input of the past few days, and the next few (I say with some trepidation) could be equally exciting...