Thursday, April 28, 2011

Still a little in limbo...

Stan was meeting with the engineer today at 11:00 to see what needed to be done to bring the building up to earthquake code (for 2014). I have not yet heard from him about that, but he is asking his family about delaying when I start paying the lease. I was supposed to start paying it on May 1st.

I got my approval from County Sewer as well today. So I had to pay about $400 to subit for approval, then another $250 for the variance to have a grease trap vs a grease interceptor (which is $40k, so thank god it was only $250!) then another $90.00 for a pro-rated yearly sewer fee. A very nice man (John Ortega) came out and checked it all out in person to see if a grease interceptor was possible (it wasn't). County Sewer are VERY nice, very helpful and easy to work with.

My room mate also took a charcuterie platter to her boss, who is the owner of the Peasant and the Pear restaurants and offshoots and he loved it. It makes me feel really good when a really good chef likes my stuff :) Stein and I spent two solid days in production to make the four varietals of sausage we plan to offer to T-Rex, in addition to the dry cured stuff I already have on hand. The chocolate chili sausage is everyone's favorite... but it doesn't taste like chocolate at all, so I am going to have to call it something else. And NEXT time, I am adding WAY more chocolate.

I also have evrything ready to go for ABC... I've had it for a couple of days. I don't feel like I am in that much of a hurry any more, since lord knows what is happening to my time line any more. But I need to really avoid that kind of thinking. I would rather be over prepared, than anything else.

I am also really excited because, as you guys know, I was worried about finding the right smoker. I really need an alto-shaam smoker because it doesn't go over 220 degrees so it doesn't need to be always under a hood. It can be wheeled over to the hood for smoking etc. But... I'd only seen them new (and $6000 to $11000 in cost). The one at the school is an older model and the handle is broken, but it is perfect for me. So I asked Chef Brion and Chef Paul if I could buy it off the school (they are getting all new equipment shortly as they are buidling a whole new HRM building) and they said yes! I think I will end up paying about $500 for it. That is the final peice of the puzzle I was really worried about and you cannot imagine how relieved I am.

It felt good to be back at school. I really love that place and my instructors. I also felt great teaching the sausage class and I hope they ask me to do it again. It is probably very different going to a public Jr. College for a culinary degree than one of the expensive schools, but I feel like the guys (Chef Brion, Chef Paul, Mr E, Claude and Chef Chris) give you 110% if you are serious about what you are doing... I just love those guys and had such an amazing experience there. Mr E helped me figure out how to deal with my one unit of co-op I need, which is also a huge releif.

Samantha took pictures of us making the sausages at the school, so if she posts them soon I will pull a few here.

So the week was a mixed bag... a total nightmare with the Building Dept, but I am getting some really encouraging interest in my products, I get to spend a snuggly weekend in the wine country with my gorgeous man, and two of my amazing children, plus a bunch of my sausage-geek friends (we are having the first meeting of the Saluminati) and our extended peer group, plus Brion's totally awesome parents. I hope next week will bring some peace and clarity to my path. It will be interesting to cook so much at a camping event. Well, not really cook... more like... plating, cutting etc. It will be a lot of cold foods.

Stein and I also have some meetings next week for business insurance, workers comp insurance, plus a POS system. It should be pretty busy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

It had to happen some time...

it's just a really bad mix with the person assigned to review my stuff at the building deptartment. I may have to ask for a different reviewer. We met at the site on Friday for the meeting from hell. I have terrible chemistry with Jeff, the guy at the building Dept who is reviewing my stuff. This is typical of my experience with the Martinez Building Dept...

So we meet at the site on Friday to talk about how to make it ADA accessible and the engineer and the Build Dept make suggestions. I incorporate them into my visio and ask Jeff if I can send him a copy. He (with his as usual totally unhelpful attitude) says, "I don't like to get this stuff thru email." I finally talk him into (after much hemming and hawing about it) giving me his email adress (which is on his f*cking regular business card, so it's not a secret) and send him the stuff on Sunday night when I get home and can redo the visio. This is the email response I get back from him:

"Rachael, got your plan and in review the ramp @ front door as drawn doesn’t comply nor does the bathroom. The plan also doesn’t scale. please draw plans with detailed dimensions for these area’s.

Thanks, Jeff "

So not only does he NOT say what specifically needs to be fixed (doesn't scale to what?), it is clear they, once again, cannot agree on what is compliant. What he really wants, and what is not required, are expensive professionaly drawn layouts. I think he is going to be an obstruction until he gets them.

I am not sure if it is better that I had all really nice government employees all along until now, or if it is more annoying that I know how unusual (and hence, uneccessary) it is to be so unfriendly to small business. I've already paid thousands of dollars for address specific permits and licenses and I feel really stuck now. And really it all boils down to one young (and I would guess really new to his job) guy who seems like maybe he is trying to avoid work by throwing up arbitrary road blocks.

I am going to ask David to work with him, because I don't have time to get in a major pissing match and that would really stress me out. He seems to be more comfortable talking to and working with men, so maybe that will make things go smoother. If not, I will ask for a different person to work with. But frankly the first time I went in there the other guy wasn't any more helpful, so I suspect the problem is systemic.

On the positive side, Stein and I will get started on salumi tomorrow and I will get to teach a sausage making class at DVC tomorrow night! Which is also my 41st birthday :) YAY for getting older!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday was probably the worst day of restaurant preparation I've had to deal with so far...

The building dept met myself, my contractor, my landlord and the engineer to discuss the retrofitting fo the building (surpise! All that "Grandfathered in" stuff... isn't). It will be a multi week process just to figure out what needs to be done, then the steel frames needed to brace the front are custom made in Santa Clara, and then shipped to the East Bay. We don't know how much work the side wall needs. If it is thick enough (in relation to the height of the wall) then it might not need a bunch of stuff. If it doesn't need a lot, we can get started on the inside of the kitchen, then at least be working on getting the kitchen permitted and start some prep while they are working on the front of the building. They also let it slip that they are tearing out the patio next week to repave the road... and not putting the patio back in. So I've just lost about 1/4 of my seating area. Also, most disturbingly, the guy who brokered my lease, is a city council member and likely knew they were tearing it out when we signed the lease... which is why he did not mention the unreinforced masonry issues, but he DID make me sign a waiver acknolweding that the patio did not belong to the landlords and could be taken out by the city at any time. He was SO adamant about it... I should have known. The sad part is, I think they were stalling on telling the landlords so they did not have to deal with Stan's mom. At any rate... I am feeling like the broker should have just been honest about what was going on; I certainly would not work with him in the future. So... not only is my restaurant indefinitely delayed... I won't have the patio seating I was planning on. But I suppose on the upside, I don't have to buy outside seating. And the landlord is paying for the fixes to the front and seems determined to get the stuff done quickly. And he's talking to his family about delaying when I have to start paying rent... but still... I am feeling pretty down about the whole thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Delays.. and more delays

Not too much time to write today as I am on the way out of town.

But this mornings sojourn to the site with the Building Dept and Engineer was pretty heartbreaking. At first they said I would probably not be able to get started on the kitchen build out until the end of June... Which would have put me open some time in August...

But they kind of came around to doing the seismic retrofitting while David works on the kitchen, so hopefully the 3 week build out on the kitchen, then I get my health permit to start prepping food while they finish the retrofit to the front of the building. But it will be at least a two week delay while they do all of the engineering calculations to figure out what The PlanTM will be.

I should know in 2-3 days if the side wall the bathroom will be on needs work, if it doesn't we can get started on the kitchen part pretty quickly... but either way... I think I might cry if anyone asks me, "When are you opening?" this weekend.

I may try to work on developing the food booth aspect so I can have some income (and possibly train the person I want to do that part of things) in the mean time... but... this so totally sucks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And the Universe showers her love on me...

Today was one of those days where I am gently reminded that passion is a magical thing... and I am full of magic.

We had FP last night (for those that don't know, I am involved in a Medieval club where we delve as deeply as we can into all things Medieval, including fighting... and sausages! We hold a weekly fighter practice at our home which has turned into a bit of a house party every Wed night) and I still managed to go to bed pretty early. We got up this morning and Stein met us at the house for our foray into the Weaver roasting facility in San Rafael.

We got there a little early and Michael (a business partner) was not quite there yet, so we chatted with John Weaver, who was the Master Roaster for Pete's coffee for many years before leaving to do his own thing at Wild Card. I'd brought in some of my salumi for them to try... it is pretty cool to see someone like John Weaver light up at the prospect of trying someone ELSE's hand crafted stuff.

We got to see how he roasts stuff and some of the antique equipment he has on hand... god the place smalls like heaven (if you like coffee)! Of course we spent a good hour there and talked for maybe 10 minutes about business (I am a sure thing, we want the coffee). The rest of the time we geeked out about food and coffee. They tried my salumi and... there is this thing people do when they are surprised by food. They want to be looking at you when they talk to you, but they can't stop looking at the salumi. When that happens... you have new true believers. For a master at his craft to like my stuff... well that was extremely cool.

Also, they are practically neighbors and really cool people I can totally see BBQing with. The hour went too quickly... I swear we could have stayed all day.

But we needed to go to the city to try and pick up my deep fryer. Brion cannot do the fire supression stuff without the exact specs for the hot equipment. So we headed into the Mission, stopping at at a Chicken and Waffles place near Japan Town that had a cheap and EXCELLENT buffet. They brought Sammy a cup of hot chocolate mounded high with whipped cream that was the size of his head!

I found a very nice deep fryer for $750.00, plus a K-class fire extinguisher. We hit the airport for Stein's very awsome wife on the way home and then grabbed Sparky's Burgers (the only ones I really like) and now I am home and a bit stressing out.

I am meeting Stan (my landlord), Dave (my contractor), the guys from the building Dept plus the engineer at the facility tomorrow to try and get things squared away. The Buidling Dept has been so arbitrary and difficult that I am really nervous about how it will go. I have everything they have requested from me, and I will submit it tomorrow. I also have everything for the Sanitation dept as well. I will pick up my divorce decree while I am down there meeting the guys so I can submit the rest of the stuff to ABC next week. I will drop off the stuff to Sanitation in the morning, them meet with the guys and drop all the stuff off to the Building Dept tomorrow.

Then I am out of town for the weekend! Next week, Stein and I are making sausages and salumi all week to prep for the cafe opening (all of the six week cure stuff), plus making the hot smoked stuff for T-Rex. I am also teaching the sausage class on Tuesday night at DVC (it is a part of the Garde Manger course)... which is also my birthday!!!! I may have a freind who is a chef coming by to help (he wants to learn about the process).

Oh crap, that means I need to put together my product list so I can order the stuff tomorrow. I better get on it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Down-time is a dirty word...

So I am paused until my plumber gets me the new plans. The building dept and county sanitation need them before they can go forward, I had a set but they didn't scan well and so they are not readable, plus we added a floor drain by the range... so the new set is "in the mail" and I hope to get them today so I can go make copies and then walk them over to the various places that need them.

While I am in Martinez I will go get a copy of my divorce decree (don't ask me WHY ABC needs this, but they do). I have a ton of paperwork regarding my divorce at the house, but I have no idea WHICH thing they need, so this is the easy $6 way to find out.

I have the new plans with the ADA fix for the front entrance and I really like them a lot. I also picked up some disposeable cameras today to take hard copy pictures of some of my equipment so I can bring them with me to Beltane, where I have meetings with two brides (on at the event and one on the way home) so I can show them some of the serving wear and see if they want to use it. I may try to get some of the pictures of my food printed up as well. I am SO bad about taking photos of my food, which is weird because I LOVE pretty food like the fruit skewers at Cyneswith's party last year.

So, once I get the plumbing plan and cash I will drive the stuff over to County Sanitation and also to the Building Dept. After I get the divorce decree I will drive that stuff over to ABC and also give them a check for the additional caterers license. Then it's just... wait for everyone to respond.

But in the meantime, Stein and I will be making some sausages next week for a potential new client (T-Rex in Berkeley). I am really excited about the sausages! I hit World Spice in Seattle last weekend and got some really cool stuff (like cubeb berries and poivre rouge and sichuan peppercorns) that I am going to incorporate into these smoked and emulsified sausages. I am running SO low on my staple items like capicolla and Tuscan salami that I know I need to get on this, but this week is shot. I can at least prep and order product for the items.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Take THAT to-do list from H-E-Double Toothpicks!

Ok so today I called the Buidling Dept for clarification on what is needed and their is some dispute over whether I've turned in the HVAC plans or not. David says I have, Jeff says I haven't. Will need to figure that one out?

But I got three manilla folders to catch all of the paperwork for each government office.

  • I filled out the paperwork for the variance from County Sanitation

  • Called ABC and clarified which documents I still need to fill out

  • ABC (who are so nice and helpful, I KNOW it can be done) also told me to fill out the simple addendum to get a regular caterers beer/wine permit (so I don't have to go get one for every individual event)

  • I gathered the documents I need to go copy tomorrow (facility lease)

  • Have the address and procedure to go get a copy of my divorce paperwork

  • Sent in the electronic copies of the blueprints to Fedex so I can pick up another copy tomorrow

  • Talked at length to David today about the new floor plan to make the facility ADA accessible (front in particular)

  • Did new visio diagrams with two different ramp options to make the facility ADA accessible and sent them to Stan and Dave

  • Wrote my disclosure letter for the Building Dept

  • Did a total BTU useage calculation for the Building Dept

  • Emailed Stan and reminded him that he needs to write a letter saying I have permission to do the work I am doing

  • Did a new Diagram of the restaurant for ABC

  • Filled out the Gift/Loan form for ABC

I still have a full day tomorrow of running around, but I do feel like I got a little bit of the chaos under control today (WHEW!)

BTW here is the newest floor diagram (I know Stein will be interested!) of the possible ADA fix

New and functioning to-do list

So previous hoops have been jumped thru and now it's time to set up my next obstacle course... er I mean to-do list (and just when I thought the number of hoops was shrinking!).

So for permits I need:

Alcohol and Beverage Control:

  • Complete highlighted portions of ABC-217 and ABC 208 forms

  • Copy lease agreement

  • ABC-293 form

  • ABC 207 E&F forms

  • Re-do my diagram for ABC-257 form

  • Submit a copy of my divorce decree (go to Clerks office and get copy)

  • ABC-245 form

  • ABC-203 form

  • Fill out a gift/loan form

Building Dept:

  • Letter acknowledging the unreinforced masonry and ADA issues

  • Layout plan

  • Plumbing plan

  • Letter from Stanley that it's ok to do the work

  • There is also some dispute on whether I've turned in the HVAC plans or not

County Sewer:

  • Better Layout of plumbing plan

  • Paperwork for the variance and $300.00 (more)

Work wise:

  • Meet with two new Brides

  • Order product to make the new smoked salumi for T-Rex sampling on May 3rd

  • Make cohesive plan with Stein to get salumi made next week

Things have been crazy... but some good stuff happening too!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rolling with the punches...

I am not sure why Blogspot is no longer putting in spaces, endentation for paragraphs (yes, I am doing it... they magically dissapear, sometimes if I add bullets, it's better... sometimes it's not).

It's been a strange week, full of highs and lows. The process feels strangely out of my hands currently. After a relatively lucky run of helpful and caring government employees, I've come across the inevitable minority that makes one wonder if they were all this way, would no new business ever launch?

I now know why businesses don't make it past the first year. Who can spend a year not working (and opening a business is a full time job... unpaid, of course), spending thousands of dollars a month of tithes to the various government bodies to get the umpteen permits, licenses and variances and not go broke?

Most of the people get it, most of the places I've dealt with have gone over and above to help me. They feel bad for those of us brave enough to try and... you know... stimulate the sluggish California economy. The Building Dept however... has just been miserable to deal with.

Today Stan told me the Building Dept actually did a seminar last year where they told the building owners they would likely have to boot out all of their tennants so they could retrofit the buildings. Boot out all of their tennants... for a year... so they could retrofit the buildings. How do you think something like that would effect the economy of the Downtown area? You can imagine the surprise when Stan talked to the engineer on Friday and was told it was a 2-3 week process and no tennants would be effected. That kind of alarmism is irresponsible imo. And that has been my experience with them as well. I think they think they are being "helpful", but looking for any reason to stall and stall (after I've already gotten thru two of the more exhaustive processes with flying colors) at this late juncture of the process is financially and mentally a huge burden.

Anyway, I am sure it is bad Karma to even vent about it.

There is a bunch of good stuff that has happened too... I swear! But I am too annoyed at yet another moment of "Crap... what happens now?" to write about it. I know I will hear more as the week goes on, and hopefully this only will delay me a week or two. But... yet... harumph.

Delays are just a part of the process

Building Dept and Contractor had a meeting last week. We are looking at how to fix several things that are not surprises in an old building. The unreinforced masonry sounds like it is not going to be too bad to fix (and that is the landlords responsiblity) and it also sounds like he is ammenable to fixing the front entrance. So I need to do up a visio of that today. Plus I got a call from the Sous Chef at T-rex and they are interested in sampling my products! YAY! I stopped with Juanna, Geoffrey and Crystal and did some spice shopping in Seattle and I am eager to try out the french powdered sweet pepper and the Chinese Sichuan peppers in a hot salumi. SO much has happened, I am dying to write more... but I have to get some work done on the Visio... more tonight...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I knew "Jeff" and I were going to have problems the second Mr. Scolla handed him my blueprints down at the Building Dept. And now he wants me to come in and answer "questions" that I've already answered multiple times. So what I did is called his boss to ask that he be present for the conversation today at 1:00pm (since he was at the LAST one where I answered these same questions) and I've scheduled a Friday appointment for Dave, my contractor, to come in and talk to "Jeff". I am also REprinting all of the blueprints (which, BTW he alreay has) to take with me (subract another $50.00 from money that could be buying something useful). I am so annoyed that I have to scramble to deal with unreasonable demands when I was planning to hang out with Wendy today and lesiurely pack for my trip to the Culinary Symposium. Insert expletives.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I always loved Mr Toad's Wild Ride...

So Friday I finally got off my butt and visited my BFF.. (Very nice guy I found selling stuff on Craigslist who calls himself my BFF in emails) So I show up in downtown San Mateo and park in front of this bohemouth Chinese restaurant and "nightclub" that is two stories high. I walk in to a restaurant that looks like it is just waiting to open for the day, tables set, water glasses out, silverware on the table. A tall stately Asian man meets me at the door and we exchange pleasantries. I ask when they plan to open and he says in a year. A year!?!? Apparently there is some fire code issue they have to resolve, but this is like his 20th restaurant and he knew that going in. He apparently has like... two tons of restaurant equipment and we walked thru while he grabbed stuff and showed it in boxes for me. Gorgeous little appertif glasses (fabulous for little amuse bouches), wine glasses, menu covers, small lexans, a coffee brewer, coffee grinder... just a ton of stuff. Gorgeous long white plates (perfect for charcuterie). So then we go upstairs and it was like... this weird... kind of lost den of iniquity. Dark chinese laquer furniture and antique apothocary chests mixed with a bottle service type club atmosphere. Soft footstools sourroundeed by booth type seating (like a Vegas dance club) and off shoots of private rooms. My BFF says, "This was a brothel. The ladies of the night met their customers in these rooms"... the look of grossed outedness of this poor guy was highly funny! He was NOT amused about this whole whore house aspect of the place's past. Anyway, this place was packed to the gills with all kinds of good stuff. I grabbed a bunch of it... nuff said. Then Bri and Galen and I went to this brewery for lunch and I got a call from Michael Brown from Weaver coffee and we are going to go down and check out the roasting facility! FUN FUN! Today I went down to the ABC to try and change my mailing address, they are sending stuff to the facility, which is a huge pain. Everything is time sensitive and has to be done within like 7 days, so the fact that it takes two-3 weeks to get to me... sucks.

How am I going to get everything done this week?

I am really nevous about my to-do list this week. I got the new range, was very excited about the new range and then realized... I am not sure how I am going to get it OUT of Brion's truck. I am going to try renting a truck with a lift gate and a major duty furniture dolly, then roll all of the stuff I've collected into the truck and take it all to a storage unit... but what this means is...

  • Rent truck with lift gate and heavy duty furniture dolly

  • Rent storage unit (and do the research entailed in that)

  • Enlist burly men to help me move stuff

  • Find two days to make sausage with Stein

  • Get product from Oakland to make sausage with Stein

  • Pickle the stuff I need to pickle

Apparently there is a place called Cresco I can rent the truck for a day and the lift dolly. But I need a cheap storage unit that is in between here and the restaurant. I can use it to store catering stuff, so it is worthwhile to get one for the longer term, especially if I decide to to a booth at the farmer's market any time soon.

My room mate is letting me borrow his car this week so I can get around with a giant stove in the back, but with both Brion and I leaving this weekend, I am not sure when or how I am going to coordinate the move of stuff. I desperately need to be better about making commitments on the weekends for the next few months and shift my mind set from a woman of leisure to restaurant owner, which let's be honest, are WAY different things...

Time to get to work pounding out my to-do list...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pretty new toys!

Stein and I went in to Napa today to pick up my new range and grabbed lunch at Celadon. KILLER food, the pork belly is to die for! I had the crab cake and the duck confit spinach salad, both were very good.

I liked the space as well, very soothing and great fire place. It looks like it should be warmer outside than it is!

But the piece d'resistance was getting my new range! I got this bad boy for $900.00 cash, the oven has never once been used. You can't see in the picture but it comes with a backsplash and shelf too. I am super stoked.

(I am a little chagrined the squirrels that live in my roof are having a wild orgy of some kind, that or they are cage fighting)

New Range!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Boogie Shoes... I got my boogie shoes on...

Today was go-go-go! Woke up, got out of bed, drag a comb across my head... When downtown and got on that to do list!

  • Buy ad space for my ABC notification

  • Meet with Chamber of Commerce and join

  • Meet with Main St Martinez and join

  • Have Lunch with Janosh

  • Put my 30 day notice for ABC in the window, plus my "Hi, Glad to be coming to the neighborhood" on the door.

  • Get finger printed at 1:30 over at the Sheriff's office
Got a surprise call from my potential meat vendor (Del Monte Meats). I had planned on hitting the Martinez News-Gazette before meeting with Reba from the Chamber of Commerce, but he was downtown and wanted to meet me at the shop. So I switched gears and ran over to my place (god how I love saying that) and met Ron and his sales-apprentice. We talked meat and I think we are pretty copacetic on A Plan. They need to find buyers for all the Kobe Beef organic trim and Neiman Ranch organic pork extras (you know head, offal, you name it)... and I am the girl who wants ALL that stuff! He said he can get me organic back fat for $1.30 a pound. OH YEAH BABY! So then I hoofed it over to the Chamber of Commerce (admiring the quaint old Downtown area the whole way) where I met Reba, who was a bubbly no-nonsense short haired lady in a sweater dress. We chatted and her Secratary kept leaning in to listen and join in now and then. Both of them got more and more excited as I got more and more excited about talking about my business and my food. By then end, we were all hungry! The secratary leaned in to me at the end and quietly said, "You have so much passion for what you do, and you are so good with people... you are going to do great!" (I did refrain from giving her a big kiss). Joining is $200.00. Then, conveniently enough, Tricia (from Main Street Martinez) leaned out her office door (they are in the same building) and said, "Are you Rachael?" Next meeting starts... NOW. So went in and chatted about all of the awesome events they have going on this year. I am really excited about the fact that many of them happen outside my front door! Everyone is SO nice! Joining is $100 Trisha walks me back to my place and I meet Mr Orphal (who is doing jury duty at the Court House) and we head down to Lemon Grass for lunch. Lemon Grass is at the very end of the street and I've heard rave reviews of the place; it is the hottest thing in town and I want to see what lunch business looks like for this new hot spot, plus see how the food is. Food is SO SO good. Like totally kicks ass. But what is making me nervous is... the place is wall to wall bodies. Not a free table in the place, where there are probably 15- 20 tables. There is eventually a wait at the door. There are easily 45+ people in the room. And this is the FARTHEST restaurant from the County Seat. I am assuming around 40 people will hit my place between 11:00 and 3:00 in my business plan. This place is turning 45+ people in about 45 minutes. Now I am seriously worried I have under estimated the amount of business I am going to get. This SO sucks for me because my food is so labor intensive. But it is also good, because there is some real potantial for success as well. I am not sure why I am so surprised at how busy the place is. The food rocks, the space is lovely, the service good and the prices decent. Mr Orphal heads back to the court house and I get lost walking around trying to find the Sheriff's Office, but I am not late. I joke genially with the girls behind the counter. It is $25 to get finger printed and I need a full life-scan to get a beer and wine license. Then I head over to the Martinez News-Gazette to submit my intent to sell beer and wine notification, which has to run for 3 weeks, then they send an affidavit to ABC saying I did it. Whew! I also have to mail back my proof that I got finger printed. it is EVERYTHING you think about when you think about an old time Newspaper. Big old brownstone building, adorable little elderly lady behind the desk with giant glasses, super hot well dressed Lois Lane type reporter at her desk and bubbly office manager. The reporter said she would be interested in interviewing me! So we exchanged cards and whatnot. Anyway, so WHEW! GO ME! OH! and guess what else??? The Main St Martinez manager stopped me on my way to the Gazette and said she'd talked to the guy opening the new brewery and he was interested in buying some of my salumi for his bar snacks! Pretty cool! So now it is 4:00 and I just got home and rifled thru my Camber of Commerce bag of promotional stuff and made myself a Facebook page and wrote this blog... I am feeling pretty darn productive today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ABC packet came...

Ok so there is a list of stuff I need to accomplish before I can be granted my on premise Beer/Wine license

  • I need to get fingerprinted and FBI scan

  • Post the sign they gave me in my window for 30 days

  • Send back an affidavit saying it is posted

  • Have an interview where they outline ABC laws, which is then signed off on and sent back

  • Sign off that there is no residentail housing withthin 600 ft of the premises (there isn't)

  • A small packet of paperwork

  • proof that I have posted in a public newspaper for three consecutive weeks of my intent to sell beer and wine

So tomorrow when I go to Martinez to meet with the Chamber of Commerce people to join the local Chamber of Commece and then the Martinez Gazette so I can register my intent thingie for three consecutive weeks, I will also post the 30 day notice sign in the window. I can also post my "Opening Soon" sign, which means I should also print out the informational flyer on what I do and post that in the window as well. I wish I had some better pictures of my food! But Esme is going to help with that on down the line a bit.

They gave me a list of local places that will do the finger printing and FBI scan thingie. So I will try to go get that done tomorrow as well... whew! The finger printing thingie runs from $25 to $40. Wow... there is SO much paperwork to be done to get the beer and wine thing and I totally blanked on the fact it was all in my name. I can do the transfer once the LLC process is totally complete (I've gotten thru the first part, which is registering the name and getting my file number). But this should shave 3 months off the time it would take me to get the ABC license and hopefully there will only be like a month of it in my name and I will up my business insurance to cover that. I need to figure out how to apply a Beer/Wine license to my catering. So far people have been happy to buy their own booze and wine and I've only needed to do the food. But it would be nice to be able to offer the service once I am actively paying attention to wine.

It always feels like there is not enough money to do anything on time or as well as I would like, but it (knock on wood) always seems to be just barely enough to keep things squeaking along.

Everyone I've talked to downtown seems so happy about someone moving in to the space. It really is such an awesome spot. I think just about anything would do well in the location, so I can't wait to see what people think of all the hand made charcuterie and other food that is made with a lot of love and care. I think I will watch Rattatouille again tonight and just... maybe just the last five minutes when he is on his roof top serving the rats and people at the end.

And Today I had REALLY good Lebanese food in downtown Pleasant Hill. Mezza Grill. It looks like a tiny Quiznos, with a Lebanese condiment bar and everything... but the food was just killer. I am a little sad he's doing it like a fast food place, the food is so much better than that. OH and he forgot to give us our fries... but I was so full of fantastic sticky rice and grilled lamb with killer humus and cucumber kefir sauce that who cared about fries? The green salad was one of the best mediterranean salads I've ever had, with like... these kind of dried tight little black olives in there and a really sticky herby dressing. Seriously SO good. And it was like $9.00 for a full plate of all this decadence. Sammy loved it too. LOL

We get to the counter to order and I list off all this stuff and the guy looks at Sam and basically asks him if he wants no veggies and spices on his food. Sam deadpans back, "My mom feeds us like real people, not Americans." (He is dead serious). The counter guy (who I suspect owns the place) and I burst into laughter. It was priceless.

A day of rest and contemplation...

(I can't figure out how to turn my spell check back on, sorry guys... it's been really bad the past few posts) As I have found thus far, there is a flurry of activity, then a pause to wait. I am in waiting mode (this time for the Building Department). Waiting mode has become a really good time to take stock and figure out what is next, then prepare for whatever that is. Pretty soon the building process will be in someone else's hands (my contractor). I need to schedule a meeting with the Martinez Chamber of Commerce and the the property management group that runs the Main St Martinez functions. Apparently, much to my unfettered delight, the Mayor of Martinez will come and do a ribbon cutting on your opening day if you are a part of the Chamber of Commerce. And Main St Martinez put coupons and advertising in the juror packets for the County Court House. That is direct advertising to 2500 local people each year who could be potential customers going forward, which is pretty cool. I also need to set up my vendor accounts for my bread, some cheeses, coffee and meats and seafood. Plus I need to go lease my coffee equipment, POS system and set up my payroll stuff with BofA. I am taking a rest day to collect the pertinent phone numbers, make appointments and just generally formulate my next plan of attack. It is nice to mentally rest for a day, since I am sure it will be short lived!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wow.... movement! Fire and Building Departments

So whe I left the Building Dept on Friday I had been instructed to bring back

  • 1 full set of plans

  • 3 set of the bathroom ventilation blueprints

  • Approval from the Fire District

So I sent FedEx my files so they could make the proper copies, when and grabbed them on Sunday and then headed out to the Fire District for Contra Costa County this morning (Which is like walking distance from my house). I'd ordered an extra set of plans from FedEx for my own files, so I had two full plan sets, plus the bllueprints of the bathroom ventilation plan.

I got into the Fire District office with all my blueprints, my business folder (which has all of my approvals, permits etc up to date) and a checkbook. There was an older lady at the counter who was clearly the receptionist and I explained the Building Dept had given me some paperwork they were supposed to fill out. The petite fire inspector was talking to another client and I waited patiently for her to be done and come check out my stuff.

She told me I had to submit two plan copies (YAY! I had two with me!), and she stamped them over the counter, keeping one and giving me a stamped copy. I paid $430.00 (which includes the inspection). I them went back to the Building Dept and turned in the stamped copy from the Fire Dept, and the paperwork they gave me (but I didn't make myself a copy... head, desk, thump).

Sooooo... now I don't have a copy again.

Then I ran upstairs to the City Offices to file for my buisness license. For this process I needed:

  • Federal Tax ID #

  • State Tax ID #

  • Resellers Permit #

  • Fictitious name file #

  • Address

  • LLC name

  • $135.00

I cannot stress enough to people to carry ALL of these numbers and proof of your compliance whenever you are dealing with governmental offices. I had to run downstairs to get the Building Dept and Planning to sign off on my business lisence, then they processed it on the spot.

The very nice lady with long hair who works behind the glass looked at me over the top of her spectacles and said, "You filled this out correctly." (pregnant pause)

Me, "Thanks!" (pregnant pause)

Me, "Is that unusual?"

Her. "Extremely. Very few people have the proper permits and licenses, and fewer still have them on hand when they come to do the paperwork."

Me (Beaming like a 2nd grader who just got a gold star by her name on the "Good Student Chart"), "COOL!"

So then Dave called just as I was leaving and said I should try to get my demolition permit, which I tried to do, but Don from Building Dept said it had to be done by the contractor or the building owner. Phooey on that! Oh well, things have been going so well, I can really only be enourmusly grateful this was my biggest hiccup today.

Then I met Mary for some Sushi and now I am just hanging out thinking... what is next?

Building Dept will be about two weeks, putting me around April 20th (but this can come back sooner), then... wow. Give a month (give or take a week or so) for the build out and a few weeks for food prep. Wow.

I also ordered the jerseys for Stein and I today, so hopefully they will be available in plenty of time. And my primary investor plans to fund this week (keeping fingers crossed) so we can get the fire supression permit going, which should be about 3 weeks.

Once again, wow. I cannot believe I have come so far. I mean... really really... it seems like the most impossible process... it IS so hard. And yet, things are miraculously, even if slowly, going forward. YAY!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Building Dept..

So once again we find out erstwhile anti-heroine slogging thru the nipple high red tape... My landlord had called me last week and reccomended I talk to a specific person at the Building Dept. The person he reccomended was familiar with the facility, had worked with former tennants and was generally knowledgable, nice guy, easy to work with etc. So when I picked up the stamped plans for the HD today, I called the number for this guy. Another guy answered the phone and scared me to death... I'd talked to many government agencies before I signed the lease to make sure there was not going to be a prolonged process to open. I mean, I knew there was a process to get thru the HD etc, I just was hoping to not have to do anything over and above the minimum of that type of thing. So this guy told me I would have to make the entrance ADA acccessible. Everyone else had told me this was NOT a requirement, but you could potentially be sued if it was not ADA compliant. Anyway, so I went down to the Build Drpt today to try and get my buidling permits. I showed up and anyway, the guy who scared me wasn't available but the guy who knew all about the place was (YAY), His name is David. Anyway, so we went over everything, plus talked to planning about the process to fix the front entrance and I submitted for permits today. I still have to take down 2 more sets of full plans, plus I need to take this paperwork to the fire inspector to get it signed off on as well. Which I will do on Monday. Plus I have an appoinment to join the Martinez Chamber of Commerce. Apparently I can get the Mayor to do a ribbon cutting ceremony at the cafe (LOL), which is kind of adorable. Apparently Rigo (they very cute Building Dept Guy) thinks it will take about 2 weeks. I should be able to get a demolition permit sooner I hope. They are awfully nice down there and it was pretty cute how they all were trying really hard to help me (Cleavage for the win!). I am confused about the Fire thing tho... Brion seemed to think it would be about 4 weeks for the fire inspector to sign off on the hood and fire supression system, so I am kind of nervous that it will be 4 weeks and then two weeks. But hopefully that is not the case. Anyway, I feel my stress really ratcheting up and I am trying not to get mired down in it. It just always feels like there are a millions things that can go wrong. Freak out moment of the meeting: Dave looks at me and is like, So you are going to have a deep fryer? I have some bad news. Wherein I freak out. But he only wanted to tell me I was going to need a grease trap, which I already knew! OH jeez.

The good, the bad and the terrifying...

So YAY! Got my plans stamped from the HD today. Then called the Building Dept to talk to them about getting my permits and of course, things went all to shit. So the guy I spoke to basically said he thought I woudl have to make the front entrance ADA compliant before I opened. This is the first person to tell me this so far and I am super stresed about it because it is a historical building and any changes to the facade have to go thru architectural review etc and that will totally f*uck up my schedule. I am meeting him at 3:00 to "see what we can work out" but I SWEAR... can't anything just be simple? I mean for the love of Pete, it's a 720 sq ft space and I am just changing the bathroom and adding a hood! Why does California HATE business? WHY?! I know I am freaking out right now, and I hate it that I am feeling very worn down by the endless grind of impossible minutia that ceaselessly comes my way during this process. You would think I am making hydrogen bombs or something... not trying to open a little tiny deli. I know I need to be thicker skinned about the whole process, but it just feels so rediculously convoluted.