Friday, December 9, 2011

Standing on the Precipice

Have you ever felt like you're not sure whether you're excited or about to throw up?  

The owner of the historic textile mill has accepted our rent offer!  Our real estate agent had lunch with him today to submit our counter to his counter to our initial offer on rent and he took it.  Follow that?  And then they drank single malt scotch to celebrate the fact that it's not either of them who has to pay the rent on the space! 

So - here it is in its current state:

This place is incredible.  The gorgeously restored wood beam ceilings are well over 20 feet high at the center and the original 10+ foot tall windows line both sides of the space.  The floors are original hardwood and the walls are exposed brick.  It's rough and industrial and sun soaked and comfortable and grand.  

We'll be taking about 2500 square feet of space and building out for a restaurant of about 70 seats.  Construction may take about four months as there are improvements the landlord will be making before our guys can even get in there.  So, we're aiming for a May 1, 2012 opening and our doors will be open before that if it's at all humanly possible!  

 I'd love to be able to post our architect's sketches for the space but I haven't quite figured out how.  Definitely to come - I promise!  For now, I just have to say this - Brendan is going to have WINDOWS in his kitchen.  A bit of explanation for those of you who aren't chefs.

The view from Brendan's kitchen windows
Chefs spend about 15 hours a day, often 6 days a week, in a windowless room that is approximately 120 degrees.  Their breaks are quite frequently spent sitting on a plastic crate in a back alley, not far from the dumpster.  They are creatures of the night, not venturing out of the depths of the steamy kitchen until nearly midnight.  They are pale and the sun makes them squint.  It's a glamorous life.

So, when I tell you that Brendan will have not one, not two, but THREE giant windows lining one entire wall of his kitchen, you may be able to appreciate how excited he is.  And not only will he have windows, but they look out over a large green space and the woods.  And the landlord is even open to allowing us to plant a kitchen garden in that space - so one day the cooks will be able to take a leisurely stroll outside to choose their herbs.  Heaven!

On the west side of the space, there's a gigantic, metal sliding door.  It's the original fire door for the space.  On the right hand side, there's a pulley with a weight that holds the door open.  If there was a fire, and it burned through the rope that held the weight, the door would automatically close.   

On the far side of this sliding door is a huge space that is used as a performing arts venue.  Plays, concerts, art installations and mardi gras parties are some of the recent uses for the space.  We envision pre-event dining in the restaurant and then when the doors for the performance open, we can simply roll back the door and patrons can stroll right into the next part of their evening.  

 As if the possibility of adding our own kitchen garden wasn't good enough, right next door to our space is an organic co-op grocery that carries produce, meat and dairy from local farms.  If we run out of something, we can simply step next door.

This picture to the left is taken from
the front porch of the grocery store.
Our space is in the center - the line of windows.

In the picture to the right, you can see the view of the mill building from the parking lot.  A path leads through a pollinator garden planted and maintained by the local agriculture extension office.  Because it was planted specifically to provide food for local pollinators, there is something blooming at least 9 months of the year!

Finally, on Saturday mornings, the local farmer's market sets up in the lower parking lot - so Brendan will be able to pick up ingredients straight from the farmers!  We're thinking a Saturday brunch will pair perfectly with a morning out to the farmer's market.

The best part of all?  The mill is all of 2 miles from our farm.  Brendan could WALK to work.  The kids and I will be able to drop in and see him any time we wish.  Once in a while, he may even be able to duck out in the mid-afternoon for an hour to watch soccer practice!  Unfathomable!

We're standing on the precipice now - about to begin the biggest job we'll ever undertake (not counting being parents).

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