Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Things continue to crawl forward, albeit at a snail's pace, for the restaurant.  The past few months have been a huge lesson in patience for me.  And, given that we have the permitting process and construction ahead of us, this new year promises to teach us an entirely new level of patience as we deal with living on the timeline of someone else.

Where are we?

We have incorporated our business and opened business bank accounts.  We have engaged a real estate agent, a kitchen designer, an architect, an engineer, and an attorney.  We have interviewed three contractors and believe we have settled on our guy.  We have met with graphic designers and artists, hood system companies and designers of grease collection systems.  We've gotten estimates for kitchen equipment and visited restaurants to talk to owners about their build out experience.  We've had innumerable conferences with our real estate agent regarding lease negotiations.  We continually revise our business plan to reflect our most updated knowledge.

Our kitchen floorplan changed three times and the equipment layout changed five times but we are finally settled on a plan that both meets health department requirements and is an efficient working space (a combination that is more difficult to achieve than you would think).  It's funny, after all of Brendan's complaints about cramped DC kitchens, he'd kill for one now.  North Carolina requires tons of open space between equipment which results in kitchens much larger than are actually necessary.  And don't even get us started on how the health code makes it easier for restaurants to use frozen and canned food rather than freshly prepared dishes.

On the list of awesome things we've done - visiting a local sawmill that reclaims antique heart pine lumber and repurposes it for new applications.  When an old building must come down, they salvage the floors, walls and beams and make gorgeous floors, counters and tables.  Our tables will be custom made by the fantastic guys at heartwoodpine.com and we couldn't be happier.

Our plans are making the trip from our architect to the engineer this week.  Once engineered plans are finalized and stamped, we can begin applying for permits from the Town of Pittsboro.  We will be applying for a plumbing variance, so who knows how long that will take?

This is not our first experience with construction.  We lived in our Alexandria condo during a kitchen renovation which was insane, by the way.  And, in one six month period, we renovated and sold one condo, renovated and rented out another condo, and bought a house and renovated it.  So, we're not complete novices.  But, the number of details involved in this project is ridiculous.

I received the specification sheets for our kitchen equipment today.  There are more than 90 pages.  I also received more than 20 pages of information about grease trap testing for submission to the public utility in support of our variance application.  I couldn't even understand most of it - going on blind faith in our people here.

Tonight, when Brendan arrives home at 11pm, we'll be sitting down to mark our desired outlets on the floorplan - all 3 gazillion of them.  We'll also be marking all the locations for lighting (every single pendant, sconce, bar light, art light, up-light, kitchen light, under counter light, bathroom light, etc.).  Doesn't that sound like fun?

Over the course of the next four weeks, we are hoping to finalize our lease, distribute our revised investor proposal, get our engineered plans finalized, hire a contractor, and pull permits.  If we are extremely lucky we may be able to begin work by February 1.  This is a VERY ambitious timeline.

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