Tuesday, April 24, 2007

and one more thing...

I also meant to mention that a new law is pending that raises the postage rates for small, independent publishers to send out their magazines, but keeps it the same for biggie companies. That's not fair. So if you're into that sort of thing (come on, you know you are!), maybe add your name to the dissenters here?

Thanks to Sarah from Barista Magazine for the heads up!


Well you've got to know how exciting this is:

Yes kids, it's our very own dumpster. It even has our name on it. We're so proud.

In other (actually very exciting) news, we got our approved set of plans back from the Health Department, so that's one less (big) thing to worry about. I'll save you the long story about all the bureaucratic goof-ups that caused all the delays. It's done, and that's what matters! So with our building permit already in the other hand, we're really ready to go. As soon as they get the electrical panel in that is, which could happen sometime, if the stars ever align and we all cross our fingers and throw in a penny.

All the main HVAC ducts are in, and so is the bathroom pipe venting, so stuff is definitely happening. Here's the worst picture ever taken (of our new trunk ducts), for people who can see in the dark.

We also put together a little teaser ad for the "First Annual Andersonville Wine Crawl" passport guidebook thing. It doesn't have a very wide distribution, but we thought it was a nice opportunity to reach a local, foodie/gourmet crowd and have a little fun. The Wine Crawl is on May 6th. Want a sneak peek?

OK... but don't tell anyone:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

time to squeeze water from stone

This process is not for the faint of heart. Really.

Our more complete construction bids are finally in, and 'whoah'. I mean really, take a deep breath, "whoah". Let's just say that some of our key construction categories are double (or more than) our initial estimates. And they weren't small numbers to begin with.

There are a lot of reasons why the numbers are so high, some of which I can grasp how they've incrementally ballooned (i.e. incremental changes to the structure of our lease contract affecting what we're responsible for, versus the landlord), some things which are completely out of our control (additional code requirements, cost of materials like copper and steel, etc.), and some stuff, that if we're honest, had just never made it onto our radar for whatever reason.

But the end result is that we have to get the numbers down; there's only so much money. There's no point in spending every single dollar that we have just to get open, if it leaves us with not enough money to pay for rent, staff, ingredients and the other plethora of operational expenses that will be due before we have enough sales to cover them, so that we end up closed within a couple of months of opening. They do say that's the number one (or two) reason businesses fail.

So now, we get into the unpleasant line-item process of figuring out what is absolutely required, and what isn't, e.g. where we will have to make the compromises. No one likes to compromise.

Facing these decisions does have an effect of forcing us to re-focus. It forces us to figure out where we won't compromise - we know that for us, the absolute highest potential for the quality of our coffees has to be the priority. But that's still tough on the constitution when you're trying to squeeze out every dollar you can from the budget and, for example, the difference between a sufficient main espresso grinder and a grinder that gives us the potential to really bring out the subtlest and sweetest flavors in our espressos might be $1700. That's just the difference, the premium for a grinder that enables us to make our coffee just a little bit better than it would be with the other grinder.

And we're making the same sort of choices for our 'brewed coffee' grinder, our "second" (+ "third") espresso grinder, our (Ferrari of an) espresso machine. These premiums all add up. But we're making these decisions because we're not trying to open a Starbucks-quality convenience store, or just a cute, community gathering spot where the coffee's "okay"... that's not our plan, or our desire.

And once we're open, we're going to continue making these types of choices, paying a premium for the best-sourced, freshly-roasted coffees, organic milks and better, more expensive ingredients. Why? I guess because ultimately we trust and believe that if we offer the most delicious product possible, that people will respond... no matter how much we end up having to compromise on the "awesome" bar design, the "ideal" floor construction, or how many midnight hours we end up having to spend painting the 11 ft. ceiling ourselves.

It actually really blows my mind that with all the fixed construction start-up costs for this type of build-out that aren't optional, that anyone manages to open a new business at all. My respect for folks that do manage it grows every single day. So go on, go on in to your favorite shops, bars and restaurants, say 'hi' and give them some business!

PS- Donations now being accepted.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Oh yes, my friends, we have actual rooms!

Well, they have indeed been very busy bees over in our soon-to-be coffee shop. The basement ceiling is all drywalled up and they've framed in the storage room/office walls down there too.

They are also, as we speak, drywalling over the new framing for the kitchen and bathrooms in our main space and installing our back door as seen here.

It's all very exciting! Delivery to us next week?