Saturday, June 30, 2007

moving right along...

Hello, blog world (and a 'howdy' to any new readers we picked up from the friendly little mention on Gaper's Block/Drive-Thru!),

Things are moving, though visual changes at the space are subtle to see. Lots of little boxes are being checked off of the to do list daily.

Nightly, well this week at least, Miguel and I have been tackling the time-intensive process of installing the recycled rubber floor in the basement, not getting home until around 11pm or so. I'm pretty sore to boot... those rolls of rubber weigh a ton (two pounds per square foot, actually) and are pretty hard to maneuver (and we're still not done!).

We should finally be ready for our temp barista set-up in the basement by the beginning of the week, which means (Yay!) our brand-spanking new, beautiful Synesso Cyncra espresso machine will be moving in next week, ready for us to start playing.

Kitchen equipment (sans coolers) are in, and a good chunk of that stuff is already plumbed in. Electricians have been doing their thing (wires are "pulled" and a lot of fixtures/tracks are now in). HVAC guys pretty much done. Cabinet frames are assembled. Bathroom doors went up yesterday (plus a bunch of other odd carpentry jobs are done). Subfloors are in in the bathrooms. Drywall patching is complete. Painters are back on Monday to finish up their stuff. Furniture is arriving. Things are moving along! (We are still struggling to get some critical things completed by the landlord's guys, but most of it is out of our hands, so I'll skip the gory details.)

Days are filled with check-ups at the space, calls/follow-ups to vendors, fixing hiccups, making purchasing decisions, ordering stuff, monitoring the budget/moving money around (and dealing with heavy SBA paperwork requirements), and handling a gazillion more little things (alarm systems, security cameras, exterior design elements, water filtration system, cups + mugs, cash handling stuff, retail merchandise, etc.). These are multi-tasking days like I've never known them! But it's also fun (if a little 'aughhh!').

Our house is a mess, but at least we're eating our veggies. Overwhelmed with green stuff from our CSA delivery, we managed to cook up a storm this week despite our schedule: two kinds of zuchini bread, banana bread, annise hyssop/chocolate cookies, potato/bok choi soup, orange and thyme baked tofu, ravioli (from the store) with sauteed radish greens and a chilled zuchini and avocado soup. Not bad, eh? Let's hope we can keep it up.

Miguel's also in the process finishing up a chair design for a competition as we speak (and finishing up the last of some zuchini bread with some Intelly microlot direct trade Bolivian coffee, yum!), and I'm preparing for our afternoon out visiting local vendors. For those if you in for a leisurely weekend... enjoy it for us!

More updates soon...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shop Opening Break - go see a movie about type

Just a quick post to remind design-minded folks that the Helvetica movie is playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center in the Loop only until tomorrow/Thursday.

I admit it... I'm selfish, didn't mention it until we already had our tickets in hand! (I heard it sold out on Friday.) I've been waiting for it. We're going tonight.

I don't know exactly what the movie is going to focus on, but it's a good reminder that everything you see (or touch, or use...) has been designed by someone. It may have been designed lovingly, or carelessly, but outside of nature, things don't just create themselves. Look around. Look at your chair, home, toothbrush, milkjug, coffeeshop, whatever... even the little letters on your screen. Someone had some intention and did something about it. Design is like the Matrix. Once you see it, you can't go back.

[Picture above of the Gene Siskel Film Center digs and cafe -from their website. It's an awesome theater and urban resource, but I'll pretend I don't see a spoon being used in the construction of those "cappuccinos".]

Monday, June 18, 2007

A month to go...

A month to go!?!?! Oh boy, is there a lot to do.

And quite a few things have quite a lead time, which means they need to have been done by yesterday already... tricky for a bunch of perfectionists!

Currently working on:
- cup sleeves
- prepaid cards
- website
- hiring preparation
- final menu list/product selection
- menu worksheet/POS
- furniture orders
- final counter construction drawings
- glass casework design and cabinets
- a gazillion little things
- (life)

Of course we're working seven days a week right now... it feels a lot like being back in design school actually. We did manage to take a break last night to make it out to at Ravinia (the Chicago summer concert/picnic-blanket fest ) last night with a bunch of friends to hear Seu Jorge. Awesome! (And only a few Cicada sightings, nothing horror-movie-ish.)

This weekend we actually also got our first box of vegetables from Angelic Organics, the CSA we joined this year. I used to do it when I lived in Detroit. You sign up in advance for a "share" of the harvest and get a box of local, farm-fresh veggies every week. Being this busy preparing to open the shop though, we're really going to have to work to make sure we're eating well and not letting those veggies go to waste (our recent habits outstanding, man cannot live on Raisin Bran alone!). We discovered something we weren't familiar with in our box though... "Garlic Scapes". Pretty cool looking, and delicious in the "Fennel and Garlic Scape Spread" I whipped up yesterday to put in some Ravinia sandwiches. I love learning new things.

Anyway, enough about all that, you probably want pics. The transformation from the last pics is probably not visually immense... but being over there, lots of little things are changing:
- wires pulled (through the conduit)
- brick sealed
- drywall mudded/taped, primed and mostly painted (ignore the yellow.. it's a primer)
- epoxy floors poured behind bar and in kitchen
- kitchen FRP up and drop ceiling in
- basement doors partially in

Ok, just a couple pics:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Unbelievably June

Well, I have a some more update pics to share, but none are as fun as this one, sent to me by a friendly soon-to-be-neighbor/customer, showing his cutie kiddo in front of the shop. Thanks, Jason!

Jason also asked about our hours, and in fact, some other friendly neighbors have posted comments expressing a desire for us to be open late. We're in the process of determining our exact hours right now, and it's a tricky business indeed. We're working on it! We may actually start with a slightly earlier closing time during the week and then see how demand looks. It's easier to add hours than take them away, but I promise we'll be open to at least 8pm during the week (Sun-Thurs) and probably 10pm on Fridays and Saturday. And trust me, if there's enough (desire and) business, we'll make sure we're there for you guys!

We're getting crazy busy as the weeks are zipping by and the list of things we need to get done keeps growing! In addition to the build-out, we're working on the menu and sourcing, designing marketing elements, working on various ongoing negotiations, and preparing to start the advertising/hiring/training process.

Build-out is going great, except that we still don't have power, water or gas, but eh... who need that stuff. We're super pleased with our guys... great attention to detail, good sense of humor, strong. They graciously carried over a thousand pounds of recycled rubber flooring down to the basement today. I gave them cookies. Fair deal? I'm not sure. They were really good cookies though.

In any case, here's some pics: