Pete, the seller called to ask me if I'd be interested in meeting a few of his employees and considering hiring them for Automatic, so I went over there yesterday morning to do that, along with a walk-through to talk about all the smallwares, incidentals, office stuff, things in the basement and what the expectation is on whether he's taking it or it's staying.
He seems like a really genuinely nice person, giving me all kinds of tips about how I should run the place, who I should get in with in the neighborhood, and then giving me the rundown on the employees. There are three.
Rudolfo is an older guy that does clean-up and some prep, who's worked at Pita Pete's for a couple years, Carlos is Pete's main cook and opener, and Ryan only wants part-time and is best suited for customer service. Pete swears by the dependability of all three, and there is something to be said for keeping people in a work-routine that they've already gotten used to and have managed to get to on a regular basis for a couple years. With restaurant employees, by far the biggest factor is that they SHOW UP. Dependable people are worth hanging on to.
I told all three of them that I'd call them in late August and maybe sooner if they're willing to help with clean-up, painting, setting up, etc. We're currently planning for a July 31st close and I'd take possession then. I'd like to use August to work on the place, and then get open (assuming the City has mercy on me) in early September.
The place is really in very good shape. I gave some extra attention to corners, floor drains, areas around sinks-the kind of spots that get the most wear and attract all the grime in restaurants-and everything looked to be very well-maintained. Pete and I also worked out a griddle switch. He has a larger griddle in his DeKalb restaurant, but the hood there is small and he wants to create space for something else, so he asked if he could swap the Evanston one out for a larger unit. Which is great, for me, and the hood we're going to get is enormous, big enough for two or three additional pieces of equipment.
What we're getting, as far as hot-line cooking equipment is a large (maybe 48-60") griddle, a 36" char-grill, a six-burner range with an oven below and a salamander above, and a few soup-kettle type warming units. I'm going to have to add a deep-fryer, and the more I plan, the more I think I'll need a multiple-well unit.
The other major thing we'll need is a meat grinder. A big, powerful one. I was hoping to inherit a stand mixer, not so much for the savings (although they are expensive) but to save the hassle of moving one. I'm not planning on making any dough, so it's not essential, and there are quite a few options for grinding beef. We'll figure it out.
I am starting to get very excited about this, although I'm consciously working to bring myself back down to earth so as not to get ahead of the deal. Fingers still crossed, blog posts still only drafted, not posted. I'll post everything once signatures are on contracts.