Ahhh! Kind of terrifying and very exciting all at the same time.
I spent a couple hours last night organizing, planning my day, so that when I got to the restaurant, I wasn't just running around like a chicken with my head cut off, doing whatever I happened to pass by and think of doing. I had it all planned out....
But then I remembered that I don't yet have a working phone or internet service there. Sure, I can use my cell phone to make calls, but some stuff I really needed to use the internet for, so I spent a couple hours this morning setting up utilities and setting appointments, then headed out.
But, halfway to the restaurant, I get a call from a guy out in Elgin who's selling an old popcorn machine on Craigslist, and he wants to meet *right now*. So I hang a big ol' U-turn and hit the highway, make great time out there, and check out his popcorn machine.
The popcorn machine is a 'want', not a 'need' (this is how I've categorized the equipment list I'm working from), but I think it would be a really fun tone-setter to just have it out in the dining room, for people to help themselves, and especially for anything resembling a grand opening that we do, it's a perfect fit. This guy wanted $450 for the thing--it was a nice old machine--but I'm looking more along the lines of two hundred and he wouldn't budge on the price. It also didn't seem to be running right, so I passed.
Back in the truck, back on the highway, and all the way back, retracing my steps, to Evanston. Not counting the five minutes I spent in Elgin popcorn machine guy's garage, I've been in the truck about two and a half hours, need to pee badly, and am way behind schedule for all the stuff I'm supposed to be doing today. I get to the restaurant, pull down the alley into the parking lot, but....alley's blocked by a delivery truck. I go around the block, enter a different way, and....in the four parking spots I'm allotted, five cars are parked.
So, I have to leave the truck in the middle of the alley, and go into some of the various businesses to try and figure out which cars belong to who and get them to move at least one so I can park. Arrgh.
There's a nice little Italian restaurant right next door to me, and I've already met a couple people that work there, so I go in there, resist the urge to start screaming at anyone who looks like they might drive a car, and calmly, politely, explain my dilemma. The woman--the restaurant's day manager, I believe--was nice enough, asked around to her staff, and found one guy who said he'd move his car.
Well, he did take his time about it, so once I unloaded (four trips to and from the truck), went to the bathroom, perused a couple paint samples, and made an appointment to meet with the ice machine guy, he finally got his Isuzu the fuck out of my way. I'm exaggerating for effect...he was a nice enough guy.
In fact, he seemed so nice and accommodating that I hit him up for a little help moving a couple of countertop drink coolers that were too heavy to move solo. One thing about doing most of this by myself is that there are sometimes going to be tasks I really need another guy or two to help with, so it's a good idea to try and stay on good terms with some of the guys from the other restaurants around me.
Besides the trattoria, which is the place right next door, there's also an outpost of Al's Beef and a sushi place called Koi right around the corner, so we all share a common alley, dumpster zone, and parking lot. It's kind of a tight area for so many restaurants and there's a fairly constant stream of delivery trucks, cooks out back smoking, dishers emptying pots of spent fryer oil into the grease dumpster, and waiters crouching down by the parking blocks scarfing some ill-gotten plate of food. Should be interesting.
So....after all THAT....I got into the restaurant and started thinking about actually doing some work. I met with Dick Symon, a be-suited 70-something salesman/rep for the ice machine rental company, wrote him a check, signed his contract, and he was on his way. I made a bunch of calls to fire suppression companies (they inspect/charge the Ansul system and fire extinguishers) and hood/vent cleaning companies (self-explanatory), worked on my budget for getting the place ready to go ($10,000), and started trying to move things around to try and figure out how I'm going to set up the line.
I managed to kind of carve out a nice little milkshake station, I think, right behind the cash register. Whoever's running the register (me, primarily) will also make shakes and malts, unless we're busy enough that I need to split that into two positions. The ice cream freezer I bought the other day gave me a scare, because after being on since Saturday, it was warm when I checked it, but it seemed to perk up when I plugged it into a different outlet. I think it had somehow tripped the GFCI on the one it was plugged into. Might've been a fluke, or it might be an indicator that something's wrong with the freezer. I took a risk on that one, but it was only a hundred bucks. We'll see.
I'm feeling good about money today. I'd been kind of discombobulated, money-wise throughout the purchase and close process. It just took so long that I'd been focusing on all the stuff I needed to do to close and all I was doing was making sure I had what I needed in the account to pay for the purchase of the restaurant, security deposit on the lease, and the first insurance payment. So today was get-my-house-in-order day, and after I ran all the numbers, brought the corporate checking account up to date, and estimated what I'd need to spend on equipment to get us to opening, the money situation looked pretty damn good.
Even better, the estimates I got from fire suppression and hood-cleaning folks were lower than I'd expected. And...even better, I found two items down in the basement that I believe I can use, so that's two items scratched off my list for exactly $zero dollars.
The basement is quite a trip. Basements in restaurants are basically where old shit goes to die. This one is no exception. Restaurant people never throw anything away. There are all sorts of old pots and pans, plates and glasses, and various other strange things down there that you have to hold up to the light and try and figure out what they are. But, thankfully, plenty of functional basics are there. There's a four-drawer file cabinet--empty and ready to go. There's a fax machine, a paper-cutter, a decent multi-line phone, a nice older office chair, and a cup full of pens. There's a 100 year-old walk-in safe with a two-foot thick door. There's a cabinet full of sombreros.
Yep, you heard me. A cabinet full of sombreros. At least fifteen of them. So I've got that goin' for me. Which is nice.
No, seriously, the place before PP's was a Mexican restaurant, so there are strange odds and ends like a cabinet full of sombreros, a collection of fancy old tequila bottles (sadly, empty) and a four-foot eloté on a stick.
Call me if you're having a Mexican-themed party.