Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arc De Triomphe ...

With a successful day of plastering behind us, we opted for some lighter fare today. E! was doing research, while I busied myself with little tasks, like hanging radiators (not yet hooked up though), installing window trim in the bar, and starting to drywall the main entrance. It has a curved top, which we decided to keep.

Drywalling an arch is not difficult. You cut a strip of drywall, score it in the back, and screw it on. In the picture you can also see the lights I hooked up in the front entrance.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just One Word: Plaster ...

What can I say, the beer hall is starting to look like a finished room. We thought it would be a long plastering day (like it was when doing the bar ceiling), but it turned out to be an ok day. Jack and I got four walls done, plus little areas in the bar, that we had left out last time, and we still managed to finish by 4pm.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Who's Your Doggy ...

After my recent success to engage you, my dear readers, and have you comment on what turned out to be a hot button issue, here is another topic for you to consider.

Long have E! and I debated whether to allow dogs on premise, whereby on premise means the outside dining areas, like the Biergarten. There are no dogs or any other pets allowed inside the restaurant, unless they are seeing eye or other assisting animals.

Back to the dog topic (why only dogs and not other pets: cats, rats, snakes, goats?). There are several issues E! and I have to take into consideration, among them liability, nuisance, and Piglet. The latter is our own pooch, a dachshund and jack russell mix, and we already fear that we have to stockpile doggy prozac for her, when the restaurant opens.

A while back someone mentioned to us a Yappy Hour, which we are currently leaning towards. One day of the week, the Biergarten would be open to dogs (and their owners), to frollic and be merry.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gunk Haus Art ...

Just around Thanksgiving last year a car stopped at our house (which is nothing unusual, because it happens every day), and a woman jumps out, handing us a flyer which announced that she would produce water color images of your home, for loved ones in the city was one of the suggestions of why you would want one of those.

The woman was Leslie Bender, a local artist. Her flyer was lying around for a while, being covered and uncovered, and with Christmas approaching E! and I started talking about how cool it would be to have a painting of Gunk Haus which we could use on Christmas cards.

This conversation quickly moved towards how cool it would be to have different local artists produce paintings / drawings / collages of Gunk Haus, not just for Christmas cards, but for display at Gunk Haus. One of those artists (for a while now I have been looking for an opportunity or excuse to mention her in my blog) could be our dear neighbor Ann Haaland, who has a great weekly blog about art and being an artist.

To make it short (if you haven't noticed yet, I have the tendency to rambling), we didn't call Leslie until after Christmas. We asked her to paint Gunk Haus in a wintery setting, and today couldn't have been a better day to drop it off, because we got some three to four inches of snow today.

We continued preparing the beer hall for plastering, which will now happen on Saturday, because Jack's daughter fell sick. Here a picture of the AC duct covered in plastic wrap (a smart idea by my smart honey) to protect it from plaster splatter.

We also continued hanging drywall today, and we are some three to four sheets away from having the entire first floor closed off (with drywall that is).


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Powerless ...

So last night my laptop crapped out, actually it was the power supply (or so I think), and now the battery is drained, and the laptop doesn't have power anymore (if you happen to live close-by and you have an Apple iBook G4, or maybe G3, let me know, I'd like to try your power adapter on my laptop).

I am only telling you this, because I am too lazy right now to fire up E!'s Mac, upload the pictures from the camera, and post them on this very blog. So, yes, there won't be any pictures today, and, yes again, you are a victim of my laziness.

The day was pretty much filled with drywalling and taping drywall joints. As I mentioned yesterday already, we are starting to plaster the beer hall on Friday, which usually requires a lot of prep work (taping, sanding, pinking - don't know what pinking is, look at one of my older posts).


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To The Beer Hall ...

Before I proceed to today's happenings, I would like to thank all of you who left comments on my (admittedly) testy question regarding cash or plastic payments. None of the answers were surprising, and being diners ourselves (on occasion), we certainly know all too well, what it means having to drudge to the ATM to pay for dinner.

As business owners, however, we are suddenly on the other side of the equation, which forces us to think about issues like this one. What are the pros and cons of one solution over another? Here are two points that speak for accepting plastic: Plastic makes a business more transparent, which is a good thing in the eyes of the IRS, and therefore also good for the business, because it makes a business look less suspicious, and prone to audits. And at a recent seminar for restaurateurs (future and current) at the CIA we learned that the IRS recently started a program for the food service industry, which makes it easier for the business to track and report tip income for its employees (this program requires a certain percentage of payments to be made with plastic). Neither of these points may be important to you, but they are to us.

At the same seminar we also learned about some of the quirks of New York sales tax, like why the exact same plain bagel is subject to sales tax if you eat it on premise, but not if you take it with you (unless it is toasted, or handled in any other form or fashion, at which point it becomes prepared food, and therefore is subject to sales tax again).

Enough of the tough topics, back to the basics. We started finishing drywalling the beer hall, and taping the existing drywall, because on Friday we want to start plastering the beer hall, and that will be really exciting.

Jeff was back today assembling the AC tube for the eastern side of the beer hall. If you can't see it in the picture below, that is a good thing, because that's how it's supposed to be.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Paper Or Plastic ...

If you are one of my readers, who only skims this blog for the pictures (at which point you can't really be considered a reader, but a browser, or skimmer) you will not even make it to this point in the text, where I warn you that I did two posts tonight (meaning after this post is another one, which you haven't read yet).

Anyhow, E! and I were talking this evening about the merits of paper versus plastic, meaning: Should we accept plastic payments (credit, debit, diner cards) versus cold hard (or mostly soft and floppy paper) cash only. If Gunk Haus were a cash-only establishment, you can assume that we would have an ATM on site.

From a business perspective there are pros and cons one way or another, but this post is all about you, my dear readers, and hopefully future customers. I would like to get your feedback on this topic. So please leave your comments (which you can do at the end of this post where it says XYZ comments - just click on that, and it will show you comments of others and allow you to post your own comment).

Thank you in advance ... :-)


Almost A Room ...

I love plastering days (meaning days, when we plaster), because it changes the appearance of a room dramatically (aside from that, I really love plastering itself, which is almost like being a kid again, playing with mud, except now it is more sophisticated). And today wasn't any different, especially because we got so much done. The bar is almost completely plastered, and it shows (except that I don't have a picture that actually shows it, so you'll have to come by to look at it in person).

It rained for most of the day, driving rain from the south-west, but at the end of the day we were rewarded with a stunning rainbow, and an even more stunning sunset (doesn't this make you want to sit in our Biergarten, munch on your pretzel and sip on your beer?).


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Day Before ...

We're going to plaster again tomorrow. We're trying to get as much plastered in the bar as possible. There will be a few little areas left, because you don't want to plaster two adjacent walls, but for the most part the bar should be taken care of by the end of tomorrow.

In order to plaster, there has to be some preparation, of course. So E! was busy taping seams, while I was painting them in pink (the pink stuff is called plasterweld, and makes the plaster stick to the joint compound).


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Building The Internet ...

According to someone from the 49th state, the internet is a series of tubes. So today we built one of those tubular internetithingies.

We had Jeff, our plumber and HVAC meister, over today to start installing the AC ducts for the beer hall. The tubes had been sitting around for about half a year, largely because we wanted to paint them in a stealthy black, but we didn't find anybody to actually do it until recently (thank you again, Mark).

The tubes start at the air handler (which is situated above the bathrooms) ...

... and split into two tubes, one for the east side of the beer hall ...

... and one for the west side (if you can't see the tube, that's a good thing).


Friday, January 22, 2010

Freeze Miser ...

We spent most of the day running around finding wood for the dining tables, picking up materials, and getting more materials.

But I got a little bit of work done. Many moons back we acquired an ice maker, not unlike what you have in your kitchen fridge, except that ours is the size of your kitchen fridge.

A colossus like this requires a lot of connections: power supply, water supply, ice maker drain, ice bin drain, condensation drain, and coolant lines to the evaporator unit, which will be located in the basement. Now that I think of it, I forgot to provide the electrical connection to the evaporator unit (whew, that was close).


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trading Faces ...

Plaster days are always exciting, because they change the face of a room, and make it look more complete, but judge for yourself. Before ...

... and after.

The bar has a lot of little surfaces and tight corners, which is a tricky environment to work in. If that isn't enough, there are also outside corners, which aren't only difficult, but also unforgiving.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

60 Days And Counting ...

As a faithful follower, although I am not always as faithful at blogging (yes, I missed a post yesterday), you know about our impending deadline to finish construction.

For those of you, who just tuned in, let me recap. We applied for our liquor license soon after we took possession of Gunk Haus. After a mere 13 months (in words: thirteen, dreizehn, treize, trece - does anyone speak Martian, I want to make sure those green-faced dudes from the next planet over understand what I am talking about) we received our liquor license (how can anyone start a business that even partially depends on the ability to serve or sell beer, wine, or liquor, if you have to wait that long to get permission to do so).

Anyhow, we got approved last year, March 21st. From that day on the clock is ticking. The liquor authority requires you to be open within a year. That would be this coming March 21st, or 60 days from today.

Do I need to tell you that the stakes are high (there is really no way we can or will open without a liquor license), and similarly the tensions are high.

Anyhow, Jack is coming over tomorrow, and you know what that means: Plastering!!!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Stuffed To The Gills ...

Being the spouse of a chef is great, unless she is testing a lot of recipes, doing them over and over again, to get them right. Don't get me wrong, it always tastes great (to me anyway, because I am easy-going), but there is always a lot of food.

On today's menu were meat-filled Maultaschen, Käsespätzle (layers of spaetzle, cheese, and caramelized onions, baked over), Flammkuchen (a sort of pizza with a very, very thin crust, usually topped with sour creme or crème fraîche, onions, and bacon), and chocolate cake. I am glad the pretzels didn't make it into the oven.

For me it was back to doing floor work in the bar, closing off the gap on the south end, and installing baseboard.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Window Dressing ...

I fear that after showing you all those pictures of yummy food, you don't want to see anything else anymore. Get used to disappointment. We're still renovating, and there will be lots of renovation pictures, like the following series, which shows the work that goes into installing window trim in the bar.

You start with a bare-naked window frame ...

... add some lining ...

... and put the trim on top.

For those of you, who read this far, here is what came out of the Gunk Haus test kitchen today: Pretzels (never enough pretzels), spaetzle, and chocolate cake. I should start posting my weight on a daily basis, so we all know how much I will have gained until we open up.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Let's Talk Desserts ...

The Gunk Haus test kitchen was in full swing again today. Before lunch I had already tried at least four different test runs of vegan Maultaschen. Maultasche is a sort of over-sized ravioli from the Swabian region in southern Germany.

For dinner there was chicken schnitzel on, you guessed it, homemade pretzel buns. And for dessert, well helloooooo good-looking ...

Once Gunk Haus opens its doors, you'll find E!'s version of a (deconstructed) black forest cake on the menu, a warm chocolate cake with cherry compote and whipped cream.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

WinTrim ...

And again, I was going to write about something else today, namely vegetarian and vegan dishes we will have on the menu, and that despite having a more meat oriented menu these dishes will be provided the same attention to detail as the rest of the menu, but I really couldn't find the words to express what I had in my head.

Instead, here some pictures of window trim, which I installed today.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Was Brutzelt Da? ...

Although it was only a side event today, the Gunk Haus test kitchen is still cooking. On today's menu: Schnitzel!

Ok, stop drooling.

Of course there was work going on as well today, but who wants to know about that. Oh, you do?! Well, it was trim work, again. Still interested? No? Thought so.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ChimTrim ...

Trim work continues (until you and I get tired of it). Today I started installing baseboard around the chimney in the bar. The outer corners are tough, because unforgiving. Inner corners are easy, and neatly mask minor mistakes.


Monday, January 11, 2010

All Trim, No Floor ...

The day was largely filled with window trim work. I had enough material for three windows in the beer hall, so while I installed it, E! went out and got some more. I routed the new boards already, but they still need to be painted, which means that I might have to do a little bit more floor work in the bar tomorrow, so I can install the baseboard, which is ready to be installed.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's What's For Dinner ...

The Gunk Haus test kitchen was in full swing again today. Here you see the chef experiment with desserts (yes, Gia and Heidi, E! owns more clothing than just a green fleece, for instance a red fleece).

The dessert didn't turn out as anticipated, which brings me to the topic of failures. Not every experiment at Gunk Haus test kitchen is successful. The reasons are many, ingredients, recipes, process, and human error, it's all in the cards.

Personally, I eat all the mistakes, unless they are completely inedible, which hasn't happened yet.

Of course I prefer the yummy stuff, say burger on a homemade pretzel bun. Oh, look, just like in this picture.

Add some homemade paprika sauce, and dinner is served.


Calling It Quits ...

I didn't make it a secret in my last few posts: I am tired and sick of working on the bar floor (as good as it looks or will look). Checking my blog I noticed that I've been working on it for three weeks already!

So, for now I'm calling it quits!

I need to work on something else, see actual progress. There is lots of window and door trim, and baseboard to be installed, which is what I'll be tackling this week.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another Boring Post ...

Actually I wanted to spare you another boring post about work on the bar floor, and write about food science, but I am too tired and can't wrap my mind around it. So, more work on the bar floor today:


Friday, January 8, 2010

Cavity Filling ...

I know, you're tired of hearing about it, but I'm still working on the bar floor. Well, I am tired of it, too, but it'll be done soon (famous last words).

So without further ado, a few pictures:


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just Another Hole In The Floor ...

It was a pretty day (and considerably warm, if that's what you can call being above freezing), so I took a quick picture of Gunk Haus in the morning sun.

Back to work, more floor work that is. Question: How do you fix a hole like this?

You make it bigger ... ;-)

And when the sun goes down you have something to show for (if you were a good photographer, and could capture the things you're trying to show).

There was a lot of testing going on in the kitchen again, pretzels (yes, again), spaetzle, schnitzel, and dumplings.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gunk Haus Test Kitchen ...

The main action happened in the kitchen today. E! was busy experimenting with various recipes.

Home made crackers, and Oatzda, YUM!!!

A test run of pretzel buns: Scrap baking soda, use lye.


Progress, At Last ...

So I thought I had it all figured out yesterday, and started getting ready to install some floor boards. Just then I noticed a minor flaw in my plans. Back to the drawing board. But this round was quick, because I used a plan B.

And so it happened.

Of course I am not done yet, but it felt good to have something done.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Floor Puzzler ...

The day ended with little accomplished, at least in terms of picture-worthy results. Most of the work happened in my mind (unfortunately, my pocket-EEG just ran out of battery, else I had posted a picture of that), shifting floor boards back and forth, measuring, cutting, patching. Nothing exciting, but I finally got a breakthrough (in my mind), and tomorrow there will be action.

E! was far more productive in the kitchen, experimenting with paprika sauce, making crackers, and last not least making Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese spread made from Camembert). A few weeks back, E! had made Obatzda following a recipe by (Bavarian) celebrity chef Alfons Schubeck, which I didn't like (because it didn't taste anything like the Obatzda I am used to), but tonight's version was spot-on. Yum!!!

I promise there will be pictures again tomorrow, definitely of the bar floor, but maybe even of some food concoctions E! is working on.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Talk ...

We are drawing closer to opening, which means we need to start working on the menu, and by we I mean E! (ok, I am participating, too, as Guinea Pig).

So this evening E! presented a coarse outline of what would / should be on the initial menu (the menu at Gunk Haus will of course change over the years, but also seasonally).

Therefore, soon you will see more posts talking about food and the menu. Stay tuned, and get ready to drool ... ;-)


The Packing Problem ...

Warning: This post has some geeky undertones, possibly even overtones, but most likely it's just all geeky.

You all know it, you come home from grocery shopping with a car load full of bags (most likely because you heard on the radio about a coming snow storm with several feet of snow, but didn't notice that the storm happens halfway around the globe, let's say in the Sahara dessert), and now it's time to fit all the good stuff into your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Should the turkey be the first in freezer, or the pints of ice cream, and what about the (left) half of a cow your butcher talked you into (after all there is a big snow storm coming your way).

Welcome to the world of mathematics (yes, kids, you may not know it, but life is full of math, so pay attention what the teachers talk about). What you just experienced is called the packing problem, and generally involves fitting a given set of items into a fixed space.

In case you haven't noticed yet, math was my major in high school (the other being business and economics, because it was the easiest, and I am totally lazy, which you may also not have noticed yet, but rest assured, I am).

Back to the real world (and another packing problem). I spent the entire morning agonizing about how to fill the gap in the bar floor. Aside from the obvious problem of having a limited supply of floor boards, and their varying sizes and lengths, I tried to figure a way to make it look like the floor was intended this way from the first day, the house was built, and not just a patch job.

By noon I was so frustrated that I went and harvested the last two rows of floor boards in the garret, which is now without a floor. Afterward I gave it another try, being more systematic this time, writing down lengths and widths of boards, spacing between floor joists, and so forth.

After looking at the numbers and the floor for a long time, mentally playing with various scenarios, I started to get a sense on how it could be done without looking like a ten times patched bicycle tire (though it will be more of a patch job, than virgin flooring). We'll see if I still like it by tomorrow.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fill In The Gap ...

As announced yesterday, E! started taping in the beer hall as a precursor to plastering, not that it is going to happen anytime soon, but when it happens, the walls are ready.

I just continued working on the bar floor by making the small hole bigger (a man needs a challenge).


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gap, No Gap ...

Work on the bar floor continued today. I replaced the two broken rows with two nice and intact ones from the third floor garret. The entire bar floor project is taking much longer than I had hoped, but it needs to be done, and, as everything else around Gunk Haus, it will look spectacular once it's done.

E! geared up to start taping in the beer hall. Stay tuned for more excitement ... ;-)