Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some Days Are Just Too Much ...

The snow has stopped, but it left a huge mess. Trees and tree limbs down all over, and subsequently power out all over.

We lost power Friday morning at around 2am. I know this because I was awake for an hour already (playing backgammon, as usual when I can't sleep). When the power went out, my laptop also shut off, which it shouldn't because it has a battery, meaning that it got fried by a spike in the electricity before the lights went off.

That's when the Dirkster entered a very dark place. I was upset, tired, burnt out, and just couldn't cope with it anymore. So I went outside at 3am and started shoveling snow.

Friday was a lost day. Before noon we had power again, and I tried to work on the bar heat, but couldn't do it. At 3pm we just cuddled up, and plowed through two DVDs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Here some pictures. This one is from Thursday, when it was already snowing heavily, which didn't deter me from heading out to get supplies. As you can see, the yellow VW Golf was already nicely covered.

The next day it was barely visible anymore.

And right now it is basically a pile of snow (between the two visible cars).

It sure looks pretty, but I didn't need this right now.

E! was busy today painting the bar (in the final color, which is not raspberry). It'll need a second coat, but you can already sense how it'll look like.

At long last I finished hooking up the radiators in the bar today, and everything is working well.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

What Else Is New? ...

Did anybody mention more snow? Seriously, it's been snowing for two days now, and there is no end in sight (until Saturday or so). Don't ask how may inches, I just know that the piles of snow our dear neighbor Butch Anson has plowed off the paved area in front of the house has reached five to six feet already. And it is the heavy wet kind, which concerns me a little, because it puts a lot of weight on the roof.

I was glad I got my supplies yesterday, that way I was able to move along nicely on the bar heat today, though I am still not done. Tomorrow, hopefully, it's taking way too long again, too many interruptions, and the snow isn't helping either.

E! was busy dealing with annoying paperwork, in particular worker's compensation, which we have to have to get our liquor license and the health department approval.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pretty In Dark Pink ...

The bar is getting a makeover, at least colorwise. E! was busy priming the bar today (yes, Amy, this is the color we chose for the bar; no, seriously, we like it).

Doesn't it look pretty?

I was back at working on the bar heat, though I didn't get much done. Well, first I headed out to get supplies. Then we had Joe, our alarm system specialist, come by and finish up some work. Intermittently, we had an electrician come by to look at some minor electrical work we still need to have done. After that we had our kitchen hood fire suppressionist (the man who installed the hood fire suppression system) here to charge the system (now it is totally ready, so better not start a fire under the kitchen hood). Last not least, in anticipation of more snow for the next few days, I headed out once again and got more supplies, and then the day was over.

Hopefully by tomorrow I have the heat going in the bar (else I need to go to one and have myself a nice martini).


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow White And The Seven ... ...

I was going to work on the bar heat again today, and for a little while I did, but I needed more supplies, yet what we got was more snow, and I didn't feel like heading out (because I would have had to go across the river - that's the Hudson River for those who aren't familiar with the area).

Instead I entertained myself with patching holes in the bar floor. This is actually a requirement for the Certificate of Occupancy, which we need for the liquor license. Yes, we need to patch every hole in the floor larger than two inches in diameter (we would do that anyway, and of course we will patch holes smaller than that as well). Another requirement is that the place can be heated to 68° F, which is why I am working on the bar heat (or not).

E! started priming the bar drawers and doors (I apologize for not taking a picture, but there'll be more action tomorrow).


Monday, February 22, 2010

Pre-Heating The Bar ...

E! was busy prepping the bar for painting, by scraping all the loose paint and washing it with a witches' brew of cleaners. At one point she was scraping off so much paint that I was wondering whether it would be worth stripping the entire bar, but for the most part the paint sticks really well, so painting it is.

Meanwhile I started work on the bar heat by installing the tubes to the radiators. If I push really hard, we might have heat in the bar tomorrow.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bar Foot Print ...

As preparation for the bar I installed a subfloor today, which not only covers all the holes in the floor from the previous bar setup, but also levels the floor (for the most part).

E! started clearing the backbar so she can start painting it, maybe tomorrow.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mixperimentation ...

It was a slow day, for some unknown reason. Maybe it's getting too warm already. There was a little bit of taping of drywall in the main entrance, a little cleaning up in the bar, and a little window and trim cleaning all around (thank you, Julie, for helping out on that one).

The main event happened after hours. A few weeks ago, Leslie had mentioned coming across a recipe for a black forest cake martini, which got me all excited in an instant. I had grand visions of layered booze in different colors, topped with frothy milk and such.

So I enlisted our dear neighbor, and hobby mixologist, Jody to help me out. So, this evening we got together, armed with all sorts of liquors that resemble the components of a black forest cake: chocolate, cherry, and cream. I instantly dived into trying a layered drink, and failed utterly.

As expected and hoped for, Jody was much better at this game, and it quickly became apparent that the chocolate flavor should not come from a liquor, but from the chocolate rim (if you have naughty thoughts right now, that tells more about you than me, because we literally coated the glass rim with chocolate).

Most of the liquors were way too sweet, and even as dessert cocktail wouldn't be much of a best-seller. But after numerous trials (and errors), Jody mixed up a fine cocktail, which we all liked.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Make Some Noise ...

Joe, our security system meister, was back today finishing up the installation of the fire alarm system. We are now armed and dangerous. Actually the fire alarm is dangerous. I understand it is supposed to get your attention, but do you need to hear it five miles away as well? I apologize in advance to all our neighbors, if it ever goes off.

Speaking of neighbors. Some of you may have received a letter from the Lloyd Planning Board regarding our proposed signage (as our property is a non-conforming use, we need the approval of our neighbors for out of the ordinary signage). I assume you don't have any objections to a 15 foot tall neon sign with blinking lights and polka music playing during opening hours. Oh, you do? Well, lucky you that's not what we are going for ... ;-)

Workwise, it was painting for E!, and experimenting with different chocolates for chocolate stuffed pretzels, while I entertained myself with more flooring. As you can see, I am still using the *beep* *beep* *beep* manual floor nailer (I should actually demote it to a *beep* *beep* manual floor nailer, as I am starting to get a hang of it - which doesn't make it my new favorite toy).

Here an action shot, which illustrates why I am not fond of it: With my foot I have to hold the nailer in place, because I need both hands to create enough smack to drive the nail in all the way, all this barely a foot away from a nicely plastered wall.

But in the end it all turned out fine.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Transitional Flooring ...

As I had occupied the kitchen for the last two days to do some wiring, there wasn't any test cooking going on. Today it felt like E! wanted to make up for it, and started cooking away: Chocolate-filled pretzels (this time with a lighter dough), quark spaetzle (they were very light, yet had a good chew factor; I loved them), potato dumplings (which potato makes the better dumpling, Idaho or Yukon? we felt it was the Yukon), smoked gouda croquettes, and I can't remember what else.

Our place was like a bee hive today. There was a constant coming and going, family, friends, contractors, and the Easter Bunny. Subsequently, I didn't get much done, but I managed to fill in the flooring between the bar and beer hall ...

... and the bar and wait station.

Before the day was over I started another flooring project, which is next to the bathrooms. The hole in the floor has been there ever since we demolished the men's bathroom, which had occupied the space before we started renovations.

All I did was install a subfloor in preparation for the oak flooring. Speaking of installing hardwood flooring. Jack generously had lent us his manual floor nailer, but it didn't take me long to realize that it won't work for me: The *beep* *beep* *beep* and *beep* *beep*, you had to *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep* *beep*, and *beep* *beep* *beep*. To make it short, I'm going to get myself a pneumatic nailer.

One of the bees in the hive today was Joe, our security system meister. With most of the plaster on the walls, he started installing strobe lights and pull stations for the fire alarm.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Daycrawler ...

In home renovation, if you don't think ahead, you may have to redo a lot of work, or you end up in the crawlspace above your kitchen.

Before we installed the drywall in the beer hall I realized that I should run a wire for the thermostat, which controls the beer hall climate. Unfortunately, I was only smart enough to run wire for the heat, but not for the air condition.

So today I spent a good two hours in the crawlspace above the kitchen pulling a second wire for the A/C. The picture below shows what fun place it is up there (in the lower right hand corner you see the white wire going to the thermostat).

In order to get into the crawlspace above the kitchen you have to remove the troffer lights, and therefore you have to setup ladders, which in the end means that you need a lot of space. Because of that no cooking was going on today. Instead, E! kept busy with office tasks.

Tomorrow, we have Joe, our security system installation meister, come over to start installing the various fire alarm components. We have all of the walls plastered, where the components will be installed, but at the main entrance, where several components will go, the adjacent walls hadn't been plastered yet. So I fixed that today.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Mostly Flaky ...

Today was all about strudels: Golden brown, flaky, and filled with yummy contents like salmon and herbs. I don't need to mention that I was stuffed to the gills again.

I finished installing the drywall in the main entrance, and got half of the window and door trim up.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's ...

After finishing the floor, it was time to start installing drywall and taping around the main entrance (the emphasis is on start, as by 3:30pm both E! and were out of steam; hey, it's Valentine's Day!).


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Floor Finale ...

The Gunk Haus test kitchen was sizzling today, actually it was baking: Chocolate-filled pretzels, stuffed pretzels, and turkey stuffed strudel, and after all that I was stuffed as well.

It was a busy work day. I finally tackled the last big floor repair project in the bar: The entrance floor.

It isn't actually the floor that needed repair, but the underbelly. The floor boards were largely supported by one beam in the center, and completely unsupported on the door side.

The main entrance, like so many things around Gunk Haus, is not original. In the beginning there was an outside access to the basement, and the stone stairs are still underneath the main entrance.

I have the tendency to over-engineer, and the framing for the entrance floor is not different.

Slap the floor boards on and it looks fantastic.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Post-Plastering Lull ...

There is something about the day after plastering. It's not that plastering is physically or mentally challenging, but somehow the next day is a drag. Maybe it is that plastering transforms the place so much that we get a great feeling of accomplishment, and take a mental holiday.

So while driving to town (for the second time, and to go to a wine tasting) we tried to emphasize, no wait, magnify, what we did today to make us feel better:
  • installed two floor planks (see picture)
  • did laundry
  • got groceries
  • made chocolate filled pretzels
  • did dishes
  • installed beer hall sconces
  • met with our logo designer (to drop off a valentine's chocolate filled pretzel)
As you can see, the list is long and exhausting. What a day!!!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kenny ...

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may know that once it turns cooler I start donning Kenny, a bright orange fleece sweater, which we bought at the Salvation Army (like most of our work clothes) more than two years ago.

I name the fleece after Kenny, a character from the TV show South Park, who is always bundled up in a bright orange parka, and because of it mumbles all the time.

Anyhow, the bright orange color of the fleece is quite recognizable, and as I usually wear it all day, every day, I am very recognizable.

So this evening we went before the town planning board, because we needed a variance for our restaurant sign, but the president of the board didn't recognize us until we identified ourselves as the owners of what was previously know as the Hollywood Bar. As you may suspect we didn't wear our work clothes.

Speaking of the restaurant sign and logo (a thank you to our friend Jerry of Starpoli Signs for designing it), I haven't posted a picture of it yet, as we are still finalizing a few little details (namely color), but I'll post a picture once we can make up our mind, which will be once we have a dull moment to wrap our minds around things like that.


Accidental Plastering ...

Our day was turned upside down by a phone call early this morning. Jack was on the other side, saying that he would have time for plastering today, and that's what we did.

Here is a view from the beer hall into the bar and wait station.

The wall on the left is where the booths will go.

Jack also brought over his sample of a dining table, and I apologize for my poor picture taking skills, but it looks fantastic in real life.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy With A Chance Of Meatballs ...

Only a month ago I was tired and fed up with working on the bar floor, but today I was back at it. To the left of the bar the floor was damaged, most likely due to water slowly dripping over time (possibly from a refrigerator).

No matter what caused it, the rotten wood had to go ...

... and be replaced with new planks.

The kitchen was in full steam today. Pretzels are becoming a daily exercise. But E! was busy tweaking the recipe for spaetzle, which resulted in some five or six different batches, and lots of food to eat.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No End In Sight ...

I was back at taping, sanding, and pinking today, and I am getting annoyed by it. Granted, having not slept most of last night didn't help, but there are so many other projects that stare me in the eye every day, and I have to pet them, and say: Soon!, or Tomorrow!, or Patience young Skywalker!, or something else nerdy.

This is just like when I got frustrated after having worked on the bar floor for three weeks, without completing it. Interestingly enough it is the very bar floor projects, which I lust for right now. There is a bit of a domino effect with the bar floor, which is why I am so keen on finishing it.

E! headed out this morning to pick up the wood for our dining tables. After having tried to find table tops we like at restaurant supply stores, without success, we decided to have them made (I'd love to make them, but I just don't have the time right now). Jack, our plaster meister, agreed to give it a stab, and he stopped by yesterday with a sample, and boy did it look gorgeous!!!

I promise to post pictures again tomorrow, there just wasn't much to show for the last two days.


Monday, February 8, 2010

More Taping ...

I was back at taping the remaining two walls in the beer hall in preparation for plastering. This is getting old, but it will soon be over. My goal is to wrap this up by the end of tomorrow, because there is more work to be done.

The floor in the bar is not completely fixed yet, the radiators in the bar and Stube still need to be hooked up, half of the beer hall is waiting to have hardwood flooring installed, the bar needs to be reassembled, and then there are pages and pages of little stuff.

E! was busy with equally boring and annoying work: shopping for various insurances a business needs. Nevertheless, she managed to make more yummy pretzels.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Straightening Up The Beer Hall ...

We took it easy today, straightening up the beer hall, shifting equipment around, sorting things out, and throwing away what is no longer needed.

This was to a certain extent in preparation to plastering the east wall, which will happen this coming Saturday.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Plasterpiece ...

Did I mention before that I love plastering? I admit, I started loving it more ever since I found how it's actually done. I have come a long way, since my first forays into plastering.

The beer hall is two thirds plastered now, and it looks fantabulous. As can be seen in the pictures, Jeff was here today as well, installing the second AC duct, and it just looks great!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Business Advice ...

Almost a year ago at the annual competition of the Hudson Valley Home Brewers I bumped into a kid (meaning someone who is younger than me), who was thinking about opening a brewpub in Arlington, VA (just across the river from Washington DC).

Ever since I have been thinking about (off and on) what I would have told him, had he asked me what advice I could give him for opening a restaurant. Of course we aren't even open yet (although last year around this time, we were hoping to open by Labor Day, and that time we really meant it).

Nevertheless, here is some of the advice I have to spare:
  • the day you decide to start a business, go and buy yourself a brand-new car
  • if you partner up with someone, go and climb Kilimanjaro together
  • for a month, get up at 6:00am, wear the same clothes, and only eat ramen noodles
OK, I admit, I made up the ramen noodles, I get up at 6:30am, and I have worn the same clothes for two years now.

I didn't buy a new car either, but it isn't about the car, in fact, why spend a lot of money on a new car when you need the money for the business. It is about the amount of money you are going to spend at the drop of a hat, and not always because you want to, but because you have to.

I also have never climbed Kilimanjaro, although I'd love to do that sometime, I've never even been to Africa (the closest I ever got to Africa was most likely Gargano, Italy, and that's still pretty far away). And again, it isn't about climbing a mountain, it is about being and working together with your partners in a stressful environment.

I have to stop, here come my ramen noodles ... ;-)

Tomorrow is more plastering on the menu.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Side By Side ...

Whenever I start a blog post, there is so much I want to say (ok, there are days I wish I had a lot of exciting pictures, and I wouldn't have to write a single word), but then I don't know how to start, can't seem to get to the point, get lost in other thoughts, and at the end feel like I didn't write down what I wanted to say.

So here are a few things I want to say today: Thank you for you reading this blog, daily, weekly, monthly, doesn't matter. Thank you for leaving comments (I LOVE comments). Thank you for your encouragement.

I have been somewhat down lately, but quite frankly, after two years of working on Gunk Haus I am showing signs of deterioration, my batteries are shot, my nerves lie blank, and I am easily aggravated. But the stress will not diminish until we are open (granted, there will be new stress from running Gunk Haus, but that's another story).

Anyhow, it was a good day, it was a plastering day, and we got work done. The western half of the beer hall is almost entirely plastered (there's a small piece missing, because I was blocking it with the scaffold, being high up in the air, plastering a wall).

I am definitely getting better at it. While Jack was busy finishing up a wall, I already started slapping the mud up on a different wall. This is so different from when we plastered the Stube ceiling, Jack was pretty much doing the entire ceiling, and I tried to keep up.

Off to the picture section, which you all love. I apologize that they aren't the greatest, I am not a good photographer (a big thank you goes to Pat for giving us her old camera, without which this blog wouldn't be possible, at least the picture section).


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Broken Things ...

I feel like a real Mensch again, I received a brand-new power adapter for my laptop today. E!'s laptop remains broken, even after major surgery. I guess we'll have to get her a new one. For the time being she will have to do with an older one.

For dinner we had Pfannenkuchen (pan cakes) with salmon and horseradish sour creme, and a bottle of rosé, which had served its time in our fridge. While opening said bottle, the cork screw broke. What else is new?

Well, tomorrow is plastering on the menu again, so we spent most of the day sanding and pinking. Aside from that, E! made a roast turkey for sandwhiches, and pretzels buns.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quicky ...

I apologize for not posting yesterday, I was tired, frustrated, and it is still Winter. My laptop is still powerless (sorry, Linda, your power adapter started throwing sparks and smelling like my feet, I'll replace it), but hopefully this will change tomorrow, because I ordered a new power adapter.

Today wasn't much better, less tired, still frustrated, and did you look outside, yep, still Winter. In addition E!'s laptop gave in today without any sign of revival. It might have to go to Doctor Steve for a diagnosis.

There was work going on, of course. Lots of taping of drywall, and tons of office work we have to start tackling (workers' comp and disability insurance, credit card rates, health department, and a few other things).

There is definitely a martini in my near future, cuddling with my honey, and watching movies.