Friday, April 30, 2010

Base Camp ...

Our neighbor Julie (of Little Dog Orchard fame) came over today to help with the table bases. There was scrubbing ...

... and painting ...

... and at the end of the day there were nice table bases (although they need a second coat, to make them really nice).


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boothyful ...

I was going to hook up the dishwasher today, but by no surprise that didn't happen. Well, I tried all morning, but in the end I had to admit to myself that the water inlet pipe was shot, and I needed a new one, which I ordered right away, but it won't make it here before next week.

In the afternoon, Jack stopped by to help me with the booth benches. I have mentioned before that we intended cut some of the pews to build the booth benches, and that's what we did.

We got all the cuts done, now I have to patch back-to-back benches together.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Giorgio ...

We received a package in the mail today, which I had been anxiously waiting for. Granted, it only took a few days from order to delivery, but I had feared it may take longer, hence my anxiety.

We are gearing up for the final inspection by the health department. This won't be the last inspection, of course, as the health department routinely visits food service establishments, and hands out gold stars or slaps on the wrist. But this is the inspection that enables us to actually open our doors.

For the inspection the dish washer has to work, which it does, except that the drain pipe was broken, and the water would have simply spilled all over the floor. And now you know what was in the package today.

After installing the drain pipe, I hooked up the electric, but it was too late in the day to start it up, as there is still a little bit of work to be done, and there are things I prefer doing when the day is young and I am full of energy, and I have the entire day to fix mistakes.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Big Teasy ...

Folks, I have a confession to make: We aren't actually opening a restaurant. Sorry. We're just doing all this to tease our neighbors. But you have to admit, we're doing a heck of a job ... ;-)

As we are mostly working inside these days (or so we claim, of course), I felt compelled to make changes to the outside, to keep people on the hook.

I bought some picnic benches (thank you, Selen, for the coupon, which saved us a few bucks again), and set them up in the Biergarten, so people might think that one day they could sit out there munching on pretzels and sausages, sipping on beer, and having a good time. It makes me burst into ghoulish laughter, thinking of how much I fooled them.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Beerpalooza ...

We had another beer vendor stop by today. Amongst all the beer vendors we have had visit so far he was the best to talk to. He knew his beers, he listened to what we wanted, and the best part, he brought us samples.

Due to a recent trip to our favorite beer store around, we have so much beer right now, that I felt compelled to turn on one of the beer coolers behind the bar. It feels good to slowly bring the place to life.

E! was back in the kitchen baking pretzels: burger buns, hot dog buns, and stuffed pretzels. Yum!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mine, Mine, Mine ...

I did a little bit of cleanup today, moving material and equipment into the basement. as part of this Spring cleaning, I took a bunch of metal, which I'd been collecting for a while, to our local scrap metal place. The beauty about it is that they not only take your scrap metal, they also pay you for it.

While I was there, I figured I'd ask if they have some stainless steel scrap, because I still need a table to go between the dishwasher and the sink. Lucky me, they had just gotten this stainless steel shelf in. Normally I would have paid for it, but the owner insisted I buy him dinner at our place once we're open (he knows, we're opening a restaurant). I may have mentioned it before, but we owe favors all over town ... ;-)

When I got home, E! was happy about my find, but quickly turned googly-eyed, as she is lusting for more shelving space. A wrestling ensued like between Frodo and Gollum for the ring, but in the end the dish table prevailed, as we need it for the health department (full disclosure: nobody's finger got bitten off ... ;-).

We had friends (aka test eaters) over for Meatfest 2010. On the menu: all grass-fed beef burgers on a pretzel bun with salad greens, house-made curry ketchup (we won't serve that with the burger, of course, but we needed to get some feedback), and Swedish brownies with ice cream (thank you Linda).


Friday, April 23, 2010

Fork It Over ...

We are still in need of silverware. For that purpose we call vendors and have them send us samples (I LOVE samples). We use the fork as a representative sample, because it is the most used piece of silverware.

As you can imagine the quality varies, you can feel it by simply holding two different forks. In the picture the second fork from the right (the one with the sticker) is our favorite, but we'll most likely go with the one all the way to the left, because better quality usually translates to higher price, in this case more than twice.

We definitely prefer the euro style forks, they are the ones with longer prongs, because they look more stylish.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meatfest 2010 ...

Being close(r) to opening means we have an increase in vendor traffic. Running a restaurant requires a lot of supplies, not only food, but everything else from toilet paper to band-aids to I-don't-know-what.

The nice thing about it is that those vendors want our business, and in order to make our decision somewhat easier, they bring by samples.

So, today we had a visit from a meat supplier, who carries grass-fed beef, and, I kid you not, he dropped off about ten pounds or more of meat (pork chops in various sizes, run-of-the-mill ground beef and grass-fed ground beef). Fortunately we have family come over on Sunday to help us eat through all that.

This brings me to the topic of meat. We are planning to offer hamburgers with meat from free-range and grass-fed cattle, not only because we believe it's the better way to raise cows, but also because it is more flavorful than the grain-fed beef. For dinner we tried burgers from both, and the grass-fed beef didn't only look better (a nice dark red), but also tasted better (well rounded, not greasy like the other one).


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Signs Of The Future ...

Jack, our Jack of all trades, stopped by today to drop of the remaining table tops (which I still need to affix to the bases). In addition he took out a sign, we had asked him to make. Once he finished all the welding, we'll have our friend Jerry, sign maker extraordinaire, paint it ...

... and then mount it at the corner of the building (of course a little higher than in the picture).


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Give Me Something To Write About ...

In case you ever wondered how I come up with the titles of my posts, well, usually they are based on movie or song titles, catchy phrases from commercials, idioms, or actual descriptions of what happened that day. Often I play with the words a tad bit, because I like that.

Today's title is derived from a song of the musical episode of the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I am totally hooked on (we are currently watching all seven seasons, again!).

This brings me to the last two days, which haven't seen a post on this blog. To make it short, I was not in my happy place. I felt like Buffy at the end of season 5 where she retreats into her mind, physically present, but mentally completely absent.

I have mentioned before that the last two and a half years have taken a chunk out of my life, but sometimes it all comes crushing down, and the Dirkster retreats to a place where no one can go. I do not apologize, nor am I ashamed of letting you in on my dark times, because life can't always be on the up and up. If you feel yours is, please contact me, because I want the drugs your using ... ;-)

Subsequently, not much happened the last two days. Today was different. Jeff, our freeze miser, aka air condition meister, was back today to connect the refrigerant lines of the A/C compressor and air handler. There was a lot of blow torching close to highly flammable material, that would have freaked my out for a week, were I to do it.

While Jeff was trying to burn down the place, I tried to electrocute myself, NOT!!! I was working on hooking up the electrical for the air condition, which isn't a big deal, except when you stand in front of the big breaker panel (about my height), with a lot of places you don't want to touch, unless you like the smell of burned flesh.

So I took my sweet time, but as they say: Better safe than sorry.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blowing Cold Air ...

Jeff, our plumbing and air condition meister, was back today to start hooking up the air condition. We brought the air handler back to life, and it is blowing air where it should. Unfortunately, the coolant lines from the original setup were too short to be reused, so he'll be back next week, and hopefully we'll get the whole shabang done and chill the place to subzero temperatures (or at least a comfortable cool).


Friday, April 16, 2010

Who Killed The Easter Bunny? ...

E! is busy calling vendors and finding sources for produce. It so happens that in our area is a large rabbit farmer, who mainly serves New York City. Rabbit had always been on E!'s mind as a menu item, maybe not as permanent item, but definitely as the occasional special.

So E! stopped by the rabbit farm yesterday, and got us a bunny. They come skinned, but otherwise in one piece. I spare you pictures of the butchering of the rabbit (if you are interested in it, search the internet, there are tons of videos out there). The end result looks more appetizing anyway. Here a hind leg:

Sauté it in a pan ...

... and serve as appetizer on salad greens (pictured is actually the loin).

Of course we had the whole rabbit, and let me tell you, that wabbit was yummy.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Buzz, No Buzz ...

And again, I thank all of you who did your homework and responded to my question what beers you like. Thank you Charlie for your extensive list (I knew I could count on you), there are beers on it which either make it on our menu, or we are eager to try.

Back to work. I decided to tackle the dishwasher today, largely because I received a part in the mail yesterday. Hooking up the dishwasher theoretically is as easy as with a residential unit (at least with this model), but this isn't a residential dishwasher.

For one thing, it washes and sanitizes the dishes within 60 to 120 seconds (compared to the half hour or so on a residential dishwasher). The sanitation method with this dishwasher is hot water (which we prefer over chemical, largely to keep our septic system healthy).

Although the dishwasher has a built-in booster heater, it requires the input water to be at least 120°F. In order to provide this temperature in an instant, I am installing a recirculating hot water loop, which means the hot water continuously cycles from the water heater to the dishwasher and back.

So, this morning I took stock of the bits and pieces I need to make it happen, and went and got them, at least most of them, but not enough to start work today. Bummer.

Instead I decided to tackle our lawn mower which had been iffy since last summer. I cleaned everything there is to clean (within easy reach), but it didn't want to start. So I took the engine head off, to clean the combustion chamber, which was when I realized that the head gasket must be leaking, because it was all wet at the bottom, and the combustion chamber was full of soot. More work, more parts to get.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's Your Beer ...

Before I continue with the post, I want to mention to you that this is blog post number 500. Yes, you read right: 500 corky posts by yours truly.

E! spent the last two days calling vendors and distributors, in particular beer distributors, and we had one stop by today. For the last three or so years, we have tasted lots of different beers (local, regional, and imports) to find beers we would like to put on the menu.

So today I give you another homework assignment. Please let me know which beers you like and would order at a restaurant. Please be specific ("I like brewery XYZ" doesn't help at all). If you don't like beer, I'd like to know what it is about beer that you don't like (again, be specific). OK, all you beer drinkers (Charlie, Al, Ed, I know you're reading this) get to work!

I almost wasted this post on the news that The Loafer Man (TLM) had been nixed at the health department, but why give someone, whom I think very low off, that much credit. I felt angry all morning, because of all the trouble and money we had to go through because of TLM, but at the end of the day there was only one thing to say: Goodbye Loafer Man.


Grime Of The Century ...

Today I decided to finally move the second bottle cooler into its final resting place behind the bar. The cooler came with the property, but we had never used it or plugged it in. So I plugged in the power cord, and was pleasantly surprised that not only it worked, but also that it wasn't a power monger like older fridges can be.

Before moving it into place, I figured it would be good to scrub it down a little. To me the cooler always looked like it had a greenish metallic color. That was until I scrubbed off the grime, which revealed a more grayish color (note to self: don't clean fridges just once a decade).

After it looked pretty(er) again, it was time to settle into its space.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Ice (Maker) Age ...

Mine is bigger than yours, and I have pictures to prove it ... ;-)

I finally reassembled the ice maker today, and hooked up most of its connections (water supply, ice maker drain, ice bin drain, condensate drain, etc.).

The ice maker is big, almost half the size of a residential fridge. There is good reason for it, restaurants use a lot of ice, not just for water or soft drinks, but also for cooking.

Ours comes in three major pieces. The ice maker and ice bin units (as seen below) ...

... and the condenser unit, which with our model is installed remotely from the other two.

I still need to get new coolant lines, because the ones that came with the unit are too short.


Monday, April 12, 2010

No Whitty Title ...

I am tired today, and mentally completely exhausted. Not that I did much, I was largely running around, finding material that would help me hook up the ice maker (I'll take a picture tomorrow, because it will finally happen). During these run-around trip I often feel like I have completely off-the-charts ideas on how to solve things, because whatever I conceive doesn't exist, or it doesn't exist in the way I need it (like a hydra with one head, but multiple tails). And these shopping failures are wearing me out, they ruin a day before it even started.

I spent all of this morning going from one store to the next, not finding anything. Although I have to admit, it helped me come up with a solution for my problem. There are many ways to skin a cat, but I always try to come up with an elegant and practical solution, and that's where I usually get into trouble.

OK, none of this makes sense, or sounds fascinating or interesting, but as I said, I am tired today. More and better blogging tomorrow. Maybe ...


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Little Things ...

Sometimes a whole day passes by, you're busy every minute, but it doesn't seem like you have accomplished anything. Today wasn't such a day, but I would have loved to get more done.

Let's see:

Installed pendent light above bar: Check!

Install sink behind bar: Check! Something's still leaking: Open trouble ticket.

Follow up on a new obsession (straw bale gardening): Check!

Take a picture of one of my hop plants: Check!

Lots of action, but it could have been more.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Cold Beer!!! Cold Beer!!! ...

After I sealed the tile floor behind the bar, it was time to move in some heavy equipment, notably the bottle cooler (one of two).

I had hoped to be done behind the bar by the end of today, but it wasn't meant to be. It was one of those days where my mind stepped up to the edge and looked down into the abyss. These days happen, but they pass as well. Tomorrow is another day.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mis-En-Place ...

The secret to churning out the food for a 100 seat restaurant is an efficient kitchen layout. So E! was shuffling tables and racks between the kitchen and the dish station, where all the food preparation and finishing happens. And after she was pleased, it was time to move in the big guns, er, pots and pans.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Happened Today ...

Work resumed today, and it was tiling again, finishing up where I left off on Monday. I got all the tile up, and tomorrow I'll grout them, Friday is sealing the grout on the menu, and then it's time to roll in the equipment.

I bugged out of work early today, meaning 5pm, because I wanted to put some of the shrubs into the ground. I got a whole row done.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

All Liquor, All Day ...

Let's talk booze, people, alcohol, undiluted, 100% pure, C2H5OH, the good stuff. Can you handle it? Here we go.

This morning I picked up a blueish paper, which we have to post visibly on premise. Yes, folks, we officially have our LIQUOR LICENSE!!!

If that's enough booze for you already, I'm going to have to cut you off from the rest of this post, which is what the second half of our day was all about. E! and I attended a class about alcohol service, legal implications and responsibilities, and how to deal with tough situations (like having to cut off a customer).

This class isn't required, but insurance companies like them (and it helps lower our premium). Aside from that, it was useful information we learned, and we will require our wait staff to take (or have taken) a similar course, if only to avoid the "I didn't know" defense.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Our New Favorite Auction ...

It's Easter Monday, and I haven't posted for two days. Well, we were busy, and we spent a lot of time with family, so there was no time for blogging.

Saturday was an exciting and fun day. We discovered our new favorite auction, a tree and shrub auction at the Manza Family Farm. We went because we needed some landscaping for the Biergarten.

The great thing about this auction is, that aside from the items marked for auction, you can always suggest unmarked items to be auctioned off, which is how my honey got herself a twisted snow fountain cherry tree ...

... and here it is, already installed, pardon, planted.

We got a nice spread of shrubs (hollies, inkberries, rhododendrons, boxwoods), which we'll plant along the retaining wall around the Biergarten.

Back to the real work, tiling the floor behind the bar (always smile for the camera).

As we were out this morning, I didn't get to finish the whole floor, but there's always tomorrow, or any other day that ends in Y ... ;-)


Friday, April 2, 2010

Wait Station In A Day ...

I promised you changes yesterday, and here they are. Notice the new wall cabinets, shorter shelf above the pass (I installed the longer white one on the other side of the pass, you'll see).

Meanwhile, E! was busy prepping the oak countertops (in a commercial kitchen the rules are a lot different, especially in food prep areas, where wood has to be sealed properly).

On with the countertops (they're not installed yet, as we may reconfigure yet again, but that's another story), and you have a wait station.

More installations in the kitchen, a hand sink, a paper towel holder, and a first aid cabinet (all required by the health department), and above all, the long white shelf.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Going To Sweden ...

Aside from fond memories of exciting family vacations, and our neighbor Linda (of Maple Ave Gazette fame), the next-best thing to Sweden is IKEA (technically it's a Dutch company, due to the financial web of trusts, foundations, and companies, most likely to minimize the tax burden, but who cares about these things).

Anyhow, we went to Sweden today. The reason is the furnishing of the wait station, more precisely, the completion thereof.

After E! had sealed the floor, we started carrying some of the furniture back into the wait station. Actually, it is only one, and it looks lonely, but it'll change tomorrow, you'll see.