Monday, May 31, 2010

We Are Open!!! ...

Dear Readers,

we are open for two days now, and let me tell you, it's exhilarating. The days are long and the nights are short, which is why I haven't blogged for the last two days. It is 1am, and I am really tired, but I hope I will be able to report to you tomorrow how things went this weekend.

Stay tuned ...


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Staff Meeting ...

We had all of our staff in today, to go over everything, and try all the food and beer. I think we have great staff. Granted, we'll see tomorrow, but I feel confident they'll work well together.

The beer hall, waiting for customers.

The Gunk Haus logo as parking sign.

It's 1am and I am really tired. E! is still in the kitchen. We haven't found a line cook yet, so she has to step up her game tremendously to fill this void; as they say: The show must go on.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Call Me ...

I just wanted to post real quick that we are extremely busy right now, and therefore I won't read, and thus respond to, email or any other form of electronic communication. If you need to get in touch with us, please call 845-883-0866.

Thank you.


The Menu ...

I have been asked a few times already, so here it is, the menu (for this weekend):

Haus Burger
Local grass-fed 8 oz burger on haus-made pretzel bun, with local baby salad greens

Curry Wurst
Smoked spicy beef sausage with haus-made curry-catsup on a pretzel bun, with local baby salad greens

Portobella Paprikash (vegetarian)
Grilled portobella marinated in spicy Hungarian paprika sauce, served on pretzel bun, with local baby salad greens, picked beets, and cooling haus-made blue cheese dill dressing

Weiss wurst
Fresh pork sausage softly seasoned, with a sweet mustard potato salad and asparagus

Elia's Famous Hot Dogs
A double-sized dog on our haus-made pretzel bun

Fresh hand-cut Fries

It is 1am, the Dirkster is tired, but I want to thank Heidi of Hi-Ho Market in Gardiner for spending her after-hours at Gunk Haus, helping out with all these little things that need to be done.

We also had our first employee here today, Ryan, our daytime dish washer, who simply went berserk cleaning the beer hall. He is great, he works independently, he's thorough, and in general just pleasant to work with.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Taking Reservations ...

Here is our game plan:

We will throw our doors open Saturday, May 29, all comers taken. We'll be open Saturday through Monday (Memorial Day) at our regular hours (11am - 11pm Sat, 11am - 10pm Sun and Mon). We are closed on Tuesday. Wednesday June 2nd through Monday June 7th, we'll be open for dinner and by reservation only. And starting on Wednesday June 9th we'll be open on our regular schedule (11am - 10pm, Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu; 11am - 11pm, Fri, Sat; we're closed on Tuesdays).

We will only have four items on the menu for Memorial Day weekend, and a limited beer selection (I just haven't had time to setup the walk-in cooler, and the tap system). Starting next week, we will slowly add menu items, and take time to train the staff, and after that we are in business.

OK, folks, it's 12:30am, and I haven't brushed my teeth yet, so here's the day in pictures and few words:

One 12000 BTU portable A/C does not cool the bar room on the hottest of days. Note to self, need to get a second unit (we'll try to squeeze by with portable A/Cs until we have to money to install ductless A/C).

Dutch door to the wait station, newly installed, swings both ways.

Ice maker, charged and making ice (very important for a restaurant!).

Door to the wait station (from the beer hall), swings both ways.

Who wouldn't want to have these guys as there best friends?! Good food, good beer, good atmosphere (oh, and the mirror is what this picture is all about).


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stenography ...

The days are getting longer, so I will keep this post brief. It is 11am, and I am only starting to write this post. Too much is going on right now. I was up last night at around 3am cutting mirrors for the bathrooms (in the last seven days I haven't had a single night where I wasn't up for at least two hours).

I was largely straightening things up in the Stube (our private dining room), so we could move stuff there from the beer hall.

We received our last piece of major equipment for the time being, a counter-high refrigerator, with shelving, for the kitchen.

It is quite long and wide, which meant I had to make space to get through the bar and the wait station to get into the kitchen.

Jeff was by to put in the new solenoid valve (actually he was by for something else, but he did this instead).

Jack was by while I was out, so I don't know what to report, but I'm sure it was something good.

My afternoon was filled with talking to our accountants, shopping, and more shopping.

And now I'm seriously tired. Good night.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Counting Down The Days ...

Five more days, I think, and still so much to do, although most of it will be cleaning. But things are shaping up. I spent most of the day connecting all the phone lines in the bar and kitchen (or at least the ones we need for opening), as well as internet connection (the credit card machine uses the internet instead of a phone line to dial out).

Aside from that we hired a waitress, a bartender, and a second dishwasher.

E! was busy coordinating with staff regarding scheduling, talking to vendors, and I don't know what.

I woke up at 4am this morning and continued working on the Gunk Haus Facebook page, filling in opening hours, address and such, when I noticed that Google Maps does not produce the correct location for our address, off by a good two miles. Mapquest is off by maybe 100 feet, Yahoo Maps by about 500 feet. Unfortunately Facebook uses Google to provide a map link to the address.


Diaper Drive ...

I had meant to mention it for a while now, but always forget, so I'll make this its own post.

We would like Gunk Haus to be a family friendly restaurant, and therefore stock the essential baby changing items in one of the bathrooms (in case you Moms and Dads forgot them at home).

The tricky part here is that they don't sell diapers in a multi-size pack, covering size ranges from little munchkin, to starting-to-crawl munchkin, to can-reach-the-TV-remote munchkin, to ... you get the idea.

Therefore, if your munchkin moved up the diaper ladder, and you're stuck with a year's supply of diapers that don't fit anymore, drop a few (five or so) off at Gunk Haus, so we can help out other Moms and Dads in need.

Thank you.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Overspray ...

We are blessed with a great neighborhood and great neighbors. They bring us cookies and muffins, they plow us out in the winter, and they spray-paint our table bases, which is what our neighbors James and Scott did today. It took them two hours start to finish what would have taken me an entire day to do with a brush.

And the Jack was back, finishing the banquette in the beer hall. I hate to brag, but this place is looking awesome.

We stopped by our friend Jerry's to have a look at the sign, which will adorn the building fairly soon.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh Solenoid Mio ...

Some days there is so much going on that throughout the day I have all these blog post titles going through my head (yes, I do think about what to write for the blog throughout the day). Today I was thinking about:
  • Oh Solenoid Mio (the winner)
  • In Through The Outdoor (the title of a Zep album, Led Zeppelin for those not in the know)
  • Taking Reservations (to be used soon)
  • Parade? What Parade?
My day started out a little after 2am. I had to use the bathroom, when I noticed that the water pressure wasn't particularly high. So I ventured into the basement and looked at my water distribution system.

There are the usual tasks and tests I perform, on of which is to drain some water from a drain valve past the solenoid valve (the black thingy in the upper right-hand corner in below picture). Normally, the water should be gushing out of that valve, but after an initial gush, it quickly died down to a trickle.

Aside from this there was some gurgling noise from the solenoid valve, which to me meant only one thing, the solenoid valve didn't let any water through, i.e. it must be broken. So I spent the next hour to read up on the solenoid valve, how it works and such (well, most time I spent finding information, which is scarce, at best), but at the end I had to admit to myself that we simply need to get a new one.

Now that I am looking at the picture below, and re-read what I just wrote, I realize that I should explain really what all these things are that you see. As we are a restaurant and we draw our water from a well (instead of municipal water supply) we are considered public water supply, and therefore have to treat the water to kill (potential) micro-organisms. The choices are either chlorine or UV light.

As chlorine makes the water taste like a swimming pool, we had opted for the UV light solution. In thew picture you see the UV lamp house in a four foot long steel tube through which the water passes. On top of the tube is a control unit, which measures the UV intensity. Connected to the control is an audible alarm and the solenoid valve. If the UV intensity drops below acceptable standards, the control turns on the alarms, and shuts the solenoid valve off, thereby cutting the water supply to the building.

All this means that we were pretty much out of water today. After two or three trips to Lowe's I found the right parts to solve this problem by installing a bypass from the pressure tank to past the solenoid valve. This is only a temporary solution, and we could not open with it. In fact, I believe the health department would shut us down immediately if we were open with this hack. For being Saturday, no supply houses were open, whom I'll call on Monday, and have a new solenoid valve shipped express, because we are determined to open next weekend, by hook or by crook.

We interviewed more prospective staff today, and hired a dishwasher on the spot (it is rare to find people who are just enthusiastic about taking on work most people would snub their noses at).

Our neighbor James stopped by to help us out with lighting. We are trying to use energy efficient light bulbs as much as possible. Unfortunately the light emitted by CFL light bulbs has a greenish hue (at least against the plaster on our walls). James brought by some color correcting foil, which we tried this evening. It definitely makes the light less green and warmer.

For dinner we tried the smoked sausage Mark Elia dropped off yesterday, and it was the bomb, and then we tried it with E!'s homemade curry ketchup, and it was the atomic bomb!!! It was quite the surprise when Mark and his wife Tony stopped by again this evening and dropped of boxes full of wine glasses (we had talked about it yesterday, that we were still in need of some). I cannot tell you how blessed E! and I feel by all the support we have had from the closer and larger community, friends and neighbors. I hope we will be able to give back one day.

And because so much happens right now, I totally forgot to mention that a few days ago our neighbor Butch Anson stopped by and asked to make a reservation, for Sunday, for after the parade. What parade?! That's when we learned that the town of Plattekill holds its annual Memorial Day Parade in one of its three hamlets, and this year it is in Clintondale, passing Gunk Haus just a block away. Seasoned restaurateurs would be happy about news like that, we, however, are scared as hell. More over, we already have reservations for 16 for Sunday. Gosh, this is really happening!!! PANIC!!!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Sleep Is Overrated ...

I woke up at 4am this morning, again. Sleep is overrated, so we were told by our neighbor David (owner of The Bakery) the other day, and he's been in business long enough to know.

So here I am again at 3am, writing my daily blog post, trying to remember what happened, who came by, who called, what was said and decided, and there is a lot going on right now.

The day started out well, because in the morning Yancey of Whitecliff Winery stopped by. We tried six of their wines, and I have to say, there was not a single wine I didn't like. We will have two or three of their wines on the menu, including the Awosting White.

If I weren't so tired, I'd talk a little more about wine, why we decided to go with more expensive local than cheaper imported wine, which could lead to a discussion about how the price of a menu item is determined, and on and on, but as I intend to continue this blog after we are open (famous last words), there'll be plenty of time.

Slightly buzzed, it was time to go to work. Jack and I worked on the banquette in the beer hall, which is the last major construction we need to do. At the end of the day, the corners were nicely mitered and connected. By Sunday we should have it all done, and then it's cleanup time.

In the evening we had Tony and Mark Elia of Elia's Meat Market and Catering over. They brought by samples of Weisswurst and their all-beef smoked sausage, which will be the basis of our curry wurst dish. E! had worked for Mark for a while, back when she was still at the CIA, and he has always been very supportive and helpful.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Days Are Getting Longer ...

I should take more pictures, these days anyway, so I know what happened that day. We are busy, busy, busy.

This morning I remembered I wanted to take a shot of the building. The one I have on my profile still shows Gunk Haus buried in snow.

E! meanwhile headed out to get a new mixer, a little bigger than the KitchenAid she's been using thus far. It's a 20 quart Hobart, which is the largest table-top model there is (most likely because it is as heavy as myself, or worse).

With all the pretzels we're going to make, we needed a bigger mixer. Speaking of pretzels, one could think that a lot of people read this blog to skim off ideas for their restaurants, at least when you read this article in the New York Times today. A bunch of copy-cats is all I have to say.

I spent most day building feet, or legs, for the banquette in the beer hall ...

... and by 9pm we finished staining them. Yes, we were busy. Visits by vendors, beer deliveries that we didn't expect, and sent back, interviews with prospective staff, and I don't know what. As I said, I should take more pictures to jog my memory at the end of the day.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Much Going On ...

Gosh, where do I begin? Our place is starting to turn into a beehive. There is a constant traffic of vendors, and we interviewed more prospective staff.

All this of course is somewhat distracting as well. I had meant to do a lot more work today, but was constantly interrupted. Don't get me wrong, it was actually a very satisfying day, even if I didn't get done what I wanted to.

I have some good news, and in a second you'll find out why this is good news. We signed up with a credit card processor today. Why would this be good news? Well, only a week ago we were seriously considering opening on a cash basis only.

OH MY GOD!!!, I hear you say, DIDN'T YOU READ OUR COMMENTS?!?! Yes, I have, and I can assure you we don't make such decisions lightly, but we were completely frustrated and turned off by dealing with credit card processors, and their perceived secrecy of what fees we would have to pay, and how they come to be.

That was until we met Barbara yesterday, who gave us a clear insight on rates, who sets them, and who adds what to the final bill. So, we had her back today, and spilled our (financial) guts. As another positive result of this, we will almost immediately be able to offer gift cards (we already have had a few requests for something like that).

We also setup accounts with some of the liquor distributors, and, I am happy to report, placed some orders already, orders for beer of course ... ;-)

Speaking of beer, I will have a post soon about our initial beer selection, and a few other things about our ideas on opening up, and such, and I hope I won't be too tired to do so, because you, as my loyal readers, have all the right to be informed about these things.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Liquor Locker ....

Yesterday was so busy, that I forgot to mention that we got our silverware in. Well, so here you have it.

Today was an equally busy day, and I apologize upfront if I forget something. We are getting closer and closer to opening, which means more and more people stop by, vendors mostly, but also prospective staff.

The highlight, I want to say, was the visit by a credit card processing representative, and we got the lowdown of credit card processing. I make it sound bad, but it was great education, and we learned a lot.

We had prospective service staff over this evening for a group interview, which went pretty well.

For most of the day E! was on the phone finding a new dough mixer, because our six-quart KitchenAid crapped out. Now you wonder why we don't just get another KitchenAid. Well, the reason why it crapped out is because it is actually too small for what we need, so E! was looking for a commercial dough mixer, clocking in at 20 quarts, which is the largest counter-top mixer you can get.

I was busy in the basement building a liquor cage, which we are required to have to lock up the liquor.

So I framed out a nook in the basement, slapped some chicken-wire and recycled fencing on, installed a door, and called it Fort Knox.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Clean Bill Of Health ...

Ever since we had to put this humongous and enormously expensive new septic system in last year (not to speak of the loss of our rental property), I have had a strained relationship with the health department. I admit, I project the negative experience with one health department official onto all others, but why should I be nice and assume they will be, too.

Well, there are of course nice people working at the health department, and one of them came by today for our final inspection. We had stressed ourselves quite a bit the last two or so weeks to get things ready for this momentous event. We were all concerned about all these little things that restaurants commonly get dinged for, or things we thought might be an issue.

It turned out to be a non-event. We walked through everything, looked at everything, at least casually, and chit-chatted about god and the world, and afterward we got a certificate that showed that we are good (at least from a health perspective) to open a restaurant.

Now we really just have to finish this place, and open our doors. But there is still some work that needs to be done. I did some cleanup in the basement for liquor and dry goods storage. Tomorrow I'll build the liquor cage, hook up a chest freezer, and a few other things that will come up.

We interviewed a potential bar tender this evening, and tomorrow we'll have several people over for server positions, and then on Wednesday for line cook position.

It is getting exciting, this might actually happen ... :-)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Booth Fairy ...

As I announced yesterday, Jack and I worked on getting the booths done today, and aside from a little detail work, and a lot of cleaning, we got it all done, and boy, are they comfi ... :-)

We also started on the banquette on the western side of the beer hall. Hopefully by the end of this week it'll be done.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shelf Life ...

There haven't been a lot of pictures lately, so there will be a lot of pictures today.

This day was all about shelving, well, almost, because E! did a lot of cleaning (all for the health department).

Not a shelf, well, the door sill could count as one.

A little shelf for the hand soap.

Again, not a shelf, but the tables bases for the booth tables, which Jack and I will put together tomorrow (sorry, Julie, couldn't wait on this one).

Uh, a shelf again, though this one I installed a while back. It has yummy home-made preservatives on it (sorry, Jack, we still haven't cracked a single jar).

A spice shelf, rack, shelf, rack, d'oh!

Another shelf, rack, shelf, rack, uuuuuuuuuuuuuurgh!!!

A ... SHELF!!!

More shelves ... rack? Shelf and rack? Dangnabbit!!!

Definitely not a shelf. Maybe a hanger rack?


Friday, May 14, 2010

Where Did The Day Go? ...

The nice thing about blogging is that it makes me think about what I actually did that day, because sometimes the day just passes by me. Let's see if I can recall what I did today.

I hung some spice shelves in the kitchen. Then I am drawing a blank. I ordered refrigerant lines for the ice maker. Another blank. I meant to do touch up painting in the back of the house (i.e. kitchen, wait station, and dish station; that's restaurant lingo, you'll get used to it ... ;-), but ended up cleaning the dish washer and sink, which still had construction dust and dirt on them. More blanks. I dump to gallons of bleach down the well, because we need to shock the well again before we open (actually it's less about the well, but the water lines that have been installed since we shocked the well last time). I painted part of the dish station floor with concrete sealer, and then we went shopping.

I apologize for yesterday's abrupt ending of the blog. I meant to write more about what is going on and why we are so bouncy in our plans and all that good stuff, but I barely managed to keep my eyes open, and simply published the post as is, put the computer aside and fell asleep.

More tomorrow, more excitement hopefully, more energy to tell you about the excitement.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Now Hiring ...

Well, it had to happen some day: we started hiring people. We already had plenty of response to our job posting on Craig's List, but if you know someone who is looking for a position in the food service industry, point them our way (our contact information can be found on the left-hand side), or better yet point them to the Craig's List posting first, so they know what we are looking for, and we don't have to explain it a gazillion times.

If you read the job posting you may have learned some news, which I haven't shared with you yet: We are planning to open by Memorial Day weekend. Our first day open would be Saturday. We'd be open Saturday through Monday, and closed on Tuesday (we decided to make Tuesday the day we're closed instead of Monday, because too many holidays fall on a Monday, and we don't want to confuse people, by being open on some Mondays, and not on others). After that weekend, we'd be open for dinner and by reservation only for a week.

So, what's this all about? Let's face it, we have been working on Gunk Haus for two and a half years now, it's time we open up. We aren't exactly ready for this, but we're ready enough: At some point you just have to jump into the water, and start swimming.

We decided that Memorial Day weekend would be a great time to open up. The scary part is that we will simply swing open the doors and take any comers. As you may imagine this can be quite stressful, as there is the potential for being overrun. In order to make this a positive experience for everyone, the menu for that weekend will be rather limited to only a few items, so the work load on the kitchen staff is more predictable.

The beer list will also be limited, because I won't have the time to setup the draft system (installing the walk-in beer cooler, installing the beer lines, etc.).

OK, I am falling asleep, therefore a quick tour of what happened today. Jack stopped by and dropped off the metal sign for the south-east corner.

E! and I were cleaning, caulking, and a few other boring which I can't think of right now. Off to lalaland for the Dirkster.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thousand Piece Puzzle ...

Once again, dear readers, you have answered the call, and provided your input on another hot topic. Although I usually don't expect any new revelations, shoe-napkins aside, your answers provide us with a sentiment and level of tolerance regarding certain topics, and they influence our decisions, and we do not make these decisions lightly. We constantly have to weigh cost and benefit, and your answers help us tip the scale in one or the other direction.

Today was E!'s day to do dishes. In your household this may sound like punishment, at Gunk Haus it means fun (we love our dishwasher). We should have people pay us to work as dishwasher.

We are gearing up for the final (pre-opening) inspection by the health department this coming Monday, so there are a thousand little things to do.

I hooked up the coffeemaker and ice maker today. Both have a direct water connection, i.e. they are constantly supplied with water (as opposed to our espresso maker, which is a pour-over model). Because of that they have to have a back flow preventer inserted in the water feed, which keeps water from being siphoned back into the water pipes, and potentially contaminating them.

The problem with all this is that these are not common plumbing problems. As the connections of your toilet, faucet, or ice maker (in the fridge) are very common, you can go to your local hardware store, and buy the one piece that makes it happen.

Not in this case. I literally spent hours at Lowe's trying to come up with a solution, which doesn't use twenty or so parts to hook up the coffee maker or ice maker. Not only does each additional piece add cost, but it also adds a point of failure. Anyhow, I finally got it done today, and that's what matters.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Paper Or Cloth ...

E! and I were sitting at the dinner table discussing what napkins to use, paper or cloth. So, my dear readers, what is your napkin preference, paper or cloth?

We went out and spent a lot of money, again. Mostly things to make the health department happy, and then things to connect the things that make the health department happy to the things that make us happy, like a refrigerator-sized ice maker.

One of the things that make me happy is our dishwasher. I spent about two hours today doing dishes, just the bare essentials (more glasses are on the bar) ... ;-)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Award-Winning Gunk Haus Art ...

Last Friday our friend Greta dropped off a copy of a picture she had taken for a class at Dutchess Community College. It is an awesome shot of our dish station door. Needless to say, it was picked as number one out of 150 pictures. Thanks Greta ... :-)


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bend It Like Beckham ...

Remember the other day, when I got a stainless steel shelf from our local metal scrapper, in exchange for a dinner. Well, yesterday Jack swung by and cut it in half for me - he does a lot of metal work, and bronze casting, so he has all the tools and experience.

Today I put the finishing touches on it, making a few short cuts, bending a lip ...

... and finally installing it in its final resting place between the dish sink and the dishwasher.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Strudel, Not Streudel ...

I have noticed for a while now, that many people refer to filled puff pastry as streudel. I feel the need to put my professor hat on, and tell you that it is called Strudel (without the first 'e'). The confusion may stem from another German word, Streusel, which is a dryish mixture of flour, sugar, and butter, that is crumbled on top of certain cakes before baking.

Anyhow, yesterday we had our neighbors Julie and Jody (of Little Dog Orchard) over for dinner, and yes, we had strudel, filled with pork and veggies. It was yummy, as always. In addition to food, we had them taste through a lineup of beers, which we had taken into consideration for the opening beer menu.

Today was almost identical, except the orchard owners were Billiam and René of Liberty View Farm, the strudel contained salmon wrapped in herbs, and the dessert was a beer float inspired by the black forest cake (thanks, Leslie, for putting that bug in our ears ... ;-).

Billiam casually brought along friends, a couple and their daughter, and I should have gotten a clue from the stack of edible Hudson Valley, a quarterly magazine about foods in the Hudson Valley, which they had left on our bar, because Helen is its associate publisher. Urgh, real foodies!!!

Anyhow, everybody seemed to have a good time, food and drink were well received, especially E!'s chocolate-filled pretzels. So much indeed, that an impromptu naming discussion ensued, finally settling on Schatzi.

How many Schatzis would you like for dessert?


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Man Vs. Machine ...

Yesterday I finally received a part for the dish washer that I had been waiting for, and this morning I installed it. And then it was time to power it up, and lo and behold, it didn't work!

Well, the power turned on, and it started doing things, but the display on the dishwasher kept telling me to close the hood, it IS closed, stupid machine.

I was frustrated, and already had visions of shedding over several hundreds of dollars to have a technician look at it, but I kept my cool. In a commercial dishwasher (at least the ones I've seen so far) the open / closed status of the hood is indicated by a magnetic switch.

So I located the magnet and switch, and didn't you know, the switch wasn't mounted properly, which kept the magnet from triggering it. That's an easy one.

Fix it, try again, and ... Eureka!!! Within ten minutes we had done all our dishes, plus additional plates, and glasses, which we had wanted to wash for a while now.

The whole dishwasher thingy kept me busy the entire morning (though I had hoped to get it done quicker), and so I got a late start on what I had meant to focus on for the day, finishing the plastering in the ADA bathroom, which I did, but I didn't have time to clean up, and reinstall all the lights.

Today was the day to say goodbye to a piece of equipment, a 3-phase electric garland range. We had acquired it from a BOCES school on Long Island, at a time when copper prices were through the roof, and it would have cost us substantially more to connect it than we had bough it for.

After having stood around for a long time we had recently listed it on eBay, and today it was picked up.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Staffing Up ...

We haven't actually started hiring yet. There are many a reason: Once you have staff, you are responsible for people, there's lots of paperwork to be filled out, and kept, and filed, and money to be payed. In other words, it's a lot of work.

Nevertheless, we have had people stop by looking for work. We usually take their name and number, have a quick or longer chat about experience, the weather, and what-not.

Today we had a prospective cook come by, out of the blue. Wait staff are a dime a dozen, cooks not so much, they are the ones who actually have to deliver on the promise of good food. Subsequently, the conversation took quite long.

What is it we are looking for in our staff? Obviously, they have to be able to fulfill their job, but personality is just as important. For one thing they have to be compatible with us (because we work with them on a daily basis), and our philosophy of the restaurant.

We prefer hiring people full-time. As I mentioned before, having staff is work, but having staff change constantly is even more work. Additionally, full-time staff allows us to slowly transfer responsibilities. At some point we would like to step back a little, if only to regain a little bit of life outside Gunk Haus, but for this you need staff you can trust, and full-time staff is more likely to fit that mold.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Plaster Recipe ...

Today I will share with you, my dear readers, a secret, a secret recipe, which you are welcome to replicate, if you so desire.

Granted, this post is a memo to myself, and intended to carve in stone (or bits and bytes) the recipe for the plaster mix we used throughout the house, just in case we lose the paper snippet on which it is inscribed right now.

Gunk Haus Plaster Mix:
  • 6 pints hydrated S lime
  • 6 pints USG Diamond Veneer Finish Plaster
  • 3 tablespoons Borax (for retarding; this gives you ample work time, maybe even too much)
  • 3 teaspoons pigment
  • 12 cups cold water
Mix pigment and Borax with a little hot water until it's dissolved, and add to the rest of the water. Sift in lime and mix. Sift in plaster and mix until you get a nice thick paste, which should hold its shape. This amount will cover somewhere upwards of 50 square feet.

Plastering was on the forefront again today. The ceiling in the main entrance was the only surface that hadn't been plastered yet.

But I didn't stop there. In case I never mentioned it: I am lazy. Shocking, I know, but that's how it is. So in the beginning of my plastering career I had tried to cut corners, speed things up, save some time, and so I didn't tape the seams in the ADA bathroom. Big surprise: after a some time the plaster started cracking at the seams. Shocking!!!

I had tried a quickfix, but it only made matters (look) worse. So right now I am replastering the ADA bathroom.


Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Getting Crowded ...

The dish station is slowly filling with equipment, racks, and shelves. The dish station, hence its name, is the center of ware-washing, but it will also be used for food preparation, for which we had to put in a separate sink.

The health department loves sinks, the more the better. Let's see: You need a two-bay or three-bay sink for ware-washing (depending on whether you have a sanitizing dish washing machine or not), a mop sink (spills and subsequent mopping happen), a hand sink (for washing your hands; it is normally motion activated, because your hands may have touched raw meat or other greasy stuff, which you don't want to leave all over a faucet handle), a prep sink (for washing vegetables, or any other kind of food, which for obvious reasons you don't want to do in the mop sink), and ... oh, I think this is it.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

More Stuff ...

Sometimes it feels like restaurateurs are vultures, at least when you go to a restaurant auction, or you go to someone's self-storage to pick through what you need (of all the things someone else doesn't need anymore).

So we went out today and got more equipment, tables, chairs, a freezer, and all the little stuff we need. We bought them from a former pizzeria franchisee (and now our place somehow smells like a pizzeria).

Buying someone's leftovers from what used to be their livelihood is always a little sad, because you know they failed at what you are trying to do. Life is tough, in the restaurant business anyway.