Have you ever seen a Robertson screw? It's an obscure type of screw drive type used mainly in Canada; it's a square. Do you have any Robertson bits for your drill? Me neither. Which is why I had to use my multidriver (one of those hardware store screwdrivers with about 16 bits onboard) to turn out these ENDLESS screws to remove the bathroom fixtures for priming.
Our color scheme is also getting firmed up. We've abandoned burgundy because it was overwhelming the room with large amounts of trim. Instead, we've settled on a smokey blue. Introducing a cool color into a warm palette may be counter-intuitive (to those with absolutely no vision!) but, it looks just swell. It pops without adding more richness, in a stone, slate sorta way. I really love this color.
Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Today was yet another day of detail sanding. The good news is that we got down some paint as well. The indian ink and oak cask go great with the slate blue accents. We've set the back room as sort of a model, it's nearly finished and has given us the inspiration to continue this furious schedule.
After work, we checked out the Mexican restaurant in town. Really good. I hadn't really considered it competition before, but good food at a good price is always competition. Nice girl running the place- cooking, serving, and cleaning.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The first thing a patron sees upon entering the tavern is the staircase. We've spent more time stripping and sanding this staircase than any other single item. Fortunately, it turned out to be wonderful black walnut (I think) under all of that paint, which we've rubbed down with linseed oil, and it's a beauty. Next comes lacquering, something I've never done, which is why I know it will
1) be easy
2) come out perfect on my first try
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Renovation work is grueling. We've put in 10-12 hours per day getting Barley and Hops in shape.
In its former glory, Barley and Hops tavern was a quaint bistro known as Pignoli. Very heavy texturework adorned every wall, and most of the wonderful cedar and redwood was covered in many layers of paint, from the various establishments which have inhabited the restaurant previously.
We've decided to sand down the texture using my (new) collection of power-sanders, ranging from finishers, to my big-ole skil belt sander. This task has (mercifully) come to its conclusion, as has the even more arduous one -- stripping the multiple layers of paint off the gorgeous wood staircase, doorframes, and beamwork. This caused a lot of cleanup work (days' worth) and we are now finishing the sandwork on the wood, so that we can oil and laquer it. We've also finished the mudwork (joint compound) on the walls for a much simpler and more tavern-y texture.
We've chosen a very pub pallate of "indian ink" for the wainscoting, and "oak cask" for the walls, to give a warm, inviting feeling. There may also be burgundy accents.
With the dust settled, I can finally put down the very heavy belt sander (lifted skyward with one hand, like atlas on a small scale) and respirator (don't want whitelung) for the simpler dremel for the finish work.
Still left to do, renovation-wise:
Lacquer and basecoat for the wood
Primer and paint for the walls
Re-covering the banquette; unfortunate, but necessary
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
I've learned, through grueling research, that dining out involves dining. This has lead me to further research, and importantly, conclusions.
First and foremost, we've eaten at a lot of restaurants to see what it is that works; why we are drawn back like Pavlovian subjects, salivating at the mere thought of the perfect hot wings (The Sweet Spot, Santa Rosa), the perfect burger (The Counter, Menlo Park), and the perfect beer to accompany the perfect meal.
It's astonishing how much bad food there is out there. Ranging from pre-packaged microwavable atrocities, to pseudo-haute cuisine which cruelly distorts a comfort favorite with silly embellishments, overly technical cooking and plating.
There is nothing inherently wrong with experimental and efficient cooking. The problems arise when a chef complicates for the sake of complication, or sacrafices quality for laziness.
Great tavern food is:
1. Whenever possible, grown locally and organically, with love and care.
2. Balanced in flavor, in texture, and in presentation.
3. A great value.
4. Different seasonally, weekly, and at times daily, depending on what is fresh and delicious.
It costs exactly 3,527,831.27 to start a restaurant properly. Not having the requisite funding, we've started one improperly.
The inevitable response to "we're opening a restaurant" is "oh, you're crazy, as all restaurants inevitably fail without the requisite 3,527,831.27 ". Interestingly, this anathema; this pox on all restaurants seems only to exist with respect to restaurants which are no longer opened.
Is it the food? The atmosphere? Is it the "Location, Location, Location"? What we've done to mitigate the trials of new restaurant ownership is many-fold, which I've summarized in my brain, in order to blog on them in my upcoming miniseries: "Stuff to do, and not to do, when starting the perfect Tavern in Occidental, CA".
Sebastopol, CA is a quaint city in Sonoma county, an hour north of San Francisco. It ranges from posh to quaint, though everything is ensconsed in bohemian earthiness, which is somewhat foreign to me.
Occidental, California is not a city. It's neither town nor village. It's a Census Designated Place, or CDP. A CDP is a community which is both small and unincorporated, and is therefore managed by the county, not by any local government. It's about 8 miles from Sebastopol, in the middle of nowhere.
I live with my wife and two kittens in Sebastopol.
We are opening a tavern in Occidental.