In TV programs from the '40s and '50s, there is often an antagonist in the form of an older individual which just doesn't get those darn kids. Often, they are addressed by their last name, preceded by the honorific "Old Man".
There is a product which has been used for decades to seal wood which must weather the outdoors. It is known as spar varnish. Now "spar" in this sense does not refer to feigned pugilistic intent, rather, it is the mast of a boat. I imagine that masts are fairly important, as entire boats are made of wood in need of varnish, yet it is the spar which the product is named for.
Roundabout though it may be, I'm getting at an important point. McCloskey is a brand of spar varnish, bearing the full label: McCloskey's Man-O-War Marine Spar Varnish. A man-o-war is a type of jellyfish from Portugal, so I'm not sure what it's doing moonlighting in varnish, but the name McCloskey is one of those old-timey names that amuses me endlessly. First, I instantly thought of Old Man McCloskey chasing that whippersnapper [insert old-timey kid name] from the candy shop.
Also, it'd be a great name for a sandwich. I imagine Jimmy Durante ordering one: "Make that a McCloskey on Rye, Mac- hold the pickles and make it snappy. hah-cha-cha."
In addition to applying McCloskey's Man-O-War Marine Spar Varnish to the outside bench/table things, I installed a 42-inch Samsung HD set on a motorized mount, and had DirecTV set me up, so that thirsty customers can watch the Sharks win while blowing the froth off a couple. I've always held that hockey goes best with a copper red ale, and some onion rings.
Moreover, we had our first meal at Barley and Hops. The first meal ever to be cooked and eaten at the tavern consisted of two pannini sandwiches (I calls 'em a McCloskey), some wierdly good organic snack bite thingies, and chips with salsa. It was eclecticly delicious, and the pannini press and convection oven work respectively like charms.
In other news, the high table stands have arrived, and the bar area is practically set up as it will be for service. The bar-height tables are great- they save space, and give diners an option to see the TV in the more casual bar area (as opposed to the black-tie formal dining we are planning for the rest of the restaurant).
A couple of days ago, the owner of the Inn at Occidental, Jerry, stopped by, and agreed to put our menu and entertainment schedule in their giant book of Occidental things to do. This is the same great place that my folks stayed at, and can't stop raving about. How many B+B suites out there have a private hot tube alcove, complete with Adirondack chairs? (Hint: it's 5) It's been great how everyone in town has stopped in to show their support. Every day, we meet someone new (which means by this time next week, we'll literally know everyone in town) wishing us well. It's uncanny and wonderful. Mr. McCloskey himself wouldn't have asked for a more welcoming place to live (with his jellyfish and boat masts).
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.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Epoxy resin, or "glaze coat" is this super heavy thick goop that they coat bars with, and embed things into other things (like photos into a table). We decided to use it on our tables which we did the copper finish on, in order to provide a bomb-proof finish to protect it from all of you messy eaters. Luckily, it cleans up with acetone. Unfortunately, it turns out that it's extraordinarily hard to work smooth over a large surface. You have to pour it on, and then spatula it smooth- sort of like frosting a cake, but only if you decided to use cold molasses mixed with honey to frost the cake with. Which might actually taste good.
Then you get to hit it with a MAPP torch to remove the bubbles. That part is fun.
Then they come out all wavy and crazy-like, and you aren't sure what to do, except curl into a fetal position and cry, because you've just spent days doing it.
Well, the solution is finally at hand. I sanded them down a bit to remove the waves, then went to finer grit to smooth the sanding and give it a nice satin finish. Then buff it out with a mix of oil and paste wax. The results will be posted later, as we have to get an orbital buffer to do the job properly. In any case, we are much happier with the new look, and can move on to more fun things, like finally removing the plastic from the floor, and having my 16 stools delivered, and having the POS terminals serviced, and the fire department in, and the gas turned on to the stoves, and...
So this weekend, my folks came up to check out the place. Dad had seen it in what I call "the before time", which will be funny to any Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) fans out there... so basically me. In the before time, the place had been left to its own devices for over a year, and was therefore filled with spiders and year old grease. Now, it's still plastic, but looking very nice (except the tables were still in wavy shiny mode, much to everyone's dismay).
We ate at Bistro Des Copains, a very cute little bistro in Occidental, and the only place in town we had yet to eat at. The owner is a really nice guy, and warmly welcomed us to town, (even though it's not a town, which you know if you read my blog, which you do). We had a nice dinner and some great wine, and then my folks (Mom, Dad, Gram) stayed at the Inn at Occidental, a cute B+B that is very convenient, very quaint, and has amazing rooms.
The other reason they came up is that dad is a blues musician and was playing at Biscuits and Blues, a great blues club in SF, with blues legend Philip Walker.
It was a great show, and they do have good food, but probably too expensive by double. Thing is, you can charge an arm and a leg for food and beer at a club when there is music, especially in the city. We won't be doing that. Occidental has made it very clear that they want great food at a good value, not city prices for country food.
While overnight in SF, we stayed at hotel Monaco. This is probably my favorite hotel on the planet. Every room is different and decorated with crazy stripes, huge round mirrors, and all sorts of other creative creativities. The best part is that they'll bring you a goldfish in a fishbowl, and take care of it. A little pet when you're away from home. Last time, our fish was Sparky. Sparky was a good fish- he used to go "blub" and then we'd talk about particle physics. This time, we got Fat. Yep, his name was Fat. He really isn't that fat of a fish, but I'm not an expert on fish naming conventions. I've also never been to a fish naming convention, but I imagine they are rather dull after the keynote speech.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Beer is my passion, but coffee earns a close second, and in the morning, it's my world. Today, our shmancy cappuccino machine was serviced. We had just ripped out the old kinky copper water lines, which are my bane, and installed braided stainless lines, which are rad to the max (because they don't kink when you pull out your icemaker). We also discovered that we have separate water filtration systems for the ice maker, the perk, and the bar sink, which is weird.
Anyhoo - the service guy dutifully serviced the espresso machine (please for the love of pie, don't be one of those people who say "expresso" it is eSpresso, it always has been espresso, and it always will be, so stop messing it up). He serviced the snark out of it. It's apparently a super-nice machine, which has neato features which allow me to program pour size, and it can do 4 double shots of espresso at the same time. And I can tell you first hand, that first espresso was just dynamite.
Now, a tavern might not usually have such a robust caffination solution, but since it's there, I shall offer a comprehensive coffee menu, because nothing goes with porter pecan pie like a cup of joe (except, perhaps, a glass of porter, but I digress).
In other news, I have to tell you about painting with hand-hammered finish paint. When you paint, or lacquer, or whatnot- one must use the proper solvent for cleanup. I have solvents galore. I have so many solvents, that I could pretty much dissolve anything. I could Forrest Gump about it: Acetone, Denatured Alcohol, Mineral Spirits, Turpentine, Toluene... the list goes on. But there was one product which I did not have on hand.
Xylol. Xylol is a type of Xylene. Xylene is a benzine derivative which makes me want to cry. I had never heard of Xylol or Xylene, so naturally I didn't have any on hand (though occassionally I stockpile things which I have no idea what they are).
I didn't know I needed the aforementioned Xylol, until I noticed that no solvent would remove this particular paint. So I RTFM (read the manual), and realized I needed ... you know. So we get the can home and open it... boy does it work. And wow- the fumes. They're intoxicating. Like for reals. Not only am I seeing pink elephants, but I'm also hallucinating because of the stuff. Let me just say that next time you're sitting around with your can of Xylol, open a window, or use a respirator, or install a laminar flow hood.
Lastly, we've also installed some really cool brass (looking) medallions around the light fixtures, a Tiffany-style chandelier, and new lighting fixture fans in the restrooms, which involved tearing up the ceiling, cutting the hard air ducting and attaching flexible air ducting to rout to the new (vastly better) fan system. Notice my bare hands on fiberglass insulation. Don't try this at home. I was, however, wearing a mask, so I'm still alive, albeit itchy.
The ceiling in the lady's restroom will probably be getting tin ceiling treatment, so pardon the hole in the shot of the fixture. Or don't pardon it, take it in and enjoy its holey goodness. Cheers for tonight, I'm getting some food, and a frosty Fat Tire.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
It was what we had been dreading. Sure, all of that sanding, painting, and polyurathaning was tedious -- but the kitchen...
The kitchen has not been occupied for a year, so it was upon us to clean the snark out of it. I want an impeccably clean kitchen - a kitchen so clean, that you could eat out of it (!) Step one was hiring a pressure wash crew to do the major crud-busting; the ovens, flue, etc. But today we got up on our matching ladders (yes really, we spend so much time in the air that we have matching ladders), and cleaned the ceiling, and cleaning a ceiling when there are deep fryers is no small chore. In fact, it's a hippopotamus-sized chore. In fact, if you were to go to ... wherever it is that hippos live (I imagine them in a hippodrome) , you'd find them blushing at the size of said chore.
So we did that all day. And the walls, and miles of stainless shelving, and other places what must be spotless (everything).
But let me hit rewind for a moment.
I have a friend in Santa Rosa, Paul, who owns the (outstandingly good) Toad in the Hole pub and music venue. It's a great little place where the beer distributors come to have a beer (and are great for a chat), where the bangers are smashing, and the peas are mushy. Paul has given me a lot of great advice, most of which I'll keep to myself, but I did find out about Cash & Carry. This is a store, or chain of stores, which has many of the things which food-service vendors will bring you for a markup of about 3-6 zillion percent. It's also a great place for consumers to get an entire turkey breast for 1.25 or so / lb, and a case of Snapple for around 80 cents / unit. Pretty cool -but the best part is that the various detergents and fry oil and the like is insanely reasonable compared to the going rates through vendors. In one fell swoop, Paul has saved me a great deal of $, savings which I will use to maintain a reasonably priced menu, which is no small feat!
They also have whole wheels of cheese, which is reason enough to warrant a visit anywhere.
It was an excruciatingly long day; we didn't leave until 8:30 at night. I think that tomorrow will be easier. Most of the cleaning is done, all of the painting and such is finished, so now, it's the fun stuff.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Talking about wood treatment is like talking politics. There are so many products, and every wood-be (see what I did there?) expert opines exuberantly. I had settled on lacquer (see my earlier post) mainly because of the extremely fast dry time. Without getting into the mundane specifics of it, I've jumped ship and swam out to polyurethane island, because the stuff goes on so easily, buffs out readily, and actually smells kinda good. For the outside wood, I'll be using spar varnish (the stuff they use on boats).
The detail work is endless. All of the little things that make the whole grand take time and patience, both of which I lack. Luckily, Mir is patient and has her tiny artist brushes out to cover up any flaws that her husband makes with his big paws.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We finally got a grasp on what all we have. In order to have the kitchen professionally pressure cleaned, we had to remove all of our dishes, hotel pans, and smaller equipment - which meant hauling it all upstairs. Having everything organized in one place finally lets us see what we've got, and what we need. One thing I can tell you, is that I don't need any oval plates. If you were thinking "hmmm- I bet Noah and Mir could really use some oval plates, and therefore will send them a few thousand" ... think again.
Also, the first beer ever to be drank at Barley and Hops Tavern is Lagunitas Pale Ale. It has nice grapefruity notes from what are probably expensive noble hops.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Apparently, even a nice print from
our wide format printer "Mr. Printums", was not quite visible enough to the casual passers-by. And honestly, what passer-by isn't casual. To rectify the situation, we had a banner printed up at Looks Good on Paper, a full service print shop in Sebastopol. They did a fantastic job. Now all who gaze upon the sunny yellow victorian shall know what the future will hold. When? Read the sign: Soon.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Ahhh the wonders of living in a
small town CDP. The very rough texture has made it impossible to cut a nice paint line where the wall meets the ceiling. We've therefore settled on crown molding. I do not currently own a compound miter saw, so I walked into Occidental Hardware, the best hardware store in all of Occidental. The owner's son checked out the place, and has agreed to do the work for me at a very fair price, and even haul the material up. They are going to get square stock and rout a fillet (a rounded concave corner) to make it look nice. In 15 minutes I had the idea, the measurements, the price and was ready to go- all without setting foot in my car. Try doing that with home depot.
Friday, May 02, 2008
At long last, the place is starting to look as it should. Primer now covers just about all of the previous paint, and about half the restaurant has been painted. The various detail work will take quite a while, and involves a lot of taping. The windows take about 45 minutes to tape off, and look like some sort of deranged connect-4 game. I'm convinced there is a special circle of hell where bad painters go, where they continuously tape off rough edges with cheap tape that doesn't stick. Also, I finally had a use for my 25 foot extension roller handle; painting the two-story high ceilings in a particular alcove of the restaurant was a snap with it.