Ah, another loose end wrapped up.  Our hanging lights have been installed.  Believe it or not, these little guys cause a lot of heartaches; mom didn’t like them, they were expensive, everyone thought that someone else had ordered them, and then they took 6 weeks to fabricate so we had to open without them.  But here they are and they work beautifully.  They illuminate the the front of our deli case, the top of the case and the scale because each light can be pointed in any direction.  Hugh picked them out from the 3G company.





Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  No, let’s say that when you need things to go smoothly, crazy things happen.  Yesterday I arrived at the store to find Mike Gardner, his crew, and the shopping center maintenance crew all running around under this waterfall that had formed in our storage room.  Everyone was wet along with everything in that room, the floor in the next room and the ceiling in the room below.  It was bad.  Today this first picture makes it seem better than I remember.  My memory includes a trash can full of dirty water and soggy drywall, waiting in the dark for 40 minutes while Ryan from DC Electric dried each breaker on the electric panel, and carrying lots of wet cardboard.  It was not what I wanted to do that morning.  I immediately set to work trying to rescue products from their soggy boxes and, luckily, almost everything was still dry inside.


The drain pipe from the roof broke at a joint right behind our storage room walls.  What’s terrible is that we knew about the leak on Monday and didn’t fix it.  It formed a bubble of water underneath the paint on the wall near the ceiling . I moved the boxes away from that immediate area but they remained in the same room.  When it started raining on Wednesday night I didn’t think for a second about that bubble on the wall.  That night of heavy rain just blew open the connection between two pieces of pipe and the water began to soak our ceiling.  The water pooled on top of the ceiling long enough to trickle down the outside of the walls before dissolving a hole in the center.  This picture is from outside the storage room.


 Actually, most of the water drained straight down our back wall into the basement tenant’s space.  I didn’t go down there but I know it must have been a disaster zone.  

We had a pretty bad situation ourselves, the hole from the first picture is just the part that collapsed on its own, the whole ceiling in the storage room was wet.  The panels were removed yesterday and this morning new dry wall panels were installed and patched.  

As of yesterday morning our final building inspection was scheduled for that afternoon making this bump in the road seem like a road block!  In order to receive our certificate of occupancy we were supposed to prove that construction has finished and here we are with a newly installed ceiling, joints barely patched, floorboards that need replacing and a couple other recently patched holes.  



We had to reschedule the final inspection for this afternoon and WE PASSED!  The Town office was very understanding and they treated the leak and its repairs as an incident separate from our renovation of the space.  Even though the light fixture in the storage room had to be removed leaving just the cables dangling…  it will be repaired on Monday!  We are fit for business!  Actually, I have a lot of work to do before we are really ready to open the doors.  It is all up to me now, no more excuses about the construction!


Let’s review some other hiccups from the last couple weeks:


both True freezers arrived broken (repaired Monday and today under warranty)

the poinsettias that we bought for decoration stained the marble counters

the other marble counter got scratched

the grease trap was misbehaving and flooded the whole prep room

the slicer didn’t fit on the countertops

the Southern case doesn’t have a real work surface

we didn’t pull enough cables for internet and phone in the right places to make a good network


Some good things from the last couple weeks:


the hanging lights arrived today (they took ~4 weeks)

the building inspector was understanding about our leak situation

I found a source for parmesan knives

the food arrived ok

the internet will work

the POS system seems easy to understand (I hope I don’t jinx it) 

we will open before Christmas (unless the whole roof comes crashing down on us)


What a difference a day makes!  So much happened yesterday, Eastern Millwork was here all day with a full crew.  SolidTops marble finishers were also here installing the backsplashes inside the cabinets and the top for the register area.  


The shelf that surrounds the landing is in place and connects exactly with the cabinets:


The shelves for underneath the stairs were installed, fitting perfectly into that cubby:


On this set of cabinets the doors were being fixed to make room for one more run of shelves:


A tough spot in that cabinet was being worked out:


This was added:


We needed to add railings in the stairwell that were at the correct height, the fire marshall insists on this:



Upstairs, the eat at counter framework was set in place.  I think that SolidTops is due back today (well, I hope) to install the marble that rests on the supports:


You can see there is a channel for the marble to fit into but it shouldn’t go all the way to the left wall, that needs to be filled in by drywall.  Also, I left a gap between the left wall and the end of the counter top to prevent spills form hitting the wall directly but that decision was based on the assumption that there was a wooden backsplash all the way around the countertop…I need to work this out.

There is work left to do!


Things are coming together, cabinets are fitting with marble tops and the tile floors, the trim is snug with the walls, the construction is wrapping up.  I brought in all the equipment over a week ago but I left it in boxes because there was still a lot of dust around and work wasn’t really done.  I didn’t want to damage anything.  After we cleaned up at the end of last week I unwrapped the scales, the panini presses and the slicers.  I was worried about there being enough electrical outlets in all the cubbies, but they’re all there, I worried that the refrigerators wouldn’t fit into their inlets but they do, everything worked out except for the slicers.  Somehow they were overlooked!  Really, it is my fault, but they just don’t fit on the counters!  They are medium-duty scales, 1/2 HP, 12″ blade but their bases are slightly big for their class.  Originally I picked Berkel slicers with the same power profile and those were the specs I submitted to Hugh Boyd, our architect.  Hugh checked the size of those and knew that they would fit on 24″ counters.  For whatever reason, I decided to switch to the Univex brand.  I did not realize how tight that counter space is or how big the slicer was so I didn’t bother to check either measurement.  Stupid!!  Another lesson learned.  

behindcounter2You can see that we’re off by about an inch and a half.  The best solution so far is to silicone glue additional pieces of marble to the top of that undercounter refrigerator (which sticks out from the cabinets) so that it equals the height of the existing counter and have the new marble butt up against the counter top as seamlessly as possible.  I’m already convincing myself that this is going to be better than the thing that was supposed to happen there, the marble was supposed to extend more right there so that it could cover that refrigerator.  This new idea gives the slicer more support!  I’m feeling much better about my mistake right now but not totally convinced.  I’ll feel better when I can see that the solution is really seamless and looks planned…to others.

dec4-08_big1In preparation for our electric and HVAC inspections this afternoon, we cleaned the store to make it look more complete.  It turned out to be a great idea, the store looks much better overall and areas that aren’t finished are more obvious.  For example, the cabinets on both walls are missing their top panels:


Luckily, the cabinets don’t have anything to do with electrical wiring or HVAC installation so we passed those inspections without any trouble.  [thanks to Ryan from DC Electric for posing in these pictures and wiring Piazza]


We are getting closer to being finished with construction, for comparison, this top photo was taken on November 18th.  None of the lights are installed, the floor is unfinished and the cabinets have been brought in, but they are not set in place.  Those bars coming off from the landing are going to support a long wooden shelf.


 The picture above was taken on November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving.  You can see that there is brown paper on the floor indicating that the tile has been installed, most of the cabinets are in place, and the lights have been installed.  All the equipment has arrived, the shiny thing on the back wall is actually a self-serve freezer and refrigerator.


Today, December 3rd part of the top cabinet on the left wall was installed.  We had to wait to install this set of shelves because there is a marble counter separating the bottom and top cabinets.  You’ll see.  


Here is another view from today, the marble tops have been set on the window cabinets and the track lights are being installed above.  


The track lights and the cabinets were a couple of good things from today but I had a bit of bad news, too.  I found out that there wasn’t enough marble at our fabricator in Easton to finish our upstairs bar, meaning I had to go up to Baltimore to pick a couple new slabs to match the ones we’re already using.  It was annoying but going to the stone yard is kind of cool:  


The space seems much bigger than the picture suggests, each of the slabs there is taller than me (although I’m not that tall) and there are a couple of grabby things that move the slabs around very slowly.  Walking among the stones is mildly perilous, it’s like being in a maze designed by Richard Serra, being surrounded by all these beautiful things that could crush you.  And they leave you there, unattended, and you have to find your way back out again.  Today I told the guy that even though I had been there before I wanted him to walk me to the White Venatino section so that he would remember that I was in there in case I got lost.  


Another cool thing about going to the stone yard is that you can look at their relief map of Tuscany.  It’s a good area to show in relief, it sure is bumpy!  



On Friday our two display deli cases arrived in Easton, they came in their own truck all the way from Tennessee.  They were custom built as one 12′ unit by the fantastic Southern Store Fixtures Company.  I specifically chose Southern for several reasons; they’re American, they make beautiful cases, and they’re easy to service.  Up in New York I worked with Arneg cases and there was always a problem– they were leaking water, they froze, and their supports inside broke.  Arneg is more sexy but Southern is better in my eyes (*Three year update:  not a problem with them ever!).

Getting the beauty off the delivery truck and into the store was a scary process to watch but the case is safe and sound now.  In the first picture, the case is being moved off the delivery truck on the right, onto a rollback tow truck.  This was done on a slope so the case moved off the delivery truck just fine, but was a little stubborn about stopping once it made it to the tow truck bed…

p1010378In this picture, the roll back tow truck is lowering its bed down in front of the store.  The two brick column supports were about one inch wider than the ramp!  Once the flat bed was lowered to the ground the case was rolled down.  The angle of the ramp was relatively steep compared to the length of the case so the back end of the case had to be lifted by hand to clear the ramp.  That was when we discovered that the dollys were not bolted to the case.  One guy was stuck holding up the case with his back while they others rolled the case forward a bit and repositioned the dolly!  That was frightening for everyone.  Now the case is safe and sound.  Stay tuned for the unveiling! p1010379

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