wine office We will be working for wine from here on out (everyone except Hudson or Alex).

We did it, we have been approved to sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption off-premises.  That means no glasses of wine with your lunch and no bottles upstairs.

It does mean that we are having our first wine tasting this Saturday from 2-4 pm!!  We will be trying three wines (not sure which ones yet) and two cheeses!  Very exciting.

A few customers have expressed concern about where the wine will physically fit in the store.  Don’t worry!  The layout of the store is like a puzzle, I will contract and relocate other things to find space for the wine.  The wine is not going to take over the store, we are a deli that will now carry wine.

I also want to mention that at the liquor board meeting two hearings preceeded ours and both were for violations.  DJ and I watched two local stores receive fines and suspensions for selling alcohol to the same underage cadet.  Most importantly, we got a look at the cadet!  He is two months shy of 21, at least 6 feet tall, clean cut andfairly responsisble looking.  But the law is the law and both stores sold him beer, one even LOOKED at his vertical (indicates that he is under 21) license and STILL sold him the beers.  The board was not happy that the cashier who made the mistake is still working at the store.  If you don’t ask if your customer is 21 you can expect a $600 fine and a two week suspension of your license!  You can ask to pick which two weeks to serve your sentence but the board will ultimately punish you when they please.  One of the store managers tried to pick her two weeks.  I thought that was a little bold…

To avoid any confusion and violations of our own three of our employees shuffled off yesterday to a Techniques of Alcohol Management class.  Currently 5 of the 7 employees are TAM certified and at least one will be on premises during operating hours.

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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.

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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.

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 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.  

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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)

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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.  

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

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

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

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A tough spot in that cabinet was being worked out:

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This was added:

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

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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:

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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!

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:

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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]

Before we open, we need to have a sign made for the building (this is just one of many things that need to happen before we open but that’s not a fun blog entry).  We would love to have a huge sign that people can read from down the block.  It would be really great if we had a sign that was big enough to give people a chance to re-read it a couple of times and realize that it says “PIAZZA” not “PIZZA”.  However, there is a law in Easton against this kind of sign and we must obey the law.  

Easton requires that our sign must be less than or equal in area to the width of the store.  There was some misunderstanding on my part for a good three or so weeks about this, I thought that the sign couldn’t be taller in inches than the store was wide.  I’m just glad that’s all cleared up now because now we realize that the sign can be any shape, unconstrained by height!  It was pretty silly that I thought they meant height…  

This is a photoshop-ed image of our store with a brand new sign!

The latest snag in our building process concerns the grease trap.  Until this week I have never heard of a grease trap.  The Bedford Cheese Shop didn’t have one.  I don’t think.  No one ever talked about having to clean one or check on one or fixing one so we must not have had one because everything else broke at least once.  

In any case, our architect included one in our plans because he knows about these things.  On Tuesday I got a call from Amy who is reviewing our plans at the County Office of Environmental Health about item P-10, the grease trap.  She informed me that we needed to alert Mr. Talbot Bone that we planned to install a grease trap in our store because he will know which type we need to get.  Mr. Bone works for the Easton’s public wastewater facility and so our waste will be passing through his system.  This morning I learned that Mr. Bone also does consulting with the Town Building Inspector and he is the final authority on whether or not our grease trap is approved.  

Phew, okay, so what I needed to find out was what he was looking for but because I don’t know anything about grease traps, this was confusing.  He told me “20 minute retention time” and “baffles” but those specifications kind of went in one ear and out the other.  He told me to ask my plumber but I don’t know who my plumber is.  My restaurant equipment dealer, Sandy Wyatt came to the rescue.  She pulled up a GRD, that’s a grease recovery device, and this morning, after figuring out that Amy isn’t the one who gives the ultimate thumbs up, I sent the specs over to Talbot who said:

 

Needless to say, starting a business requires a lot of permits.  In the end, the approval feels like validation from the community.  In the interim, it is confusing and annoying.  I had a hard time figuring out exactly which forms we needed to complete and I am still running into trouble with the forms I have completed.  There are websites that list forms state by state but they are general lists and they don’t include the town permits.  Luckily everyone I ran into was so nice that I just asked them a whole lot of questions to figure stuff out.  Just in case: here is the website of the Small Business Administration for permits and licenses.

We need/ed:

Federal Employer Identification Number

DUNS number

County Business License (obtained at the County Courthouse) and maybe $50? I can’t remember now.

Commercial Building Permit (obtained at the Town Office) which was submitted along with 2 sets of plans with a state architect’s official seal and $200.  If we were planning to change the exterior of the building we would need to submit an additional 2 sets of plans.  They’re looking for town issues, are you going to make the town ugly, is there handicap access, are there enough bathrooms, are all your pipes in the right places, etc. 

County Department of Environmental Health approval which was submitted along with one set of plans, a menu, a HACCP analysis based on the menu and $150.  They look at the plans and make sure all the equipment is NSF certified and make sure you have the right amount of sinks in the right amount of places and that your cabinets and ceilings don’t have perforations in them where bugs could hide.  

State Fire Marshall’s approval, he needed one set of plans.  Makes sure that there are two exits and that there are either sprinklers (there are none) or that the building was built before those laws were passed.  That’s us.  Knock on wood for no fires.

 

we also were required to get Worker’s Compensation Insurnace

and Unemployment Insurance

we are still waiting for a State Trader’s License which should come with our State Tax Registration.  This was supposed to be applied for by our payroll company representative but he hasn’t done it yet…