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 comforting sight!  This morning I received our first delivery of refrigerated foods!  Everything looks and smells so good, it was comforting to work with food again.  Truth be told, I have been working indirectly with food for a couple months, and I have been (literally) surrounded by cases of odorless, shelf stable foods but I haven’t bothered to unpack them.


We received several types of salame, some speck, mortadella, pancetta, pepperoni, proscuitti, and mascarpone…just for starters!

When I quit my job working for someone else (the Bedford Cheese Shop) and started working on this store full time I focused on choosing the equipment for the store.  For this kind of store that includes display refrigerators and storage refrigerators, sinks and their drains.  I was looking for things that were sturdy and looked pretty because aesthetics are hugely important in a specialty store.  

I started with the display refrigerators.  I knew that the Arneg brand from Italy was gorgeous but they break a lot.  At Bedford, ours leaked water repeatedly, the coils froze, the supports collapsed, and they didn’t keep the temperature very even.  I found the Federal brand’s market series to be in line with my aesthetic and I asked the fish guy at Grand Central how his have held up for him.  He said that he has had no trouble in ten years.  Sounds great but I knew that they were not the best.  Our architect recommended that I check out the Southern Fixtures brand from Alabama.  They make custom “store fixtures” which was a new term to me.  Hugh told me that the Grand Central Murray’s uses that brand.  Here it is:

The front glass is flat and it seems sturdy.  We’re going to go for them.  We are getting one 8 ft. case and one corner case.  


The other refrigeration units we need:

 A single unit glass door refrigerator (for drinks and butters),









A matching single unit glass door freezer (for frozen sauces, pastas and gelati),









A single unit under counter glass door refrigerator (for meats and cheese storage in the front of the house),










A 27″ wide sandwich prep unit (where you keep your toppings for sandwiches),










A two unit solid door refrigerator, back of house,

A single unit solid door freezer, back of house (backstock frozen food plus par-baked breads).


       All of this equipment we are getting from the TR series made by True.  I looked at the Hoshizaki refrigerators for the sales area because they are more beautiful than the True models.  But the TR series is the top line from True and they are one of the biggest producers in the business.  Read: repairmen should know how to fix them.  I liked the Hoshizaki equipment but they don’t make freezers with glass doors so I didn’t end up ordering them.  Apparently they are really durable and very reliable, I was told that Burger King uses them.  When I was at a Cinnabon on the New Jersey Turnpike the other day, I noticed that they had Hoshizaki equipment in the back!  Maybe it’s good that we picked something different…


The other equipment we need:

Two scales with calculators and printers,

Two heavy-duty slicers (Univex was recommended to me as a machine powerful enough for slicing cheese),

A half size convection oven for finishing par-baked bread (there aren’t many European style bakers around here!),







One panini press with two pressing grills,









Two hand sinks,

One three basin sink,

One mop sink,

One food processor (for making our own spreads out of olives or pre-roasted vegetables).


Yesterday I called Sandy from Restaurant Equipment in Cambridge, MD to let her know that we need to order the Southern Fixtures ASAP.  The Southern cases take about 8-10 weeks to be built which is about how long our construction is going to take.  The True stuff should take about 4-6 weeks to arrive and the sinks and scales can be ready in one or two weeks.