The plumbing, both below and above ground, is done, and approved, and now they can close up the bars, which they have begun doing. Most of the wall dividing the restaurant from the nightclub is complete. (It will be a mostly very-thick-glass wall, with curtains for when we want to block off more light.) Also, the front wall windows are framed and awaiting glass insertion.
Everything is going relatively smoothly, but not as quickly as I would like, but it's for a new reason than usual: our contractor can't find workers. Apparently everybody in construction is really busy right now, so we've only got two or three guys working, when we could be keeping six or seven of them busy without them stepping on each other. So that's a drag. And as a result of that, I'm pretty sure we've already blown our internal deadline, and won't be open by REDACTED, which is an annoyingly expensive deadline to miss.
The rusty gears of the ABC have begun to roll. They gave us their proposed conditions for our liquor license ("WHEREAS the issuance of an unrestricted license would be contrary to public welfare and morals...") and they're mostly bearable, but we're still bickering about language, which goes like this:
"You realize that the literal interpretation of this is impossible for anyone to comply with, right?"
"Well that's what we're putting on everybody's permits now. And we wouldn't expect you to literally comply with it, we're all reasonable people here."
"I think it would be reasonable for you to write down the words with which you expect me to literally comply."
Getting approval for parking the walk-in fridge in the base of one of the light wells is taking longer than it sanely should, so we might end up pushing that project out to after opening, and just only having bottled (not tap) beer for the first few weeks. That's not ideal, but being open is better than not being open.
Our newly-poured floor already has cracks in it, because the construction guys next door keep backing things into the building hard enough to buckle it. Like our own little 2.8 quake every few days, just to keep us on our toes. I guess this is going to be an ongoing process.
A few photos:
The Second Annual DNA Lounge Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge:
It took a little while, because that's a lot of video to edit. Thank you, John!
So the day after I posted about the Planning department telling us we can't serve food between 2am and 6am, we got a call from someone at Planning. The conversation went something like:
- "What are you talking about? We wouldn't restrict your hours!"
"That's funny, because I have an email here from ____ saying 'We're going to restrict your hours.'"
"Well that doesn't sound right."
"I agree! That doesn't sound right!"
Then a few days later, the first person doubled down! He said, "Well, you know, since the bar that was there before never opened before 9pm, it would actually be an 'intensification of use' for you to be open for breakfast or lunch too, so you'll need to apply for that, too."
Then someone else at Planning 'clarified' that actually Planning isn't in charge of this, but the Entertainment Commission is, so they passed the buck there. Which is great, because we already have our Entertainment Commission approval.
So, I think we're past this particular nonsense?
I think they are still of the opinion that we can't have "live entertainment" during the Lord's Hours of 2am through 6am, but we are allowed to be a 24 hour restaurant. So we will be fighting that too, obviously -- and that will probably take a year -- but at least they have not managed to 100% torpedo our business model.
I still feel so sorry for anyone trying to open a business in this town. Someone who hadn't been through the shit we've been through probably would have just believed the nonsense that Planning spouted at us the first time around, and wouldn't have the experience that we do in going through other channels to get actual adults to intervene and give us a less insane answer.
Oh, we still don't have a liquor license. There are many phases of a permit application process that have time limits attached to them, e.g., there's a 30 day public posting, and then a hearing, and then you get your response 30 days after that; but it seems that we have moved into the section of the flow chart labelled "You'll get it when we get around to it." What we're waiting for at this point is to learn the list of conditions that ABC is going to restrict our permit with. You may recall from the previous times that we danced this dance that ABC and SFPD like to use each other as cover -- SFPD likes to say, "Well, it's ABC's decision" and ABC likes to say, "Well, we're just doing what SFPD recommended." Anyway, we have already seen and agreed to the conditions that SFPD recommended (they were inexplicably mostly reasonable! The devil you say!) so hopefully ABC will just rubber-stamp those and we can all live happily ever after.
And hopefully they will do this before we're ready to open.
Anyway, Plumbing Phase 1 is done, meaning we were able to close up the floors, and now we can start building the bars and counter-tops that will sit on top of those floors. Plumbing Phase 2 is the junk inside the bars to make them go. The floor is a wood frame with about an inch of concrete on top, so closing them means filling in the hole with plywood; putting down a waterproof membrane; then a layer of chicken wire; then pouring concrete on top of that.
In addition to the water and drain pipes, we also left in place some thick PVC channels that will eventually have the beer and soda lines snaked through them, so they can get from the back wall to the front wall of the bar beneath the floor, and without having to cut into the floor again.
Also we tore open the front of the building to expose the places where the windows were once and will be again. "Restore windows to original condition", the plans say. And I learned the word "clerestory". Hopefully we'll have glass in there in the next couple of weeks. But you won't get to see it, because we're just going to cover it with plywood again, since we'd like to not have to replace the tagged glass six times before we open.
Recent photos! Holy crap, was that Lydia Lunch show amazing. If you didn't come to that, you made an enormous mistake.
The latest static we are getting from Planning is about late night operation -- you know, during The Lord's Hours, those four hours between 2am and 6am every day. We all know that those are the hours during which the Great State of California has decreed that it is wrong to drink alcohol. And we're somewhat used to the idea that the Great City of San Francisco tends to prefer that you not provide entertainment or an outlet for dancing during The Lord's Hours. You'd expect that that's what they're giving us grief about, right? You'd expect that this is the City's traditional hate for late-night entertainment.
But no, it's even better. They are objecting to the notion that we might be serving pizza after 2am. They are telling us that we need to schedule a hearing to apply for special dispensation to serve food between 2am and 6am -- even if we were selling that food in total silence.
You wonder why you can't get food late at night in this podunk town? This is why.
The fun part about this is that we asked Planning whether they were going to give us grief about this even before we signed our lease, and they told us "no problem". Of course they will only ever tell you things like that verbally, with no paper trail, until they change their minds.
Not being able to serve food after hours completely fucks our business, of course, so we'll be fighting this, but this is another expensive and unnecessary pain in the ass.
San Francisco would truly prefer that you not try to run a business here. As always, they are coming to confiscate your ice cream cones.
Looks like it's been a while since I've done a photo dump. Here are the latest:
And today, this very large box was delivered. Witness our new oven! Shiny and Chrome! Oh what a day, oh what a lovely day. It's a Peerless 2348p four stone deck gas oven and it awaits you in Valhalla.
And more on this later (it was amazing), but here's the first video from our Second Annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge on Sunday. Drone Shot delivers its payload to an eager bloodbag:
Wondering what progress we've made on CW in the last three weeks? None! Absolutely no progress. Arguably, negative progress. It's like there's a big pile of cash sitting there, and it's on fire, and all of these people are just standing around looking at it and yawning. It's not quite a bonfire but it's definitely simmering.
I just wrote a several-hundred-word blog post explaining the hows and whys of the nothing-happeningness of it all, but I can't post because the people I ridicule in it could still make our lives even more difficult if they felt like it. So you don't get to know. Smiles, everyone smiles!
We tore down some drywall and found this buried underneath it. I wonder how many years it has been hidden in there.
In just a week and a half, we're celebrating the coming war between man and the brotherhood of machines by going out for drinks! Did you get your tickets yet? Let me introduce you to our confirmed contestants so far:
Here is our panel of celebrity judges for this year:
- Doug Dalton is a craft cocktail expert, and co-owner of popular local watering holes Bourbon and Branch, Rickhouse, Local Edition and Tradition.
- Ryan Spurlock is the general manager of TechShop SF, and an enthusiast of both robots and cocktails.
- Terry Sandin is a robot builder and special effects expert known for his work on Hannibal, The Passion of the Christ, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and many others.
Have you noticed that we replaced the fluorescents in the big sign with LEDs? It's so much brighter than before. Ooooh, aaaaah:
May I particularly direct your attention to 04:26, where the manager of the brand new apartment building across the street says that we are "not a desirable member of their community", and to 07:42, where additional public comment is delivered in the form of song.
Today we were approved for our entertainment permit at CW, with utterly tolerable conditions! And there was much rejoicing. The next hurdles are the construction permit and liquor license, not necessarily in that order.
So I had this crazy idea.
Our new building has these enormous blank walls on it. I want to put murals on them.
Now, pretty soon there are going to be housing developments that completely obscure those walls, but you know how construction projects go: that's probably going to take years. The gas station side hasn't even broken ground yet. So if we did this, it would give us N years of Big Art instead of Beige Wall, where N > 0. That sounds worthwhile to me.
I haven't done any research into this sort of thing, or even discussed it with our new landlord, who is the actual owner of those walls, but.... what is involved in that kind of thing, anyway? Do you need a permit? If it was a sign or a billboard, I think the answer is yes, but for art? Also, assuming the artist doesn't work for free, how do I get someone else to pay for it? This seems like the sort of thing for which grants would exist. I know nothing about such things. And finally, what local artists do you like who work at this scale?