The structural steel for framing the new doorways has arrived. Since we took out a bunch of concrete, our structural engineer made us put these big girders in to replace it. Here's the downstairs set:
It's one big girder with a long flange on top that bolts to the wall above the door-hole, and it weighs about 500 pounds. It goes between the upright concrete pillars in the wall, which means it had to penetrate into the bathroom, which made quite a mess of the tile.
Holes are drilled into the concrete and the threaded rods are epoxied in; then after that cures, the bolts can be screwed down, and the wall can be framed in around it.
And here's the upstairs set, which is four girders (two horizontal and two vertical) so that set must weigh almost a ton:
That flat concrete section you see there is where the wall was cut: that's a cross-section of the poured wall, and the darker spots are the rocks, gravel and rebar inside the wall. It's completely smooth to the touch. That saw was a no-joke saw. The gap you see is the space between the two buildings. Those stray pieces of wood sticking out in the first picture are the (former) outside wall of DNA Pizza from before DNA Lounge existed; and the jankier wood you see in the third picture is the remains of the lumber that they used as the mold when pouring DNA Lounge's concrete wall.
Now that the steel is in, the doors can finally be installed downstairs, and the new stairs upstairs can be completed.
Today was quite the flurry of activity, as much of the following was happening at the same time that Korpiklaani and friends were loading in and sound-checking:
We now have ACTUAL DOORS in both the upstairs and downstairs door-holes, that both open and close properly! This is truly a banner day. To some approximation, these photos are the desired end result of the last two years of work and correspondingly vast piles of green, leafy money. All the other things -- building the bathrooms, bolting in the girders, soundproofing the windows, and, in fact selling pizza at all -- were ancillary stepping-stones that were necessary to get to the point where these doors exist.
It's a long game.
They will have closers and panic hardware (push-bars) tomorrow. You may notice that the paired doors open in opposite directions, because, for occupancy reasons, they have to function as bi-directional fire exits.
Now we're thinking with portals.
The right door in the first picture has weird-looking hinges because that door actually opens 180°, so that it won't block sight lines to the stage when it's open all the way. That took some doing to make work properly. The door and hinges had to be custom-made, and then there was some welding.
There's a huge amount of drywall around those downstairs doors. The fire department made us put two layers of drywall around the frame, which came out to be four full sheets and just about a hundred different pieces of drywall because of all the nooks and crannies necessary to fit a door frame in to a fairly complex hole through two different walls. Their reason for this was that the new wall construction has to be "two hour burn-rated", which makes some amount of sense until you realize two things: first, all of this "new construction" is like six inches wide; and second, the doors do not have to be two-hour rated. We're required to over-engineer the frame around the doors but not the doors themselves. Hello to yet another giant waste of time and money because bureaucrats are denied any incentive to behave as if they have any god damned common sense.
The new hand-rails started going in today, too. Here's something you'll never hear anyone say in any construction project ever: "They surprised us by finishing earlier than they said." But that's what happened. There's some jankiness to be sorted out with the work, but the Stick of Splaining is being vigorously applied.
That last photo is of the mirror behind the new front bar. It's hard to take pictures of mirrors (and what color are they?) It's a very funny shape, because that corner of the room is a very funny shape. Shelves for bottles will go in front of it shortly.
Also today, three more holes went through the concrete to accommodate the new soda and glycol lines. (Four inch diamond-tipped hole-drill bits that can go through a foot of concrete cost $700. Things I didn't want to know.) Why the holes? Since we have two brand new bars, and one bar being converted from a beer-and-wine-only bar to a full-service bar, that means we have miles more tubing to run. Our kegs and juice boxes will still live in DNA's liquor room and walk-in fridge, so all the bars will be supplied from the same head-end. We do it this way so that we never have to haul kegs through the room during an event.
All of the sudden we've got less than a week to finish almost everything else.
See, one of the ways ABC likes to jerk people around is they tell you, "Call us when everything is done, and we'll schedule an inspection. That inspection will happen in usually about 20 business days." Nobody in their right mind wants to sit around with their thumb up their ass for 20 days, so we called them last week, when we thought we were safely 20 days from being done. And today they called and said, "We'll be there Monday."
Photos are up of the New Wave City Twentieth Anniversary. Twenty years!
They also got a Mayoral Proclamation designating September 7th as "New Wave City Day", which is awesome.
Come see My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult's 25th anniversary show tomorrow. It will be good.
So, we got some of this:
Most of those tubes will contain sweet, sweet life-giving beer. Some of those tubes will contain sweet, sweet life-giving antifreeze.
We also got some of this:
My photos of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult are up now. This is, I think, the sixth time we've had them. I do love that band.
So, Groovie Mann was setting up the merch booth and Barry went over and said, "Hi, great to have you guys back again." Groovie responded,
"Yeah, this is my favorite place to play... I mean, it's one of my favorites... I mean... I usually remember it..."
We went from "Baby, you're the only one for me" to "Yeah so what was your name again?" within the same breath! That's ok, though, they're a sleazy band; you don't expect breakfast after.
Second best story of the day was a phone call:
"Hi, my teenage daughter went to see the Korpiklaani show at your club last night, and apparently after the show, she got on the tour bus and went to Arizona."
"And... how can I help you?"
"She asked me to call and see if her bike is still locked up outside?"
Ladies and Gentlemen, Rock and Roll.
Sharkbait was a band who put on some of the best live shows I have ever seen in my life. I saw these guys dozens of times, mostly at the dearly-departed Paradise Lounge, right up the street. Someone just posted this video to Youtube of them playing at DNA Lounge almost exactly twenty-two years ago, on Sep 16, 1990. IT IS AMAZING YOU GUYS.
The fire! The smoke! It was a simpler time, when you could put on shows like this without living in constant fear of getting sued or having your insurance revoked.
Also, I think Condescending Wonka has something to say about this:
We passed our ABC inspection today, and they say we can begin serving liquor in DNA Pizza tomorrow!
So please join us from 5pm to 7pm on Tue Sep 18 for $1 cocktails at our celebratory happy hour!
Our staff and our construction crew really busted their asses this week to make this happen. There were quite a few late nights and weekends, and lots of nail-biting. Thanks guys!
Though we now have a full liquor license that covers the entirety of both buildings, we still don't have a combined occupancy permit for the whole space, which means we can't open the upstairs yet, and I think means that, even though we are allowed to have people in both DNA Lounge and DNA Pizza, we still aren't allowed to let people walk through the connecting doors downstairs. I think. Because the world is mad.
And now the photos.
The bar in Above DNA is finished. The front has been stuccoed, and the pre-rusted steel surface has been installed. It looks pretty much just like the DNA Lounge bars did on the day they were installed, which is to say, rusty and reddish. Today, those DNA bars are more silver with streaks of rust due to the aromatic mix of alcohol, sugar and cleaning products to which they are regularly subjected... I imagine this one will look the same once we start using it.
The beer tower is also installed in the bar and spliced in, though it's not yet hooked up on the head-end. The thicker, braided tubes are for the coolant, and the other ones are for beer. The snake is not very flexible, so it took some acrobatics to get it in there.
The front room sound system is installed. Two hanging mains aim forward, and subs will go under the stage. We had to make a trade-off between stage size and monitor positioning. We hung three monitors instead of leaving them on the stage, because leaving them down would mean that the stage would have to be deeper, and we could fit fewer people in the room. But, flying them makes mic feedback a little more of a hassle. So we'll see how that goes.
Room Four is looking downright civilized! The sound system is installed there as well, and we're lighting it with slowly-oscillating low-wattage Edison bulbs. No moving fixtures. It's warm and mellow. (It's also very dark, so these pictures aren't an entirely accurate representation of what it looks like.)
Also the big plywood box around the connecting stairs on the balcony is gone, and the stairs and handrails are in. The next time you are at DNA, you may notice stairs going up to an alcove, with doors you can't get go through.
This means that now I have a stoop. And a few days ago, I saw a bunch of kids sitting on my stoop. Hey you kids. Get on my stoop.
The new soda lines are installed, and we now have fully-functional soda guns at all of the bars, including DNA Pizza and Above DNA. Also, the new bar upstairs is done, and its beer tower is installed, though the beer runs aren't fully hooked up yet.
We've taken the two booths that we had to remove from the balcony to make room for the door, and are installing those downstairs next to the dance floor.
It's a work in progress, but it will be done by the time doors open for Trannyshack in... four hours.
We're charging a bit more for VIP service for these two booths, since you actually have a pretty good view of the stage from them, unlike the upstairs booths. That means there are two "VIP tickets" buttons on the calendar pages now, which I anticipate will cause some confusion.
We have officially booked our first event at Above DNA! That would be Nachtmystium on November 9th. If you look at the November calendar you'll see that we are actually running three events that day: Mortified followed by Y3K at DNA Lounge, and then Nachtmystium simultaneously at Above DNA. Exciting times!
The calendar layout is a little cramped, but I'm not really sure how to un-cramp it without making the boxes no longer be square (and I really like them being square. Calendar boxes should be square.)
Also: let's give a warm welcome to our new talent buyer, Shawn Phillips. He will be familiar to you as one of the people who has been mixing your DNA Lounge drinks for the last decade, and also the guy who promoted a large percentage of the metal shows we've done here, as "Whore for Satan". So now he's our in-house booker, and will be taking care of all of your live music needs in the Above DNA space. (And definitely not just metal, mind you.)
So, if you're in a band and you want to play here... mail us! Now is the time.
The new space has a capacity of up to 300, whereas the DNA Lounge main room has a capacity of around 800, and doesn't work well with less than 250 or 300, so this fills in a much-needed gap.
These numbers will be confusing to goths, who have never seen a show here in the big room that had more than 200 people. Hint: someone lost money on most of those shows, either the promoter or the club or both. Much of the time, your ticket cost $12 but your friend's ticket cost $1000, so you should be nice to them. Say, by buying them a drink.
The downstairs booths are in, and we have nommed the inaugural DNA Pizza Bloody Mary. Yeah, that's pepperoni.
I thought dinosaurs were extinct!
The new beer lines are hooked up!
To recap: the big DNA Lounge walk-in fridge is full of kegs, and there's a mile-long series of tubes running to each bar. There's a huge tank of carbon dioxide that is used to push the beer out of the kegs and into the tubes (and because our tubes are so long, there are pumps as well). The Beer Snake has glycol (antifreeze) circulating alongside the beer lines to keep it cool so that it doesn't foam up. At the bar, each tap is just a valve. CO2 is used to push the beer instead of air because oxygen makes beer go bad. In the case of Guiness, it's nitrogen instead of CO2 or air.
Also in the back is a big rack of bags of syrup for the sodas. There's a different snake for sodas, which are pushed down the tubes warm and in syrup form. One of the tubes is CO2 instead of syrup. At the bar end, the syrup is mixed with water and circulated through another series of tubes inside a metal plate beneath the bartender's ice bin, and then a pump injects the CO2 into it. This reaction requires cold, which is why you get a flat soda if you use the soda gun at a closed bar that doesn't have ice in the bin. And then finally, the soda gun is just a valve.
These two snakes fan out from the DNA Lounge back room to our now seven bars.
And, all of our beers have changed!
The beers on tap on the DNA Pizza side of the world are now: Firestone Pale Ale, Shock Top, Bud Light, Stella Artois, Lagunitas IPA and Guiness. No cider on tap, but we have Ace Apple in bottles. Meanwhile, over on the DNA Lounge side, we've got: Ace Pear Cider, Big Daddy IPA, Widmere Hefeweizen, Stella Artois, Mirror Pond and Guiness.
So, why's that... well, for large bars and clubs, beer and soda distribution systems like the ones we have are almost always installed for free by the distributors. You're buying the product from them, so it's in their best interest for you to be able to move that product efficiently. So we said to our current distributors, "Hey guys, three new bars! Gonna be buying a lot more of your product! Hook us up!" And they said... no.
Both of them said no -- both DBI (our former beer distributor) and 7Up (our former soda distributor) were unwilling to pay for the installation of the respective new systems. (Well, DBI didn't technically say no, but they kept saying "It's all good bro" without ever committing to anything, and we couldn't wait any longer.) As a result, both of them lost all of our business, since we turned right around and switched our distribution to Coke for sodas and Matagrano for beer. Those folks were happy to have our business, and rip out the 7Up/DBI systems and install their own for free.
We are not a small account. I really can't believe the other guys really let it go this far. But, oh well. Not my problem now!
It's fortunate that there are multiple distributors (really, only the two of each) because each one has a total monopoly on the products that they distribute. E.g., you can only buy Miller from DBI, and you can only buy Budweiser from Matagrano. I'm not sure if the beer companies actually own the distributors, but the distinction is academic.
That means that we still have to buy Red Bull cans from Matagrano, because for some goofy accounting/sales-reporting reasons, it's cheaper for us to get it from them than Costco, and they have an exclusive.
And that's today's lesson in both the mechanics, and the goofy economics, of getting people drunk.
At last it can be told: now that we actually have our liquor license, let me tell you about some of the conditions that we dodged.
These conditions were putatively written by SFPD, but the line between "SFPD" and "ABC" is very fuzzy in this situation, since they collude and engage in finger-pointing whenever it's convenient to pass the blame on to the other side, even when they're really the same side. SFPD says, "Hey, don't blame us, it's ABC's license", and ABC says, "Hey, we're just following the recommendations of SFPD." Then they presumably cackle madly once you leave the room.
We spent months fighting these. Since, at the time, we were also in the middle of the lengthy process of getting our construction permits, we had time to have this lengthy argument with SFPD/ABC over the permits, so it didn't actually cause us a delay in opening, but it was still a pain in the ass and a huge waste of time.
There were some weird, stupid ones that they put in there, like:
During normal business hours, the premises shall be designated and used for and possess the necessary utensils, table service, and condiment dispensers with which to serve meals to the public.
We don't have waiters at the pizza restaurant; you order at the counter. They wanted to make this a violation of our liquor license, that is, if there was ever a time when someone didn't come to your table to take your order, they'd be allowed to revoke our ability to sell alcohol. This is the kind of stupid micro-management they always pull, because after all, a cop is an expert in how to serve food, right?
This one was a real hassle:
No noise shall be audible beyond the area under the control of the licensee.
And then after we objected, they tried to rephrase it as
Entertainment provided shall not be audible beyond the area under the control of the licensee.
San Francisco already has noise ordinances. There are specific rules about how loud is too loud. These rules include specific decibel measurements as compared to the ambient noise level on the street (e.g., car, bus and pedestrian traffic). But this condition, had we accepted it, would have made it a violation of our liquor license if any sound was audible -- which is to say, if you could press your ear against our front door and be able to tell there was music inside, that would be a violation.
And it would not simply be, "you get a ticket". It would be, "you lose your liquor license and are put out of business". That's one of the games ABC always plays: they try to take something that's already illegal under the civil code, and make it a condition of the liquor license so that the punishment for a violation is escalated from that which is dictated by the actual law, to "now we get to take your whole business away".
Then there was this gem:
The petitioner shall utilize electronic surveillance and recording equipment that is able to view all exit and entrance points of the exterior of the premises. This electronic surveillance/recording equipment shall be operational at all times that the premises is open to the public. Said electronic recording(s) shall be maintained for no less than 72 hours and shall be made available to the Department or Police Department upon demand.
They wanted to mandate that I surveil all of my customers, and turn that information over to the Government without a warrant. Hello, Fourth Amendment.
I told them I'd take them to court over this one, so they eventually backed down. However, this is a standard condition that SFPD is putting on all new liquor licenses! This is the underground regulation that is their usual boilerplate that they hand out to everyone now.
They tried to get this written into the law back in 2010 and got shot down, so instead they went in through the back door and are adding it as a liquor license condition for everybody. It's a complete subversion of the democratic process: when the people and their elected lawmakers unambiguously say "no" on a civil liberties issue, the unelected SFPD and ABC career bureaucrats think they can force a "yes" anyway. It's disgusting.
It's really important to realize that most people trying to open a new bar or restaurant do not have the luxury of fighting these default conditions. Fighting them normally means paying rent on an empty building for six months during the appeal process. Most people do not have the ability to do that, so they will just cave and say "yes". As a result, you can expect to be seeing a lot more surveillance cameras around town. It's a good bet that any new liquor license that was issued in the last year or two has this condition on it.
Sadly, most people wouldn't even think to fight it in the first place. Someone who is civil liberties-minded sees this kind of power-grab as the slow march toward totalitarianism, the surveillance state and the Panopticon, and see the fighting of it as their civic goddamned duty; but I suspect that most people would just read it as, "Oh, I have to spend another thousand bucks on a security camera? Bummer. Oh, and if ABC or SFPD ask for the recordings, I have to give them to them? Ok, whatever."
But hey, if you didn't do anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, right?
In the middle of our stock booking contract, we sometimes include this item:
15) Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word "Frisco," which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of six hundred seventy six dollars. As ordered by NORTON I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, 1872.
Evidence normally suggests that nobody reads these things, but we booked a film shoot here recently, and noted that when they returned the signed contract they had crossed this item out.
(If you don't know what I'm talking about, the Wikipedia page on the Emperor is a good start. $676 is $25 adjusted for inflation. The new span of the Bay Bridge was halfway toward being named after him, until the Oakland Board of Supervisors showed that they are a bunch of boring killjoys.)