24-Apr-2017 (Mon) Wherein we still don't have a parklet.

"Maybe Never."
I mentioned a couple of months ago that the last outside impediments to us reinstalling the parklet have finally vanished, now that our sidewalk is complete (nine months after they told us it would be). But our contractor's estimate of how much it will cost has slid upward from $3,000 in labor to $4,000, and there's just no way I can justify spending that. That's almost half of what it cost us to manufacture and install the thing the first time.

We paid for it the first time with a Kickstarter, so it occurred to me that we could do a second one to have it re-installed, but even that seems foolish. If there are people out there who have $4,000 burning a hole in their pocket, and they might be inclined to aim that filthy, filthy cash in a DNA-like direction, I'd sure rather spend that money on payroll and keeping the lights on, because I think that improves the neighborhood way more than a parklet does.


So we are currently investigating ways to half-ass it, and bolt the dumb thing back together ourselves in some highly-less-than-ideal way. Stay tuned.

Oh, but if you are good at welding and willing to donate your time, we may have something for you to help out with!

Speaking of welding, apparently both of our espresso machines are broken. Some café, right, that can't even steam your coffee? We don't know yet how much that is going to cost, but probably a lot, since it seems like every time we have to even talk to the guy at the Vespa shop it costs like fifteen hundred bucks. I guess people who know how to weld pressure vessels get to charge bank. And the machines still go for $6k to $10k used / as-is (and "as-is" didn't really work out so great for us the last time we tried that). Oh, and apparently the espresso machine over at Codeword has been broken for months and I only just found out, because my staff decided that that was A) not that big a deal because who wants coffee, and B) not even worth telling me about, so that was awesome.

Maybe we should replace them with a couple of those "Oxygen Bars" they used to bring in to the raves back at the turn of the century. I'll bet maintenance on those is a lot cheaper.

I always forget to mention when I've made a new mixtape. I've made a new mixtape.

14 Responses:

  1. Matt Brysch says:

    We helped with the original parklet but didn't get the opportunity to enjoy it before SF overran it. :(

    We hope you can revive it, but understand if you cannot.

  2. Chris says:

    Do restaurants operate with like, shift logs or something? So like the shift manager could write 'espresso machine broke today' and then subsequent shift managers could write 'espresso machine still broken' to try to help fight the normalization of deviance where everybody's just like 'of course machine X is broken, we've always been at war with machine X'? Or is the service industry too contingent/full of bad bosses that no-one wants to be the messenger that gets shot?

    • jwz says:

      It's almost like sometimes you can have a policy, and then people just ignore it!

      I'm sure this is totally unique to my situation and nobody else has ever experienced it before.

  3. Carlos says:

    This is probably the outside scoop, but...

    Welders who do pressure vessels can, and indeed do, charge absolutely colossal rates. This is because it's easy to do, but very very difficult to do properly. And done improperly, it is almost insanely dangerous. Might work fine for a day, or a decade, and then explode with the force of a few sticks of dynamite.

    So most welders, at least those with any sense, won't touch pressure vessels. They don't like killing their clients.

    There's also the added complexity that the boilers in your espresso machines are probably stainless steel, which is a pain to weld even without worrying about pressure vessels.


    • jwz says:

      Well, exploding is really bad, but coffee is really good, so here I am stuck between the two.

      • Andrew says:

        Don't suppose it's worth the gamble of getting some sacrificial new consumer grade espresso machine(s) and hoping to sell enough drinks through it to pay for repairing the big iron stainless machine(s)?

        • kwk says:

          They get a Bialetti Moka Express and an electric hot plate for punishment.

  4. Ben says:

    I have people welding pressure vessels in the east bay. (Startup companies doing space shit, you know how it goes.)

    Is the pressure vessel really the failed part? Because that's really unusual. Can I come poke at your espresso machine some time?

    • jwz says:

      In this game of telephone, what I know about it right now is "does not go, call the guy", but you're welcome to poke at it!

      The first time around it was definitely the pressure vessel.

      • bbulkow says:

        Around 2001, for some unknown reason, there was a glut of used espresso machines - really good professional ones - on the market. I bought one. It runs on 110v, has a 7l tank, take a standard 58mm portafilter, and you can get a good cup out of it. Since it's a one-gang ( made for bars ), you can't be like stumptown at 8:15am, but the way most people in america pull, they aren't pulling 3 minute shots like in the Milan train station. That was the "as is" route that didn't work out for you, still working out for me. Be on the watch for the next tech bust and start calling around.

        Which gets me to the good part. I have my espresso machine guy. His name is Fortune, he's a chinese dude. I seem to have him in about every 6 months, and he charges me about $200. While my machine is probably pulling only 10 , 20 shots a day, I think I'm getting a much better deal on espresso than you are.

        • jwz says:

          If you could mail me the contact info of your espresso miracle worker, that will probably come in handy in the future!

  5. Mariachi says:

    I’ve seen a few parklets with no real permanent furniture besides a planter or two. Seats and tables are brought inside at closing. I don’t know how that works for a 24-hour place or if it would work at all on your block without all of them gradually disappearing though.

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