Wednesday, November 26, 2008

day after the auction

I headed up to Oakland to claim my prize. It was the most disorganized shit show I've been part of in quite a while. There were maybe 4 people in front of me in line to handle their paperwork, and I waited over an hour. Very inefficient office staff and lots of bidders squawking  about anything from not wanting to buy the thing they bought, or wanting to scoop up more stuff that others didn't want or didn't bid on. Confirmed what I already knew - that the large majority of bidders were just resellers. That's annoying at first pass, but figure they're out there actually doing leg work and scooping the stuff up, so who can begrudge them reselling it at a premium.

So I finally made it through and scooped up my press. Hot damn.

Afterward, I had a meeting with the contractor and building management (my dad) to get on the same page about the ramp up of construction. It was an annoying meeting, and I sort of just feel like leaving it at that.

This is a long and expensive endeavor.

Monday, November 24, 2008


So, every day in the land of "starting your first new restaurant in the world's worst economy" is interesting. Some days terrifying, some frustrating, some enjoyable....but all interesting. Today ranked high on the "interesting" scale, as I attended the liquidation auction of the company who(m?) I'd hired to handle interior design for me.

As you may know from reading a few inches lower on this page, they closed like thieves in the night, and left many of us high and dry. On the Screwed spectrum, I had survived relatively unscathed as I was into them for not terribly too much money, and they really just owe me names of materials/paints, etc, which we're presently trying to shake them down for. Other poor people had literally tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory on hold in their GIANT warehouse. So that leads us to this morning, as professional auctioneers set out to sell off all this equipment, as well as basically anything not bolted to the floor. I've never seen something like it. Anything from a couple pretty huge freestanding walk-in refrigerators, to dozens of pro kitchen appliances, to pots/pans, to desk/filing cabinets (for days!!!)/highlighters/binders/paint sample books/buckets of cell phones (weird)/horrible (but oddly, fantastic) 80's wall art. You name it. Equipment was all in the showroom and warehouse, but right off the showroom are all the cubes & offices. All the office supplies, desks, etc. were basically left as-is when employees were laid off, though now everything had an auction lot toe tag. As the auction got underway in the showroom, my consultant (yeah, I roll like that) and I combed through the rubble of the offices. It sort of felt like a weird movie set that we probably shouldn't be poking around through. Though, we were totally allowed, because they wanted us to buy stuff. So with some time on our hands, and carte blanche, we sifted through piles of project drawings trying to find any of my stuff. Sadly, many had professional stamps & were ready for submission, but will now be lost for good. Our searc was funny, and also fruitless. I checked almost every filing cabinet (again, fair game since they were toe tagged for auction), and found files for everything from small claims court cases to full employee time cards, but no LWT material lists. The walls were covered with hooks holding small material samples. I found 2 that looked familiar & pocketed them. SO SUE ME!

Surreal is the best word that comes to mind.

The auctioneers moved at a fast clip. There were roughly 1400 items. I got there at 9, and left at 4. They were about half way through when I finally said "uncle". I'd done a good job pricing  new equipment (though pricing varies widely by manufacturer), so set clear-headed limits for myself as items of interest came up. Unfortunately (for everyone except the auctioneers), many attendees were very stupid. The best examples are of off-brand meat slicers going for what I'm pretty sure OVER what you could buy it for from a gleaming showroom. Weird. Chalk it up to auction fever. A small group of us chuckled in disbelief. I really wanted a slicer, a mixer (think kitchenaid stand mixer, but on steroids), and possibly an ice maker. I didn't get any of them. SILLY bidding on the first two edged me out, and I lost patience in the whole affair just as they were moving to ice makers.

About 10 minutes (which in this world was a blink of an eye, yet somehow FOREVER) before they were to be auctioned, I realized there was a stack of panini presses sort of hidden. All were in boxes - nothing on display - so they were easy to miss. I quickly inspected, and wanting to get in on the action, committed to bid. This was at 3pm or so, mind you, so my brain was pretty mushy. Long story short, I paced myself & won with a bid of $600. The company I'm buying most of my equipment from spec'd a better known brand press out at $3,000. With quick iPhone research, I found out the one I bought retails for $1200. Victory, if you ask me.

So the way I look at, I got a good lesson in the world of restaurant auctions and got a panini press on the cheap (basically recouping the $$$ I lost to them in the first place). Weird day. Time to make soup.