Monday, December 15, 2008

mobile office

When you're starting a business and don't yet have an office -- and especially when you were notorious in your first career for not being very good at working from home -- you often find yourself set up at Starbucks in the mid afternoon with a laptop, a hot beverage, and a pile of paperwork. As I've quickly come to learn, Starbucks in the mid afternoon is a WEIRD place. I'd like to recount 4 recent encounters at 3 different locations.

  • #1 (LAKA!) I'm at a long bar, 2 seats away from a nice enough girl that looks to have downs syndrome. She's wearing headphones, and flipping through some kind of binder...oh yeah, and she's in a relationship with some imaginary dude named Laka. They flirt, they fight, they're a couple. She's vocal, and loud. "Yes Laka I will marry you!" She's hopeful. "Oooooh Laka, you a bad boy Laka!!!" They're playing imaginary slap & tickle. "Laka, you hurt my feelings Laka!" Laka's in the dog house. You get the idea.  It's a very passionate relationship. You feel bad for her, but come on!

  • #2 (Crazy Crystal Lady) Some sort of spiritual healing was taking place right in my line of vision. Lots of deep conversation, lots of holding both hands across the table, raising hands in the air, holding up a pendant on a chain to check for vibrations or something, the occasional huge outburst of tears.

  • #3 (Troop Dysfunction) Anyone who frequents Subway or Starbucks at Taylor/Coleman, surely know about the rag tag band of developmentally disabled kids that storm these stores most afternoons, and awkwardly splay themselves about. Totally in their own worlds. I think they're excited to be in public, but don't know what to do with themselves. I was set up in an armchair one day, and they sort of circled me with their weird antics. One was to my left, both of us seated around a coffee table. He started rocking, sort of cradling himself, and eventually was craned so far forward holding a pose, that his forehead was grazing the top edge of my laptop. I seriously started looking around the room for a Candid Camera producer.
  • #4 (Privacy Corner...this was today). Directly in my line of sight, and about 2 feet away, were 2 comfy armchairs. First it was a duo that I'm pretty sure was having an affair. Both wearing wedding rings, but whispering and clearly stealing a private and sort of uncomfy moment. You could tell there was sexual tension for days, but they were people who weren't really used to touching each other. They eventually left, and were replaced by 2 women - one quite socially awkward, the other very well put together & seemed to be taking a break from her busy day for this meeting. I thought they were just friends getting together, but soon after they sat down, Fancy pulled out a white envelope with chicken scratch on it & announced she was giving Awkward this sum of money. Not a gift, but payment for cooking classes she needed. Rice, vegetables, whatever! Awkward protested briefly, then burst into tears. Times are tough, after all. They shared some heavy moments, then Fancy reviewed some letter Awkward had written, and had heavy edits. She wasn't feeling it, dog. Now, we all know TonyP needs cash & for someone to review his work, so maybe I should hit Fancy up.
  • Thursday, December 11, 2008

    build dept...the pay off

    Well not a pay off in terms of having an approved building stamp, and that's the end of the story thank you very much. And CERTAINLY not a pay off in terms of greased palms - though that sounds very funny. It's the least exciting of the three - a pay off to the story I left dangling in the last entry. And the pay off basically is that we headed down to city hall like a good little trio of owner/architect/contractor, submitted all the drawings, answered all their questions, and then TonyP had to pay A LOT of $ in fees. Apparently SJ is the most expensive city in the area in terms of building permit fees (more expensive than SF according to my architect). I had a ballpark figure in mind, but it was a whole hell of a lot more than I anticipated....and most importantly, way more than I'd budgeted. That sticker shock was followed about 30 minutes later by a meeting with my contractor where we talked real numbers about construction. Um, let's just say I need to play the lotto and leave it at that. It's a scary and stressful time.

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    building permit

    So I think I mentioned a week or two ago that we were ready to submit for the building permit. We weren't. BUT....our appointment for the permit is tomorrow at 2:15. Sort of exciting. Just wanted to keep you posted. And to recap, the city supposedly wants 2 to 3 weeks to review the plans, and then we can start construction in earnest.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    recipe cards

    On the back burner for the last couple weeks, and then on the front burner in the last few days, has been building recipe cards for LWT. Part instruction card for staff to make my food, part tool to determine the cost of the food in each dish. It's an interesting, but time consuming exercise.

    First, I had to write the recipes (mostly from odds & ends in my head). Next I had to determine quantities for scaling up the dishes to serve A LOT (hopefully) of people. Then, supply the food distributor with a list of ingredients I'd need to order so I can get a cost from them. Now, the task of breaking down a 10 pound block of cheddar ($32.16) to the cost per 2 oz, which is how much you'll find on the Apple & Cheddar Press. It's .40, if you're curious. So, .40 for cheese here, .95 for some sliced bread there, 1.30 for turkey, and before you know it you have the true food cost of a sandwich....which partially dictates the menu cost. So you can see how important of a process this is. Just thought you'd want to know what's going on.

    Oh also, and pretty rock design team has generated first drafts of the website, to-go menu & in-store menu. They're DYNAMITE. More to come...