Wednesday, September 30, 2009

dusty, inside and out

It's been an exciting couple weeks. So exciting, in fact, that I haven't been able to find a free hour to sit down and write about it until now.

First, and best: we finally managed to get building permits last Thursday (not even a week ago). The city finally agreed that a single rest room was adequate, and everything past that was just paperwork, payments and formalities.

We broke ground on construction last Thursday as well. By the weekend, all the demolition had been done - concrete cut and trenches dug for new drain lines, sheetrock and framing torn out where needed. After one full week of construction (at the end of today), lots more is done. Framing of almost all interior walls is done. All the drains and sewer lines are installed and being tested. A whole lot of electrical stuff is done - most lights are wired, some switches are installed. Our first inspection is tomorrow (Health Department review of the rough plumbing), and more inspections will happen over the next several days.

My day is now full of various errands - running for construction supplies so I can keep the crew productive all day. When the crew goes home for the day, I'm working on countertops and other furniture. Emails and phone calls I try to squeeze in the early morning. And lots just doesn't get done every day. Which I'm pretty used to now.

I still haven't quite adjusted from the shift from waiting, negotiating and arguing and into doing. It feels a bit surreal now, watching the thing I've been imagining for so long starting to become really tangible - in concrete, iron, copper, and timber. It also reminds me that there are lots of other things that I now can't put off any longer - menu decisions have to be made, distributors selected, equipment ordered or bought. And hundreds of other little things that I can't even really think about right this second.

On the decor front, there's been some progress on counters - the laminated beams that I found at Heritage Salvage cleaned up really well with just a bit of sanding, and I've got one cut to size for the front window, and am in the process of finishing it and mounting it on legs. I hope to have it completely done by early next week. No pics yet, but I'll post a whole album when I've got it done.

Benches started with a bunch of busted up tongue-and-groove cedar boards I found at the ReStore in East Oakland - they cost me about $20 for 75 feet or so. Gerard and I spent a couple hours on Monday night cutting them into clean four-foot lengths, then gluing them together in three-board planks. I picked them up yesterday, gave them a light sanding, and have a couple coats of Varathane already on them. They're taking very little work, and are coming out really nicely. A bit rough around the edges, which I like, but also with lots of character. More pics to come.

Also, I posted pics last week of the newly-refurbed storefronts in the building next door.
There was a fire in the building a while back, and there's been a crew working on rebuilding the facades of the buildings for months now. I've had a few looks inside myself, but it was still a little surprising to see them finally unveiled when they took down the temporary plywood that had been covering them for all this time. They're covered in sort of classy-looking black and while porcelain tile, which gives the whole block a nice lift. One of the two spaces is an old take-out restaurant, so I'm hoping for another food place to move in. More options in the neighborhood is good for everyone, I think.

And, speaking of options, the cafe at the corner of 65th and San Pablo which, by the way, is called Tribu, is showing signs of imminent opening, adding to the cluster of restaurants and cafes stretching from Hollis to San Pablo on 65th, which will hopefully encourage people to venture off Hollis Street when they're looking for something to eat or drink in the neighborhood.

I had a nice moment at the end of the day on Friday, when I was sitting outside the Cafe at sunset, taking a break after the construction crew had left for the day. I watched people strolling up and down the block, checking out the newly uncovered storefronts, walking dogs, riding bikes. There were a couple schoolkids chasing each other down the sidewalk, laughing. And I had a vision of an evening not too far away, with folks sitting inside and outside the Cafe, enjoying the last bit of afternoon sun, feeling relaxed and safe and friendly. And I thought that this neighborhood is well overdue for that particular sort of love.

More soon (or as soon as I can manage, anyway)...



  1. I just moved to the neighborhood, and am really excited about Actual Cafe! I catch the 72R bus every morning at San Pablo and Alcatraz, and it's great to see the doors open and someone in there working. Can't wait until you open!

  2. Fantastic! I'm so glad things are moving along so well - and finally!!

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