Thursday, October 29, 2009


I ran out of gas yesterday. Luckily, I was only about a block from a gas station when the truck started sputtering, and I only had to push it across the street and up to the pump. I had been running errands for a couple days knowing that there was almost nothing left in the tank, but too distracted to actually stop for gas. It's not the only thing that should be getting done and isn't. But lots of things are, and mostly going really well.

Construction is moving really quickly. We're just over a month into the job, and we're working on finishes already. Tile installation started yesterday. Booth construction is almost done. We're started building cabinets yesterday and are setting countertops today. We're even working on paint and trim. It's starting to feel like a Cafe, and not just a construction site. Which is great.

I've also been hustling to get my beer & wine permit. I appear in front of the Oakland Planning Commission next Wednesday for review of my case. I've also been working on all the paperwork required, including putting together the mailing for property owners within 500 feet of the Cafe, identifying nearby 'civic uses' (churches, schools, parks), getting fingerprinted, signing affidavits, supplying financial information, hanging posters, publishing legal notices, writing content for the planning staff, and on and on. It's a real pain in the ass actually.

I've had some conversations with individual neighbors about the Cafe and my service of beer and wine. Most have been supportive, but some have been concerned. I think I've been able to reassure folks that we're not interested in creating problems in the neighborhood, and that we'll be responsible neighbors. It's made me even more attuned to the delicate balances that we need to strike to create the type of community I've always envisioned. It's not easy, and I hope we get it right.

I'm really sad about the character of the development which has happened near 40th street on the Avenue, and in Emeryville generally, which has resulted in a bunch of fairly uninteresting looking strip malls and large housing developments. I hope that we do a better job here. While there's a need for new housing and commercial tenants in the area, I'd be sad if that happened at the expense of folks who have spent decades in the neighborhood.

Some good news - one of the two newly renovated storefronts on the block is open for business - a new beauty salon.

I get asked several times a day when we'll be open. I don't have an answer that I trust yet. Construction will hopefully be done in just a few weeks. Inspections will probably turn up some issues that we'll need to address. Hopefully, none of them will be huge. Once those are done, we've got cleaning, hiring, stocking, training, and opening left to do. The time is approaching. Soon.

Off to build more stuff.


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