The last couple weeks of construction were incredibly busy. Because of the way all the final inspections are linked together, we effectively had to finish everything, including things like signage and exterior paint, before we could even really start having the inspectors in. We had a full crew of my contractor's guys, plus various subcontractors, plus deliveries - all day, every day. Plus, I was still having to pick up most of the job materials we needed every day and keep the finish work moving fast enough that, for instance, the countertops were put together and rough finished so they could be set in place so that the bar area could get tiled, so that the wall coverings could go on, so the plumbing could go in, so the equipment could get installed, etc. etc.
Construction ended up taking about seven weeks altogether. I estimated between 6 and 8. I guess that means we kept the schedule. For most of that time, my day consisted of waking up at 4:30 or 5:00, answering emails and stuff for a bit, then getting to the Cafe at 6:00 or 6:30, working on whatever I needed to get done before the crew showed up (sanding, painting, whatever), then running errands for most of the day - picking up materials, meeting suppliers, buying equipment, dealing with various permit agencies. When the construction crew knocked off for the day, I'd be back at whatever else needed doing in the Cafe until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. Home, sleep, repeat. For the last couple weeks, even my weekends looked like this. Which is a hard routine to sustain, even for a nutcase like me.
Also, thanks again to all the friends and neighbors who showed up and gave generously of their weekend hours to help clean, paint, straighten up, and seal our floor. I'm so glad for the support, and I'm really happy to have had lots of folks add their personal touches to the Cafe along the way.
The good news is that my diligence paid off. Inspections went really smoothly, and within just a couple days, we had all the sign-offs we needed. The contractors packed up all their tools (and a few of mine), and quietly disappeared.
That very night, I came down with the Swine Flu.
The Flu (not just the flu, but The Flu) knocked me back on my skinny butt for a good week and a half. I don't think I've ever been quite so sick in my life. I'll spare you the disgusting details, but trust me - they're disgusting. I'm still trying to rid myself of the lingering symptoms. My voice is mostly gone, my sinuses feel like they're packed with steel wool, and I've still got a lot of crap in my lungs. But, as of Monday or so, I'm back on the Cafe horse, and getting more productive every day.
I hired my first employee yesterday. Her name is Kathryn, and she'll be working weekday afternoons. I like her, and I hope you all will as well. She's an artist, a cyclist, and a real fireball. She's helping out already - painting, cleaning, etc.
I hired my second and third employees today. Donna is a food service pro, and will be helping me lock down the Cafe menu, set up the kitchen, and also be working morning shifts once we're open. Sarah lives in the Triple Point Co-Housing development just a couple blocks away, and has been involved in the neighborhood and neighborhood institutions for years. She's also a photographer, and will hopefully show at the Cafe at some point soon. She'll be working the mornings that Donna doesn't. They're both super friendly, and I'm really thrilled to have them on the team.
I've always talked about the Cafe in the plural - 'we' rather than 'I', even though it's been mostly just me for almost the entire time. Now, however, when I say 'we,' it means something a bit different. Which, I have to say, is nice. I've been working on this project for almost a year now, and I've taken it as far as I can on my own. I've had lots of help on the way, some of it paid, and some just friendly, but now I'm building a team, and that team will make the Cafe much more than I could on my own.
I'm trying to wrap up all the hiring by the end of the week. Next week, staff will be coming in to clean, organize, set up and stock the place, and then (OMG!), we'll be open shortly after. No date yet. I want to be careful about doing too much promotion too early, and let us sort of ease into the flow of the Cafe before we overwhelm ourselves with eager customers who have been champing at the bit for the better part of the year to get their hungry selves in the door.
Stay tuned for lots of pics, and more details about the awesome Cafe staff.
And yeah, we're real close. You can start holding your breath now.
ps - We still don't have any artists lined up to show at the Cafe. If you're making art and haven't already sent me a note, please do. I want to see your stuff, for real.