Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pins and Needles

We were hoping to have the lease signed by last week. That was enthusiasm and excitement talking and not reality. In order for us to make sure that we are doing everything the right way you have to sit back, take a breath, and call the contractors and the inspectors, the insurance people and the lawyer, and that my friends cannot be rushed.

I can’t believe we have a lawyer; it’s a little surreal. But honestly having someone who knows what they are doing take a look at your lease and make sure that you can either get out if there are major issues or have your tail covered if you want to stay on for another 6 years without a giant rent increase is worth every penny. And yes they are a lot of pennies, most lawyers charge about $250 an hour! Just so you know.

We called three contractors and electricians and had them meet us Thursday and Friday to tell us what the damage would be to put in a hood system. And per what we expected it is about $10,000 and another $3000 for fire suppression, and that doesn’t include the electrical. Luckily we were prepared for that, granted we need to order the parts by TOMORROW at the latest. The company shuts down for 2 weeks and if we want the work finished by the end of January we need to sign the lease and a big fat check for half of the hood up front. Needless to say we are sitting on pins and needles waiting to see in the lessor is going to accept the changes that the lessee’s lawyer made.

We did receive the OLCC application in the mail and HOLY CRAP that thing is a tome! I knew it was going to be intense but geez! Seriously I didn’t have to fill out this much stuff to buy my house. Plus a seventy-question test on Oregon liquor law. That was fun.

We are in limbo waiting for things to be approved and then we can bolt ahead again. Once we have the official lease signed we can finish the OLCC paperwork, finish our other business papers, get addresses transferred and start buying equipment! But first thing is first; we are popping the champagne cork and having a toast!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our To-Do List is Having Babies

Every day seems busier than the last and the list of things to do just gets bigger and bigger. I did mention that over the weekend we sat down and wrote out a honey-do list and divided it up, presumably to conquer though it seems like it takes 15 phone calls and or e-mails just to finish one item. And I don’t know about you, but I LOVE crossing things off a list, but now it seems like it’s a different kind of system, for example:

check = has been completed, well mostly, as far as I can take it, or to my satisfaction (this is not as good as a line drawn through the item)

x= Addressed but not completed

o = address later you are too busy right now

Then of course after re-typing the list so it was legible, I’ve still made little notes all over it.

Let us share with you our experiences over the last couple of days.

We have a phone number, yes I know it’s exciting, it’s a Google voice number so that people can call us and it’s forwarded to whatever phone and you can see the actual list of your phone calls online just like you would access e-mail. Problem being when someone calls the PCW number and it’s forwarded to my phone, I don’t know if they are calling me or the business so either I have to answer all strange numbers, “Portland’s Culinary Workshop how can I help you?!” or I say “yo whazzup” and get busted for un-professionalism (I don’t really answer the phone like that but you know what I mean).

After spending four some odd hours trying to put together a decent looking marketing postcard I wisely gave up and sent it to my graphic designer telling him to make it look “less messed up (well it wasn’t as nice as that). Hopefully he’ll fix that because I hate looking messed up, it doesn’t help with the professional image.

We have contacted the city planners to find out about occupancy issues. For some reason we keep getting the statement that our occupancy doesn’t have to do with the space we are in, but what kind of business we are running. Does anyone know about this? Because they should take a look at the Roseland Theater I thought I was going to have a Final Destination moment there while everyone in the balcony was jumping up and down. Anyway we are looking into it.

I called three different commercial building inspectors (the websites for guys are general awful) trying to find out what we needed as far as an inspection. Because we are getting a (modified) gross lease, building inspectors would be expensive and redundant since the lessor is responsible for roof, walls, exterior, etc. but since what we are concerned about is the heating unit, electrical and plumping they ALL said get those guys in individually, it’ll be cheaper. We have an electrician coming Friday. I wasn’t going to torture my wonderful amazing electrician friend from Corvallis to drive all the way up here for that, but I do reserve the right to call him (and pay him) later for other genius electrical services.

We called the landlord about 3 times and e-mailed him a couple more times, either he’s an angel or he’s totally pissed, we can’t tell yet.

We had already opened up a bank account with Umqua a long while ago since they have a very good reputation of supporting local businesses, but since they aren’t national and don’t provide small business credit cards we opened an additional account with Wells Fargo just in case we expand nationally and to make sure we have a place to go for credit if we need it. If. Big IF. It took about 45 minutes out of my morning but I did get a pony, so it’s all good.

My partner contacted multiple hood contractors to see if we could get them into the space before the end of the week. Really if we can’t get a hood in there for a reasonable price, it’ll be a deal breaker. Right now for an 8 foot hood with side venting we are looking at $10,000 smackers. Why am I telling you this? It’s common knowledge, anyone in the restaurant biz will tell you the hood is the most expensive thing, and for 10 Gs we are probably getting off easy, though it takes a chunk of our investment. So we are willing to go for it, but damn it’s scary and we wish we had our third backer in the bag before January.

So the hood people are coming on Thursday and Friday morning to give us estimates, along with the electrician on Friday.

I sent off the request for the application to the OLCC. How messed up is it that you have to request an application?? Anyway you can’t apply for a permit until you have signed a lease or purchased a place so we hope to have it all filled out and ready to drop in the mail the second that happens. Generally it take 60-90 days for the application to be processed and if you don’t cross every t and dot every I it comes back to you and you have to start over. That would be why the bright neon colored signs on business doors that are in the midst of applying. Thankfully Oregon is cheap but we make up for it in paperwork.

I contacted my rep at FSA to get the list of equipment that we would like to sell retail. I have still to go through that catalog, it’s an online tome.

We were told we were under the jurisdiction of the USDA since we didn’t fall under the Health Department, so I called the USDA and told them what we were up to and what license did we need to apply for. Guess what? We are exempt from the Health Dept. and the USDA. Huh great for us, I know we are going to have the up most standards of sanitation, sketchy though for all those other places. Hmmmm..Choose us we’re clean!

We also contacted our Webmaster extraordinaire to see if we can set up some kind of pay method as we are being inundated with requests for gift certificates, we will totally honor all gift certificates no matter what, and if people want to give us money before we are open based on faith, I’ll take it because I know we will honor it. But only if we get the space, if it falls through for some reason I don’t know how soon it would be till we find another. I’ll let you know as soon as that happens.

Oh did you know that you can go to Portland Maps and pick a location and find For FREE all the permits that have been granted by the city for any work on any property? Handy info!

Ok I could tell you about all the back and forth we’ve been having with people looking at the lease, but we sent it to a lawyer and I’ll leave it at that. Whew I hope you all are learning something from this!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lease Papers

Our intention for the weekend was to tackle a bunch of projects, namely the website, and to write the owner of the space we were interested in, a letter of intent. After calling the fire marshal, e-mailing the health department and consulting with a number of people, I suggest "F*** the letter of intent, let's call him and tell him we want it!" My gorgeous partner agreed without hesitation and I called and, of course, had to leave a message. He called me back within a couple minutes and I nearly had a heart attack telling him that we indeed wanted the space, don't give it to anyone else!
Not only has this space been a find but the landlord/owner seems like he's too good to be true. He said he would write up the lease and e-mail it to me and that we could look it over (with our lawyer) and send it back to him signed and take possession of the property on Jan 1st.
We both had heart palpitations in taking the plunge.
We can't believe it! We also scored on some amazing tables and deposited our first investment check, and the second one will be on Monday. We ordered checks this weekend, wrote our welcome newsletter, worked on the website (if you haven't checked it out you should!), and wrote a to-do list that is a full sheet of paper with teeny writing and notes in the margin. I need to re-do that actually. Even though we were trying to work Goddess into our job title we decided on "Teacher & Knife Wielder" and we love it.
Things are snowballing and it's only going to get busier and faster! So stay tuned and we will let you know what it's like to work with the city planning commission, how to buy a hood that won't break you, and how hard it is to fill out an OLCC application.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OMG OMG OMG I Think We Found Our SPACE!!

Well what I thought would be a long and tedious process may have possibly come to an end this evening. We went to go meet with the owner and look at a space this evening and well... we couldn't be more in love or excited about it. Basically we were doing inappropriate cartwheels in the street after the meeting. The price? Right! The space? Perfect! The location? Pretty damn good!! We honestly didn't think we would find a place that we felt this completely good about. Not a fixer upper. It has plumbing and gas and some kitchen equipment, tall ceilings, big room, outside access for herbs, plants, and outside seating in the summer. MAN O MAN!
*jumping around, jumping around, clapping hands, clapping, jumping, clapping, doin' a little dance*
So we are going to get an inspector in there to find out what we need for hood requirements, find out about voltage and well we might be in there by February which was our crazy optimistic goal.
The absolutely bizarre turn of events was that the previous occupant of the space was someone who worked at the school we went to and then taught at, so we are hoping to swing a little "support us you loaded turkey" weight. Probably the owner will read this :-) Hi!
So wish us luck that the inspections tell us all good news, that the hood won't cost us a fortune and that the three compartment sink will be left in place!

HOLY COW this is really happening!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning to Lease

               It’s been a roller coaster of a week! We went and viewed a property on Sunday, took a tour and looked at the layout and talked a little about the lease and what they were looking for. After that we went and drove by a few more places that were for lease and only one was something that we really wanted to take a look inside. That tour is tomorrow.
               We decided on Sunday to schedule another meeting for Tuesday to ask more specifics about the property, and we also decided it really wasn’t the property for us, but that we would keep the meeting because we needed the practice. Deciding to come up with a list of questions we needed to/should ask we tasked each other with homework. 
               Besides the basics of terms, square footage and restaurant equipment questions I felt like I was missing a chunk of information about what to consider when looking at commercial spaces. Thank goodness we have freakishly intelligent friends who actually teach this stuff.  I called on my friend Max who inundated me with articles and information and rules to follow when negotiating and considering a lease. After sitting down, powering through the stack with a highlighter, I felt like I was going to be a negotiating wiz! She was that helpful.
               So today armed with a three page typed out list of questions we need to ask we are going to our pseudo-lease meeting. I’m really excited even if it is for practice. And we will be better able to ask questions at the property viewing tomorrow, which is one that we both really like.
               In other news, our Web Master has been given all of our class descriptions, bios, and we are almost ready to launch our website. We do have our official email though, you can write me at Melinda@portlandsculinaryworkshop.com and my not so silent partner will be there soon. For some reason having a website up feels like we are just a little more legit.
               We also have business cards being worked on, letterheads, and other graphics for all sorts of business documents, we officially hired a graphic designer…. And that’s freakin’ exciting too!  Stay up with us on our Facebook page, and you will be the first to know when our website is up and running. We are going to be adding more pictures and are maintaining a constant dialogue with our customer base, so join in the fun.
               We really haven’t taken enough time to tell everyone thank you for being such a great support network. It has really kept us charged and enthusiastic throughout this process! We owe it all to our fans and we haven’t even taught you anything yet, wait till we get you in the kitchen!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Website coming soon!

 Well we were having some technical difficulties in accessing our own blog. It is boggling my mind trying to keep track of all the log-in names and passwords. Note to self. Write them down somewhere and lock it up.
  We've been working on all the material for our website, finding a format and supplying our web designer with bios, class descriptions and of course blog material.
   Tomorrow we have an appointment to look at a restaurant space, it's probably too big, but it's a nice and I'm looking forward to just be in a space that has more than potential. We will also be spending tomorrow looking at more spaces and areas of town. This part is depressingly slow. Our retail agent has only a few leads and is tough to get a hold of, people with lease signs on their buildings don't return phone calls. What the hell is up with that??
   We had a fancy for the BBQ Daddy spot on Hawthorne but we found out today it's being torn down. What a bummer, I thought that space was great.  If you see a space that would be perfect for us make sure you let us know.
   The plan is ready for action!!