And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes.
There is the good news and the bad news.
I will give you the good news first because quite honestly, the bad news is more comical if you are able to step back and look at the situation as a whole.
The first news is that the we were a stop for a party bus. A party bus, for those of you not familiar, is exactly what it sounds like. There is a school bus and a designated driver, bar guide who takes a large group of people from bar to bar to, well, party. Depending on the stop you are as a bar, people are more intoxicated. First stop is the best. Last stop is not.
But anyway you look at it, there is an infusion of $100-$300 in business in no more of an hour of time with customers that most likely would not have been at your bar.
The bad news is that in the middle of the party bus mayhem… and we were not the first stop… the plumbing I had, a mere 7 hours earlier, fixed blew apart.
While blowing apart seems dramatic, it seems appropriate for describing a hot water valve that can not be shut off—except at the main—spraying gallons of water onto the walls, ceiling, and floor. My doorman became a janitor, using a shop-vac to suck up the water, a mop to control the flooding, and towels to prevent slipping.
I shut off the main.
Oh, and a bar or restaurant cannot run without water.
Unless you get creative. So with 50 people doing shots, taking pictures of hand stands, pretending bananas were phalluses, and asking people about tattoos of their mothers, I was, with the much needed help of my staff, dealing with what felt like a self-contained armageddon within my own bathroom walls.
An emergency plumber came out and fixed the problem for no less than twice what I paid the original plumber.
Thus, when all was said and done I spent a little over $500 to have a $60 faucet replaced.
Oh sure, I will try to get reimbursed, so this story is not finished.
The silver lining fir this story is that this is a problem that comes with owning a bar or restaurant. This will happen at one point or another, to everyone who owns a bar. This is a simple part of running a business and it is a legitimate problem that comes with the territory. And that in itself, as odd as it may sound, feels good… besides the financial part of it… because this is one of the things I know and am familiar with.
My next resume will say, “prolific in fine art of cocktailary and can fix some plumbing, electrical, and carpentry issues.”
God, I hope I never have to write a resume again.
Star Bar’s Ark. Nobody drowned
Remember that last blog? The one where I used a lot of French words like ivre and arrogant?
And I will kindly ask that everyone dismiss that blog. Thieves piss me off.
A drunk man who steals and has the courage to bring back the stolen object two days later and apologize, restores one of the reasons I love doing what I do. People are pretty rad, in general.
I once hung out with a Canadian at a bar who, through the course of the night, met about 50 people in the bar bought drinks for them or had drink bought for him. And in the process, he engaged with almost everyone. When I asked him how he did it, how he talked to that many strangers with no expectations or pre-conceptions and he said, “We all have something in common. It is just a matter of finding what it is.”
I don’t know why I thought to mention the guy was Canadian, other than he was from the Saskatoon or Saskatchewan province and the event happened in Canada.
While we are on the topic of stories, we meaning I, another lesson I learned is that when I was 16 and not of legal age of drinking I had procured a half rack of Milwaukee’s Best. A friend asked me for a beer and I was reluctant to hand one over. I only had 9.5 cans at that point, after all. And he said to me simply, “beer is for drinking.” His words stuck, obviously.
Now, back to the matter at hand. The man who I cursed just a few days ago, well, he came back with my painting, said he was sorry and brought the velvet painting back. That is pretty great. And it took some balls for him to do so. But he did the right thing and he stood tall and admitted he shouldn’t have done it. And I like that kind of character.
And I respect that kind of character.
We all fuck up. We all do things we regret, or worse (eh?). But we are defined by how we deal with the aftermath of those mistakes… at least that is my belief. It is not our only definition of self, but it does define us.
I bet you didn’t think I was going to go all philosophical on you, did you.
Neither did I.
So at that, I will call it a night.
Star Bar, over and out. 10-4
Of the many frustrations one might experience in the bar life… the unsavory tales of vomit, urine and feces… there is nothing that sets afire the cockles of ire like a inscrutable little thief.
Last night an ivre mother fucker, and I pardon my French, waited until I went into the kitchen to do dishes and stole a velvet painting. He did not steal a small bird or a cartoon-like turtle, he stole a very large, large-breasted woman. The asshole.
An object is an object and loss of that object is ridiculous to mourn. However, the audacity of disrespect pisses me off. Audacious, surely you are using that word wrong you must think to yourself. But lo, I am using that word because the smarmy little twit who stole my painting, from my collection, off my wall, in my bar after I served him a Budweiser (don’t let me get started on that) came back inside after he ditched the painting acting as though nothing happened.
The arrogant fuck, again pardon my French, thought he could come back with his red right hand covered in a glove. Innocent and charming. He was neither.
I am not a violent person, but I did want to beat his ass upon his return. But logic dictated that would not be a good idea in my own bar.
To make a long story short, it rained yesterday and finally, some of the Hermit Crabs found new season and left their shell. Star Bar was not busy, but it was steady. People came out and drank Rainier beer, and listened to punk and metal. Unfortunately, however, I had to use 10% of my sales for that day to buy a replacement painting.
And that is just wrong.
I know it is my choice to write about what I choose to write about, and I know that this blog should have been about something like the fact the music was good, those in there enjoyed a nurturing good time. and people were in the bar living.
But I had to get out all of the sensationalistic rhetoric and talk about the bad. And that is true. I hate thieves and think they are worse than mosquitos. Mosquitos at least give something back (it doesn’t matter what they are giving back).
But, on a totally different note, the bar feels like bar now.
Welcome to the Thunder Dome Star Bar
The slow times are killers.
You see some rain for the first time after many sunny days and, as a bar, you know you will be slow.
You see some sun after a cold, wet winter and, as a bar, you know you will be slow.
You have this knowledge and yet it still hurts.
Ignorance is bliss.
And yet knowledge is the key.
I want to defy. It is in my nature. But I know I can’t change the world. I don’t want to change the wold. I would, however, like to change this tiny fragment of the world that, for as long as I can remember, holes up for two days when the weather changes.
Usually, most people crawl out of their shells, step clear of the shadows and start going out again on the third day. Sometimes it is day five.
Is there anything I can do to change this? The weather these days is anything but predictable. Remember when October felt like fall… people wore pants and a jacket?
Those were the days…
Star Bar, hoping it rains again tomorrow
I love it when a plan comes together.
I love to see how people react when challenged. Some hold their heads high and brace themselves. Some don’t. I love to see what people can accomplish. There is a point where the wheel became a wheel not a round object without purpose. That point probably came when somebody was challenged. I probably came when some guy or gal was trying to get away from a tiger. That man or woman probably died. But the next person who figured out a cart and wheels would help save them from the tigers may have lived… because when they realized their cart needed some force to drive it forward, away from said tiger, they could at least turn the cart over and hide.
It is a process.
And then came the horse, or pony or camel or yak.
And the wheels were in motion.
So how this relates to the bar… many, many changes have occurred and many of my staff has stepped up.
This has nothing to do with anything. Buffalo. Buffalos have the faces they do, the hearty snout make-up, because they face the bitter winds and the blowing white snow.
We don’t have those faces… most of us don’t, at least… but I love the buffalo heart.
Did you know the sentence, “Buffalo buffalo, buffalo” is grammatically correct?
At that I move forward.
Star Bar, as it is, as it shall be.
The new menu went live today.
We weren’t entirely ready. But what else is new? Launching a new menu, opening a bar, tweaking an existing menu, getting a promotion, birth… with all of these things, when are you totally ready?
I am excited about the food. We have brought two things in from my previous bar… marinara and chili. I love these menu items. Hearts and souls were poured into these items at their creation. These items are like the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel… but not made from paint. But I remember years ago when my chef touched his curled finger to the chili and gave life to it.
While I was proud of the menu at opening, I am even more proud of the tweaks we made. Sustainability is part of my focus… and a menu that costs more to make than it can be sold for is not sustainable.
So there will be more tweaking and things that need to be addressed, a finely tuned machine still needs oil, but I am looking forward to selling some food and seeing the people smile with satisfaction from their meal.
And now, I am about to start my shift an see how things are going.
Star Bar v1.3.1
Routine, that charged electron of perseverance, can be elusive.
My routine is almost entirely based upon other people’s routines. If I am not a part of the people’s day-to-day, then I pretty much adrift.
This does not mean that I am not busy, however. In fact, it means I am probably busier. Think of it like looking for work, really looking for work… not just responding to an ad or two online. All of the thousands of projects that have been brushed under the carpets, tossed behind furniture, and stuffed in hidden cubbies surface and await attention when it is slow. They cannot be ignored like they can when it is busy.
The first of my many projects has been restructuring the menu and kitchen operations. We, as a unit, have hopefully found what works and what does not work. And changes are afoot.
I am more involved in the kitchen activities. The staff now has more input. It is a project of us instead of I.
With six weeks of collective data under our belt, we have made some changes and they will be implemented soon.
It is odd how things can shape themselves. Try as you might, it is difficult to change the course of any object once it has been set in motion.
A bar in motion will remain in motion unless…
I unknowingly have turned Star Bar into a lesson on physics.
What science does not address is why people hole themselves up on the first day of heavy rain. Fear? Instinct? The laziness of desire… meaning they don’t want to open the closet and break out the galoshes and umbrella?
That, and I think this fine city is still nursing a hangover from Halloween weekend.
Whatever the cause, the time is now spent writing in a blog instead of serving food, drink and merriment to the people of Portland, OR.
Every part of life has an ebb and a flow.
A bar is no different. A good bar has a life. It is like the flame that confounded scientists for so many years. Meaning that it has all the same characteristics of the definition of life… but we know it is not alive.
My bar lives. And does not.
I am not trying to get all philosophical on your ass, I am just trying to state what is. I am trying to put it in context.
In the last week, the bar showed me what was what. My staff has been cut to a lean, not so mean, ‘fill in the blank’ machine.
My menu has hit puberty and is starting to blossom. It had a good parent, it had a good start, and now it will be better, for no other reason than to hold its own and no longer suck on the proverbial teet of being new.
Like life, mistakes were made. Many, many mistakes were made. I shouldn’t have invested in the Sparks. So be it.
Oh, and I read reviews. I try to stay away from Yelp or CitySearch but they keep getting put before me.
Amateurs. You need a voice and I respect that.
But you professionals, your the ones that are supposed to be a voice of truth. You are honed in your craft to drop the jargon and the fifty cent words. You who can craft a tale of adventure for the mind and/or the palette should know better.
Complain about the temperature of my burger all you want. Argue the finer points of presentation, price and tomfoolery all you can.
But please, I beg of you, do not complain about a burger that is called a, and I will quote, “Spicy Buffalo Burger,” as being too spicy.
It has spicy in the name of the confounded burger.
Do not be a hack. Use your fifty cent words and your power of printed publication to write a legitimate review. If you don’t like it, fine. Taste is taste. But don’t get pissed at a pot being black, saying it is black, doing everything it can to be black yet you being unhappy that it is lacking any color after you buy it.
Oof. I just spent more time addressing a review than it probably took to write the damn thing. I am also pretty sure I put more thought into it, though who can say? We are both trying to make a name for ourselves. Either way, I suddenly feel both a little dirty and somewhat bureaucratic. I am the Blagojevich of blogs… unless Blagojevich has his own blog. Then I am a backseat to Blagojevich’s blog.
Star Bar. Day Month Year
I would officially like to rename this blog.
It is no longer the building of a bar.
It is no longer the building of a bar business, though that will be covered at length I am sure.
This is Star Bar, a day in the life.
From this point forward it will be the story of the bar, as articulated (or not) by me. This will, of course, allow for a lot of biased opinion and conjecture… and I am fine with that.
Sherwood Anderson, one of the great American fiction writers, when asked about the “untruths” in his auto-biography, said roughly “I am a fiction writer. How true would I be to myself and my craft if I did not write my auto-biography as fiction?”
I am a bartender and owner. How true to my craft would I be if I did not exaggerate, elaborate for the sake of entertainment, or just plain make things up?
I am not big on the making things up… but this is not about me it is about my bar, Star Bar, and it has a story to tell.
Or not… it is an inanimate object after all.
So stay tuned.
You are my crack. My heroin. My speedball and my marijuana.
I try to kick the habit.
As much as we all do, really. There is no try. Only do.
You knew that (hopefully).
I haven’t written because of time and energy. Time, well, open a business that is your life. Your soul. The only thing you know, really. The thump. Thump. Thump. The heart.
I know my girl. And my pup. And my other pup.
And my bar.
Do you want an update?
Probably not. And I understand. I have nothing to ad to or enhance your life. I wanted to write and I didn’t.
I wanted to write because I wanted to write. And I didn’t want to write because I didn’t want to complain.
Of you readers, none of you will know… which is not condescending… what this is.
Have you given birth? I haven’t. I bet it sucks. And is amazing.
What I have sucks. And is amazing. If you know me you know I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am not here to impress. Honestly, I had no idea anyone but my dad and mom read this.
I come to you in sickness.
I apologize for that.
I will tempt you with candy, if I can, however.
My bar is good. Really good. I will give everything I have to make it the best. Everything but my girl. And my pup. I have done that before and my regrets will follow me to my grave. I will dig my own grave and be proud of it. I hope.
Fuck. I sound bitter and beaten down.
I am the opposite of what I want to be.
I am scared, granted. But I have laid my everything, literally, into this. My bitterness is my fear.
Stand naked before the world. Bear your heart. Lay out your cock. Spread your vagina. Show it to the world.
Stand there with it all out there and I will be impressed. Stand there with no fear and I will not trust you.
In my life, I have never been as broke as I am. I have never believed in what I am doing more than this.
An therein lies the dichotomy.
I am, you read and may not believe, but I am happy. Terrified. Happy, and living. And lucky.
Are you alive? Really?
Star Bar. Throwin’ philosophical on your ass.