I have been negligent in my updates.
Right now, I feel like I am waiting for a storm. I have my rubbers (boots), my umbrella, my life vest and I can see the dark clouds rolling in the distance… but the breeze is still.
If my euphemism was not clear, it is slow and not getting busier. We have repeat customers. We have new customers. We are doing roughly the same amount of business each night, but the damn has not burst and I am ready. My staff is ready.
I know it is only a matter of time, but I think I exhausted my patience getting this place going.
In reality, I have very little patience. So it honestly could have been exhausted before I even started. My patience runs about as deep as a puddle evaporating on hot concrete. In the summer. In a really hot place that doesn’t rain much.
How’s that for a metaphor? Or simile?
But to get back to business, we have our drink menu, we have our beer list we are all getting familiar with the space. We are ready. So ready that I am repeating myself.
And writing in fragments. Okay, I always write in fragments. In this day of MTV and the Internet, who has time to think in complete sentences?
Anybody know any good DJs? My juke box is still broken.
Nothing new to report, sadly.
Wait, actually I have one thing to report. I slept a full seven hours last night. Six plus one is seven. That felt good.
Star Bar, open for business
We have been open, officially, for four nights.
Thursday was great. Friday was slow for a Friday but great for it being the second night we were open. Saturday was lackluster near the end and Sunday was pretty much awful, as Sundays tend to be.
That said, we have had several repeat customers already. And that is a good thing.
I forgot this process, the building of a business.
When I worked behind Lottie’s on Sunday when it first opened, I spoke with Jimmy over and over and over again. Jimmy was a 70 year cancer victim who didn’t even know he had cancer until a month before he died. In the 50s he was hired to play ball with the Yankees next to Yogi Bera, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris. Jimmy declined because he didn’t feel that he’d be able to live off a ball-player’s salary. Jimmy was also a bookie later in life. He had three houses throughout the city of Seattle, each having no less than $200,000 in small bills cash to cover any bets.
Jimmy shot a man just below his belt once because the man welched. The man didn’t die, but never paid Jimmy. Another man Jimmy shot did die, and Jimmy never got his money from him either. Jimmy swore the man he killed was a hemophiliac because he just wouldn’t stop bleeding. Jimmy believed killing a man was bad business; hurting him, however, was really good business. But he usually paid somebody else to hurt the welchers.
I know all of this about Jimmy because he was a great story teller and a good guy overall. I also know this because for three months, Jimmy was my main customer.
Sundays are hard. Mondays are hard until they know about the food.
But it is part of the process.
It is always part of the process. It, meaning everything, has to be earned.
Star Bar, week one
So, I like my job.
I am a bartender again.
There are several loose ends to tie up and many hundreds of projects to complete, but I am behind a bar and in my element. I don’t get hungry. I don’t get thirsty (so much). I am in rhythm even when I am out of sync and I do what I love to do.
I forgot that drunk people are fun. Drunks are not. In three months so much can be forgotten.
But it comes back in gentle, nourishing waves. I am a hot freak. For the three of you that read this, I will let you in on a secret… if I quote or mention GBV I am usually in a good place.
And so it ends and so it begins.
Star Bar, open for business
The doors opened today.
There are kinks.
But it was rad. It was really, really awesome.
I will be behind the bar for the first time since June 12 2010.
I can’t wait.
If I can not be modest for a minute, I have to say that my bar is pretty fucking great.
It all came together. I am grateful for those that helped. I could not have done it without the tremendous amount of support I had. I think that is why it is so good. Many, many people have put a piece of themselves into this.
And it shows.
And it rules.
And tomorrow I will have a beer after I work. And that will make me happy.
I would like to give an honorable mention to my juke box because it is really, really fantastic. Sure, I put it together. Sure it is free right now until I get a new dollar collector for it. Sure it is a little finicky with some CDs. But it is a good, solid juke box that plays some great music (sure, sure, I loaded it with music I love, and so I am biased… but it is my bar).
Star Bar, day one, really, day one
Sadly, I believe that I may have to push back friend’s and family night to Wednesday.
The hood that I spent ever so much money on, is not functioning properly.
My chef has still not been able to cook.
Also, there was a misunderstanding with the meat we will be using. The misunderstanding being that we did not get our meat delivery today.
My crew, most of my entire new crew came in and busted ass. We all scrubbed, cleaned, hung, organized and did everything in our power to make it happen. It would have been tight, but we could have got it done.
I like my staff and they like each other. Everyone gets it.
But this comedy of errors will not be ending as planned, though it will be continuing as I should have expected.
Star Bar, hovering and ready to launch
D-day approaches and I am not feeling too good.
I am too exhausted to be excited and that makes me a little sad. My body aches, not in the “I just worked out or did manual labor” ache, but in the “my mind and body are broken,” ache.
I am doing a thousand things every day and I feel like I still have a million more things to do before I am ready.
But will I ever be ready? This project, this building of a bar, has consumed my life for the last two months and is about to come to a close. The real building of a bar is about to begin.
Who will my customers be? Will this bar be busy? Is my staff going to like it? Will I like my staff? How is the food going to turn out?
Truthfully, I am scared, but the wheels are in motion.
And broken body and all, I am ready.
Star Bar, the final countdown
I have mixed feelings about today.
A lot got done, but at every turn it seems like there is even more to do.
My electrician was back on track today. He is still what feels like days behind, but he is at least putting in 8 hours at a time. For the last week, he’d come in for an hour or two, shut things off or unhook them, not tell me, then leave. It was very frustrating.
But officially, as of today, all of the lights are hung and functioning as they should.
My kitchen is still not done and it won’t be until Sunday. That is a wee bit stressful. And by wee bit, I mean it as though it is a wee bit cold on Antarctica.
I think that some of the urgency and momentum was yanked when my general finished up.
My do-everything-guy is back and kicking ass. He is truly amazing and I will say, again, how lucky I am to have him around. He is the John Henry of building a bar. And he cares, which is pretty rad.
I placed orders for all my product. It is necessary, of course, but painful nonetheless. I swear, I must have spent $2000 on cheese alone. I probably spent more on cheese than on beer.
My food will rule.
I did not have a breakdown today. I moved forward as a robot. Domo arigato Mr. Roboto. I spent a little time at the Home Depot, you know, kickin’ it live.
I bought a freezer and meat grinder.
And now I am doing my liquor order. I guess my product ordering is not done.
My work is never done… which is awesome job security, I guess.
Star Bar, let’s go!
It is getting close, very, very close… but it seems so far away. I know it will come together, but there sure is a lot to do.
My bartenders met each other today.
I had a meltdown. It was only my second, so I feel I am doing pretty good.
Oh, and I never have meltdowns.
If one hasn’t been able to gather, this is a bit of a stressful process. But it should be if it is worth it.
My POS system was installed today.
My electrician fixed some of the problems. He gets the job done, but he definitely works at his own pace. Without my general around, my electrician has seemed to slow his pace some.
CDs were brought in.
1970s porn remained in the van.
I met with the neighborhood association. They were good people, but listening to the senior housing land-use pitch for over an hour was a bit painful. The fresh food for low income residents was pretty cool, though.
And now I sleep the deep, dark sleep of one who had a freak out.
I bet the crazies sleep well.
Star Bar, soon
How does one combat rumors?
I really don’t know the answer to this.
The Star Bar is not a chain. I am not corporate.
I am going to rant, briefly, about rumors.
Rumors are fucked up. Why do people start rumors? Spite? Insecurity? Malice?
I heard recently that there is a rumor going around that the Star Bar is a burger chain from California and Seattle that has claimed the spot formerly known as the Maiden.
First, I would like to say, “get over the Maiden” somebody else owned it, not you, you rumor spreading fiend. The previous owners of the Maiden sold it to me because it made sense for them to do so. They were good people and it wasn’t the right thing for them.
Me? I worked corporate. Past tense. I worked for Nintendo, Amazon, Denny’s and McMenamin’s.
As far as my burgers and as far as my chain and as far as my funding goes, this is my life. I sold a bar that was good; it was a time for a change. I was fortunate in the timing or promise. I worked my ass off to do what I both loved and believed in. I shared the blood of an amazing person who believed in me. I (mostly) paid him back.
He is not corporate.
Nor am I. I am one man behind one enterprise who loves what he does and is lucky enough to be around people that believe in me.
My bar looks like a bar. The dust has settled. The tables were set up today. The last of the lights were hung (but not shining… grrr… I am not happy about the wiring I have paid so much for).
All of my staff was hired. If everyone is as true to their interview, I have a great, great staff.
My menu is set. Not in stone. But it is good, really good.
I got about $500 in beer samples today. That is nice. It is always baffling when a sales rep tells me they bought my beer sample at a store on their way over. Don’t they carry it?
For a business I think I feel I have a pretty good handle on, there is a lot that doesn’t make sense.
Star Bar, not a chain since 2010, week zero point zero
I have copper tops and they look glorious.
I have eight taps installed and they look glorious.
I have my bar shelves and they, too, look glorious.
I interviewed many a person.
Tomorrow I will hopefully hang the last of the lights.
And again, cleaning is in store for my future.
Star Bar, counting down, six