Saturday, December 13, 2008

11 Months In

Hi Everyone.

This is my first time blogging and I have a lot of catching up to do, so please bare with me. I started this blog because a friend suggested it would be a great way to document the start of our business and may even attract some attention to it. It seems another coffeehouse in town did the same thing and people really loved it.

This whole process of opening a record store/coffeehouse/bar started 11 months ago when Justin and I were still living in Los Angeles. Growing ansy with the entertainment business and LA in general, we started discussing creating our dream business. Justin is a vinyl collector and has been in the music business practically his whole life and I have 8 years in the restaurant and bar business and a few years in entertainment under my belt. So we decided to combine our two passions, his for music and mine for owning my own bar and create the Hall of Records. We decided on Portland because we love the city, being surrounded by nature and trees, Justin had family here and it's a very liberal, music centered city. We thought it would just mesh well here.

So we started working on the business plan. I was working in commercials and I'd sometimes have weeks off in between jobs so I had plenty of time to work on the BP. I would start at 8AM and find myself getting lost in the work and then all of a sudden it would be 5PM. That's when I knew this was more than a job, it was a passion.

So 5 month later, we were packing up our house and heading to Portland to turn all our planning into a reality. We got a real estate agent and started hitting the city for places to lease. I think we saw over 50 properties. After about a month and a half of looking, we fell in love with a space in SE Portland. Unfortunately, the place was for lease by owner and they didn't want to pay our real estate agent so we had to bid farewell to the real estate agent. Well turns out that the space was a historic building and didn't even have it's own walls. (It was being supported by the neighboring building's walls.) It would have cost a fortune to build it how we wanted and we decided it just wasn't worth it.

But around that time we met a restaurant real estate agent and realized that it would be much cheaper to buy an existing place, with all the equipment, furniture and build out already done. We found one we loved in North Portland but after a few weeks of number crunching we realized it would just be too expensive to run. So we said goodbye to that place and actually found another restaurant real estate agent who was representing a coffeehouse for sale back in SE.

Long story short, we fell in love with the coffeehouse, ended up getting an apartment in walking distance to it, put an offer in on it, got all our financing together (well, almost) and then the whole thing fell apart. It was pretty heartbreaking. The owner decided to give the store to someone he knew personally instead of us. But we try to look for lessons in every road block and recognize that that place just wasn't meant to be for us... at least not now.

But still, we march on. During the time that we were negotiating the coffeehouse I was contacted by a guy who wanted to create a whole music compound of a recording studio/coffeehouse/bar/venue. He was going to buy a building and wanted us to come in and run the bar. I didn't really think that much of it because at the time we were knee deep in seeing what was going to happen with the coffeehouse. But then it just happened that the same day we found out we weren't getting the coffeehouse, the guy (Wayne) emailed me again. So I said F it, let's go meet with him, we have nothing to lose.

So we went and had coffee with Wayne, and it turns out he wants to create this venue and combine it with video taping the performances and putting it on the internet... which is EXACTLY what I used to do in LA. He was a super nice, soft-spoken, smart guy and we really got good vibes from him. Plus he's a big thinker, like I am. He gets just as excited about his ideas and inventions as I do about my own.

So he wants to buy this building on Hawthorne and bring us along as partners. We had a brief road block when someone else put an offer in on the building but it turned out to fall apart so now it's back on the market. We went and looked at the building last week and it's amazing. Amazing location, amazing recording studio, amazing space for a coffeehouse and venue.

But of course, there are road blocks with this space too (we've come to expect them now, though). The zoning isn't quite right and so we have to get permission from the city to use it as a coffeehouse. Justin and I went to talk to the city yesterday about rezoning. It seems like it's a long shot because it's in a historic district but they didn't flat out say no. We should be hearing back from them next week about the probability of getting the use. But basically, if we can't use it how we want to Wayne's not going to buy it. And then we'll be back at square one, looking for a new location. But at least now, I feel like we have a solid business partner and a business that has the potential to be much bigger than we originally intended, which is super exciting.

So that's the past 11 months wrapped up into one blog. We just keep going until we get our place. Thanks for reading. I'll let you know what happens with the city.

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