Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Pretty Good Story

Sometimes I can't even believe that we have our dream location. Never in a million years could we have predicted it happening the way it did. When we first met Carl, all we wanted was to rent from him. He was akin to the idea because he knew the building was too large for just one business.

He also knew that he'd have to put some money into the building to get it ready for another business. At that time the economy started to really deteriorate and he wanted to wait until the Spring. So in the mean time Justin's mom had suggested an idea for starting small - throwing record sale/parties. She suggested we talk to Carl about doing them at the pizza place.

Our first party was February 26, 2009, almost one year ago to the day. Throughout the year we threw 6 or 8 parties at the pizza place. It gave us an opportunity to get to know Carl and for him to get to know us. Throughout that time we respectfully continued to ask him when he'd be ready to lease out the space to us.

At one point, he and I had had a conversation after one of our parties in which he told me what he'd want for the building should he be selling. Apparently there had been a bunch of people approaching him about wanting the building. I think there were three or so other interested parties. He mentioned several times that he had received some insulting offers.

Business started to slow down and he was working almost every single day. He was interested in hearing any ideas for how to use the space. He said he'd be willing to lease the whole space, but that was too big for just us. That's when we knew he was not going to lease just the one side to us. But in that same conversation he mentioned again that he'd be willing to sell the building. This left us with some thinking to do.

Re-enter Wayne. About a year earlier we met Wayne after he put an add up on Craigslist looking for people to partner with in a live venue/recording studio/coffeehouse. I thought, hey, we're a coffeehouse. Let's go meet him. We ended up getting along great and looked at multiple locations with him. This was all before we even knew about the pizza place. Wayne ended up leaving Portland for the summer and we eventually lost touch.

But flash forward to this past November and I reached out to Wayne again after we knew Carl wasn't going to rent us the one half. It was a great place to put our joint ventures. There's enough space to put the recording studio in the back and for him to have his business on the other side of us.

Because I knew how much Carl had wanted for the building, it gave us the advantage of not giving him an offer he'd think was insulting. The offer was accepted and all of a sudden we were signing the lease on our dream location. You absolutely could not have predicted that's how it would have happened. No one would ever think, let's get a guy off of Craigslist to buy a building and rent from him. But that's how it went down. It's still a little unbelievable.

Moral of the story: Don't focus on the how.
Focus on the end result.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Tables: Step 1 - Biscuiting

We're making all our tables, counter tops and benches ourselves - or rather, I should say, with the help of a lot of our friends! This week we learned how to make biscuit joints to put the planks of our tables together.

It goes a little slow because it takes 10 hours for the glue to dry. Each table gets clamped together while drying, and we have only so many clamps, so that adds to the time delay.

Reid and Rachel have been helping out almost every day. We've been having tons of fun making the tables and Reid is well on his way to becoming the next member of the Hall of Records family. Lucky for us, he's the total package; cook, barista, server & loves vinyl. And regardless of all that, we just really like them. :)

Our friends Derek and Ayanna also came by to get in on the biscuiting action. We're so lucky to have such great people wanting to help out! Like Derek said, it's truly a community effort.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The View From Our Front Door

To the Left

Across the Street

To the Right

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flooring Options

A few weekends ago, Dameian, Justin & I went to Simple Floors in NW Portland to take a look at some flooring. We're definitely going to get hardwood flooring and I had picked out ahead of time a gorgeous Organic Walnut IPE.

But the salesman said that that kind of flooring scratches really easily so it may be better for us to go with a laminate. They had some really gorgeous options. One thing I found really interesting was that things showed up on camera that weren't so visible to the naked eye. This is the first laminate that we picked out:

Laminates are essentially picture of wood repeated over and over. On certain types of laminates you can see the pattern over and over again, as you can in the one above. We didn't even notice it at first, but once we took a picture of it you can totally see the repetitions.

In the end, we decided to go with a Mahogany, which is Justin's favorite anyway:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prepping for Permits

We're in somewhat of a waiting mode as we wait to hear back from the Health Department about our plans. We submitted them as a whole building, so it included adding two bars, our little kitchen and re-arranging some of the existing plumbing. Once that gets approved we'll bring back out all of our contractors and then go through the permitting process. About that time we'll submit our app to the OLCC, too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Aunt Bettie

Every Sunday, we have Sunday dinner with Justin's mom. A few months ago, we had the pleasure of adding one more person to the dinner table. Bettie lives in the same apartment building as Tracey (Justin's Mom) and has become an integral part of our family and our lives. She is an amazing chef and former culinary teacher, who has completely embraced helping us with our food menu.

This past Sunday, she surprised us with a "Hall of Records" inspired dinner. There were snacks and soups and salads and spreads. She wanted to give us a visual of what we were already thinking for our menu along with some great surprises.

She made the best tomato soup I had ever tasted - made with real crushed tomatoes and topped with fresh shaved parmesan and a spoon full of tapenade. She also made this amazing split pea and potato soup. But first, she served snacks, spreads and bread.

She showed us some new things that we definitely want to put on our menu. Namely, a bread plate with tapenade, confit (con-fee) and olive oil. The olive oil is a must because it's something we already live on. Tapenade is an amazing mix of olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil. Confit is red onions marinated in balsamic and cooked down. The three together makes for an amazing snack combination and we can't wait to have it on the menu!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Belmont

It's no secret that we're in love with our neighborhood. Justin's uncle has lived here for 10 years and when we first moved here we stayed in his basement apartment. We loved the neighborhood so much that we got an apartment 8 blocks away. And now our business is six blocks from our house.

Over the past few days I've met a lot of our neighbors on Belmont. I've also been approached by multiple people that live in the neighborhood and are wondering what's going on. 9 times out of 10, the second question after asking us what we're doing is, what's up with Dixie Mattress?

So in light of the constant inquiries I found an interview our next door neighbors gave to the Oregonian after their Confederate Flags were covered up with posters of Martin Luther King back in 2008. It should shed some light on the situation.

Dixie Mattress

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The History of our Building

The earliest record I could find was a plumbing permit from 1931. The company was called Pantorium Dye Works and they operated as a Laundry and (later) as a Dry Cleaner. The original building was burned in a fire and they built the current concrete building in 1931. Right now, there is no basement, but I have to imagine there was one in the original building.

Our building seems to be a descendent of the Seattle Pantorium Dye Works, Inc., in which there is a famous building of the namesake in Seattle. Ironically, there is another company that was started in Chicago in 1919 called Pantorium Dye Works. They are still around today! I sent an email to them to see if they were related and got a call immediately from the president of the company - a fourth generation owner whose great grandfather had started the company in 1919.

He relayed to me the history of the name Pantorium. He said that his great grandfather wanted to come up for a name for his company that would stick in people's minds. He thought that in school, when you went to listen to the teacher you went to the Auditorium, so when you go to get your pants cleaned you go to the Pantorium.

The only problem is that he started his company in 1919 and there are records of the Seattle Pantorium going back to 1912. I still like the story though. He is a very proud fourth generation owner.

The reason why I was so interested in the name is because it's etched in tile out our front door. So now we know Pantorium = Pants + Auditorium.

Day 4

On Day 4, we were hit with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all of the amazing people in our lives. We would absolutely not be able to do this project without them. Whether it's physical help or cheering from the side lines, the outpour of support has been amazing. My heart swells with love for you all.

One person that we would hands down not be able to do this without is our friend John. Philadelphia born and raised, John cannot only do just about anything with some wood and tools but he can also make a mean Meatball Sandwich. Actually, his Strombolis are pretty damn amazing as well. His dream is to open his own restaurant one day and we are going to do everything in our power to help him realize that dream.

After pulling up the carpet, we realized that the floor had a huge dip in it. This is causing us a major problem because we want to put down hardwoods. John and Wayne **thank God for Wayne too** put their heads together and came up with a solution that did not require bringing in a cement mixer (awesome!!). We're putting down a sub floor and leveling it with strips of wood underneath it. John went to work quickly to cut strips of wood at angles congruent with the dip in the floor. It's pretty amazing and it had Justin and I thanking our lucky stars that we have his help.

Our partner, Dameian, has also been hugely instrumental in our business. On Day 4, he tackled the unforgiving job of pulling up the last of the carpet that seemed as if someone spilled a whole bottle of glue on the ground and just covered it with carpet. Talk about a workout. He also picked up where I left off on trying to get the sticky stuff off the windows where Carl had put up frosting.

For two days I had been slowly picking away at it with a razor blade. This prompted the owner of the Blue Monk to come over twice and tease me for it taking so long. Dameian came along and finished two whole windows in about two hours.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 3

We tried to salvage as much of the wood from the center wall as possible. Most of it only has one good "side." We're thinking of using it on our bar or to make table tops with. Either way, we want to re-use as much as we can!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 1: In Pictures

8AM: Loading In

11AM: Ripping up the carpet

3PM: New Keys!!

4PM: Tape outline of the bar and STILL ripping up carpet

5PM: Locking up for the first time!

Day 1: The Beginning


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

14 Months

That's how long it took from the time we met Carl (owner of the pizza place) until the time we got our keys (which isn't technically happening until tomorrow). Carl got my number from Bridget Bayer, a counselor at the Small Business Development Center, last December. Things had just fallen through for us on another location on Belmont and she knew we were looking to stay in the neighborhood. When he called the first time and left a message, I wrote down on a post-it note his name, number and "referred by Bridget Bayer." That post-it note has been on our refrigerator for 14 months. It has served as a constant reminder of what our goal was. Now I think it's going to stay up just for posterity. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blue Doom Crew

In honor of the Superbowl, this post is dedicated to our friends from Indiana who have enveloped us in to their Blue Doom Crew. Justin grew up in Tennessee so he's originally a Titans fan and I'm from DC so I'm a Redskins fan, but every weekend we found ourselves at the Asby's watching the Colts. And every week the fanfare became more and more elabtorate.

Our friend Alli would out do herself every week with more creative ways to celebrate the Colts including:



Voo Doo Dolls:

And my favorite, the home-made Colts MVP Snuggie:

Go Colts!! Do it for your die hard fans!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Equipment Search

We still have a couple days (maybe even a week) until we can get in the building. There was some kind of a delay in escrow while at the same time Wayne booked a flight to Colorado for this morning. He has a storage shed there filled with equipment and tools. He's going to drive it all back to Portland so we can get do the majority of the remodel ourselves. He'll be back on Wednesday and hopefully the escrow delay will be settled by then.

This down time has been really great for us because we've been able to get a lot of planning done. I went to multiple restaurant equipment stores, including Rose's, Pitman and Gold Star. Rose's by far had the most equipment - both new and used - but they were also the most expensive. I was a little disappointed with the lack of used equipment that Pitman had. Their website makes it look like they have a lot more. But the Pitman's were super nice and if you have to get new equipment, that's the place to go because they have much better prices on new equipment. Gold Star had really amazing prices on used equipment, but not as large of a selection as Rose's.

I still comb Craigslist every day for deals. We found an amazing deal on a hand washing sink and drove up to Ridgefield, Washington just to get it. Only thing with CL is that you have to pay cash - and the name of the game when starting a new business is to preserve as much cash as possible.

Speaking of cash, I wanted to give our banker, Miten, at US Bank a plug. We've been with him for a year and a half and he's wonderful. He's the small business banker at the US Bank on SE 39th & Salmon. If anyone out there is thinking of starting a business in Portland, I highly recommend having a sit down with Miten. He's very smart and helpful.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Changing of the Guard

Last night was the last night of business for It's a Beautiful Pizza on SE Belmont. In a few months we will be opening up the Hall of Records and a restaurant/music venue in its place. Carl, the former owner of the building and pizza place, is taking a few weeks off and going to enjoy life in Bali for a bit. He had been thinking about getting out of business for a while and after over a year of working with him, things have finally come to fruition.

Wayne (the new owner of the building) and I spent the morning with Carl as the vendors came to get their equipment. A mother and son came in for pizza, not knowing that he had already had his last night. Carl re-assured them that it was not a sad closing and that many exciting things were on the horizon, both for himself, the building and Belmont Street.

He is happy for us and for himself. I hope that when others see the paper up in the windows they know that he was not closing under dismal or unhappy terms. When one door closes another one opens - only this time it happens to be ours.

Eugene Record Show Pics

Yesterday morning we got up at 4:30 AM to head down to Eugene for the Eugene Record Convention at the Eugene Hilton. We hitched a ride with our friend Kit who owns Cartola, a coffeehouse in NE. The show didn't start until 10 AM but the key was to get there early to find the good records. So we got there at 7 AM. One of our friends had found all the records he wanted before it even started and headed back to Portland before 10 AM.

We had a table next to some of the other Portland-based diggers and posted up for the rest of the day. It was the biggest show they had ever had. It is a true testament to the growing popularity of vinyl. We met a ton of great people and are looking forward to the next one!