Friday, August 14, 2009

Colors & Dishes

I have always been obsessed with loved dishes and glassware and such. If I could, I would have a different set for everyday & in fact at one point, I owned 5 sets...not all of them full sets, but enough for a small dinner party of 4. I used to search the clearance racks and when I found a great deal, I couldn't pass it up. Thankfully, I don't do that much anymore...

However, now that it seems that my cafe is going to come to fruition (hoping & praying-but it looks like if the seller takes the offer my dad and I talked about, we might have a cafe by next week!) ((It's not the one with the overbearing owners, either)) Oh-sorry, I got carried away with the asides anyway, all of this time I've focused on what I'd serve, my concept and how much I'd charge. I hadn't really thought much about colors or dishes and so tonight I decided to take a break from all of the "serious" stuff and go search out paint samples and plates. (The place we're looking to buy only used paper plates...weird, I know.)

The whole point of this introduction is so that you won't think I'm sooo crazy when I say this:

I am in love with this cup & saucer pair.

I love its simple almost classic, almost trendy shape, it's size (not enormous but a little bigger than normal) and the way the saucer comes up higher than most. I even love that it's white. If I can afford to get them once a deal is struck, I am going to. There are, after all, only 15 seats max in the joint.

I found a few sets of dishes that I also liked-but I think that for these I might try to find used ones from a restaurant that went out of business. There are tons of listings on CL for used restaurant equipment, some of which is really a great steal. We'll see though-like I said, there aren't that many seats in this place, and from what I gather, most of the initial business will be take out to local businesses.

I also checked out their counters. The seller built a nice long counter that is in really great shape but it is God awful ugly and waaaaay too big. In fact, I'd love to get rid of it all together, cut it down to make a short counter for orders and stuff and put a few more tables in. I'd also put a long slender counter along the far wall so that people can sit and have a quick bite there, while still allowing a wheelchair to get by. I saw this and loved it:

It's dark brown and looks like marble, but it's not. I think to do this it would only cost a few hundred dollars. We'll see how much I have to play with after a deal is struck and that'll determine what I can and can't do. Obviously. There were matching tables too-all of this would be custom though, and that'll add up. I might find simple tables to add and do the counter in this only.

These are the glasses I saw:

The set above is cheaper and I don't like it as much. The one below is a tiny bit more, but it's more like what I'd want. Simple. Plain. Holds liquid. I've always liked taller thinner glasses.

And then there are the colors. As Lois would say, Oy vey! I'm a color freak and love almost all colors. My favorite color is a bold green and I would love to have one wall colored green. I'm not sure if it's too...outrageous. I have to go back to the store to use their virtual computer thingy. The one online does not have their newest collection, which is where most of the colors I like are from.

This is what I started out with (there were actually more...but I put those aside.).

The green on the left (below) is my first choice green for the accent wall. I've since eliminated the yellow from this batch. The other walls would probably end up being that darker brown.

Then there was this green. It's not quite as "me" and in photos it looks too minty. I hate mint green. But in person it looks OK...

I actually really love this combo-it doesn't look like it here but it's a dark green, a light green and a red. I love it b/c I've also always wanted a red accent wall. But when I did a mock up (these are "normal" paint colors) it ended up looking like an apple. But I'm going to revisit this one I think.

Then there's a more classic batch. Red accent, brown walls, lighter accents. I don't love it. It's too vanilla-even though it's red. I feel like I could walk into any cafe and see this.

I had a few other combinations but after looking at them after I categorized them I realized that I loved the colors together, but not necessarily on the walls of my cafe. I will, after all, be the only full time employee and will likely spend 12-14 hours there a day.

By the way...this is the original cafe I talked about this winter. It's near a town hall, churches and very close to a fire station. (I can watch the guys hosing off their trucks!) :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Did you know that there are approximately 127 questions you should ask a seller when buying what I am buying? (Don't want to come up in searches for identity reasons.) That's a lot. And I am sure there are 100's more I could ask too.

So Sunday my parents are coming up to see the space I talked about earlier. I still have a few reservations, but after talking to someone I trust to give me honest feedback & advice, I'm feeling a little better about it. So far it is the closest to my own vision and it is essentially turn key. If they can answer some direct questions-like will they butt out once it's sold-I'll be one step closer to jumping in.

I can do this. Right?

Yes. I can.

The funny thing is that two other places popped up into my radar today. One is the original space I was considering this winter. I turned it down because it was just too small but now the space next to it is open (or it was before and I didn't know it) and there was mention of being able to expand. This cafe is very cheap and is in a nice town right across the street from the courthouse. (Yay! Court!) If I expanded I could easily make it into a 20-30 seater and could put in a grill/cooktop so I could make real food. I could even possibly get this done for less than the other cafe. The only trouble would be financing. The owner won't do any. I can imagine though that they'd drop the price. Still hasn't sold in 8 months and the reason they closed is due to a motorcycle accident. I'm sure they are really ready to unload it. I sent an email and hopefully can go inside tomorrow or Saturday.

So the next couple of days will be spent at my laptop, with a notebook and pen and lots of cramming, note taking and making and hopefully some inspiration and courage. And probably some coffee...

I'd welcome any feedback or ideas you might have. Concept is breakfast/lunch-higher end food-gourmet type. Small plates for lunch with hopefully beer and wine. All fresh home made desserts and soups and dressings. Any cool ideas about expanding? Fun after hours ideas? Anything unique around you that you'd like to share?


What 2 Do?

I just had a business meeting with the owners of a small cafe about 20 minutes from Boston. I don't know what to do. In fact, I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate.

It's in a really small town and from what I gather, it's a close knit town. When I went in at 9am the cafe was full-but the people weren't eating a ton of food, just mainly drinking coffee. This could be their menu-they don't actually cook...which is the first problem. They don't have a grill or cook top. Only an oven. However, I could work with that at first.

The cafe is small-seats about 20 people which is what I want. The layout is horrible-they use too much space for selling food products which from what I see, don't make much $$. I'd take one of those cabinets out and use that wall for more seating.

They want me to keep the name. I don't like it and I don't like the idea. I'm sure if I were to tell them I want it changed, they wouldn't really say no, but they told me flat out they'd like me to keep the name b/c of the recognition it's gotten from the town. However...when I search the Internet the most recent reviews are not good-one of the staff members is rude and that's what they were all about. I know who they were talking about too, because I encountered her. She'd be fired for sure, but changing the name would erase all of that. Plus, it would make it mine.

My only other reservation (besides the freaking out about-can I really do this?!) is that the owners have another shop (retail) two doors down and in fact, own the building. They are both very nice and very passionate about the town and making the community be the best it can be. However...I see them being too involved. At one point, one of them said that "We need someone in there to do XYZ." She caught herself, but I also caught it-can they let go? Will they support changes? Like I said, they are very influential in that community-if they wanted, I'm sure they could spread the word not to come to my place.

There is competition and the competition is across the street. It's less of a cafe but more of a breakfast/lunch diner type place, but it was full. The clientele was different, but to be honest, I don't care WHO comes to eat/drink in my place...just that they do. So I don't know. It is cute and close to what I want.

They said they've told people flat out that they don't want to sell to them-and at the end of our meeting they said they hoped I'd make an offer.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Life has been getting me down again & I hate it. I hate that I've become that friend that no one wants to talk to because I'm so sad. I'm trying!!! I promise. Today is a new day.

Searching for commercial real estate is harder that you'd think. So far it's been hard getting real estate agents to take me seriously and to answer me in a timely manner.

I've changed my focus a bit-in addition to looking for listings, I'm going to seek out specific neighborhoods then see if there are opportunities to be had.

The older daughter is starting to be a little snot. She has tantrums now, doesn't eat her dinner (but still gets dessert) and in a know it all (but is always wrong). Thankfully the youngest is still a sweetheart and totally cute.

Have I mentioned that for my birthday I got tickets to go see Paula Deen?! I'm pretty excited about it and even more so because my friend Daniel is coming with me! I'm hoping that she signs autographs and takes photos.

The real Top Chef is starting soon and I can't wait! Top Chef masters just isn't the same and though I watch it, I find myself drifting to other things when it's on.

For our final dinner in culinary school we were to serve the sorbet course on an ice sculpture lit from the bottom with a glow bracelet. The day of the dinner the freezer broke (with all 60 sculptures) and we had to serve them in cups instead. Well...the night of the family reunion my mom and I did it! I didn't get a picture of them sadly, but they were very cool and everyone was very impressed.

Today I am going to remember to eat mangoes naked. How about you?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Toosdae ?'s

It's no secret that over the last year or so I've let this blog decline. Last night I looked through some of my archives and impressed myself with the things I used to write. I would have wanted to read my blog back then too. Now, not so much. I'm going to try my hardest to get back into it. I really enjoyed the interaction and the creative outlet. In addition to reading the core group of blogs I already read I'm going to try to visit some new ones as well. Comments will be more frequent (I hope!). Hopefully this'll be the start of a new beginning to get back to my old self.

With that said-answer away! :)

1. You're going grocery shopping. How dressed up or dressed down are you? If you are a woman, do you wear makeup and do your hair? (This doesn't include the quick "I forgot the milk" trip. This is for a full order of food.)

2. Do you yell and/or swear at people when you are driving? Do you use hand gestures?

3. What is one thing you would like to do before the end of 2009? How likely is it that you will accomplish this? (Doesn't have to be a deep answer)

1. Normally I'd just throw on jeans and a shirt, probably with flip flops or sneakers. Lately though, I've tried to go out looking a little nicer only because it makes me feel good. So I'll put on nicer shoes and a pretty top instead. I always have makeup on.

2. Before I moved to Boston I used to yell and swear at people very rarely and even more rare was me giving someone the finger. Now that I live here though, I have found myself being more aggressive (you almost have to in order to get anywhere) and yes, I yell at cars and swear. I haven't yet given anyone the finger and hope I don't anytime soon. Yelling makes me feel better and doesn't really affect the other driver. The finger does.

3. The obvious answer for me is that I would like to get a job. But that's not a fun answer so I'll also add that I would like to go to Shakespeare in the Park (going this week) & to the Museum of Science.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

I haven't play along with Mary's Ruby Tuesday in a while and thought I'd like to jump back in...below is an old photo of my Mother & I at my Nana & Papa's house in New York. I think I was about one or so.

Don't you just love my hat? :)

What I Did Today

Today I went to look at this:

It is for sale.

Here and there my father has been dropping me hints that "in the future" he'd like to think seriously about investing in me and a cafe. During these conversations, he eludes to the future being in a couple of years. Of course, I am always happy to chat.

This weekend though, he greeted me with a computer printout of a business for sale just North of Boston. It sounded wonderful and he told me to check it out. And then he said that he's looking into investing money in something other than the stock market and he thinks that I am that investment!

The business he suggested was already sold and the one above (which I found) is just not quite right. It's 40 minutes away from Boston and while I would probably relocated if I found the perfect cafe, thinking about moving that far out of the city made me a little sad. On top of it needing some cosmetic updates (checkered floor, new tables and chairs, ripping that counter out and painting) it just wasn't in the greatest location. It sounded like it on paper though-Main Street near a courthouse and a church. Sure enough, the area was very busy (I went at lunchtime on purpose) but the cafe is about 2 blocks away. Though visible to the courthouse, there was little reason to walk up the street because a very large (and very good-I ate there on purpose) upscale cafeteria style restaurant sat directly across the street. At one point there were about 30 people eating and about 15-20 in line.

I wouldn't stand a chance. Plus, the cash flow she posted wasn't really that great. Granted I would open on Sunday mornings (for church) and probably upgrade the menu and get a beer/wine license. just isn't right.

And so, the search for a cafe is on again. I'm not sure if this partnership with my father will really come through, but he has been talking about it for a while and seems to be ready to move forward. It's all very exciting!!

It's also very nerve racking (can I really do this?). Also, finding places in a good range is hard around this area-especially in places with a lot of competition. But, we're keep your fingers crossed! :)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Something Wonderful

I just had a really fun day and wanted to tell someone. It's too late to call the people I would usually tell I'm just posting it to document it...I'll tell you more about it in posts later.

Family reunion today with my Dad's side-we don't see them often but did when I was little. It was FANTASTIC seeing my cousins. After the reunion we came back to my parent's house and had a bonfire. My Dad and Aunt's boyfriend played guitar and my cousin, me and my sisters sang. Such fun!

I love when something you are dreading ends up being something wonderful.

A very good day indeed.