Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chair Party (HOORAY!) & Budget Woes (NOOO!)

Things are moving right along and 736 Valencia is looking more & more like Mission Cheese every day. It is pretty amazing to watch months worth of decisions come together. I cannot wait to share!

Speaking of decisions...selecting chairs for the shop was no easy task. It was certainly not a problem to find chairs that I liked, but it was a bit of a problem finding something that both I liked AND was less than $100. Chairs, my friends, are expensive! The search had been on for nearly 3 months, when I finally stumbled across some options on my trusty friend, Mr. Craigslist. (Thanks to Allison Bloom who has been helping me with design tidbits!) I drove a zip car down to redwood city to pick up 15 of these puppies, at $10 each. (score!) Pretty nice...except for the fact that you cannot see the seriously layer of grim in the photo, aaaaaand I hate purple. Minor details. Nothing that could not be solved by a CHAIR PARTY! (WOOO HOOO! PAAAAARTY!) We invited over a few of our closest friends to take part in the joy of scraping grime (a.k.a. boogers), sanding, priming, and painting. Hooray!

How do you make such un-party-like activities fun, you ask? Good question. Simply add Judy, Kris (who apparently was not having much fun according to the picture to the top-right), Catherine (check out those gloves!), Ali, Steph, Jenny, James, Wavy, Dawn, and (of course) Oliver. Then you add some Devils Gulch & St. George, wine, brewski, Little Star, and some tunes. Voila! Party. Oliver even fashioned a sweet tarp to keep the sanding/de-booger station dry. Fancy! Best friends on the planet. Curds down.

It was a full day of chairrific times...and let me tell you, the fun continues as my Mum continues to work on fixing the purple cushion issue. I really wanted to go with a very au naturel look with painters cloth (natural/off-white heavy canvas), but for durability sake, we are going with black pleathery naugahyde. I know...gross, but it looks good & will hopefully last longer...decreasing the overall footprint. Yay?!? Check out the finished product! Mum's fingers hurt a bit after a day of stretching & stapling, but she was certainly the woman for the job. (My Mum & Dad are in town for 10 days to help with the shop...but I think that calls for a separate blog post, no?)

On a not-as-fun note, the final budget had some last minute complications (a.k.a. overages of the not so small variety). Without boring you with the details, I just wanted to send on news of the campaign we have launched via IndieGoGo (amazing website!) to raise funds to lighten the blow...and the response has been remarkable! As of day 4, we are over half-way to raising our goal of $12,000 thanks to the amazingly generous community that has embraced Mission Cheese. She's the luckiest truckle I ever did meet! Just in case you have not checked it out yet, HERE is the link. Pass it on. Spread the love. Eat some cheese. A little shortage in MOOla cannot stop this train! We are so close to the finish!

Barrels & buckets of curds overfloweth!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Team DIY. Making it Happen.

I know that an update is necessary, but my head is in a bit of a tizzy these days, so I may be a bit short & unorganized. I am not mad at you. I promise.

Construction is moving right along & I cannot say enough about the amazing Stingray Builders team. They seriously rock...and as a result Mission Cheese is going to be beautiful! Since last post, rough electrical inspection was passed, walls have been finished & cabinetry is being secured in place (they are making custom cabinetry for 2 of the walls...for maximum efficiency), and walnut slabs have been...planed, yes, planed.

In addition to the very professional work happening, I have gathered some friends & soon-to-be family (Oliver & I are engaged! WOO HOO!) for some DIY weekend projects. Brewski required.

Mission: Tile
Perhaps week 1 of official designing of the shop, I found Heath Bright Yellow tile (color G44...to be exact). We have been friends ever since. I have carried the sample tile in my bag for months...it just makes me happy. Even as the estimated cost of the project came in over budget, I vowed to have this tile for my beloved. So, the deal was...spend the money on the tile & save money by installing it ourselves. Done. Love it.

As I talked tile with more experienced folks, I began to understand that installing Heath tile (hand cut) is no ordinary tiling job. Each tile a bit different. One bends this way, one the other. Pear shaped ones. Skinny ones. Light ones. Dark ones. Rotund. You get the point. I began to get nervous. Was I about to ruin this gorgeous tile? I had to call in some experts...

Meet Keith (left...the male). Expert DIY-er & home-improver (also my best friend Ali's main squeeze) and Mission Cheese tiling team lead. He was the only team member to tile previously...and he had a serious tile saw & most of the necessary equipment. This task would have been insanely difficult to pull off without him. Rockstar.

Also on the team were Oliver (of course) and Mom, Shelley. Shelley is an expert quilter...so of course tiling would come naturally. Just made sense. She was a trooper getting to the shop with us at 7 am & leaving around 8:30 for pizza & bed. Oliver's sister Beth & boyfriend Garrett would come in for the final stretch. Clutch.

After the tile was in place the rest was fairly easy. Dry. Grout. Dry. Wipe. We nailed it! Curds of thanks to all involved (including the knee pads). It was a great weekend & I could not be happier with the result! More pics on facebook.

Mission: Floors
How hard can it be to stain concrete floors? I mean...it pretty much seems like painting. No?

We consulted anyone that we could think of to prepare ourselves for the project & watched the Soycrete instructional video at least a dozen times. Equipped with the stain, sealer, sponge mops, buckets, rags & a wet vac...there was only one more necessary item, the floor buffer. You know, the floor buffer often seen in the hands of a janitor cruising through the school halls before he is trampled by teenage brats in a corny 80's flick. Yep, that's the one. Seemingly easy to operate & efficient floor cleaner. The rental of the buffer went a bit like this...

Frank (the very friendly Hawaiian man at Action Rentals): You guys have operated one of these before, right?

Oliver: No.

Frank: (chuckle) Well, we better give you a few pointers. (other friend behind the counter also chuckling)

Frank gives us a very simple run down & demo. Make sure the handle is adjusted to your height so the buffer is flat on the ground, up to go right, down to go left (or maybe it was the other way around...you get the point), and so on. Then Oliver gives it a try. A little shaky at first, but overall under control. Then I try. The buffer nearly yanks my arm out of socket & jams into Oliver's foot. I begin laughing hysterically & try again. Buffer yanks in the same direction plowing over the carpet runners in the shop. Hunched over, silent laughing...tears.

Oliver: I guess I'll be the buffer.

Frank: Good Luck!

Long story short...we buffed the floor twice following close behind with the shop vac. I was never able to operate the buffer without replaying the above scenario...instead of Oliver's foot, it was the bathroom wall. (whoops!) Dear friend & Mission Cheese VIP Jenny O'Connor was able to master the buffer to give Oliver a few breaks from the vibrating beast. She also snagged some great video footage of The Buffer that will hopefully be posted on the MC facebook page.

After cleaning the slab, we spread the stain as evenly as possible. Turns out...as even as possible is not so even! The slab, which we thought to be very porous (since it's new concrete) throughout...was not. An expert in this situation would have likely etched the concrete to ensure even & adequate porosity. We are not experts, so the floor is what I consider...well, authentic. I like authentic.

In addition to the weekend DIYs, we are doing everything else required to prepare for opening...buying stuff, applying for all necessary permits, ordering sinks, finalizing lighting, buying more stuff, selecting a point of sale system (iPad!!!), payroll, insurance (thanks to friends at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, I found an AMAZING company!), merchant services, buying more stuff...I could go on for days.

Most importantly, I am currently assembling a kick ass cheese team. So, this is a last call of sorts...if you or someone you know have cheesemongering/culinary experience OR just plain love the idea of bringing cheese to the people send resumes to sarah@missioncheese.net along with answers to the following questions...

1. Tell me about the moment you realized your love for cheese.
2. What is your favorite cheese & why?
3. Favorite 3 (or so) places to eat in the Bay Area?
4. Do you like people?

When IS opening day?!? Good question. No earlier than March 18 & hopefully no later than March 31. That is all the detail I can provide at the moment.

Giant sized curds of gratitude to Keith, Shelley, Beth, Garrett, Jenny & Oliver for getting their hands dirty AND to the Spilgers, Kris & Judy, and Chris Hagen for keeping our stomachs happy! (3 Tartine deliveries were made while we were busy at work making Team DIY the best fed crew around!) You all rock my world.

Enjoy your week cheese friends!