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Wish Nookie Luck: Commonwealth Is Here

Welcome back to a special, weekly ongoing series of Eater column On the House, in which former Fenway Park executive chef Steve "Nookie" Postal shares his experience of opening two Cambridge restaurants: Commonwealth and Steinbones. Here's part thirty-two.

It's here. And I'm scared. Really scared. I wanted to throw up today; I'm so nervous. I didn't, as I thought that would be a pretty bad first impression for all my new staff. But I wanted to. Tomorrow we open, or I guess it's today now. Just friends and family Friday and Saturday, and then we open to the public on Tuesday. It's surreal. So much going on.

We started staff training this week. We have an employee handbook. I don't even know where it came from. Tom Mastricola or Justin Ito-Alder must have done it. Throughout this process, I have taken part in every single aspect and made pretty much every single decision. Up until now. Now I just have to have faith and trust in my core team that they believe and will do the right thing. It's a huge leap of faith for me. But you have no choice. You can't do this by yourself. I am just trying to surround myself with the best people possible, and then I need to let go and let them do their job. But it's hard.

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty, but tons of shit has gone wrong this week. Ice cream machine shit the bed, Hobart mixer doesn't work, cheese cooler is actually not a cheese cooler but a room temp display, huge water pipe leak with water gushing out the ceiling?the list goes on and on. But that's it. It never really stops. It's just what it is from now on. But we are there.

Shelves getting stocked, orders coming in, food being prepped, booze coming through the door. It's exciting, but at the same time, it's nerve-wracking. For the past 15 years, I have been ordering food and receiving it, and then I just put the invoice in a little folder, and somehow, someone pays it. Well, now that person is me. Every time I see something come in, it's not just product walking through the door; it's money. It's not like in my other jobs I didn't work like it was my own place, 'cause I did. But it's different when you actually have to do it.

I'm exhausted and my mind is racing. I don't know what day it is, and sometimes I respond to people with total gibberish. I was speaking to the fine folks at Island Creek placing my first order, and I think I asked her a bunch of weird stuff. It was like I was trying to have two or three conversations at the same time. She laughed at me and told me it was normal. Doesn't feel normal to me.

I'm going to write one more blog post next week to properly wrap this whole thing up. I just have too much on my mind right now to write anymore. You want to know what I'm worried about? Don't have bread baskets or serving ware, salt and pepper shakers are not here, dessert bowls and plates are MIA, labels for all the market stuff is stuck in Wisconsin due to fog, no idea where the silver ramekins are for the raw bar, still need the beer guys to come attach the kegs, toilet paper??? Did I order toilet paper??? Oh shit, literally?there is a ton more. This is just stressing me out more. Let me go barf and get some sleep and get at it tomorrow. Friday is one of the biggest days of my life, I just hope it all goes well. 'Til next week. Wish me luck.

Follow Nookie on Twitter: @chefnookie and @commnwlth.
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Commonwealth (Cambridge)

11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, MA 02142 (617) 945-7030 Visit Website


11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, MA