Welcome back to On the House, a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to open a restaurant — or several. In 2013, Steve “Nookie” Postal shared weekly glimpses into his experience opening Commonwealth in Cambridge, and now he’s back as he works to open two cafes (Revival) and a beer hall (Mothership), all while keeping Commonwealth up and running. Keep an eye out for new installments of On the House on alternate Fridays.
Okay. It’s gonna be okay. I keep telling myself that over and over and over again, but this time, it’s different than before: more pressure, more people depending on me not to fuck it up, more choices, more decisions, a new partner, multiple projects. Simultaneously. It’s challenging.
Sometimes it’s difficult to keep it all straight — lots of moving parts. I can’t even begin to think about all the stuff we have to do. It’s daunting, frightening, exciting...but exciting like almost-shitting-your-pants-going-down-a-roller-coaster exciting, not like winning-the-lottery exciting. Sometimes I dream about winning the lottery. That would be awesome.
So I guess until I win the lottery, I’ll just keep going.
Let’s talk about Revival Davis. We needed to go to a special hearing to put a patio and an outside entrance on the driveway. The hearing was interesting, to say the least. It started at 6:30, so I had to hustle. I arrived at 6:35, dreading I was gonna miss my slot, but we were, like, 27th. Lots of porch expansions and renovations. Some guy was trying to build another building on his property. People were fighting it; it got heated. I was eating peanuts in the front row. Kinda boring but kinda awesome.
Our turn. I was there with “Ro” from RODE — my architects to the stars in Davis — and Kristen Scanlon. She is our lawyer who helps with the intricacies of how permitting and zoning and stuff works, because — just being honest — that shit ain’t my forte, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Anyway, we passed; they loved us; we loved them. Huge love fest. It’s gonna be great.
What else have I been doing? Another wicked boring meeting with my absolutely amazing insurance guy, Bill Kelly. Such an absolute brain-numbing topic for me. Bill takes care of it; you gotta have it.
And oh, it’s that great time to pick out POS systems. There are so many. It’s expensive. We made our decision: Toast. Cloud-based tablet flip things you see now. We went by their headquarters at the Landmark Center in Fenway. Um, holy shitballs. I think they have two floors, maybe three. Shit everywhere: five screens per desk, headphones, bars, beer. I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn. I felt like I was in The Social Network. And the worker bees...they were all, like, kids. Do your parents know where you are?
And then it hit me.
I think I’m getting old. Is that possible? I don’t think so...I mean, maybe I am, now that I’m thinking about it. At work last week, my wedding song came on, and I was like, This is my wedding song, and then someone was like, When I get married, I totally want to have an oldie for my song. Cyndi Lauper is not oldies, everyone. And yes, of course “Time After Time” was my wedding song.
What else? Trying to finalize millwork for Revival Alewife now. They call it “millwork” because “woodwork” is...I don’t know, boring? Taken? But millwork is basically all the wood in the place. For us, that’s the counter, barista station, pick-up window area, and the all-important (insert trumpet sounds) milk and sugar station. These are actually harder to design than you’d think. I have pictures of over 50 from all over the place. Dunkin’ actually does a pretty good job — not to give a shoutout to a multinational conglomerate, but I’ll give credit where credit is due. I hate cream and sugar stations. People trash them; they are animals. Now I’m stressing about that.
The millwork is very detailed: 7/8th of an inch here, cut wrap this, bevel edge notch screw thing over...I don’t know what they are talking about. I had to recuse myself. Liza is handling that. It’s tricky because I don’t really read construction documents all too well. They are on, like, huge paper, and just to set the scene, I can’t put together Ikea furniture. No way. Can’t do it; don’t do it. I shine elsewhere, as my mother used to say to me. Ha. She is gonna love that one.
We are getting close on the logo. It’s almost there — pretty sexy, I think. I like it. We are also working on a mascot; every place needs a mascot. We are thinking about a hippo with a bird on its ear. That’s director of operations Jennie Mac’s idea, I think; I can’t keep it all straight.
We are about eight weeks out from completion. It’s moving fast now. Had a nice chat with the Staubinator as well. There are just a lot of boxes to check and t’s to cross and i’s to dot.
I think it’s important to surround yourself with the best people that you can, and then just hold on and pray you don’t die or shit your pants going down the coaster...
See you in two weeks.