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.
First off, I’m fine. Yes, I know I’m stressed. Yes, I know I’m freaking out. It’s gonna be fine. I’m getting calls and messages from people. I’m like, “Hmmm, he’s calling; I better answer it. Someone probably died.”
“Hey?! I read your thing on Eater. You okay??”
“You sure? You don’t seem it.”
I’m fine. There is a shit ton going on right now, lots of moving pieces. Sometimes I just sit there and cower in the middle while everything and everyone is flying around me. Terrifying if I really sit down and think about it. Sometimes, the sheer magnitude of it all is somewhat paralyzing.
I’m learning a lot, though, about myself. This process (and I know I have said it before) is vicious. It’s hard. It’s frustrating — epically frustrating. Maybe I’m a brat. I called my daughter a brat tonight; I feel bad about it now. Maybe she gets it from me. Maybe it’s my fault. I just want everything to go my way. That’s not crazy, right? Sometimes I don’t get my way. I don’t really stomp my foot and have a temper tantrum, like she was, but I want to. Fuck yeah, I want to. But that does nothing. Negativity breeds negativity. Negativity is bad. I don’t like it and don’t allow it.
So, hold on to your pants (spoiler alert): We are delayed. Ha! Of course we are. It’s hard! Building a cafe takes a lot of people, a lot of coordination. A day here, a snowstorm here, shipping delays, acts of God, Trump...we’re probably looking at a two-week delay. I can fairly say that we will be open either this May or next May. Still to be determined...
At Alewife, walls are all up. Walk-ins and freezers are all in. Floor’s being ground down. Millwork is starting to be installed. Painting is happening. New doors are in. New windows.
Still absolutely hemorrhaging money, just gushing out now. I’m just trying to stop the bleeding.
But I still found time to take my son to see his first concert — JT. Great first concert. My first concert ever was Kansas. I’d insert a YouTube clip here for “Carry on Wayward Son” if I were technologically inclined.
Speaking of which, while I have you here: Any young whippersnappers out there want a side hustle? We could really use some IT help. I’ll even pay (not much). Food and booze, mostly. Well, probably not booze because that’s illegal, and I can’t do that, so I wouldn’t do that. Wink wink. I’m kidding; all I need is the ABCC mad at me too.
But seriously, I do need help, so if any wicked smart students from Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Lesley, BC, BU, and the other eight million colleges within one mile of me are looking for some hours, slide into my DMs, as the hipster kids tell me to say. @chefnookie on the ‘gram.
You know what else is stressing me out? Life.
Well, to be more specific, life outside of work. Time off. I have three things planned from now until Thanksgiving. A weekend in Montana at the Resort at Paws Up for Montana Master Grillers (can’t miss that). My cousin Jonathan’s wedding (can’t miss that). And I have a family vacation set for this summer (if I miss that, my mother will lay the Jewish guilt on me so badly that I would suffocate and die.)
That stresses me out ‘cause I have no idea when any of this shit is going to open, and it’s so out of my control. We are opening two cafes and a beer hall. I have three things planned. I’m guessing all three openings will coincide perfectly with when I need to be away. That stresses me out.
It all stresses me out. The menu. The kitchen. The mural. The look. The feel. The flow. The logistics. Everything. I’m stressed. I usually feel better after writing this. Now I feel worse. Good thing it’s only going to go on for, like, the rest of my life! Fuck it, I’m going to play Fortnite...