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A Million Things May Go Wrong During a Restaurant Opening, but It’s How You React That Counts

Nookie’s back with his latest installment of “On the House”

Revival Alewife
Revival Alewife
Steve Postal

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.

I guess this is it. Next time I sit my not-as-fat-ass down to write, we will be open. Who? Which one? Are you having trouble following? Me too. But it’s Revival: a brand new cafe located at 125 Cambridgepark Dr. at Alewife in Cambridge.

Monday to Friday to start. Weekends hopefully coming in July. June, maybe, but I have learned enough times not to hope, ‘cause this shit always takes longer than you think and costs more money than you think. On budget and on time? I think that doesn’t exist. Maybe only in the books.

But the time is here, so that’s it, I guess. This is where I thank all the people who have helped me on the way and skewer the ones that rammed me in the rear, ha! Unfortunately, not done. I told Liza today, “Can’t believe we are almost one-third of the way through this!” One-third! I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

So yes, Revival Alewife will be open next week. Through hell or fucking high water, we are opening. Sometimes you gotta just put your foot down and say, “This is it. We are doing this.” Opening a restaurant/cafe is like having a baby; you’re never really ready. I’ve got three kids — I know all about that. But it’s almost here. Final sign-offs today. Final equipment dribbling in.

Construction at Revival Davis
Construction at Revival Davis
Steve Postal

Tables found in Fitchburg, peanut roasters in Brimfield, sheeters, ovens, panini press, sinks, filler tables, rolling racks, shelving, shelving, shelving...I love shelving. Thanks to KC O’Hara from FaO Hospitality for helping me along this.

But done...I’d put some crying meme picture in here if I knew how to do that. Not done. Still building Revival Davis; that’s going slowly. Almost a blessing, although we can’t afford to wait much longer. The hemorrhaging of money has reached maximum flow: We need to open. Shocking, you can’t run a business by just spending and not opening. So, simultaneously, we will crush down on getting Davis open ASAP, opening Alewife, and continuing to run Commonwealth and Crema.

Today, I started my day in Alewife, went to Davis, went to Crema in Harvard, and then went to Commonwealth in Kendall. Damn. Just remembered I was gonna stop at H Mart in Central. I need to start loading up my pantry. Then I worked my way back to Alewife and walked home. Took me 12 hours. Alewife and Davis aren’t even open yet. I’m gonna have to figure out how to balance my time.

So, let’s see...what else is going on? Bought a new truck. Well, new to me. It’s tall. I think it should fit under Storrow; I hope it does. It’s got lots of “beauty marks.” But whatever, it will get the job done. We ain’t out there trying to win any beauty contests.

Nookie’s new truck
Editor’s note: Will someone please make sure that Nookie doesn’t actually drive this onto Storrow?
Steve Postal

I will say, though, with all that’s going on, that I’m doing okay. I have my moments. Sometimes I’m freaking out, I’ll admit it. My anxiety then rubs off on others and keeps trickling. Gotta think positive now.

My team, wow — I really couldn’t do this without them, and it’s not only the ones I’ve mentioned before. It’s everyone: everyone who is coming along for the ride and the ones staying back, waiting for the next one to start. Bakers, cooks, dishwashers, baristas...all of them. It’s cliche, but it takes a village. No one builds a restaurant group by themselves. Impossible. It takes everyone. And we’ve got a strong core.

Don’t get me wrong — feeling good right now, but in about 72 hours, I’m gonna be waking up after two hours of sleep, wondering to myself why the hell I was stupid enough to do this again. It’s gonna be awful. There are gonna be, like, a million things that go wrong, things I forgot, things that don’t work, things. Things are gonna happen. It’s not what happens that counts, it’s how you react. That’s, like, my mantra.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. I still have so much to do tonight. Final smallwares order, Mother’s Day menu for Commonwealth (post-1 p.m. reservations still available, FYI), finalize Revival opening menu. And then I have to stare at my, like, 100 lists and try to will the rest of it to just get done. I wish I could just use the Force to make this happen. But it will get done. It has to. Crunch time. Head down. See you on the other side.

Revival Alewife Steve Postal

Revival (Davis Square)

197 Elm St., Somerville, MA 02144

Revival (Alewife)

125 Cambridgepark Dr., Cambridge, MA 02140 Visit Website