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 occasional Fridays.
Dude, I know...radio silence from me. Moving this baby to monthly; too much going on. So much to do. I do miss writing — I feel that it’s therapeutic. My buddy Will Gilson is getting into the writing game as well; I wonder if it helps him. Any help helps, if you know what I mean.
I was talking to Jennie Mac, director of operations and good vibes at Nookie Inc., and I said, “I’m going to to write the blog.”
“Oh, nice. Can you try to not make it sound like this place is the pit of despair?”
Ha! Alright. I’ve heard it from a few people: The blog has taken a turn, getting darker. “Nookie, are you okay?”
I’m fine. Things are actually not that bad. Let me tell you some good shit that is going on: Revival Alewife is working. People are liking it. There is what I’m guessing is a universal nightmare scenario for restaurant owners around the world — “What if I do this and no one likes it or comes in?” Well, people seem to like it. I’m pumped about the menu and the food, and I love my new menu format. I can change the menu whenever I want.
At Commonwealth, it’s hard to do that. We have this massive chalkboard, and it’s a fucking huge pain in the ass to change, so I’m happy I don’t have to deal with that.
I made a biscuit-and-egg sandwich today. It sold fast; I think I’m gonna make more of those. And can we talk about overnight oats? Delicious. Goes with almond butter and fruit. Slightly salty, not too sweet, creamy. Delish. How have I never had these before? They are selling well.
What else is going on that’s good? Catering has really started to grow. Commonwealth is built on it, and Revival will be the same. Did a party for 250 tonight, a couple lunch drops here and there. I don’t really have too many sayings...or maybe I have a lot of sayings...but one of them is that we don’t say no. Ever. I mean, not never, but rarely.
I love the “oh shit, I forgot to order catering for a meeting tomorrow, please help me” emails. You might not get exactly what you want, but you will get something, and they will be happy. So that’s been good.
Revival Davis is clearly taking a little longer than anticipated. It’s fucking dragging. I’m hoping for late October, but let’s be realistic; it’s probably the first week of November. It’s gonna be nice, though. We are going with the AstroTurf. I’m actually oddly excited about that. Maybe some awesome AstroTurf company wants to take me to see the field at Gillette or something like that (wink, wink)...
Anyway, life goes on. It’s getting better. It’s like an EKG: ups and downs. We are on an upswing. Teetering, mind you. By no means out of the woods, but I’d say we are out of the newborn phase. It’s a dark place for all restaurant owners (maybe ‘cause it’s generally dark when you get there and dark when you leave), but it’s getting better. Staff is getting it, understanding what we are building. Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly what it is. I don’t really know exactly what Revival is going to be.
I know it’s gonna be awesome, though. It’s going to have great food and drink, and it’s going to be fun. You can bring kids, because kids suck but sometimes you have to take them places. I’m looking at getting one of those old AV carts they wheeled into class when the teacher was out so that we can play old cartoons on the weekends. That would be a sick find. Brimfield is coming up.
But, for real, it is getting better. Need some more staff for sure. Yo, Tufts U! Anyone want a job? Let’s see if that works. But it is getting better; it’s all gonna be fine.
Revival Alewife is good. Revival Davis in the next couple of months. We are looking for another space — looking in Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, somewhere over there. Rent is getting too crazy in the city. Too much. Too many. Let them fight it out. I’m taking my ball, and I’m going somewhere else. That’s not to say we wouldn’t consider the city, but we need to work with landlords who think a little differently. So, we will see.
I’m not waking up every morning saying to myself, “Why did I do this?” anymore, so that is good, I think. Right? I mean, it’s only gonna get so good, this life. This restaurant life. It’s not easy. You need a strong partner. It’s hard. Life is hard on its own; don’t even mention the added weight of the restaurants. But people do it. There is a way to make it work, and I am determined to make that happen. With that little tidbit, I bid you adieu...until next time.