Well - it's been so long i don't even know where to start. Which is half my trouble, really. Enough time goes past that i have no idea how to even catch you up - and then it's just a big ol' snowball of blog terror. Blogophobia, perhaps? Well - suck it up Jo Jo. The time is here. The restaurant is open. Open open open open. We've been goin' just about four weeks and considering that we're trying to open a new business in the middle of a blizzard happening every four seconds, it's going pretty darn well. We haven't started any kind of an advertising blitz yet (Rich wanted to iron out kinks and really figure out what we should focus on), we're doing pretty steady and sure. I've been putting together a whole series of ads and billboards and stuff and we're starting to get those out in the next week or so. We're about to start introducing takeout menus and birthday clubs and all kinds of other stuff too. The biggest thing that threw us for a little bit of a loop was that the busy times are not at all when we expected. We always imagined the place as a sort of late night alternative to Applebees... and didn't anticipated tooo much of a lunch crowd. Well - we were WRONGOOO. It's the total opposite. Which - is exciting. Lunch times are often packed and people seem to really love coming back again and again. And the evening business... because of the weather isn't as steady. And, despite the fact that Rich and I are used to having dinner at around 9:30 - it seems that most Mid Westerners don't. Dinner time is busy busy at around 6:00-7 and then by 8:00 it's way slowed down. So there doesn't seem to be any demand for us to run those later hours. Which means, he reconcentrated most of the man hours and prep time etc. in the earlier part of the day.
Our sandwiches are really great. I have the meatloaf sandwich almost every day cuz it's so yummy... and we've managed to find some really great sandwich breads. I went on this big campaign for Texas Toast and Rich finally tracked the stuff down - so woot! Probably the sandwich that people seem to talk about the most is the skyscraper Reuben - cuz it's HUMUNGOUS.
Believe it or not, at the moment I've sort of turned into the dessert do-er. The kitchen staff are still getting the hang of all the daily duties, so for the moment I've been making most of the goodies. The only thing I seem to have issues with so far is cheesecake - but I've asked the illustrious Debbie Dyer to give me a little masterclass. It's fine by me - except for the past four days I've been fighting the flu, and so I haven't been in the kitchen... which means supplies are running dangerously low! And there are some folks that are really not happy with me when I run out of Mom's Apple Crumble.
I recently figured out a killer bread pudding recipe which is the epitome of all great southern recipes: Butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, butter, half and half, and liquor!
We've already got over 300 friends on facebook, which I think is exciting. Probably the most important news about the entire thing is that Rich and I seem to have come up with a consensus about how to actually PRONOUNCE and spell the name of the restaurant. I was saying "Theatery" (Kind of rhyming with scenery)... Rich was saying "The Eatery". So we now spell it like this: ThEatery and we kind of mush the two words together like we're drunk (apparently we had the bread pudding), and say Thuheatery. So - progress.
Anyway - let's play just a little bit of photo catchup, y'all?
The Christmas show was a great big success... and, since the restaurant is now tickin' along, it'll probably be the last time we have the company Thanksgiving Dinner in the lobby...
Apparently Kate and Nick reallly like sweet potatoes. Nick, our stage manager, was our very first vegetarian - but it's kind of amazing how much satisfaction can be derived from Thanksgiving side-dishes.
We had more people come to the show this year than we even had last year - which was super exciting. And the girls worked really really hard. It was probably the easiest personality dynamic we've had - which is pretty surprising cuz I was a wittle bit nervous that an all female cast could lead to some kind of musical Mean Girls/Heathers cross pollination Supper Club craziness. But not one bit of it.
The winter has been...and continues to be kinda brutal. Rich ran a gas line upstairs to the rehearsal room so we had a wee little gas stove to keep us from becoming frozen completely solid. Charlotte was the true mistress of layering... And apparently, when she's old enough to become a redhat, will have all the required red and purple accoutrement. :)
We only have baseboard heat in our apartment and it's an effort to keep the place above 55 degrees... It seems like space heaters just can't cope and give out after a few weeks, so the apartment now looks like an elephant graveyard for heaters. We had one that was so nice (it had a little fake flame and everything). Po, sadly was so fond of it that she dragged her bed up against the exhaust fan on the front so she could bake her self and, just like when you hold your hand in front of a hair dryer, she killed it. She's much happier now that we got out the electric blanket. Before that she just sort of kneeled in front of the space heater all day worshipping at it's toasty wonder like Ewoks when they meet C3PO.
My Christmas Carol reading went really well. Debbie said it was the best one ever... which was super nice. The highlight of the event was a lovely, if perplexing article the Herald Press ran about the performance... I wasn't entire sure if the section they printed it under was some kind of veiled insult...
Maybe they thought I was a ham? Or the show was a turkey? Or I had stage fright and I was chicken. This could go on all day... so let's move along.
Costumes for the Christmas show were kind of a challenge. With three girls we couldn't do what we normally do which is find one red dress and one green dress and stick the boys in a christmasy tie. With one girl in one color and two in the contrasting one it just looked like a lead girl and backup singers. Janice and Rich managed to find two great red dresses for Kate and Charlotte. So Elizabeth and I once again set out to Fort Wayne on a clothing excursion (it seems to be some kind of Supper Club tradition now - since we did the same thing for the Seventies show which her first peasant blouse suffered 'Proud Mary' related injuries). It all worked out great but she was particularly fond of one store in the mall where they knew how to correctly label a dressing room for a diva...
Poor Elizabeth couldn't quite get used to her face being plastered everywhere on the Christmas posters. The billboard at the YMCA made working out particularly hilarious... luckily without the Priscilla Queen of the Dessert eye shadow, she's pretty incognito.
While the Christmas show was going on Rich and everyone were working pretty much round the clock to try and the get the restaurant up and running. It's kind of crazy to think that just a few weeks ago it still looked like this:
The existing tile... the original stuff... became my domain. Originally the plan had been to just try and patch over the areas that were in really bad shape. But as more and more of the stuff got cleaned up we realized it was going to get more extensive that I had ever imagined. And even the cracks had to be filled - not just the holes big enough to be landfill space. I ordered some epoxy clay that I had used back in New York to try as an experiment. Previously I had only used it to make masks for a show... but i knew that it dried crazy hard and could be sanded. It seemed to work. So - I ordered a couple vats of the stuff and got to work. To be honest it was pretty horrible... I had no idea what we were getting into - and had not realized how vast of a project it would turn into. And, the closer we were getting to the end of the Christmas show, the closer I was getting to going home for Christmas, and I HAD to get it done before I left. And THEN i had to figure out how to try and match the tile colors - because the epoxy clay itself was just a light grey. And the tile was beige and cream and maroon and buttercream. I tried permanent art markers, I tried mixing dry pigment into the clay, I tried paints...but nothing matched the colors close enough or withstood any scratching or scraping. Finally I found a special kind of spray paint for outdoor plastic furniture called Fusion. And using a bunch of stencils, and about seven different colors of the stuff, layering them together, I managed to get it to go from this...
But I was seriously running out of time. Thank goodness for Chris and Beth Hoke who for some foolish reason decided to come and play Extreme Homo Makeover for us. They were AMAZING...
AND at the last minute Beth came and saved my life and spent hours sanding the hardened epoxy clay so that I keep painting. They are pretty awesome peeps. And Beth really likes Grasshopper Pie, so you know she's good people. There are still some places around the heat registers that we have to fill in - but we need some welding done before I've gotta start kneeding clay again. Let me tell you, that epoxy stuff, in the cold, is NOT easy to get the two parts mushed together - I think I still have bruises on the palms of my hands from kneeding. Which, is not suprising. I'm a kneady person.
My other big project before I went to Bermuda was to get the sign done... Which took enough masking tape to circumnavigate the globe about six times. Next time I design a logo that i have to paint a sign for I will NOT design three sets of letters sitting inside each other. Geniusssssss.
We had so many problems trying to find anyone to install the exhaust hood for the grill (which he bought at auction) that, for the moment, there wasn't much of a choice but to start the kitchen off using electric ovens rather than gas. And, considering how limited that makes there burner situation and everything, they've done exceptionally well. I'm so excited that we finally had a great company come out from Indianapolis and in the about a month we should have the grill up and running. Which means we can do steaks and great hamburgers that people are really eager for us to offer. The bad news is that we can't use the hood that we bought - because of some tech spec craziness... but the good news is that we've finally got someone to help us get one installed. So poor Mr. Hood from the auction will probably be going to the great scrap yard in the sky... which will help pay for New Mr. Hood. It's still a big investment - but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
But the most amazing thing was that Cindy, apparently the day before, had conjured up a scheme. She got in touch with everyone that was coming and asked if they would pitch in to get us a kind of restaurant housewarming gift. And she snuck to Fort Wayne and got us the salt and pepper shakers that I had fallen in love with that matched all our dishes - but we just couldn't afford with all the other expenses. And now the tables all have the coolest little bursts of color on them... We were totally blown away...
I really miss having time to decorate cakes - but I gotta say the ones from Brock's taste so good that it's a sacrifice i'm willing to make!
Elizabeth couldn't BELIEVE the difference when she came back for New Years. It was so neat because she had been here right at the start of the summer when it was all starting to happen, then at Christmas when it was close, and then she finally managed to EAT there. Her concert was absolutely fantastic... and she has, no kidding, now developed a Fort Wayne fan base. They came to the show wearing these:
She belted her T shirt because she feels its very important you notice how skinny she's gotten. You go girl.
I have to say that I never anticipated how nice it would be to get to see people on a more regular basis in the restaurant. Rich is on all these boards and has all these meetings - but I really pretty much spend all my time with him, Janice, Cindy and Po. Mostly Po. But it's kind of like owning Cheers... you come downstairs and there's almost always somebody to say hi to, which is kind of awesome... and sometimes you're very favorite people show up too:
Little bits and pieces keep getting added as they get done... Our mens and ladies rooms are now designated with vintage playbills from "My Fair lady" and "The Man Who Came to Dinner" which makes me happy. We've got lots of fun stuff coming to go inside the bathrooms and Rich is still working on getting all the pun posters up around the restaurant. I did a bunch for the bar area that people really like...
Cuz it's the cheesiest.
Ok - we're back on track people.... Summer tix are selling well - and I can't believe in less than two weeks we're going to NY to find the actors. Yeeep. My classes at IPFW are fine. One of my students decided to bring a gun to class for an exercise. He said "it's not loaded and you SAID we should bring props". Ahhhh my life. xo Jo Jo.