Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Tempest in a Long Island Iced Tea Pot

I'm taking this post off the beaten track. But before I do, a quick update.

Yes, I still want to kill our architect, or at least kick him in the shins until he cries like a little girl. He neglected to put something on the second round of plans the city told him he needed after the first round; when Chuck told him he needed to get his act together, put a rush on it and that we wouldn't be paying for him to correct his own mistakes, he responded: "I don't work for you, I work for your contractor."

Oh yes he did.

Here's the thing: the city, the architect, the civil engineer and even Al the Contractor seem to exist in this alternate universe where time has no real meaning. What should take a week in the real world takes three weeks in Bizarro Building World. Chuck and I, on the other hand, live in Deadline World. He writes and implements code. If his code isn't perfect and the implementation flawless, portions of a Fortune 100 company stop functioning. I write news. If I don't, I lose my job.

Which leads me to the point of today's post, construction, the Blue Goose Bar & Grill and the Montessori Learning Center. Our youngest son is a student at Montessori. He's a 7th grader, a foot-and-a-half taller than his teacher, he's rocking the beginnings of a mustache and I know for certain he is the only student who walks to and from school. Shrug. When he lived in Berkeley, he took BART by himself and that was almost two years ago.

Montessori is kind of special snowflake land, but it works for us and has for 11 years. Both boys are Montessori kids.

The Montessori building, along with a former restaurant around the corner, are owned by the same guy, Chris Evans. I wouldn't know him if he stepped out in front of my Mini as I went screaming out of the parking lot at a high rate of speed. I don't know if he's a good guy, a bad guy or a neutral guy. No clue. But I know he is trying to open a new restaurant around the corner from the school and this means one thing for certain: he's got a masochistic streak a mile wide. Anyone who tries to get anything done in the city has a masochistic streak, but it's especially true if you're going into the food business.

Evans and his partners (I guy I do know and like quite a bit, Todd Fisher) are seeking a full liquor license for the place, which shares a parking lot with Montessori. The school is freaked out because they have visions of Blue Goose customers running down the little Sams and McKenzies and Ashleys and McKennas at Montessori. The Blue Goose is freaked out because they've already invested a shitload of money in trying to get this place open (tip: never, ever buy your equipment first) and Montessori is standing directly between the restaurant and those 300 percent markups on liquor sales.

The local newspapers have gone out of their way to get the story wrong, or at least forgotten a small thing like fact checking. The students aren't gone by 3 p.m., for example. Evans may have put $1 million into tenant improvements of the Montessori building, but that comes back to him in a little thing called rent, as another example. And neither story noted the stop work/permit violation notice plastered to the future Blue Goose door. For more on that, read on.

The school had to battle to get a restriction placed on the liquor license that says no hard liquor sales until 5:30 p.m. And don't let anyone fool you--it was a battle. I seriously doubt any of our kids are going to get run over by a produce salesman on an afternoon bender, and Chuck thinks this is mostly a tempest in a tea pot. But given that Evans already has a stop work/permit violation notice on his door, a sign he's willing to ignore the law when it suits him, I feel better having the restriction in writing. He owns both buildings, he has a right to run a business and the school has the right, in accordance to its lease and generally accepted practices of running a school, to keep its students alive.

It could be a win-win situation. With booze.

The way the city works, though, the poor shmoes might never get open. But if they do, I plan on being there on opening day, ordering one of Todd's burgers and a martini.

But only after 5:30 p.m.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting to read your take on this. I heard Mark Carbonaro talk about this very situation the other day, and wondered why the two establishments can't work out a suitable compromise. Didn't know they were owned by the same person--but then, why can't the two establishments just work out a suitable compromise?

    Guess I'm just obtuse.

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