Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Devil is in The Details

After a near disaster (a story we MIGHT share over a cold one sometime)  the new bar top is complete (left) and the outdoor patio railings are installed.  Thursday we passed our final Health Department inspection...all HUGE milestones.  Now we face a long laundry list of things we have to get done before the second bar is fully operational. 

The devil truly IS in the details!  

Still, we're getting closer every single day! We will be closed July 1,2,3 & 4 to install the new storefront and then open the downstairs bar shortly thereafter.  Our Grand Opening is targeted for early August... stop by for a beer and flatbread and check out our progress!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

OH SHIT don't tell OSHA!

Safe construction best practices:

You can't make these types of cuts using the RIGHT tool." 

Hindsight is 20-20 

Monday, May 28, 2012


Well kids things are really coming along!  All of the plumbing is in place AND approved and the bar has been framed out.  All that's left for that portion of the project is the finishing decor touches which should be accomplished by the end of the week.  Then we just need to order bar refrigeration and stools, get them in place and then final inspections next week!  Our goal is to complete the entire project (new bar, new storefront and outdoor patio) by mid July.  And so far (keep your fingers crossed) we are right on target!

We will be closed just a couple of Tuesdays, May 29, June 5 and July 3 & 4 (holiday) but other than that we are OPEN DURING RENOVATIONS!  Come on by and check out our progress!
Our friend Eric who came all the way from Sacramento to help!  What a prince!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Back to the Grind

The floor  plumbing for the new bar is in and approved, so now it's back to the grind.  Chris is once again grinding away this time making the metal frame for the bar.  The question is, which is worse, metal spray in the face or in the crouch?  Look at the photos and you be the judge.

Don't anyone call OSHA!

This time at least we forced him to put on glasses, but he still didn't wear gloves, or sleeves for that matter.  

Either way, he'd better be careful, remember what happened last time he was grinding metal? (see August 26, 2011 blogpost - photo below)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hole-y Crap!

Projects are ALWAYS ten times harder than they appear, especially when you're dealing with a 100 year old building.  Who would think that ALL the cinder block in this building would be filled solid with concrete, not hollow as any reasonable person would expect cinder block to be (that must be the way they did things back in the day... guess things really aren't made the way they used to be). So this week Chris and John tied their bandanas and went to work drilling the holes to run the plumbing.  Using a 50-pound core driller meant to be used vertically into the ground, they shouldered the damn thing and drilled through 8 inches of solid concrete managing somehow to operate the "Rambo" machine gun-like tool from the shoulder.   They finally managed to blast through the concrete creating the holes you see in this pic. Now we're ready to lay the pipes for plumbing.  We're hoping to have all the pipes laid next week for mid-term plumbing inspection shortly thereafter.  Once the plumbing goes in we can start concentrating on building the bar.  Once the bar is done we can focus on the interior decor and finally the new store front and outdoor patio. Once we are done, we will all drink...heavily. It all takes more time than you expect (of course) but we're still hoping for mid to late June completion. Oh, and the smiley face on the wall... that was Chris and John's way to show how happy they were to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. :-)=

Saturday, May 5, 2012

In The Trenches

We got final Health Department approval to add our new bar and so the process begins!

One day of saw cutting which almost suffocated John THE MAN Heger (best plumber ever) & our beloved Chris with CO2 fumes AND created a literal river of mud in the Lower Lounge!) Next, a day of jack hammering and we finally reached dirt (which in our case is clay requiring a bit more jack hammering).   Hope to have the street level bar up and operational by mid June...but don't forget we're open during the renovation, jack hammering by day, serving beer & wine by night.   We're having some fun now!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Business As Usual

It's still business as usual at 98 Bottles, even as we begin our remodel.  We're maintaining our normal business hours (plus opening for a few extra Sunday events), and handling a lot of the current grunt work behind the scenes and after hours.

Still, you may have noticed a few small pieces of evidence that the building phase will begin soon...Exhibits A & B (notice the ladder and tape outlined on our floors):

But what's most important is still intact...Exhibit C:

Even during the planning phase, construction, and up to our official unveiling, 98 Bottles remains intact.  We're still your friendly, neighborhood bar with an impeccable drink selection and delicious dinner menu--and soon enough, we'll be your greatly improved friendly, neighborhood bar, with an outdoor patio and an even better space to boot!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Stamp Collection

No, we’re not turning into philatelists, those are the folks who collect the lovable, lick-able postage stamps issued by the post office.  We’re just trying to collect the multitude of city and county approval “stamps” required on our architectural drawings before we can begin construction.  They can be as difficult to obtain as a special edition 1 cent stamp from the earliest days of the USPS. So that you might benefit from our learning experience (should you ever decide to build or permit something) here are a few “stamp collecting” tips:

Here are the 4 stamps we've collected so far
THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM - Show up at the city planning office early, 15 minutes before they open is best.  You want to get the planners while they are still in good spirits before they’ve been crushed by cubical claustrophobia and inundated with general contractors, architects and engineers.  Besides, for every hour after opening you show up, you’ll probably have to wait three times as long to get your turn at the counter.

GO INTO YOUR SONG & DANCE – You can’t just present your plans you have to SELL them!  The truth is you are awarded or NOT awarded the coveted stamps sometimes based, in large part, on the whims of the planners you happen to get at the counter.  In fact, after a few rounds of “when did she tell you this?” and “why did he tell you that?” one of the planners readily confessed, “at least we’re consistent in our inconsistencies!”

MANNERS COUNT – The people behind the counter may hold all the power but don’t forget that they are still people.  They appreciate a friendly smile and a sincere hello and a self-deprecating demeanor.  Anyone who has been through the permitting process knows this.  That’s why you will see even the most seasoned architect or the burliest contractor act like humbled, bashful kids when they show up to the counter vying for their stamps.

DON’T GIVE UP OR GIVE IN – Part of the battle is being insistent, YOU know that what you want to do makes sense, your job is to convince THEM.

We have followed all these handy tips and STILL we sit waiting to get four more stamps needed to complete our collection. Here is one more tip; you have to go in order. In our case, CCDC’s waiting on Mechanical and Plumbing, Mechanical and Plumbing is waiting on Health and Health has put us off for a few days because of other “minor” projects ahead of us.  Hopefully by early next week we will have the whole thing “licked!”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

To Our Health

Well, we submitted our plans to the Health Department this week and now we wait.   Hopefully no more than 7-10 days, then we’re off to get city approval and the final stage of the build out begins!  Keep your fingers crossed that we don’t run into too many snags.  We’re tying into all new plumbing that we put in a few months ago so that shouldn't’ be too complicated or raise any red flags, still when you’re dealing with local government bureaucracy, you never know!  We’re really getting excited to see the project take shape.  The feedback we’ve gotten from everyone has been super positive.  If all goes according to plan, in about 8 weeks you’ll be able to come by and enjoy a beer or glass of wine on our new outdoor patio, play a game on our new bar shuffleboard or just hang out in our newly remodeled digs. It’s been the support of all of you that has gotten us this far so we know what a difference it makes to have everyone pulling for us.  So keep your fingers crossed and say a toast To Our Health!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Final Phase (Here We Go Again!)

In a couple of weeks we’ll be under construction again with the FINAL PHASE of our build-out.  We’ve been open 7 months now so it’s time to finish what we started.  This phase involves adding another bar in the Lower Lounge, opening up the storefront and adding two outdoor patios.   We’ll also be extending the Back Room by building a wall at the top of the stairs and opening up the wall behind the existing bar so you’ll be able to watch live music and other entertainment from the bar. Luckily this construction does not require near as much drawing and permitting as the original build-out so we should be done by early to mid-June.  And since WE'LL BE OPEN DURING CONSTRUCTION, the whole process shouldn’t be too disruptive.  When it’s done we’ll have a great neighborhood bar space downstairs (complete with bar shuffleboard) and an enhanced Back Room entertainment/event space.  Here are a couple of drawings of what it will look like.  Stop in and let us know what you think!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Never, Never, Never Give Up

A good friend gave us a magnet with this quote on it:
It sits firmly attached to our office filing cabinet in clear view every single day.  An excellent magnet choice for a new business, don’t you think?  Sometimes we glance over and see those 5 simple words and…it helps somehow.  It was Winston Churchill who managed to express in 8 syllables what is so profoundly true.  That no matter what you’re dealing with in your life that makes you want to give up, DON’T! 

Cause once you’re in it, all you can really do is own it. You gotta  keep slogging along until you figure it out, overcome it, master it or, at the very least, embrace it.

Tenacity, after all, is way underrated. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine's Day for Turkeys

For our first Valentine’s Day at 98 Bottles we wanted to plan something really special. We’ve been talking about it for days.  It’s always fun to think creatively and to collaborate on some fun new event.  It's all consuming so we’ve literally had Valentine’s Day on the brain!  Here’s the problem, every time I mean to say Valentine’s Day, I say Thanksgiving…literally EVERY time, in fact, just now when I was typing Valentine’s Day…I typed Thanksgiving.  No kidding!  What the f*&!% does that mean?  What possible lose connection could cause a person to confuse THOSE two holidays.  Dear god, I don’t even want to think about the Freudian meaning.  All I know is this Valentine’s Day I have a sneaking suspicion that instead of roses or chocolates I’ll be getting turkey!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"The Thing" is...

Have you ever noticed that the minute you think you have solved a “thing,” everything changes and the solution you thought brilliant just moments ago, is now not only insufficient, but sometimes downright dumb.  The “thing” can be anything really, an operational challenge, a financial problem, an employee conflict, a customer concern.  No matter what the “thing” is, it always seems to be a moving target and the harder you aim, the farther off target you get.   We're firm believers in policies and procedures, but you can policy and procedure yourself into oblivion only to have a new challenge you had not considered rise up and throw you for a loop.  Not to argue that this is a case for anarchy, certainly some framework is better than none. But why do the parameters have to keep changing?  I suppose from a metaphysical standpoint it’s what allows us to “evolve,” i.e. how we react to the challenges in life is a reflection of who we are as a person.  But damn it’s frustrating!  Wouldn’t it be nice to solve a thing and let it stay solved for evermore? Wishful thinking I guess.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bragging Rights

Ok, all humility aside, we have some of the best food in San Diego and NO we are NOT a restaurant.  

We are a lounge/entertainment venue with killer eats!  Our food menu is limited…on purpose.  Our biggest pet peeve is going to a restaurant with the “Cheese Cake Factory syndrome,” you know what I’m talking about, a menu that goes on forever!  It takes 20 minutes just to read the damn thing and another 45 to decide what you want.  And a part of you wonders who could possibly master that many dishes and just how fresh can anything be when there is an ingredient list of 3,000 items! 

So our food menu is limited – on purpose - but it is down right delicious!  Everything is seasonal and farm to table (no bullshit, we have a freezer the size of a postage stamp so all ingredients have to be fresh). Tonight after savoring every delicious morsel of the winter flatbread (roasted sweet potato, home-made peanut butter, fennel, white cheddar, mozzarella, balsamic reduction & fresh cut sage) and the Winter Market Salad (roasted beets, fresh sage, goat cheese, cucumber, fennel and vanilla balsamic reduction) I couldn’t help but puff my chest out a bit with pride.  From the very beginning the food side of the business has been the most frustrating the most expensive and the hardest to handle.  But, all of that effort has been well worth it.  So hats off to you Sergio – you are the master!

We’re getting ready to start serving lunch a couple of days a week soon and I can’t wait to see what Sergio comes up with.  I know ahi tuna bowls will be on the menu, steak/rice bowls too.  The man even makes his own kimchi.  He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk when it comes to using seasonal, fresh ingredients.  So if you think you can’t go to a bar to get fresh and healthy food, think again.  I’m telling you, next time you stop by for a beer or glass of wine don’t go to dinner first, give the 98 Bottles menu a try.  You won’t regret it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

98 Candles

We’re not sure why but 98 Bottles has become THE place for birthday parties.  Last Saturday night we had three!  Not a week goes by that we don’t host at least one or two.  We’ve even had people book birthday parties before they’ve ever even been to 98 Bottles.  The other day I got a phone call that we had a delivery and could I come and open the door. I went to the front door, saw the delivery truck and two men standing there so I opened the door and asked if they wanted to deliver through the front door or the side. With perplexed looks on their faces they said “We’re here to book a birthday party.”  (Turns out the deliveryman was already at the side door).

We’re not sure the cause of this wonderful phenomenon but we’re very grateful for it. After all there are approximately 1.3 million residents in the city of San Diego and 2.1 in the county.  Every single one of them have birthdays every single year.  So, ok not all of them are over 21 years of age…but still there's a lot of potential!

Mainly what’s nice is that people want to celebrate with us.  We can’t imagine a nicer compliment.  So don’t be depressed that you’re turning 30 (or 40 or any other orty) just come on down to 98 Bottles and have your birthday with us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Birthing the Baby

Some people compare opening a new business to giving birth.  Well, there certainly are similarities. We’ve been open about three months now and we’re tired, sore, exhausted, exhilarated, scared and deliriously happy.  That’s about par with having given birth 12 weeks ago.  There may not be bleary-eyed midnight feedings but there certainly are bleary-eyed midnight meetings.  We’ve had to turn our full attention to this new “child” of ours leaving little time for anything else. Like any newborn, it’s most definitely challenging and demanding at times, but so amazingly worthwhile. There are days we question what the hell we could have been thinking to take such a huge step, but there are others when the place is filled with customers having a great time that we know we made the right choice.  Either way, there’s no going back now!  We try to remind ourselves that our “baby” won’t always be in diapers, that there will come a time when it will have grown into the mature “adult” we always knew it would be.  So we focus on enjoying watching our “baby” grow no matter how tired we may be, or how frustrated. We celebrate each little milestone and try not to worry…at least not TOO much.