TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Woe, whoa — ho! And other tales of restaurants, pubs and bars

Post by News Tribune Staff on Dec. 6, 2007 at 7:57 am | No Comments »
December 6, 2007 7:57 am

Driving around, I see of signs of “coming soon” that seem to take forever to come together. I also see a lot of signs of “come and gone.”

Did you ever wonder what happened to that restaurant that abruptly closed? What about that one that never opened? What’s going on inside that one that’s taking forever?

When I worked as a fixer-cum-gofer for Restaurant Ray, I had a 20-point list tacked to a wall in my office. It listed a bunch of things that needed to happen in order to start a restaurant. The first dozen or more tasks involved permits, red tape and contractors.

So here’s what I’m after today: I want stories from restaurateurs, bar owners, soup kitchen magicians, five-star pizza pushers, anyone who’s opened a place, closed a place, canceled plans for a place, or is working hard, hungry and happily on places to eat and drink in the South Sound.

What’s the funniest, most frustrating or most rewarding moment or experience in opening (or closing) an establishment?

What hurdles arose when the name you chose for your new eatery/drinkery turned out to be spoken for?

State liquor law says you must brew beer in your new place. How micro will microbrewery be?

Did you scupper a bistro in the ‘burbs because the grease trap that the county required would have eaten too much of your budget?

What did you do when you inherited 18 pounds of deep-fried chicken grease from the previous tenant?

Why is your French bistro still without signage on the building?

Inquiring diners want to know. I wouldn’t mind knowing.

Restaurant folk, your blog is ready. May I start you with a link to Ed’s Diner comment section?

Everyone should read about what’s going on at Heads Up Brewing, a microbrewery/brew-on-premises/beer geek clubhouse in Silverdale, in the words of ale conner Ted Farmer. Click below.

The current business model is not working and can not be sustained. The business must grow, shrink or totally go away. I am exploring all three scenarios. As most of you know Heads Up Brewing Company had plans to expand into a full blown brew pub. A lot of money and time went into purchasing equipment and planning. For many reasons, the expansion plans came to a halt when we found that the building under lease negotiation did not meet current building codes. The money needed to bring it to code was beyond what our partners were willing to risk. Just after the building fiasco Tom Williams, one of the partners in the new adventure, passed away. Since that time we have been searching for a new location, but have not found anything that will work.

At his point a major expansion is not an option, so the business and equipment were put up for sale in August. To date we have no serious offers. If you know of potential investors or interested parties, let me know.

We are currently exploring opening a bottle store with a small tap room. Heads Up bottle store would have a greatly expanded selection of bottled beer. There would be no brewing facilities. This option has the best possibility of success, and I would like your thoughts on this.

I have parties interested in spinning off the brewing part of the business and continuing the production of our award winning beers. The business will probably not include a customer Brew on Premises concept. I am helping the brewers put together a feasibility study on a stand alone brewery. We will NOT be selling off part of the brewing operation. It will be sold as a package.

The final option is to totally close down the business. My lease is up next year and I will not be renewing. Our rent is fair for our space, but the business can’t support this type of overhead. We need more space and more parking.

Our time table for the transition is rapidly approaching. We are looking at either opening a bottle store or closing, assuming that someone does not purchase the business, in February 2008. That means we will start curtailing beer production in January, and wine production in mid December.

I am closing out all wine kits at 35% off, effective immediately. I will not be ordering replacement kits. So, when we run out we will no longer be making wine. I will not be renewing my winery license in January.

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