Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ph: Morning Resumes

Bacon omelette with chili and cheese at the Cafe Hon.

There's lots of pain in running your own business, but one the more painful aspects is hiring new staff. With the impending arrival of project hampden it's time to start hiring baristas. Young, old, experienced or novices - I'm looking for great people who are excited about the prospect of working with people and serving customers. The basic Order Of The Day at The Spro is: We want our guests to leave feeling stoked that they visited us today. It's the essence of what we do and what we're about.

Some people confuse this with a crazed obsession on coffee and coffee quality but it's much more than that. It's about serving customers and anticipating their desires. It's about delivering the absolute best quality product that we possibly can while accommodating their needs, desires and requests. It's not about the traditional barista Third Wave "we know coffee better than you" attitude - in fact, that kind of approach has no place amongst our ranks. It's about enthusiastic service and great quality products.

I've placed ads on Craigslist Baltimore and I've got a literal mound of resumes to review, attempting to find the gems in pile, while trying to ensure that I don't miss out and pass over someone who might not look terribly great on paper but could be the exact person we're looking for.

At the risk of tipping our hat, project hampden is about taking the coffee experience to a level that's not widely seen in the industry, and certainly not in our hamlet of Baltimore. The standards are high and so are the expectations. The task at hand is pouring through all the resumes that are flooding my email box to find the right people to make it happen.

ph: Flooring It

The lab floor ready for treatment.

I once told a good friend of mine, several years ago, that I was done with building shops myself. That I would, from then forward, always contract the work out. Well, sometimes I'm wrong.

I think I'm a control freak. From the standards and quality that our baristas perform under to the crazy little details of whether or not that little splotch on the wall will be noticed by customers - even though it's soaring nine feet above their heads and behind where they will be sitting. Fact is, I know that splotch is there and no matter how nice the rest of the details are, that little splotch will shout at me every time I walk into the space for the next ten years. It's maddening.

Now that most of the paint work has been completed, it's time to start working on the floors. Luckily, the early 20th Century hardwood floors are in good condition and only in need of a light screening and reapplication of oil-based polyurethane.

A little sand, a little urethane.

My problem is that I actually kinda enjoy the work and the labor. There's something oddly satisfying about seeing that gouge in the wall disappear under layers of spackle, sanding and paint. And seeing the floor glistening with new polyurethane gets my blood boiling (not to mention the slight high from the non-environmentally-friendly chemicals in the urethane).

Next up: laying down vinyl flooring in the food prep area.

Early 20th Century hardwood gets a refinish.