Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Tri-Cities Tribe

Faith checks out the scallops.

Since his territory was transferred to New York City, Daryn Berlin of Counter Culture Coffee brought the Tri-Cities Coffee Tribe together for one last "Huzzah!" at Woodberry Kitchen. Attending the very delicious dinner filled with large, family-style helpings of Springfield Farm ribeye steak and dayboat sea scallops (no rain or disasters this time TRue...) were the people from Peregrine Espresso (Washington DC), Tryst (Washington DC), Ultimo Coffee (Philadelphia), Spruce Street Espresso (Philadelphia), Lovers and Madmen (Philadelphia) and, of course, yours truly (who devoured more scallops than logical).

Ultimo enjoys (sort of) his first oyster - ever.

The Tri-Cities Coffee Tribe gathers.

ph: Bouncing The Banquette

Our new Church Pew takes a ride.

In spite of the fact that I only operate one espresso bar, I've actually designed a surprising number of coffeeshops, at a rate of about one per year. Of course, these designs were all for projects that never materialized or fell apart at the eleventh hour, which makes it kind of odd that this project has gone past the eleventh hour into actual build out. Guess there's still more opportunity for it to fall apart...

It seems that I've come to love the banquette. It's appeared in three of my last designs and I can't seem to get enough. For Project Pantalon Rouge, I thought of hot read leather banquettes on oak floors and gleaming white walls. Very hot. In the designs for project hampden, the banquette took a more reserved tone. Natural wood casing with rich, supple dark blue fabric. Tre chic, que no?

Until the day I stopped by The Loading Dock in Baltimore City. The Loading Dock is one of those reclamation kind of businesses where you can find all sorts of reclaimed and salvaged building materials. There they had row upon row of salvaged church pews. They had both painted white curved pews with upholstered cushions and curved dark walnut pews. I thought then that it would look good in project hampden's neutral colored environment, but the curved pew presented a bit of a dilemma in how much space the seating area would occupy - and space is at a bit of a premium in project hampden.

Then Chris Attenborough suggested I check out Second Chance by Ravens Stadium. Like The Loading Dock, Second Chance does reclamation as well as architectural salvage. Walking through Second Chances warehouse is tantalizing indeed. I wish I had an infinite budget and 10,000 square feet because there's some killer stuff in there. Luckily, they had the ten foot dark wood straight church pew I was looking for - at a killer price: $15 per linear foot.

A hundred and fifty bucks later (plus $75 for the Enterprise rent-a-van and $30 for lunch with Gerry - who I conscripted to carry the thing), we're chugging down the road with a church pew that's ten times less than the custom banquette I was planning.

A church pew may seem a bit too non-secular for some and maybe a bit disingenuous to others, but it helps reclaim materials and I'm all for that whenever possible. Troy Reynard has one in his living room. While his is more modern in design, mine is definitely more "old church" in design.

As I was pondering the possibility of using the church pew instead of a banquette, I remembered that most banquettes I've sat in were just uncomfortable. The seats were slightly too high so my feet were never fully on the ground. A church pew doesn't have that problem and they're designed so that parishioners can sit comfortably for hours on end (especially during Christmas High Mass).

Not that project hampden will be hosting a High Mass anytime soon.