Friday, February 05, 2010

ph: Seven Months

Final inspection paperwork and the celebratory cigar.

Seven months.

It's been seven months since we took control of the space for project hampden that would become the new Spro Hampden. Seven months of hard work, poor choices, setbacks, steps forward, steps backwards, delays, irritations, celebrations and infatuations.

Seven months.

A lot happens in seven months. Friends come and friends go. Family members have been born. Family members have passed away. I dated two girls and met a third in those seven months.

But more importantly, I've grown and I've learned. Our once little company has blossomed with some of the most promising baristas I have ever known. They've chosen to be a family. I've heard of situations where people from different locations have rivalries. In our little company, the baristas from both locations share their friendship. It's amazing to watch and an honor to be a part of this talented team.

Today, I sat in project hampden mostly alone because with the postponement of our Barista Jam, everyone ended up with the day off. A couple of our team came by to pick up their paychecks (since today is payday) and we had a couple of visitors who happened to find me sitting in the shop. I made them coffee. Coffee from the heart.

Seven months.

In those same seven months, I've come to realize that I haven't worked the bar in three months. I haven't made coffee for customers in over three months now - I couldn't believe it. Where once I thought I might never get out from behind the bar, I've been wondering when I will get back.

Anisha and Dai came over to eat a lunch of burgers from the Kooper's Burger Truck. It was a nice time and I wondered how many more times we might have the opportunity to enjoy these kinds of lunches before the madness of service begins.

Seven months.

Seven months ago, I thought that we could be open by August 1st. It was that date or October 1st because I had made a commitment to Alirio Laguna that I would come to Ibague in September. August 1st passed. No big deal, we still have October 1st. By November 1st, I knew we were deep into it and we still hadn't opened. I had hired our crew and we chugged forward without a specific opening date in mind. December 1st - nothing. January 1st, still not open. February 1st - still waiting.

Project hampden has been the most difficult facility I've ever build. It's also the most ambitious with a slew of details that I wanted to make sure were just right. Back in November, I was in a rush to open for the Christmas season. By mid-January, I had abandoned all the rushing and knew that we had to get it right before we opened.

Seven months.

For a long time now, I constantly wondered when this day would come. The day when the final inspections of project hampden would be completed and we would pass those inspections. On Wednesday, when they said that our appointments would be scheduled for today, I couldn't believe it. Certainly, there would be another mishap that would delay the project once again.

Both the building and health department inspections went smoothly. The respective inspectors checked out the alterations carefully and considerately. I was nervous. Even after ten years in the business, I still get nervous when inspectors come to inspect our premises. I'm worried that they'll find incontrovertible evidence proving that I'm really just a charlatan.

But today wasn't going to be that day.

As the health inspector looked around and checked the various equipment, backflow valves, floor sinks, plumbing and electical separations, and sanitary sinks, he commented: "Looks like you really know your stuff." Wow, that was nice.

Seven months.

Today, project hampden passed its last inspections. From here, it's just a slew of paperwork (and the obligatory check to the city government) that must be filed before the new Spro Hampden will be certified to operate.

Pretty soon, I won't bristle when people ask me when we will be opening...