Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ph: 9 and 5

As ready as we'll ever be.

Nine months and five days.

If you had told me back in June that we wouldn't finish project hampden until March 2010, I might have laughed. Had you assured me that numerous delays and poor decisions on my part would guarantee a March 2010 opening, I might have cried.

Tomorrow, after nine months and five days of blood, sweat and tears, project hampden will cease to exist and become Spro Hampden.

In many ways, it's hard to believe. Since we set the opening date last week, many people have been asking me if I'm getting excited about opening. But it wasn't until this evening that I really started getting excited.

The brewing stations.

Even up to the last minute, forces conspire against us. I mean, what good is the opening of a coffee joint if there is no coffee to serve? Our usual shipment from Vancouver was delayed by US Customs. The delay of our normal coffee shipment has caused Towson's inventory to be completely depleted, forcing Arianna to hijack the Ecco Caffe order destined for Hampden. At the moment, there isn't a single bean of the Hines Espresso between the two locations.


Luckily, our shipments from Counter Culture and Intelligentsia arrived yesterday, but we're still faced with the no espresso quandry. No espresso at the place named after espresso? How foolish we could look in the morning: "Hello. Welcome to Spro. You can have anything you want as long as it doesn't have espresso in it..."

That could be worse than my nightmare about eating french fries.

Spro Hampden: T-minus 12 hours and counting...

With UPS and FedEx already having made their rounds, we're faced with still no espresso to speak of. A plan is conceived to drive to the nearest coffee roaster and create an ad hoc blend for espresso. Not the best solution but one that might work. That's when Jess chimes in that she might be able to swing a couple of bags from another local roaster that does some pretty good stuff down in Annapolis. It's a chance since they supply another local coffeeshop not too far away and even though we're friends with the roaster, I'm sure their reticent to supplying the shop down the street from an established client.

Later, as I sit in the near empty shop I start to get excited. There's still much to do before the morning but I'm relieved that we're going to open and start making a living for our baristas. We're working with some of the most amazing purveyors of coffee, pastry and ingredients in America and combining that with some truly promising baristas and I can't imagine it starting off better than this.

If you have the time between 9am to 5pm tomorrow, please come visit us.

Spro Hampden
851 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211