“You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through”

Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” by David Bowie

The construction project was a journey
I could never imagine

The scale of financing, designing, contracting, and project managing a 10,000 sq ft restaurant in a dilapidated building requires a mini-series of posts. This is post #1.

Not only did this venture comprise a mishmash of tasks that were exciting as well as frightening at the same time, but it also set my course as a first-time entrepreneur on a path with little chance of success.

Being brand new at this game of building a restaurant, I had no idea of the magnitude of my involvement. Not many people are allowed to jump in the deep end of the construction pool on the first try without a life jacket.

A mentor is important but beware

I did have a mentor who owned and operated the small restaurant where I received most of my experience, and he found this LARGE bottling plant that was to be developed into three foodservice businesses.

His encouragement was infectious, and I blindly followed his advice. He drove me to think big. Big mistake. All I can think of now is too big, much too big.

The soon-to-be burgeoning neighbourhood of Old Strathcona

I knew the neighbourhood well and even had my first job there in a shoe store on the main drag (Whyte Ave) while in high school. This Old Strathcona area would soon evolve into a hub of restaurants, bars, and clubs in the next couple of decades. It was gratifying to be involved at the outset. This location was prime. But so was the rent.

City regulations with parking restrictions were the first roadblock to obtaining a building permit, and I was fortunate to secure additional parking across the street in a new office building. This was just the start of many obstacles to overcome and lessons to learn.

Somebody stop me!

When you’re designing a restaurant and bar from scratch, options are limitless and they get the adrenalin pumping. But you can also have too much freedom to choose from all the variables available.

Cost considerations, though, were not enforced enough. This freedom allowed us to look outside the box regarding interior design and where the furniture was sourced. We started with Architectural Digest magazine. The furniture was one of our best moves though, as I will describe in a future post in this series.

Developing this dilapidated structure with minimal services into an upscale restaurant would be a greater task than I could comprehend, and this would prove to be detrimental. I was too excited to grasp the project’s size with accompanying logistics. More elaboration in Part 2 about the incredible potential we envisioned.

Part 2 – The Architect and the Contractor

Part 3 – The Construction

Part 4 – The Kitchen

Part 5-1 – The Fixtures

Part 5-2 – The Furniture

Part 6 – Ready to Open