Between interviews with cooks all day and dealing with the contractor all night, I was aching for the cocktail tasting on Tuesday. In the meantime, I had the washrooms to consider re-doing. The handicap washroom on the main floor was in workable condition, but needed a facelift. The reasons were two-fold. The first was that it was purely functional and therefore ugly; the kind of washroom that may or may not confirm your opinion about the rest of the restaurant space and your overall dining experience. It needed some sprucing up with a fresh coat of paint, bright tiles, and the odd design feature. Aesthetically-challenging (and Ikea stock item) washrooms are always suspect in restaurants, even on a budget like mine. Great restaurants take care of their washrooms as diligently as they take care of their kitchens. They apply Mr. Clean equally in all areas and polish with Brasso as required. The second reason was that the downstairs men’s and women’s washrooms were a bit precarious to get to. The staircase was steep, the ceilings low (even I, all 5’5″ of me, was ducking my head to get into the men’s stall), and I feared for the odd guest’s life who had had one too many to drink and thought it a good idea to negotiate his way to the toilet. I was stumped for ideas of what to do with them. Proof of my need for sleep: I was considering papering the walls with black and white exterior image shots of rural Korean outhouses with its thatched roofs, like the kind I was used to using when I was a child. Then the contractor gave his head a shake.
Ideas, anyone? As much as possible, we would direct guests to the main floor washroom.
Another big issue (and one I hadn’t taken into account in my budget) was the brutal Canadian winter. To create a warm atmosphere, the atmosphere should be warm. We all hate restaurants that divide the blizzard outside from the cozy interior with a single swing door, especially when we are sitting by the door itself because we must have pissed off the host and didn’t know it. Our front door opens out to the street corner, the perfect tunnel for wind barreling down from Siberia and down the two separate lanes. It looks like this from inside. It needed a vestibule, made of glass from floor to ceiling. It would cross from the left, perpendicular to the wood panel siding, three feet past the fire extinguisher, to another door that would open into the middle of the diningroom. Guests will love me for this, but it does takes a chunk off the budget. $4000. When I asked if there was another (cheaper) solution, the Korean contractor wrapped his arms over his shoulders and feigned being a naked Korean man standing by an igloo somewhere in the general vicinity of Iglungyut, Nunavut. He’s a man of few words, this contractor.
The contractor wanted to know what to do with the four 36″ and two 48″Samsung plasma television sets hanging on all four walls. (Recall that the place was going to be a chicken wing sportsbar.) I told him we are going to sell off the four smaller ones (any takers?) and leave the two large ones up, like this one at the front. Thinking about playing K-Pop videos (on mute, of course), with the occasional major sporting event like the Superbowl and the International Sumo Championships. But if anyone has any better ideas, please let me know (no UFC).
By the time we were done, there was no time to discuss the back part of the restaurant. He would be back tomorrow to start interior demolition, so I had to go home and think about where the bibimbap station was going to go.