Monday, May 30, 2011

We are finally here! YAY!

So we opened our doors last Wednesday.  We didn't have full electricity til Thursday and we hopefully get gas tomorrow, but Mister Close looks hot.  He has come up so well and yep, we are pretty proud of what we have accomplished.  Completely and utterly exhausted, but man is it worth it.  We are pretty proud of what we have accomplished and I am especially proud of Peter who has been able to offer a full menu every day with limited power and Gas. 

Just like any new day at school you wonder what all the other kids will think of you, but we think they like us.  Kind of weird when you open up in the mouth of a food court which offers fairly cheap food alternatives and in an area of town where franchise and Asian food is the main offering - but we are determined to make our stamp.  We want to make sure we offer good food, an every changing menu and warm friendly service.  This combination is so important to us.  Peter puts so much love into his food and Carlos assists him with such finesse and I think the same level of passion.  Sure, we are priced differently from the $6 sandwich down the arcade or the Korean BBQ - but it is important for us to cook and serve up what we believe in - good wholesome home made food. We make everything front mini carrot cakes, mayonnaise, chutney, soups and it goes on and on.. I think sometimes people can underestimate that. 

It is pretty overwhelming and I must admit I was almost in tears a few times last Wed and Thursday - but only because we are so proud of what we have been through and accomplished.  We have had a fantastic first 5 days and even 2 catering jobs Than.  We are loving our customers and are starting to know their names (never been good with names so this is the test).  However for a guy who has returned to hospitality after 20 years I have just realised why - I really love pleasing people.  Thank you to everyone who has given us such wonderful feedback.  It was a huge risk, but I think we are going to like it hear.  Thank you new neighbours - you rock!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Perhaps May 23 or May 24 or perhaps May 25

For years I have heard other people talk about building homes or opening businesses and there have always been delays.  I think Mister Close has had his fair share of delays.  We proudly take possession of him tomorrow (May 19).  The plan was to work our sweet little batooties (is that a word?) off and softly launch on May 21.  It all comes down to the power - oh don't worry we have power, enough to run a few computers, a photo copier, some lights and a ghetto blaster.  Big problem is that WE ARE NOT A TRAVEL AGENCY.  We happen to be a cafe who signed a lease back on 2010 stating our electricity needs.  Now almost 6 months later it was discovered we don't have the 120 amps agreed upon, we are still running on the needs of an AAT Kings office. 

Problem rectified by our magnificent (new) property managers, however it is like buying a brand new Cliff Richard Album and and not being able to play it or a hypercolour tshirt and your breath isn't hot enough for it to change colour miraculously (not that it has ever happened to me).  So come tomorrow we will be washing dishes without any other appliances on, we will then be able to turn on the cool room and stand in it for effect which should be fun - then turn it off so we can wash some more dishes.  All we need now is for Origin to place the job and city power to make it a priority so they can come and wack a meter on our power.  Then we can use everything at once and open for business.  The only thing is - we dont know when that would be.  I was told 2 days, 5 days or up to 15 days however the guy who told me that latter exclaimed that he is being recorded and has to tell me that it is a possibility. 

When you have food that could spoil and a kitchen that can't work at full capacity it makes it hard, but then add on top of that people who are waiting in the wings to give you them all and help us make Mister Close ace - you just have to make the call.  So we did.  While we are still hopeful and could possibly open our doors to all day coffee and muffins - the reality is that we most likely won't.  So CLOSE but yet so far. 

Once again an out pouring of love goes to all our incredible family and friends for being so very supportive.  Our partners Fi and Ian have been so patient and understanding.  thank you thank you thank you...we are almost there. 

I am so playing wired for sound by Cliff Richard when we first open.  He was a genius!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Here we go, hold on tight...

This is the last week... in fact we have 3 days til handover and we can barely contain ourselves.  Mister Close is looking rather special, but of course it must be human nature to continually doubt yourself.  Did we do the right thing?  Have we extended ourselves too much?  Have we got the formula right?  Will all the other kids like us when we arrive?  Faith is an incredible thing, but I think sometimes we are so busy building up faith in other people rather than ourselves.  The faith, respect and trust Pete and I have in each other has been built up over many years.  He once had faith that I could sing and I once had the faith that he could be on time.  Well - he has now learnt to be on time, but alas I am only good at singing when I have dance to distract people's attention. 

We have taken many risks with Mister Close.  The biggest one is having the faith that this level of cafe is needed in this part of town.  Russell & George have done a spectacular job in designing our space, but it really looks quite alone in its location because everything around us has neon lights and another 200 or 3000 stores that are just like it around the world.  Mister Close is one of a kind. 

This week - May 19 is when we have hand over of Mister Close.  Almost 8 weeks ago it was an empty shell and almost 18 months ago Pete and I started talking about the possibility of doing this.  There have been many set backs and there has been a bit of stress, but we are almost there.  Good things happen to good people - and without blowing my own trumpet I know we are good people.  We are opening Mister Close for the right reasons and it is feels pretty good.   We genuinely believe there is a lack of quality food , spectacular service and good coffee along Swanston street and certainly within a 100 metre radius of where we will be.  Personally I am pretty proud of what we have achieved so far,.  Pete's menu is fantastic, we have hired some incredible people to join the team, the music is downloaded and I have developed some great routines.  Here is a sample of our sandwiches just to get you drooling.

  • Stuffed roast chicken with rocket & home made mayo
  • Grilled pumpkin, salsa agresto, buffalo mozerella & oven dried tomato
  • Shaved ham & dill potato salad
  • Haloumi, roasted capsicum, eggplant, rocket & dukkah
  • Tuna with capers and home made mayo
  • Salami, piccobello cheese, roast capsicum, dill cucumber & olives
  • Roasted honey carrots & garlic with bacon, avocado & cos lettuce
  • Poached chicken, brie, spinach & avocado

We still plan to open May 21 to fam and friends (in fact everyone is welcome) to help us work out our systems and then May 23 - Mister Close finally gets to say HELLO WORLD!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Almost there...

All good things come to those who wait, so does that mean the longer you wait the better it will be.  Perhaps not if you were building a massive Ferris Wheel or Very Fast Train from Sydney to Melbourne.

So we are now less than three weeks away from introducing Mister Close to the world <<insert thunderous applause>>  Apart from the weird sensation of going back to work (I don't think Pete and I have ever had this much time off - well except when I went travelling, oh to be young again) we just can't wait.  So now we are pulling together our team (Calling all front of house peeps - lovers of customers and all around fabulous human beings - we need you).  It is now getting into surreal world because of all the delays, we have naturally lost our momentum and we realise now we have a thousand things to do.  As we sit here on May 2, all the tiling is done and the flooring is don.  We move into the next stage over the next few days of fitting this bad boy out with all the equipment that Pete needs to make his magic happen. 

Every time Pete and I travel into the city and look at what used to be the old Foy's Department store, it

excites us to know end.  So with less than three weeks it is time to get everything in order.  Pete has the knowledge of what is ahead of us while I am allowing ignorance to excite me of finally opening my dream.  I love Pete's food and I love working with people and customer service, so what is there to be afraid of?  I will let you know in about 6 weeks.  It is just nice to know that this roller coaster ride of emotions is coming to a close - we know we get to step on a new roller coaster, but at least we will be driving it this time.

So the best news is:
  • We have Campos coffee on board.  They are a kick arse specialty coffee roaster and every time I drink that coffee it makes me smile.
  • Mr Starbucks across the arcade has decided to move out.  So we will be getting new neighbours and we just hope they are really nice and don't burn off every Saturday afternoon while we have the washing on the line.
  • We have already secured a fantastic Barista (in fact 2 I think), an awesome FOH leader and the kitchen staff are all in place.
  •  Aprons are ordered - so important. 
  •  The first two weeks of menus are done (just have to figure out how to use our POS)
  •  We have had incredible architects in Russell and George who have been so professional, creative and patient dealing with all the delays.
  •  Creative Order and David Marinelli have rocked our world with their assistance in developing Mister Close, his brand and image to the world.

So Peter and I (and our families) are a bit white knuckled - but we know this is going to be amazing and that Mister Close will be everyone's new best mate - well, that is what we are aiming for anyway because what's there not to love?

Tick Tock Tick Tock