Saturday, December 30, 2006

Taziki Sauce

Tracy and I are working on our menu items. We want to be a coffee shop, but due to a lack of food service in the area, we are also going to offer a few sandwich selections each day for lunch. We want to have a Greek style wrap or pita, so I made Taziki sauce today! It came out soooo good. I made two batches, one with lime juice and one with balsalmic vinegar. We both liked the lime juice version the best. I put taziki sauce and feta cheese in a pita, then put it in the toaster oven for several minutes. The feta melted a little, and the pita got a little crispy. It was very good. Tracy also put some turkey and avacado in hers.
Here is what I put in the taziki sauce:

Plain yogurt (I couldn't find any Greek yogurt, made with sheep or goat milk)
Italian (or European) cucumber, peeled and seeded
Regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
Chopped sweet onion
Fresh dill
Sea salt
Freshly crushed garlic cloves
Juice from half a lime, or two tablespoons of balsalmic vinegar

If you get bored and want to make some, it is very good and not difficult at all.
Today was just a quick experiment, but I'm going to make pita sandwiches soon with chicken grilled in rosemary, thyme, and marjoram; plus kalamata olives, taziki sauce, feta cheese, and a little shredded lettuce. I can almost smell it already! I don't have a recipe, so I'll just wing it, but I expect it to be amazing!

Well, we are off to church soon. Tonight is our night to teach the 4's and 5's class. They are much easier than the 3rd graders we've been teaching for the last six or seven months.

I hope everyone is doing great!

I just noticed the image glitch has been fixed. Here is the layout I'm working on (click on the image to see a larger version of it):

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Layout

Well, Tracy and I decided not to wait on the architect. We started working on some new layouts, based on the architect's input.
We moved the photography studio to the front, and moved the coffee bar to the back, where the existing plumbing is located. This will make our drain runs shorter, which should alleviate any concerns with the depth of the wastewater main. This also decreases the amount of saw cutting in the concrete slab, and also reduces the length of the plumbing and electrical runs. All of that translates to $$ saved, although it requires the demo of all walls, and building new walls. This layout also increases the size of the existing bathrooms.
Some key considerations in this layout are to keep the three 100 amp electrical panels where they are, and for them to be inaccessible to the public. Another issue was to keep the toilets where they are, as well as the bathroom sinks. We placed our 3 compartment sink and sanitizer in place of an existing bathroom to minimize the plumbing work for those items. I am also getting the cut sheets for the equipment we intend to purchase and I'm placing those items in the layout to scale, and recording their electrical/plumbing requirements.

Here is an image of the new layout so far (not done yet):

Actually, a glitch in the blog software is preventing me from attaching the image.
Here is a link instead:

Let me see if this blog will recognize the HTML tags for an embedded image:

This layout fixes several issues we had, but I'm still anxious to meet with the city Wastewater engineers and determine if we can place our grease trap indoors. They said that they no longer allow indoor grease traps. I explained our situation and the way our commercial space backs up to another building, with no easement, alley, utility chase, etc. They are going to take a look next week and come up with a solution. I hope their solution is to allow a variance on the grease trap location...
It is getting late, so I'm going to bed.
Good night...

New Plan?

We have been very busy through the Holidays and had a great Christmas. I hope all of you did as well.
I met with an architect yesterday and explained the challenges we are facing with our layout in this Retail to Retaurant space conversion. He has suggested a new layout entirely that will place our equipment requiring water and drains in the back portion of the space, closer to the utilities. We also need to design our space to achieve an occupancy rating under 30. If we are at 30 or higher, code requires two UL rated fire doors with crash bars, which cost about $3000 each. If our occupancy is less than 30, our existing doors will be OK.
The architect's name is Vic Chapman. He grew up in Southern California, went to Berkley, and has been in Colorado Springs for 16 years. He was the head of campus planning for Memorial Hospital, then spent several years at the El Paso County Reigional Building Department. He knows everyone at Regional, and he knows the code inside and out. He was the senior plan reviewer for several years, so he knows what he is doing (major understatement). We are very thankful to have access to his expertise... I'm just wondering how much he is going to cost, though! I'm guessing $9000 for Architectural plans, electrical engineering support, and plumbing/HVAC engineering support.
I completed some wall work up to this point, but it was just demo or modification of existing walls. I have not framed any new walls while waiting for answers about our layout. It looks very likely that it will change significantly.
I have a friend from a church we went to in 1997-1998 who is a licensed GC here in Colorado. He left Colorado in approximately 1998-99 with his wife, who went to medical school out of state. They then lived in Hawaii for her residency. They recently returned to Colorado, and Ryan would like to have a hand in our construction. I will be meeting with Ryan next week to talk with him about it...
I've got to go shovel the new 14" of snow off the driveway...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Plumbing Scope

I have reviewed the scope with a plumbing contractor and we have more unknowns, which could turn into nasty surprises. The property manager/owner does not have blueprints or as-builts of the existing utilities. We know there is a waste water main under the concrete slab, but we don't know what size it is, exactly where it is, or how deep it is. This could have major implications for our plumbing scope. If it is too high, we will have to run our waste to a sump and pump it to the waste water main. If it is too small, we would have to cut up the concrete slab over the main and replace it with a larger pipe. I'm hoping to find that it is at least a 4" main. We also need to install a grease trap per Regional Bldg Dept, but I have to determine what size, which components need to go through it, and if it can be inside. All of the coffee shop grease traps I've seen have been inside, but Canyon City, Colorado (different county) is now requiring grease traps to be outside. If that is the case, we are dead in the water. Our outside is over 100' away. It would cost a small fortune to trench the concrete and lay a new line running 100'. I have not heard of a similar requirement in El Paso County. This could be an insurmountable problem for us if it applies...

I will keep working these issues and find answers/solutions, and I'm praying that we don't find anything that will be a deal breaker.

Demolition Continues...

I spent some time this weekend continuing demo. There was a very nasty bathroom in the back corner of the expansion space that had to come out. I didn't get any photos from the start, but this is after the hot water heater and associated piping/electrical was demo'd, as well as the light and fan, and light switch. I also had the sink out and the drywall down prior to getting photos.
(click on it to enlarge)

I spent about four or five hours tracing electrical circuits Friday and Saturday. There are three 100 amp panels, and two of them are a mess (in the expansion space). I found four places where electrical wires were hanging out of the ceiling, exposed and energized. The circuits were all cannibalized, meaning someone had gone in over the years and added electrical outlets and fixtures, and just tapped into whatever electrical circuit was convenient. I spent hours tearing out unneeded and unsafe electrical circuits. Some just had to come out at the nearest juction box. Others had to come out all the way back to the panel. Some I just did a partial demo and left it safed off in a juction box where a future wall will go. It will then be easy to run a series of outlets down into the kid's room. I also found numerous receps installed with the polarity reversed. It is not a big deal for most things, but can cause problems with TV's and other equipment. I will be replacing all of the receps with new and will fix all of the polarity issues later. I even found some circiuts tapped into commercial flourescent light fixtures that had to come out. What a mess... Here is a photo of some of the work (click on it to enlarge):
As you can see in the first photo, there is a box with 8 receptacles in it on a long, flexible whip. As it turns out, the receps in the whip are fed from a different circuit than the receps in the outlet box it is attached to. Our office will be at this location, so I am getting rid of the whip with 8 outlets and replacing it with a short conduit run and a box with four outlets. Since this will be inside the office, I am not concerned about the conduit showing.

The expansion space, as you can see from some of the photos, is an absolute mess. The walls are stained with shoe polish, as well as the ceilings. It was a shoe repair shop for decades and they applied polish with a motorized buffer wheel. From the looks of things, they may have applied liquid polish with a five gallon bucket!! It would seem that they never cleaned the place once in 35 years. Now it's up to me to change it from a total disaster into a nice space.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

LLC Disaster!

WOW, getting our LLC chartered has been a horrible experience. We chose to hire a company called Incorporating Services to do our charter, and file all the paperwork required to get our Sales Tax License, EIN, etc... We had a consultation and they took all of our information, said they would type up the forms and email them to us within a few days. They said the entire process would take about a week and we would be in business.
As it turns out, her daughter was unemployed and she hired her to do her data entry, typing, etc. Her daughter began emailing us various forms to sign. I found huge, enormous, significant errors in the forms that would have very detrimental tax implications if submitted wrong. I had her fix three significant errors, and finally decided that I did not have the confidence in them to proceed. I notified the business owner that we were unhappy with the quality of their work and would like to cancel our interaction and have our money refunded. She refused to give us any money back and was angry with us for complaining about the quality of her company's work. She accused us of using this as a ploy to get all of the documents from her, then ask for our money back and get her work for free. I explained that the forms are all available for free from the local govt agencies. I explained that the forms she had done were incorrect and incomplete and could not be filed. I asked for our money back again, and she still refused. After much arguing, we came to an agreement that she would refund $75 and complete the forms (herself, not her daughter). This is not the result I wanted, but it was the best I could get her to agree to.
After getting the completed forms, Tracy and I went through them and found 16 more errors. About half were misspelled words, but half we major errors with incorrect or missing information on the forms that would affect us later in an adverse manner. I called Incorporating Services and left a voice mail stating that we had found numerous errors in the forms and would like to schedule a meeting to go through them, form by form, to get them corrected and file them. We just want this done, as it is preventing us from getting our business insurance policy, opening a business bank account, transferring the utilities accounts to our responsibility (landlord is still paying our utilities because we cannot get them switched).
Michael Schiller, the owner of Incorporating Services called me and just started screaming at me non-stop for several minutes. I was completely dumbstruck! I couldn’t believe that we paid $400 to have a ‘professional’ complete these forms for us, to average more than one error per page, and for them to yell at me because I want them to fix the errors!! Unbelievable. She then wanted to refund our filing fees only, and keep our $400 and terminate our interaction. I told her that her choices were to give us a full refund, fix and file the forms, or that I was going to contact my attorney and sue her. She finally agreed to fix the forms, so we started going through them page by page (over the phone – she has refused to meet with us). As we went through the forms and I pointed out errors that needed fixed, she kept saying “Whatever you want” with a huge attitude. I kept telling her it’s not whatever I want, but whatever is correct. I reminded her we are paying her $400 (less the $75 I was able to squeeze out of her) to complete these forms correctly and that is my expectation. What a complete disaster!! I was so furious with her. I have never in my life seen a company that does poor quality work, won’t give a refund, and screams at the customer for expecting them to fix their errors. I just sat there and stared at my phone in disbelief. I finally had to scream at her to get her to shut up.
She maintained her crummy, snotty attitude throughout our conversation. I finally told her I just want to get this done, file the forms and that we would never have to talk to each other again. She said that is not how she likes to have a relationship with a customer, and that severing future interaction is my choice and that’s how I am making this! Unreal! I asked her how she would like for this to end. She said she likes to visit businesses of her prior clients and she likes them to refer work to her… All of a sudden, I saw where this was going. She wanted me to refer people to her! I told her there is no way possible I would ever send anyone her way. I told her she does poor quality work, refuses to refund money when she doesn’t complete the work as agreed, and then screams at the client when they have reasonable expectations. So instead of sending work her way, I wanted to document my horrible experience with Incorporating Services in Colorado Springs. Avoid them at all costs!!! (Unless you like a good argument every now and then!)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

More info on the La Marzocco equipment

Here are photos and descriptions of the La Marzocco Linea 3 Group and the Swift grinder that we are considering. These would cost over $15,000 new, and that makes the used price of $4000 very enticing. I'm looking forward to trying these machines as soon as Marick is finished with their refurb:

La Marzocco Linea 3 Group Espresso Machine:

Suitable Environment
One of La Marzocco’s most popular machines, the Linea has earned its reputation as a global leader in retail specialty coffee. As the benchmark for independent coffee bars, this machine is capable of producing high-quality espresso consistently, even in the busiest shops. Thanks to its durability, the Linea can be built to accommodate small or large coffee houses and can be operated by baristas of all levels.

The La Marzocco Linea is easy to use, and requires limited experience to operate. Basic users can operate the brewing buttons, however, if you choose to customize the liquid volumes for signature drinks, it will require reading the manual and a more advanced knowledge of espresso brewing. For more in-depth training on brewing, steaming and frothing, users can be directed to the following articles for detailed descriptions of the brewing and frothing processes, but hands-on training is a must for the best results.


The Linea features 2 stainless steel boilers, for simultaneous brewing and steaming.
Brew boiler capacity: 5 liters
Steam boiler capacity: 11 liters
The La Marzocco Linea is housed entirely in heavy-duty stainless steel, and the saturated brew groups ensure maximum temperature stability.
5 programmable brewing buttons above each brew group make creating consistent, high quality espresso a relatively simple process.
2 omni-directional stainless steel frothing wands allow you to froth or steam multiple drinks at the same time.
A built-in water purifying system softens water to prevent residue buildup.
The Linea comes with a hot water nozzle, giving you the option to brew tea or quickly warm an espresso cup.
This La Marzocco espresso machine connects directly to a water line so you never have to refill it.
The Linea’s brew groups and portafilters are each 57mm in diameter.
Each brew group features 5 different settings so users can brew a variety of drinks.
Dimensions and weight
20”H x 37”W x 23”D
200 lbs
NSF and UL approvals ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

Steam Wand
The Linea features 2 ball-jointed, omni-directional steam wands to provide instant steam from the dedicated boiler. Dual stainless steel frothers make simultaneous steaming and frothing fast and easy, and since each wand is situated on each end of the machine, they can be used without getting in the way of the brew groups.

Brewing Buttons
The Linea comes with 5 buttons above each brew group that allow you to create espresso of consistent quality every time. 4 buttons control different preset coffee volumes: 1 short coffee, 1 tall coffee, 2 shot coffees, 2 tall coffees, while the last switch is an on/off switch for continuous brewing. The Linea automatic also gives you the option to customize the exact liquid volume each button dispenses. To change this, refer to the manual included with the machine.

Saturated Brew Groups
The La Marzocco Linea provides superior temperature stability with the heavy-duty, stainless steel brew heads connected directly to the boiler. This unique design allows water to flow openly and consistently between the boiler and each of the Linea’s brew groups.

Back Up Devices
To make maintenance fast and efficient, La Marzocco espresso machines feature back-up devices that make it possible to test and service your machine without interrupting your brewing routine.

Stainless Steel Cup Warmer
Like all of our La Marzocco espresso machines, the Linea features an oversized cup warmer. Made of heavy-duty stainless steel, the cup warmer is large enough to preheat all of your espresso, cappuccino and latte cups so they're always ready for brewing.

Steam Boiler Window
The Linea features a sight glass for monitoring the level of water in the steam boiler as you froth.

Electrical Options
The Linea can be customized to meet the needs of your electrical environment. Choose from 200v (1 or 3 phase), 220v (1 or 3 phase), or 380v (3 phase) depending on your requirements. You can also choose between standard wattage and high wattage heating elements to customize your machine's capabilities.

La Marzocco Swift Grinder:

Suitable Environment
With its two 4.4 lb hoppers and automatic grinding, dosing, and tamping, the La Marzocco Swift is a must-have for busy coffee shops where consistency and speed are top priorities.

Operating this La Marzocco grinder is very simple – if you can attach a portafilter to a brew group and press a button, you already know how to make it work. Since the Swift also doses and tamps for you, these factors are always impeccably consistent, which will also decrease the amount of time you’ll need to spend on training your employees to brew great espresso.


The Swift’s two 4.4 lb hoppers help you keep 2 kinds of coffee ready-to-brew at any time.
With its unique automatic design, this La Marzocco coffee grinder grinds, doses, and tamps coffee right into your portafilter, bringing unmatched consistency to your drinks.
2 programmable grinding buttons allow you to preset the amount of coffee that is ground for further consistency.
The La Marzocco Swift features independent grind setting controls for each hopper.
Flat plate ceramic burrs ensure a consistent grind and a long burr life.
A grounds tray beneath the portafilter holder catches stray grounds to keep your counter clean.
Designed for use with La Marzocco espresso machines, this coffee grinder accommodates 57mm portafilters.
The La Marzocco Swift stands 25 ¾”H x 13 ¾”W x 14”D.
This coffee grinder is NSF and UL approved for health department compliance.

Automatic Grinding, Dosing, and Tamping
The La Marzocco Swift coffee grinder takes the guesswork out of dosing and tamping for the perfect espresso shot. Just attach your portafilter to the machine –which is just like attaching it to your espresso machine’s brew group – and press one of the programmable grinding buttons. Then the Swift will automatically grind and dose the precise amount of coffee you’ve programmed it for and tamp it perfectly. This provides unbeatable consistency that is apparent in the quality of your drinks, which builds your employees’ confidence and makes your customers happy.

Programmable Dosing
There are 2 grinding activation buttons on the front of the Swift – one to control grinding for each individual bean hopper. These buttons can be programmed so that when pressed, they grind and dose a precise amount of coffee for perfect consistency from shot to shot.

Grind Setting Adjustments
To customize the grind fineness for each type of coffee, each bean hopper has a grind adjustment dial on the panel in front of it. This allows you to make quick adjustments to compensate for changes in humidity and other conditions that affect coffee, as well as allowing you to “dial in” the grind for new roasts.

Electrical Options
Easily fitting into any setting, this burr coffee grinder is available in both 110v and 220v models.

Monday, December 4, 2006

I am so dirty...

It's 11:00pm and I just got home from the shop. I ran a new electrical outlet to the kid's room, demo'd some door trim and jamb, measured the opening for the hallway to the bathrooms, marked and cut the drywall and began demo of the drywall (didn't get done). I need to get up at 5:00, just like this morning. I'm tired enough to go to bed, drywall dust and all, but I'm going to take a shower first instead...

Oh yeah, I found an electrical box hanging down from the ceiling, with wires hanging out of it. I have noticed it before, but figured it was disconnected. I checked it with a multimeter and it was energized! Yikes! It was hanging down and was about 4 or 5 feet off the ground (easily accessible). I figured out which circuit it was and killed it, then put wire nuts on each of the wires. I'll demo this death trap out next time I'm over there...

This has nothing to do with the coffee shop, but I thought it was funny. The boys all had dentist appointments today. I asked Ethan how things went at the dentist, and he said the dentist got all of the bugs out of his mouth using a sharp knife. Either he is confused, or we need to find a different dentist! And... just how did he wind up with a mouth full of bugs in the Winter???

Updated Layout

This layout shows accurate measurements for walls. The red walls are 10' high, the purple walls are half walls (about 44" high). The half walls help to open up the coffee bar area to the large seating area. It also allows a view from the seating area into the children's room...

New Progress Photos

Here are some panoramas of the new framing. As you can see, the electrical has been demo'd and relocated, the openings are framed, including the half walls. I am starting at the front and removing drywall and electrical, reframing as I work my way to the back. Once all of the framing is complete, I will install new drywall. I am hiring a subcontractor to do the final tape, mud, and texture and then we will do our own painting.

As you can see in the photos, the spaces have drop ceilings with flourescent lighting. We are not super happy about it, but we are stuck with it for now. I wanted to demo the drop ceiling, but the plenum above the ceiling (10') to the roof (at 14') is not insulated in any way. The drop ceiling has roll insualtion on top of it to keep the heated space insulated. It would come out with the drop ceiling, and the roof has no insulation at all. Also, the plenum is very dirty (40 years worth) and would take an enormous effort to clean it prior to painting. I like the open air look with exposed structural girders, ductwork, etc. Our situation does not allow it without a major investment of time and money. Our plan is to remove the flourescent lighting, install recessed can lighting, and paint all of the drop ceiling. It won't be optimal, but it will be clean and presentable.

Synesso, or La Marzocco?????

Several posts ago, I indicated that we were going to go with a Synesso espresso machine. It is still our first choice, closely followed by a La Marzocco Linea. I spoke with a rep from Maric Beverage Systems (local vendor) and they have a used La Marzocco three group, and a Swift grinder. These two units sell for approximately $15,000 new. He said we could buy them after he has rebuilt them for around $4000-5000. We really love the Synesso machine, but if we can save $8000-10,000 of our start-up capital by going with the rebuilt units... well, you do the math. I will go look at the units and try them out when Maric has them ready...
I made significant progress this weekend on framing. I moved all of the electrical conduit from the firewall and framed several of the openings and half walls. The place is starting to take shape! I'll post some photos later today.
Tracy has started writing our employee manual. It will include job descriptions for the barista and shift supervisor positions. She is also writing our mission statement and service policies. She will also be working on our menu this week. We need to finalize what products we will offer, then document the recipes for each item, for each size. Tracy and I know how to make everything, but we need a documented product recipe book for new employees. One of our service criteria is a consistent, quality product. We want each item to taste the same everytime it is made. I have been to shops where they just wing it each time, and the same drink tastes considerably different depending on who makes it, and usually not for the better...
I need to call the company who is structurning our LLC. I could have filled out the forms and filed everything for approx $100, but we chose to pay $500 to a professional company that files LLC and Corporation charters, and files the paperwork for EIN's, sales tax, etc... Our reasoning was that we want this done correctly, with no worries of mistakes that might have significant tax implications later. The company has completely botched the process, with errors and ommissions on almost every form. I notified them last week that we want to terminate our agreement/interaction based upon poor performance. They refused to refund our money, so I need to do battle with them this week. What a pain. If I wanted amateur results with lots of mistakes, I could have stumbled through it all myself.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Layout 90%

This layout is about 90% accurate. I plotted this on large blueprint size sheets today and I will be taking final measurements in the shop. I will update the layout with actual measurements and get it 100% accurate this weekend.
Click on it to see it larger...

A Few Photos...

I didn't take any photos before starting demo, but this shot is after several internal walls were partially demo'd, and some carpet removed. This is the first of two spaces. This space is 750 sq ft, and the adjacent space is 1250, to give us 2000 total. YOU CAN CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO SEE A LARGER VERSION:

...and more progress

I'm starting to open up to the adjacent space. As you see, I have some electrical to move. I will be working on the electrical this weekend. I have to frame in a new header for the openings and removed the studs.

Josh busy at the shop...

Our white oak flooring arrived! Tracy and I had to move 2500 lbs of flooring from the delivery drop to our storage, which is several units down from our storefronts.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Grand Opening Plans

We are currently looking at mid March for a Grand Opening. We intend to open in February, but our Grand Opening event will be March 17 (tentative). I have a friend who has Darth Vader and Storm Trooper armor (real stuff, like in the actual movies). In fact, George Lucas flew him to NYC to do publicity events in Times Square when the Star Wars Battlefront 2 video game was released!
In exchange for a donation to Memorial Hospital's pediatric ward, Matt and his friends are going to be at our Grand Opening. We will be offering photos with them for $5, and the proceeds will also be donated to Memorial Hospital (their headquarters/admin offices are right behind us).
In the afternoon, I want to have the US Olympic Judo team on site, and we will do the same thing with the photos. All proceeds from the afternoon session will go to support the US Olympic Judo team. I still need to work out arrangements with Tammy Liddie, the USA Judo Project Manager (her husband is Ed Liddie, the Olympic coach and bronze medalist in the 1984 Olympic Games).
Here is a shot of Ed Liddie helping Jonah with his belt:

A local magazine editor contacted me and wanted to purchase some of my photography for use in her magazine. I told her I would rather work out a trade instead of $$ payment. She is going to give us advertising space in her magazine, as well as write a several page feature article on us and our business! She has approx 15 years experience as a graphic artist in advertising, and she also offered to work on our business cards, letterhead, logo, color schemes, etc... How cool is that?

I need to nail down the dates and plans soon, as we have family planning to travel to Colorado for our opening!

On a side note, stop by our friends' coffee shop on Boulder and Institute if you find yourself in the area. Paul and Heather's shop is called the Raven's Nest, and they have awesome coffee! Their roaster is Crowfoot Valley, out of Castle Rock, Colorado.

Let the demolition begin!

We signed our lease on Wednesday November 22! We are now free and clear to tear the place up! One of the two spaces was remodeled in the last several years and is clean. The adjacent space is downright nasty... I have removed the asbestos floor tiles, but much work remains to be done just to get it into a condition where you might begin to think it could be an occupiable space. I spent most of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday over there, along with help from Jim (father-in-law), Tracy, and the kids.
We finished removing the internal walls in the first space, removed all of the carpet (what a pain! commercial carpet glued down to the concrete slab), demo'd drywall from the firewall separating the two spaces, etc. I began moving the electrical in the wall where our openings are going to be. Do you realize how much wire costs these days? A 1000' spool of 12/2 with ground Romex is $268 at Home Depot. My electrician friend returned my call just minutes before I started cutting some of the Romex and informed me that I have to use aluminum clad flex in a commercial space. I was literally within 10 minutes of not being able to return the Romex! I traded the Romex spool for 100' of flex, along with new connectors. I will need much more than that overall, but 100' will allow me to move the electrical components that are currently in the way.
I also bought lumber to frame the openings between the two spaces and will begin framing once I've moved the electrical.
I also demo'd the storefront window display units and cabinets in the adjacent space, and removed the asbestos floor tiles that were beneath them. Does anyone need six large sheets of tempered glass???
Our hardwood flooring will be delivered tomorrow. Luckily, our property manager gave us another empty space close by to use as a storage unit. It will make things much easier having a 1000 sq ft 'warehouse' within 50' of our space.
I took advantage of Black Friday to buy some things we need for the shop. I bought a laser printer for $50 after rebates, as well as several components I need to build a high end computer for the photo studio. I bought two computer desks and office chairs at Staples on Wednesday. I don't like to buy MDF/particle board furniture, but these were on clearance and I couldn't pass up the pricing! One was marked down from $149 to $19, the other $89 to $9!
I also bought a small refrigerator (dorm size) for the shop. It will more than pay for itself over 2-3 months of construction. Stocking it with food and drinks will be much cheaper than buying meals when I get hungry...
The kids have had a great time smashing walls with hammers and crowbars. There is nothing like a little destruction to light up their faces! I just hope they don't try it at home!
I took some photos this weekend, and will post some later...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nemo's Coffee, LLC

We met with an agency yesterday to set up our business entity. We are having one master LLC, and will have a couple of off-shoots called DBA's (doing businiess as) for Nemo's Coffee and for the photography studio. Nautilus Photography and Nautilus Studio are already taken... I may do Nautilus Portrait Studio instead...

Dilbert and Wally explain why we will be successful:

...and coffee driven productivity:

Gotta run...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Busy Week So Far...

We are having a very busy week so far.
Our attorney is still reviewing the lease, and we should have that finalized by Monday. We are unable to do any demo work until the lease is signed, so it is slowing us down. I have walls to tear down!!

COMPUTERS - We need five to start with...
I was going to build a new computer for the kids area, which will be the host computer for the free site WIFI. I found a good deal at Dell Small Business, so I ordered a computer for this function. I got everything for $500 and free shipping. To build an equivalent computer would have cost me $800 just for the parts (it has a 19" LCD monitor that retails for $200 by itself).
POS (Point of Sale):
I am modifying an existing computer that I built for the kids last year to use for our POS system. I just need to put a better motherboard and CPU in it, and add some RAM to go from 512K to 1 GB. We will have to buy a bar code scanner and thermal printer, and we are getting POS software from our tax accountant.
We need an office computer that will act as a server for the POS system. The database will be housed there, and will prevent employee access to accounting records not needed to process transactions. We will be using our new laptop in this function...
POS Display:
I have an idea for increasing sales that I have not seen anywhere before. I am going to have a second computer at the POS (under cabinet-hidden), with the monitor (19" LCD flat panel) facing the customers. I am going to do high quality studio photography of our espresso drinks, blended beverages, etc and have them shown on the monitor facing the customer. They will loop via a DVD movie, and we can also advertise retail merchandise, the photography studio, upcoming live music events and art exhibitions, etc. The idea is to sell a $3.50 drink to someone who came in for $1.50 coffee. I will also show photos of pastries, lunch items, and even Cokes and candy bars! I'm interested in seeing how a visual aid at the POS will affect customer decisions!
I will need a high end computer for photo and video editing. I have been buying individual components over the last several months, as I see components on sale, or have large rebates. I will end up building a $2000 system (retail price) for about $750!
It is not a priority for now, but we intend to have 3 or 4 computers free for customer use. I will either keep my eyes peeled for good deals/rebates, or just wait for screamin' deals at Dell.

We have had several days to try out our new Mazzer espresso grinder and Pasquini Livea 90 Auto espresso machine. I am so happy to have a quality machine at home! We went through several machines from Starbucks over several years that were junk. I will post some photos of 'the good stuff' soon...

Intel asked me several times to stay on through the end of the year. We worked it out today for me to be here until December 21 instead of leaving December 1. This may push our opening date to February instead of January, but that's OK. Since we do not have a lease signed yet, we were already at risk of pushing into February anyway.

Tracy has been trying all kinds of product samples and is making decisions on what we will carry. She is trying to find products that are all natural, and do not contain a bunch of preservatives, hydrogenated muck, and other chemicals. Various coffee rosters carry products we are interested in, but they are very uncooperative and sometimes rude if we choose not to use their coffee. That's a bummer, because most of the roasters in Colorado Springs are horrible. We are probably going to go with Equator coffee out of San Rafael, California. Their product is excellent, their wholesale prices are fair, and they are friendly.
Here is their website:

On a side note, I found a house this week that we can buy (HUD Repo) for around $65,000 and appraised last month for $122,000. It is clean and needs very little rehab work. We have a partnership with two of my colleagues at Intel to 'FLIP' houses. This one may be our first... We haven't had much luck landing our first investment property for rehab, but this one looks promising!

That's enough for now...
Gotta run.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Trip to Boulder

We drove up to Boulder, Colorado today to visit Allison's something or other coffee shop. She has the closest Synesso Cyncra machine to us. Oh my gosh... 10 years ago, Starbucks had great espresso. They have slowly migrated away from being excellent, to being mediocre, but everywhere. They have adopted the 'McDonalds of Coffee' philosophy. The drink I had today was one of the best I've had in years. Right now, the only two places I know to get excellent espresso is Allison's in Boulder, and the Raven's Nest in Colorado Springs on the corner of Boulder and Institute (a shop owned and operated by our friends Paul and Heather).
Trying the Sysnesso drink today solidified our decision to go with the Cyncra for our shop... No more doubts, no more questions.

And the harp player at Allison's

We also went to the Denver Museum of Natural Science, and went to see "Papa" (Tracy's grandfather).
Oh yeah, and the Broncos won 17-13... GO Broncos!

As for this coming week, we need to meet with our lawyer to review the lease, meet with an agent to file for our business entity, get our tax ID information, set up our business bank account, review our architectural contractor's bid, contact electricians and plumbers, set up a trip to Synesso in Seattle, finalize our equipment list and send to for pricing, work out pricing for Fetco brewing systems with Maric Beverages, begin finalizing our menu, finding a storage location for all the equipment and construction supplies, etc...
So much to do...

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I showed this new blog to Tracy last night, and she assured me that the 'birth of Nemo' will be much less painful than the birth of Josh, Jonah, and Ethan (our kids)!!

I met our architectural contractor at the store today. He will be putting together pricing for us to do our wall work, and to build a soffet above the bar area.

We received our sound system yesterday, and the Bose 301 speakers sound awesome! I only hooked up one set, but the shop will have four Bose 301 speakers. It is going to sound great!

Gotta run... Jonah has a birthday party, Tracy has a Silpada jewelry party, and I need to run some errands and take Josh and Ethan to McDonalds for lunch (Josh's request). Then we are teaching 3rd grade Sunday School at our church for the 5:30pm Saturday service. I guess that makes it Saturday School...

We are going to Boulder, Colorado tomorrow to see a Synesso Cyncra espresso machine in action!

Friday, November 10, 2006

First day of the blog...

Tracy and I are well underway to opening our coffee shop. This research actually started several years ago, and an incredible amount of work has been done just in recent months. We did not capture any of those events, but we are just now beginning construction, ordering equipment, choosing decor items, etc.

Here is where we stand:
We are leasing a space near Pikes Peak and Printer's Parkway in Colorado Springs. It is currently two spaces, separated by a firewall. We will be removing the firewall to make the space one large, 2000 sq foot space. We are currently in the final stages of reviewing the lease (28 pages!). We will sign the lease early next week and be free and clear to continue construction!

Tracy did a great job working on our layout. We will have the coffee retail line, a large area for tables, a kid's room (to allow a place for our kids when they have to be there with us), and a photo studio. We had a completely different layout, but we went and did as-builts of the existing walls and modified our layout to match. We want to do as little construction as possible, for time and $$ reasons. Here is a link to a scan of our rough layout:

We are meeting with a tax accountant this afternoon to determine if we are going to be an LLC, an S Corporation, or a C Corporation. We will also be setting up our books with Quickbooks Pro, establishing our Sales Tax information, etc...

I ordered our sound system from, and it was delivered today! We are using an XM ready Yamaha receiver, Yamaha CD player, four Bose 301 speakers, and a Sony powered subwoofer. That should work...

We also ordered our decaf grinder (Mazzer mini-P), our back up espresso maching (Pasquini Livia 90 Auto) and they are going to arrive on Monday.

We narrowed our primary espresso machine search down to a La Marzocco Linea 2 Group automatic, or a Synesso Cyncra 2 Group. We wanted the Cyncra, but chose the La Marzocco due to a lack of service technician's in the area for Synesso. I was an electronic's technician and nuclear reactor operator for 12 years, operating, maintaining, calibrating and troubleshooting reactor instrumentation and controls equipment (US Naval submarine service). I was also a field service engineer for Tokyo Electron diffusion furnace systems, as well as a certified weld inspector and quality assurance inspector in the semiconductor industry (I am currently a project manager at Intel).

I contacted Synesso and spoke to them about the idea of training me to be a service technician for them, and to also become a local sales rep and retailer of Synesso espresso machines! We still need to work out the details, but I'm planning to travel to Seattle in December to receive my training! This will allow us to purchase a Cyncra at a wholesale rate, be our own technician, as well as be an advocate and sales rep for Synesso here in Colorado Springs!

Well, that is enough for now...
I will try to make updates several times a week, if not daily!