Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Santa and Elves visit Pizzalina
We wish you a Merry Christmas from all of us at Pizzalina!  With much gratitude for making Pizzalina a thriving, vibrant part of the community and destination for great pizza!  I thank you all for your support, kind words and actions and most of all showing up and being part of laying the foundation for Pizzalina to grow and prosper!

I apologize for the halt in blog posts.  Suffice it to say, I've been too busy.  24/7 too busy.  By the time I get home, not only am I too tired to write, but the last thing I want to do is write about everything that has made me so tired in the first place!  It's like reliving the whole exhausting day.  I know I'll get on the other side of it, and I think I'll be able to at least post once a month from now on.  At least I'll try....

Tomorrow marks our three month birthday.  I can finally go from counting weeks to counting months!  I feel like a mom who sheepishly answers, "ten weeks" when someone asks how old her baby is!  There is something eirily like giving birth to a child in this whole process.  People keep asking me if I'll be opening another Pizzalina and in the back of my mind I keep remembering how I felt after my son was born, how I couldn't even think about another child for at least a year, maybe even two or three, and of course I never had another (child that is).  Pizzalina IS my second child, my baby girl (-lina).  So anyway, we are officially out of infancy now, and counting by months instead of weeks.  Can't wait already for the first birthday, that'll be a celebration!

It's been a wild ride, with many ups and downs, stressful, sleepless nights, long hours, too many days in a row, and I'm embarassed to say some aggravated, not so nice, tirades; all due of course to all of the above, plus some things I can't even mention!  Chalk it up to growing pains.  Literally.  We've gone through a lot in just three short months, and we've had to really get creative.  But I'm proud to say everyone at Pizzalina is working really hard to make it a great success, and I'm truly touched by the loyalty, commraderie and dedication already developed by our staff.

So I vow in this season of Christmas, when the whole reason of the season is about the greatest gift of all, LOVE.... to remember why I did this!  I vow to not get so tired and stressed out and worried over the small stuff, and have faith that we've got a great team that will build Pizzalina into the vision I was given and then some.  I will exercise my faith and not my fear.

Thank you again to all who've supported us.  May your holidays be filled with love and joy, laughter and lightness of being.  And if not, come on in and get some at Pizzalina, or at least a great meal, served with a smile!

 Now... Eat, Drink & Be Merry 
and here's one of my favorite Christmas songs for your holiday enjoyment!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Two Weeks +

I can't believe its been 2 weeks since we've been open!  SO much has happened and I've been working round the clock, no time to write.  What a roller coaster ride!  We've had almost everything thrown at us, and yet we've been busy, the reviews have been great, we're seeing repeat customers, everyone is gelling as a team and I'm happy.  I've never worked as hard in my life, but I'm happy, proud and fulfilled.  I'm so proud of our staff who've really all risen to the task at hand, and are working so hard to make the vision real.  WOW, I have to stop and pinch myself!

So in the first two weeks we've had a couple food and timing issues, our Internet music system went down, the power went out on our second Friday night (at 6:45 till God knows when), we had to shut down.  We spent the entire next Saturday trying to rebuild the financials and manually enter all the data.  I got called by the San Anselmo Police Department at 1am because our back door was unlocked (seemed the maintenance guys put a lock on our door without telling us or giving us the key!).  Oh yeah, had to deal with a horrible insect problem due to our neighbors dumpster being infested and located right behind our back door..... really?

But..... people are showing up and raving.  Kids are giving me hugs and claiming my pizza to be the "Best Pizza in the Whole Word".  Kids are drawing us pictures with notes of thanks and I even got a soccer tattoo from one admirer.  People are booking large parties, sending in their friends, buying gift certificates. and we already have "regulars".  I'm blown away at how well we are being embraced by the community and I'm overjoyed because this is just what I was hoping to create, an oasis of food, friends, people, and pizza, in our sleepy little town.  No one should have to get in their cars and drive to the city to have good food in a nice atmosphere.  You should be able to walk, bike, stroll and see all your neighbors and friends and kid's friends, and that's what's happening!

So is it worth it?  You betcha.  I've never felt more fulfilled.  I'm enjoying working this hard, I don't want to leave, this is my life, being a part of my community.  I look forward to each day to come back and work at this amazing place in the making.  I love working the pizza oven, making the dough, helping the servers, busing tables, listening to customers feedback, and when I close up shop at the end of the night, there's a little part of me that feels like I'm tucking in my baby to sleep for the night.

I remember watching the Steve Martin movie, Shop Girl years ago and thinking, "I want to be a shop girl!"  I think the movie, and that thought has stayed with me all these years.  Funny how that little seed planted in my mind, over the years, watered and tilled with experiences and time, has now come into full season.    I left the restaurant the other night thinking to myself, I am a shop girl.......

good night shop girl............

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blast Off

Hold on to your hats!  Pizzalina is open!  OMG..... what a week this has been!  I don't even know where to begin and its so late I really should be asleep (something I'm not getting much of these days).
Tuesday we had our Friends & Family (and those who worked tireless on the project) Party and then turned around and opened Wednesday for lunch.  I don't think I've ever been so stressed out in my life.  So many little things to coordinate and then my chef who had announced to me of his health problems the week before called me at noon the day of and informed me he wouldn't be able to make it to the party, or the opening!  PANIC ATTACK!  Luckily I had been putting out my feelers and called two chefs who I had been talking to to see if they could fill in.  Chefs to the rescue, literally!  I felt like the Calvary rode in when they got here at two pm.  I had deliveries stacked in the back door, cooks waiting for direction, looking at me like, what do we do?!  Oh, and that morning when I walked in the place wreaked of gas, I had to call my contractor in a panic.  Luckily they sent someone right over.  Seems the cleaners had turned off the pilots to clean but forgot to turn them back on.  Then the wine taps started acting up again.  Another call to the installer,  bad regulator.  Fixed in the nick of time.  Restaurant opening drama, its all part of the story you'll tell your grand kids, or any, hopefully kindhearted, sympathetic soul, you can weep on their shoulder over! 
So.... the party went off smashingly.  I actually really enjoyed myself, I started drinking champagne early which is the key to enjoying anything!  It was fun and casual and the staff did a fantastic job both the "front of the house" and the kitchen.  Everyone loved the food, the pizzas were awesome, and picture perfect, they all said the dough was a dream and we had a fantastic photographer who documented the entire night.  So I'll get those up as soon as I get them.  One chef did shine and he is my new chef for Pizzalina.  His name is Robbie Starr and he comes from Pizzeria Boca.  He is young, enthusiastic, creative, hard working, calm, and considerate.  Everyone on the staff has fallen in love with him so I'm grateful.  I kept praying, "Lord, send me the right person".  I guess it was destined.  Oh, there's more plenty more drama....... "the book".

Wednesday we opened with a bang and its been busy ever since.  Not too crazy busy, but just enough to give us all a little work out, test the systems, test us, test the food.  We've got a lot of kinks to work out, but I'm so happy, for the most part its going really well.  I actually got to cook on the line last night and tonight and I felt better than I've felt in days.  All the business part was driving me crazy!  The cooking was fun.

I thank you to all who've followed along on this journey.  There's still more to tell on the birthing of a restaurant.  There's the first year growing pains, post par tum depression, terrible twos...... Everyone said its like childbirth, you'll forget all about the pain when its over.  Not sure yet. 

I'll let you know.......

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Count Down!

It is really unbelievable how much has happened in a week!  The front is finally finished, with the exception of  the back ordered lights, we got our final inspection from the town of San Anselmo and started training on Wednesday.  So many little, last minute details, and new equipment to figure out.  It's endless and we've been working round the clock and there's still kinks to iron out, and things left undone for a later date.  You know its going to be hard, you know you'll be working your butt off, but experientialy, it's overwhelming!

We've got a great staff to start off with, although a little bit skeletal, I believe the crew we have are genuinely eager and excited to be a part of the building of a new restaurant.  As I told them, not everyone has the vision and bravery to take a risk on the unknown, and I applaud their courage!  I'm really excited to see the life that unfolds here.

Once again this week, God sent me an angel.... Patrick Coll from Marinitas!  He literally came to our rescue.  Seems a little birdie told him I could use some help and he emailed me the day before our training started and he said, "What do you need, I'll be right down?"  Patrick proceed to help us put the whole training schedule together, made up a large floor plan, brought it in on an easel, brought in coffee the morning of, made up signs, brought extra office supplies anything and everything we needed and just sat with us through two and a half days in case we needed anything!  He sent me someone to help with the kitchen and Jamilah Nixon from Forchetta/Bastoni in Sebastopol to help us with our new iPad POS system.  How do you pay someone like that back!  He said pizza and his friend said, "Pay it forward."

Angels number two and three..... Dan Donahoe from Silver Tap/Free Flow, and Tim Sciascis Brewer at Marin Brew Company, both came to my rescue when the tap system developed problems from a bad installation job.  It just so happens they were both there to train the staff and when they discovered the problem the immediately got on the phone, seeing as I couldn't handle one more blip in the road, and fought my battle..... angels, saints, they are among us!

As I told Pat Fusco from the Pacific Sun this week who came out to look at the place and talk about the process, the juiciest I'll save for my memoirs.  Let me tell you.......

Gotta love the restaurant business, it's very unique.  Please come by and check us out this Wednesday when we will finally open our doors.  And remember the secret pass word is "Angels".


Sunday, September 16, 2012


Well, its the final stretch.  Sprint, I should say.  There is so much to do, its insane!  I've lost it several times this week.  Breaking down into a fit of crying, swearing and heart palpitations.  Not necessarily in that order.

Last week so much happened I don't even remember.  Monday they put the first coat of stucco on the front, and we made pizzas!  Our POS was installed Tuesday and its a crazy new system that no one really has time to figure out.  We had our final post construction clean up Wednesday, and while they were cleaning the bathrooms flooded!  At least it happened now and not when we open.  (Please Father in the name of Jesus!)  Panic call to the Landlord and they got roto-rooter out, seems the place hadn't been flushed out in years.  Thursday we had our final with the Health Inspector and WE PASSED!  Just have to add some more lighting, that's a long story......  Fire Marshall gave us our final, now we must wait for the final coat of stucco (next Tuesday) and to dry for our final inspection with the Town of San Anselmo..... Whew.   We finalized the staff and got all the packets together.  Ordered all the paper goods, small wares, beer & wines this week.  Now it all comes in. 

I have a band of angels watching over me.  Literally-physically and literally-spiritually.  I would be DOA if it weren't for my dearest beloved friends who rallied to my call this weekend and made the impossible task of unpacking three pallets of kitchen small wares, stacked four feet tall each; counting, checking, washing, and putting away..... possible.  Last minute odds and ends carpenter hit list (thank you brother Mark).  And then assembling a ridiculous mountain of paperwork that is required to be "compliant" with the various labor boards into "employee packets".  Right, save a tree!  Laws upon laws to try and protect the human species from hurting themselves.  A pass time we seem to have acquired a knack for since the beginning of time. 

If I could work 24/7 with 2 people by my side, I still wouldn't get done all that needs getting done.  Somethings are just getting left undone.  There's a mountain of invoices and I don't even have time to look at them all, let alone file them or shuffle money around fast enough.  I'm getting nervous, anxious and its hard to stay focused on not enough sleep.  And then I hear the words from my Bishop Walter Hawkins' song....."I can take it,  I can make it, I can bare it, with the Lord on my side...... Oh-oh-O....."

Next week I suspect will be even crazier.... we start training the staff on Wednesday.  God give me strength!

Angels watching over me = Password for a free glass of wine when we open!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Breathe Deep

What a roller coaster ride!  This week has been up and down, aggravating and joyous, sleepless and renewed.  But I've come out of it rested, encouraged and ready to face next week.

I suppose this is all to be expected as we get closer to opening, in fact, it will probably get more intense.  I know I almost hit the wall a few times this week, and I spent more days wondering what the hell I was thinking than not.    The sleepless thing is huge.  It's pretty much impossible to have a good day when you're seriously sleep deprived.  Yesterday I really thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I went home around 3 and spent the rest of the day resting.  And with a good nights sleep and a relaxing day by myself at the shop, I feel ready to face what will most likely be our final week of construction.

This week we had a great little write up in the Marin IJ, all our tables and chairs are in.  Got the HR packets 80% done.  We got the oven primed and ready to fire full throttle.  Gonna make some pizzas tomorrow!  But most monumental is the store front finally arrived!  Now all the last minute finish work is being done and next week we start our round of final permits.  Tomorrow is our ADA report, Tuesday the POS goes in, Wednesday is the final clean up, Thursday is our final with the Health Departartment, then we just have to plead with the San Anselmo Building Department to let us get started training even though the stucco on the outside of the building will take 10 days to dry.  He won't give us a final until EVERYTHING is complete, including the sign which can't go on until the stucco is dry.  So hopefully, by the last week in September, or maybe October 1st, we may quietly open our doors!

Today I got my Alcohol License in the mail!  That has been the easiest agency yet for me to deal with.   Lynda, who was assigned to my application has been incredibly helpful every step of the way.  Now if everyone in a municipal office was as helpful as she is, it'd make opening a business a whole lot less stressful!

We've been "poaching" all week, going to restaurants and leaving our cards with employees we felt were doing an outstanding job.  I felt bad about doing this until several of my restaurant friends said they've done it at one time or another.  That in itself has been a very educational experiment!  I could write a whole blog on getting good employees, and then another on servers in Marin!

I've been on my knees a few times this week.  There are moments when the only sane thing to do is surrender.

Breathe deep........

Monday, September 3, 2012

Guarding the Dream

This was a strange and trying week.  Trying my faith and conviction.  My health and strength.  My spirit and peace of mind.  For the first time in this process I have really wondered, what the hell was I thinking!  A regular ol' job sounds really good right about now!  Thank God for my church Sunday, my Pastor preached a message I really needed about guarding your mind from attack!  Sleep deprivation is part of the problem as well as just too many things to do (which comes first?).  So I've tried to lay low this weekend and get some rest and sleep.

The brightest light in my week was a charming visit with Craig Ramini of Ramini Buffalo Mozzarella.  He has three buffalo cheeses ready that he is selling, so I got to taste and marvel at the elegance of these cheeses.  I love what he is doing.  Like myself, he has a passion and drive for what he's doing that borders on the insane when viewed from the wiles of this world, but in fact is the only true and honest way to live; on the edge, true to your gifts, and in harmony with the laws of nature and community.  Its all about the relationship; to the land, the animals, the product, the buyers, the consumers &  even the way the business is conducted.  Yes!  Life is too short and precious to not feel 100% good about who and how you do business!  I can't wait to proudly create with his cheese!

I realize I took no photos this week..... I need a good camera, but that's no excuse.  So many little details now.  Little details that take lots of time!  Trying to get a good staff is harder than I thought.  Five Craigslist adds and we still need more people.  Maybe I shouldn't have bit off lunches and dinners seven nights a week!  Starting to second guess all kinds of things right about now!  All the HR stuff is incredibly daunting.  Again, all the governmental agencies will drive you nuts!  It pays to do it right in the beginning, though laborious. I do have a fabulous Manager on board now, Kelly Caveney who is helping with all the hiring.  Even with Kelly, Douglas my chef and myself, there is just so much to do!

Still waiting for our storefront windows and doors!  Nothing can happen until that's in.  My contractor has been calling morning and night for a week and the story sounds legit, but I'm getting angry about it.  The greatest design in the world isn't any good if you can't deliver.  One of my greatest lessons in this is to make sure you work with people who will do what they say they will do.  Many people will shake their head and say yes, but they aren't even aware of their own limitations.  It's your job to sniff out those limitations and either walk with them, around them, or away from them.  The gift of understanding people is one of the most necessary abilities in this undertaking, and of course, in life.

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crunch time!

Oh dear, the weeks are getting longer, the writing shorter, with longer spans between posts.  Its "crunch" time!  I'm working 24/7, well maybe more like 19/7, and I'm still freaking out about getting everything done.  Most nights I fall into bed so late and exhausted there's no time to write, and it'll probably get worse before it gets better.  So please forgive me if these little posts get further apart.  Getting Pizzalina open is the main priority and keeping myself healthy is second.

I've had a couple high anxiety days this last week, I'm trying to keep calm and focused, but whew, there's so many things that you just can't predict.  All your best laid plans, and then S*%# happens.  You gotta zig and zag, and roll with the punches, go with plan B, C and XYZ.  Though you spend months planning, designing, plotting, thinking, it starts to take on a life of its own.  Its like that joke about if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your well laid plans. 

This week the lighting that I fell in love with had to go.  When they got unpacked and ready to hang we discovered they were too heavy for the suspended ceiling.  They would've had to take down the ceiling, insulation and figure out a way to reinforce the framing = more money than I'm willing to spend.  Didn't love 'em THAT much.  So back to the store they went for a newer, lighter chandelier.

The stone counter tops went in this week and they're gorgeous!  The floors were finished and they turned out beautiful.  Michael Brennan finished the oven surround which compliments the Italian wave mosaic perfectly.  We got our preliminary health inspection and it cleared as well as being able to forgo the "sneeze guard" which I was dreading.  The place is really coming together and I'm so happy with the overall look!

We are pretty much through the building phase.  The only thing that's holding us up now is the store front, which was the first thing ordered?!  It was supposed to be delivered this week, but the latest word is that it'll be late the following week.  And of course we cannot get any of our final inspections until that's in and finished.  So I'm trusting that its a blessing in disguise.  We really do need the time to get our staff together and plan out the logistics of working the place.  However, I could REALLY use the income right about now as opposed to the outgo!  Ah the balancing act.....

Today we held our first round of interviews for the staff.  I'm happy to report we've probably identified a third of our staff.  Which is pretty good for our first round.  I put another ad on Craigslist today and we'll be interviewing all week.  So if you know anyone....... send 'em over!

I just can't wait to get open and make killer pizza!  To stand in the middle of the restaurant on a crazy busy night, and watch people eating, and drinking, and laughing, and enjoying each others company. It's the heartbeat of a community, we are more alive together.

cheers to that day, coming soon..........

Monday, August 20, 2012

Keep Calm And Eat Pizza

Wow, what a week!  Friday they started moving in all the kitchen equipment and its really starting to look like a restaurant!  My long time friend, Bruce Davies of Empire Painting is doing all the painting and his crew was in all week painting the place.  It's been so great to have my buddy on the job site, his crew is great and a lot of fun, just like Bruce.  There is an ease and confidence that surrounds him and it rubs off on me.  Wish I could keep him around me at all times, it might balance out my high anxiety nature!  Hahaha, working on it!

Michael Brennan and his assistant Natasha came in and knocked out the wall and pizza surround with a very artisan technique of texture and color, then painted some whispy swirls as accents.  He made the best of faux pas on my part.  I had been envisioning some thing, which I learned too late, was actually impossible for the way we had started out.  Luckily he understood the look I was after and made the best of what we had.  I love it, and its a Michael Brennan and the wall now makes the space!

Tomorrow I have to meet with the Health Inspector to try and figure out a way to get around the "sneeze guard" she insisted I have to put up.  Its such a long story, I won't even attempt to explain.  I just pray for cooperation and understanding! 

I'm really excited for tomorrow morning to see the floors done.  I think its really going to finish off the place and look fabulous.  John is a concrete artist who is staining and refinishing the beat up old concrete that was there.  I think the restoration will be nothing short of a miracle!

We are now officially hiring!  I've put up ads on Craigslist, Poached, onsite and going over to College of Marin tomorrow.  So my friends, if you know of any willing, able-bodied, fun, diligent chefs, pizza makers, waiters & bussers, please send them my way!

Coming on the final stretch!  So many little details to finalize.  I'm trying not to panic, stay calm, focus, breathe deep, keep my faith and trust this appointment.

My new motto.......

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Every Day Is One Step Closer

Michael & His Assistant Starting The Wall
I'm so grateful for small victories.  It seems in the last week there have been some very pressing trials, but I thank God for the victories.  I don't know why or what makes it so easy for us as a peoples to concentrate more on what's wrong than on what's good.  The glass is half empty or half full.  I had to remind myself this morning to be grateful for all that is going right (and there is so much) and forget about the hurdles.  I'm sure they will become dim and insignificant when all is said and done.  These tests and trails just make my reserve all the more strong, and I'll have an awesome testimony!

I've had to rethink some of my plans and switch around people for timing and such.  Its been a hard decision and one I don't like to make or feel very good at.  My contractor said I've got to be more of a hard ass, which I agree but I don't think I'm very good at it, though I will say I'm getting better.  It's getting easier to be direct with people.  Its a fine line.

Back Stage

 Thank God for my church and my choir, it's where I recharge.  It's what reminds me to be grateful and put things in perspective.  This week besides having a reunion with my old choir mates, The Lighthouse Singers, my church choir was asked to back up Patti LaBelle at the Concord Pavilion.  It was big time, what an honor to sing with such a mega great talent, and FUN!  It was such a production.  I guess because of my little business I'm trying to orchestrate, I stood in awe of what it takes to organize and produce a show of that magnitude.

Things are really coming together with the space.  Michael Brennan is doing my "art" wall.  Yeah!  Bruce my best buddy and longest friend is painting now.  The floors are almost done.  They should start moving in equipment next week.  Now I just have to get a staff!  Which is harder said than done.  In the mean time there is so much more to do behind the scenes and I feel one step behind the eight ball in so many ways. 

My friends Stephen and Jennifer Simmons opened their new Lincoln Park this weekend and I'm so inspired by what they've accomplished.  I went in tonight for a glass of wine and supper and it was fantastic.  The food was great and the atmosphere buzzing.  I hope that I can open with so much style and grace.  Go, go, go, support them and make your town a more vibrant community!

every day is one step closer!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

The guys putting up the hood
Despite having a real bad day yesterday, there are many wonderful pieces coming together.   This is were faith and optimism must conquer doubt and fear.

Monday was going along marvelously.... I met with Douglas and we got a lot of work done on purchasing, menu final, and he brought me a sample of some knock out meat balls, Gluten-free!  I'm pushing for lots of things on the menu for my GF buddies.  How simple to make meatballs with risotto as the filler!  You could even fry them with rice flour.  Yummy, you'd never know if I didn't tell you.  We'll put the recipe on when they are perfected.

Anyway, my friend Colleen gave me the name of this Frenchman who sells the most beautiful olive wood bowls and platters out of his van.  He pulled up to Pizzalina, opened up his doors and we bought some amazing boards for our antipasti platters.  And he threw in some spoons for Douglas and me.  We'll be buying more!

Then the banquette was delivered.  It turned out great, but we had to have it delivered to my house until its ready to go in.  Its going to look beautiful in the space.

Yesterday was a double drink day!  I've got about 3 people doing key jobs that swore they could do X-Y-&-Z, but it ain't happening.  Maybe some of them will pull through in the final hour, but things are getting too close to not see any real action.  Then its too late to find someone else, you gotta zig and zag to get it done, come up with a plan "B".  And, being the type "A" person I am, my anxiety goes through the roof.  Then I applied for my resellers permit, they want $10,000. deposit!  Like I've got that kind of money to let them hold.  Hell, they still won't give me back the $2,000 they owe me (another story).  Then I got my bank statement, bla, bla, bla..... suffice to say, I was on the verge of going back to bed and having a good cry all day!  I pressed on through my day and went and had a wonderful dinner at Picco with my son.  They have the BEST barrel-aged Negroni!  That pretty much took care of things.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Anxiety Rising

Oh dear, the days are flying by now.  Each day is jam-packed and I feel there aren't enough hours in a day to accomplish all I need to get done.  My lists are growing, my piles of papers is growing, my bills are just beginning, and  I feel my anxiety levels rising.... oh, peace be still!

Last week the building inspector stopped the job on Wednesday.  I still don't exactly understand why or how or who is responsible.  Everybody starts talking loud, rolling their eyes, and saying things like, "well he shoulda", and "every other city", and "I-I-I- don't know".  Meanwhile, I get to write all the checks!  Apparently the "fire-wall" details (which is the code between two adjacent buildings) wasn't in the plans, the specific insulation, baffling, and other construction logistics I don't understand.  What I do understand is my architect had to draw, spec, copy and resubmit to the Town of San Anselmo Building Department.  So in we march Monday morning with the new specs, an addendum, a fee (of course) and I basically had to plead for them to approve it over the counter.  By the grace of God the inspector did approve them right then and there, otherwise we would have had to leave it with them, and God knows how long that would've taken or how many more days would have been lost!  So between the architect fees, and the additional materials and timing fees that just cost me around $5,000 more.

Today was a shopping day at Economy with Chef Douglas, we picked out our smallwares order.  Got about 85% of it done.  Just last minute stuff left.

Yesterday I had a wonderful day.  Reconnected with an old friend on my way up to Healdsburg to do some wine tasting with sister-friend and fellow stew hen, Colleen at DaVero.   May I just say good friends are a blessing and to be cherished!  Not only did she fill my belly with lovely wines, but we went for a dip afterwards.  Just what the doctor ordered!  So on that 90 degree, Sonoma afternoon we paddled about and caught up on life until the cool water had pickled our fingertips and toes.  Perfect!

Do yourself a favor, google DaVero Olive Oil, join their Club DaVero and order yourself some of their incredible wines, oils, etc and you'll be on their mailing list for upcoming special events.  I highly recommend the Chardonnay (and I don't even like Chardonnay), the So'Bianco, the Dolcetto, the Tannat and the Rosso Di Bea.  Kick my own self for not taking pictures!

So then it was up to my mom's house for dinner and she made me some incredible Vichyssoise soup, which is the perfect appetizer on a hot summer night!  And today I had dinner with another friend I haven't seen in awhile.  Like I said, good friends are a blessing and to be cherished!

So call a friend, tell them you cherish them, and enjoy a meal together.  I think the world would be a happier place if we all did that more often!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Heart of Pizzalina Arrives

Well, its been a whirl-wind week!  My contractor is SO AWESOME!  I may actually have the only restaurant in the history of the world that ever opened ahead of schedule.  Josh doesn't mess around!  My oven was delivered on Monday, the heart of Pizzalina.  Josh had actually tried to surprise me and get it there on Friday but the driver got in an accident on the Golden Gate Bridge.  He was fine, and the truck was fine, but the oven he had on the truck broke free of its straps inside the cab when he had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting the driver in front of him.  The oven went tumbling on its side, smashing the framing, but the brick oven itself was ok.  They took it back to Watsonville where luckily they can rebuild the frame around it.  This is why I chose to use Mugnaini Ovens, they're imported from Italy but fitted, framed and shipped right here in the Bay Area.  I've heard of too many horror stories of people not getting their Italian ovens in on time because of shipping, accidents or customs.

We also ran into a little trouble with the main sewer pipes that run into the space.  It seems they were corroded.  But once again, Josh to the rescue, he ran interference with the landlord and got them to handle it.  I think I'll get Josh a Superman T-Shirt!  The guy is really looking out for my a@#* and I don't even know how I'll ever be able to repay him for the extra mile he's gone and continues to go.  He is a true jewel.

Got the fire pit done too!
So this weekend he says, "you know I could have this done for you by September 1st."  That's a month earlier than originally predicted!  Let me tell you I freaked out.  Though I'm overjoyed to be open sooner, there's so much more to do to get ready.  I realized I've got to kick it into high gear!  So if there are days that go by and you don't see a post, you'll know...... I'm running and too tired at days end to do anything else.  My eyeballs literally hurt.  Some days I run all day; meetings with sales people, tasting product, pricing vendors, running interference for Josh and then when I get home at night I'm working on paperwork.  HR packets, policies, job descriptions, training manuals, procedures, forms, recipes, costing sheets.  No more TV, no more books, occasionally I'll sit down at the piano and sooth my soul with a hymn.  My life has changed, but I've never felt more purposeful.  I love it!

goodnight angels, I hear your wings.......

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Napa Valley Morning

Well, it's been a week!  And I couldn't think of a better ending to a busy week than to rise up early nestled amongst the the dappled vineyards of the Napa Valley.  Last night we had another wine tasting for the menu, this time at the "guest house" at Paradigm Winery.  A charming little farm house tucked within a secret garden and surrounded by some of Napa Valleys finest vineyards.  Tired as I was, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to rise early with the sun shinning though the leaves, and catch up on my writing.

We found some more gems last night for the list, of course everything that Suzanne Groth brought, and also some wonderful wines from Robin Gerber with Spotlight Brands, who specialize in small, local producers, blending unusual varietals, and a couple of stand-outs from my friends at the James Family Vineyards.  Yummy!  We had a nice little pot luck dinner and I made another attempt at the GF pizza, which wasn't as great because we had to use a standard oven, which doesn't get as hot so I couldn't get the bubbling I'm looking for, but the taste was good.

So last weekend it took me three days to get over the shell shock of depositing BIG checks to start funding this whole project.  I had to write some major checks, I think I had my contractor really worried.  He warned one of the subs, "You can talk like a truck driver around her, just don't mention money!"

Besides the entire kitchen equipment contract, I got most of the big, timely stuff ordered this week; banquette, community table, mixer, trim tiles, bath tiles, and the outdoor sign.  Next week will be tables & chairs, smallwares, phones, sound system, etc.   Now Sean and I are going to walk to Bouchon in Yountville for coffee; get our morning coffee and exercise too.  Not a bad way to start the morning!  Then it's back home to work at Picco for the day.

Enjoy these beautiful summer days!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Cleaned up, wall in place ready to build!
Hallelujah!  Thank you Jesus!  I got my Building Permit! (Happy dance).....

Looking out the front window and entry
So, six weeks later and $7,000, well $9500 if you count the road deposit.  Something they're supposed to give you back when you're done if you haven't torn up the road.  Really?  The cost of opening a restaurant....  They told me it would cost more than I expected and take longer, they were right!  You need to have faith, passion and determination to pursue your dream!  To risk everything and dare to do what many will caution you against, isn't easy, its downright scary at times.  You have to believe with everything in your heart that you are being called to do precisely what you were meant to do.  And then trust, walk out on that ledge and jump and know that God will give you wings!  OK, that's my pep-talk to my own self for the day!

Now I'm running trying to get my money lined up, contracts with my equipment guy signed and deposited.  Gotta make a list and schedule to start ordering the things I'm in charge of: tables, chairs, small equipment, small wares, lighting, trim tiles.  The list goes on and on.

Plumbing line mapped out
Also meeting with my chef next week to finalize the menu and start on recipes, costing sheets, vendor lists, labor staffing, scheduling and training.  Get utilities and internet to the site.  What else is on my desk/kitchen table?  Oh yes, my lovely employee handbook, almost finished.  Then on to training manuals and employee packets.

Then my architect calls me today and says, "oh you need those plans that the Health Department stamped, but we had to give them to the Town of San Anselmo Building Department and they threw them out!"  REALLY!  Who's A#%* can I go kick?!

Oh yes, and don't forget to celebrate with your best friends!  God bless Barry, Kate and Nick who called me up tonight and said, "let's go celebrate!"

Cherish your friends.........