Good Days, Bad Days

My IndieGoGo campaign has been live for almost a full week. It has inspired over $8,000 of excitement in my friends. This is staggering and has brought me more joy than I ever imagined possible. I’ve been astounded by the far-reaching support of my extended community.

This process, however, will have its ups and downs. The weeks and weeks and WEEKS I waited for the lawyers to do their lawyerly thing were excruciating. I wasted hundreds of hours trying to distract myself with Sudoku and Set (and OKCupid and Tinder). I’m currently waiting for the SLA to approve me. My architect is still working on the plans, which are only for cosmetic changes, but will need to be approved by the Department of Buildings. I’ve shelled out checks to so many people for amorphous jobs like “expediting” and “consulting” and even for just disconnecting the beer gas lines. ($500. Cash.) I gotta say, by the time this bar is open I will be swingin’ some balls of tungsten steel. Seriously.

The other day I was so elated by the cash coming into the campaign that receiving the news that my AC/Heating would cost almost three times what I’d budgeted barely even registered on my panic meter. But yesterday, between seeing the state of the mysterious hole in the floor and witnessing my architect’s sober adhesion to strict guidelines, I almost lost it. I am doing my best to be zen. And it is requiring more intestinal fortitude than I’ve ever mustered in my life. I am tapping into strength I never knew I possessed. Past me would’ve dissolved into a puddle of tears upon hearing some of this shit. She would’ve folded her cards and stepped away from the table. But present me doesn’t have that option. All I can do is soldier on. The belief in my project — and in me — is helping me make the success of the bar a self-fulfilling prophecy. If so many people believe in Lucky, I’d better too! Onward!

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Feeling Incredibly Buoyed

The past few days have been humbling. I’ve wept with gratitude. And marveled at the depth and breadth of support I have from my community.

Tuesday night at 8:55 EDT I launched my IndieGoGo campaign for Lucky. Since then, 114 people have “backed” my beautiful bar vision and deposited almost $7,000 into the kitty. A good chunk of that is money people have donated with no request for a “perk.” I cannot express just how incredible this is. Of course, I am super excited about this project. I am even more excited that so many other people seem equally excited! Some of whom are total strangers! And I am sincerely humbled by the level of belief people have in me and the future success of my bar. Truly. It is so surprising.

I have a crystal clear vision of what I want this bar to be and a keen understanding of why “my people” need this bar, now. So many people feel displaced in the East Village these days, but people also feel displaced in New York City and, more broadly, in America. It goes deeper than drinking. The current climate feels very “us vs. them” and it is so disheartening. I hope to create a place where people who’ve felt “other” elsewhere feel comfortable and at home.

Friday night I was photographed in the semi-demolished space by Stacie Joy. The shots will accompany an article about the bar coming out sometime this coming week. I am bracing myself for the hate because, well, haters gonna hate. And I know what while I have the support of my community, there are no doubt others who won’t be quite as supportive. There are people who hate bars in principle. And there are certainly people who don’t particularly care for me. I’ve never been someone who people were jealous of and realize that I am now in a position for that to happen. Sure, it’s easy to hate on my cautiously optimistic and unbridled joy or side-eye it with cynicism. I’ve experienced that same shallow “screw you and your giant smile” myself. It’s a dark side of the human condition, I suppose, and one we all try to suppress. One particular person went so far as to “unfriend” me, an aggressive move that could’ve more easily been an “unfollow” if they found my effusiveness offensive. Whatevs.

Back to the happy stuff! The momentum is thrilling. I’m madly keeping track of who wants which perk, recording t-shirt sizes and email addresses and ordering the stuff so I can pop it all into the mail. Fulfillment is gonna be sooooooo fulfilling! WOOT! I hope everyone will be patient with me because I’m a one woman operation here!

Anyway, here’s the link for the campaign: “I’m Opening a Bar! What’ll It Be?”

Keep an eye on it! I’ll be updating it with different videos (all silly gems, I assure you) and fabulous new perks as my awesome artist friends make their wares available! MWAH!

Ladies & Gentlemen: Lucky!

Today I’m waiting for the exact moment that the new moon crests (or whatever new moons do) tomorrow night here on the east coast. That’s when I’m going to launch my IndieGoGo campaign to help fund a flurry of extras for the bar. I’m hoping it will also generate interest and awareness and enroll my extended community in the bar’s success.

Here’s some info everyone has been waiting for:

The name of the bar? Lucky! Not Lucky Bar or Lucky Lounge or anything else. Just Lucky. Aren’t there a million bars called Lucky? You’d think so but…surprisingly, no. How did I arrive at that name? Well, way back when it was all very abstract, I was nevertheless fantasizing about my eventual big opening night. I planned to ask everyone I invited to bring something lucky: a classic lucky charm, something that had been lucky for them, something that represents luck — in whatever culture or belief system — to them. I thought it would be fun to use the lucky stuff as decor. Then, once I’d found the proper space and plans were well underway, I was laying awake one night thinking, “I need a horseshoe to hang over the door, for luck.” I figured I’d email my friend Beany, who’s been rescuing horses and teaching children to ride them, and ask her if she had any extras she could send me. Then I thought, “Hmm, Lucky would be a great name for a bar. But surely there must be a million of them already.” I Googled it and, nope, not really. There’s a Lucky Bar somewhere in DC and another in a foreign country. There are Lucky 13s and Lucky Lounges. Here in NYC there’s a Lucky Jack’s, Lucky Cheng’s, Lucky Burger, Lucky Strike and lotsa other Lucky stuff. My advisor, Ariel, used a super cool image for the business plan we presented to my sister and I loved it; it has been incorporated into the Lucky logo. It’s a flower of interlocking horseshoes, a mandala of sorts, with the negative space in the center forming a star. It’s perfect on a number of levels.

Since the word Lucky all by itself was already taken as a URL, I decided the web address (and Twitter account and Facebook page) would be http://www.LuckyonB.com. Which brings me to the second big reveal: Lucky is on Avenue B in the East Village! I’m taking over the former Boxcar Lounge space at 168 Avenue B, between 10th and 11th Streets. I’ll be doing cosmetic renovations and hope to be open in a few months.

Now, I’d like to show you all the graphics for the IndieGoGo campaign perks. There is, of course, the Lucky logo. But in addition to that, my Burning Man DPW friends and I love to play the Sharpie knuckle tat game: give one hand to one person, the other to another person, and they each Sharpie on a four letter knuckle “tat.” It’s how we wind up with stuff like POOP CUNT written on our hands… Also, there is a cool table in the bar (the only thing I’m keeping) that’s made from an 1889 manhole cover. It says MANHATTAN DPW. Kismet, right?  Anyway, drumroll, please…and thanks to Dre for helping with the designs!

LuckyLogoThe Lucky Logo!
Available on t-shirts, tank tops, shot glasses, pint glasses, buttons, patches and hoodies!

Manhole v2The MANHATTAN DPW graphic!
This will be cleaned up a bit so the letters are more legible.
Available on t-shirts, printed BIG on the back and small on the front,
just like our Burning Man DPW shirts.

Knuckles v2CHUG LIFE!
This will be white on black, available on t-shirts.

Tinder…But No Sparks

So in between all the bar stuff I’ve been doing, I’ve still been dating. I’m no longer using OKCupid. I’ve moved on to Tinder. I was hoping that it would offer more immediacy but, well, New Yorkers are busy people. Instead of instant gratification, which is how its gay predecessor worked (hot guy nearby, click, match, blowjob!), it seems to be the same as all the dating sites: much back-and-forth and multiple opportunities for misunderstandings and miscommunications. The most irritating aspect of this app is that people can disappear. Or in the current vernacular, “ghost.” You can be having a conversation one minute and then, moments later, the “match” can be gone, with no record of your having ever communicated. But that’s also a bonus; if someone is offensive or rude, all it takes is a quick “unmatch” and, poof, they’re gone. Even more odd, they can show up again in your match pool. You’d think the algorithm would know you’d already unmatched the person. Sigh. Technology.

Many of the men live in random suburbs, having married and moved away to raise their kids. Now they find themselves living in crappy apartments and making an unnecessary commute from nowheresville. I’ve enjoyed just about everyone I’ve met yet no one has managed to inspire my dormant libido. A few have been outright crazies, as this gentleman below. All typos and weird returns as originally communicated:

You have no idea.

I suppose I don’t.

Detest texting. 213-269-XXXX. My abmition as of this morning is to fuck a girl who might vote for Trump – that isn’t you but happy to have a drink. 213-268-XXX (213 is correct)

Does that mean I’m supposed to call you? I don’t want to disturb your Trump-voter-fucking. (He clicked on the little green heart to indicate that he “liked” that response, I suppose.)

If I can change one vote w
If I can change one vote…ready to sacrifice myself for country.
I’m ready to sacrifice myself for my country.

I’ll be in the downstairs party room of Jimmy’s BBQ tonight after 6 if you’re free.
Union Square, 16th Street.

If I can make it I will. I’ll look for you.

Are you able to make it tonight?
(Five hours later…) Guess not. Hope you found your Trumpet!

Hey Girl – bad day and Sorry. Feel flimsy no such hero ankle deep sewage of turkey life. Insurance co. refuses to reimburse -vet to supply right Cert. – landlord to leave me
In peace – asst to show up – daughter to get out of bed. And now being praised for fucking Trumpets on Weds before dark? I’m sort of embarrassed. taken for my better so ill hush and wait for Hillary say she killed Vincent foster so Bernie can save us.Ttake a rain check? Id really like that.
Joe

What does that even mean?

Which part? Though I like the “even.”
References to torpid days – and to surviving scandal. As innocent as O J? Sure. All forgotten? Of course.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. The days are not yet torpid.

My day the other day was like that – not the weather. I was looking for a stranger to console me.

I think it’s time to “unmatch” ol’ Joe here!

The best date was with the Colbert stagehand dude (waves hello) who invited me to see Iggy Pop. I think I already wrote about that, didn’t I? Anyway, we had two subsequent dates that I thought were fairly successful (though the second one involved my Manbun Meltdown). I just wish he lived closer. It’s tough to meet up after he finishes work at 8:30 when he has to take a train back to Connecticut. If he were local I think we might be seeing more of each other. I’ve invited him to join me for Brides of March. So we’ll see. I have a feeling that once the bar is up and running, I won’t have the time (or patience) for dating apps. Thank heavens. And who knows? Maybe I’ll meet someone in the real brick-and-mortar world. Er, bar!

My First Week at the Office

I know! It’s been a while! In the days (and days and days) since I got home from the desert I hooked up with Tower Brokerage, who helped me find the space I decided on. They recommended a lawyer and…more days went by. Even though I’d decided on the space before I left for Christmas in Paris, the lawyers dragged things along. And even longer. My lawyer brought on his colleague and they dragged things along together. Then the first guy got his panties in a wad because the seller’s real estate broker was being “too aggressive.” He threatened to “walk away.” I kinda couldn’t believe a professional would actually whine about taking his marbles and going home. Fortunately, my broker talked him back from the brink and things progressed along…and longer still. But, finally, a week ago tonight, I sat down with the seller, the landlady and the brokers (and not one lawyer, harrumph!) and we signed a bunch of papers. I’m not a bar owner quite yet; my ownership is contingent upon SLA approval, as is my 10-year lease. But papers have been signed. And I HAVE KEYS!

I’ve been posting about it on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. Here’s a bit of the photographic evidence, with the accompanying captions:

12742834_10153243276456364_4576727347032405359_nMy big smile of excitement and abject horror. — at Tower Brokerage.

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My first day at the office!

12779114_10153250387326364_3713099626223968893_o.jpgWarming up the space and finishing up all the booze!

12771698_10153253546181364_901996422519706381_o.jpg
Cleaning out the basement with Nick & Andy.

12747948_10153253546176364_1385647046552363565_o.jpg
Found a fossilized rat and his very alive descendent.

So, having finally signed the (preliminary) papers, I’ve was able to get to work! Andy and Nick helped me clean out the basement. What a disaster. I met with my architect and contractor and hung out with a friend who did such a great job designing his bar that I’m hoping he’ll help me with mine. I’ve been on the phone with all the previous owner’s vendors: bar and liquor distributors, ice machine and cable providers, soda and gas line people, all of them.

I even had my first “crisis”: I’d gone to the bank and had the teller transfer money from one account to another so I could write checks to my new landlady at that big paperwork signing. On an almost-midnight trip out to buy stuff to make bitters (more on that in another post) my debit card didn’t work. I called customer service and found out I was thousands of dollars in the red; the teller had transferred the money into the wrong account. Gulp. That meant the checks I’d written to the landlady would be bouncing. I screamed on the phone for a while and then dragged my ass out of bed at 9am the next morning to take care of it at the local bank branch. There were four people helping me, along with the woman I had on the phone from customer service, and together they managed to fix it. Phew, that was a close one!

I also had a bunch of friends come by to hang out and “warm up” the space. And consume the leftover alcohol. It was an unofficial pre-demolition party. And it was wonderful! I haven’t been sleeping much because I’m so excited and nervous and wish it could all happen at once! All my friends have been so supportive! And curious! I’ve been telling everyone that there will be more news coming up as it happens. Heather asked if I’d be blogging about it all and, well, here I am. Every day posts are probably unrealistic but I’ll update you at least once a week. Keep an eye out here for more fun stuff!

This Explains a Lot

First, lemme say: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! I am FOMOing like mad about not down in New Orleans, strolling from the Marigny to the Quarter in the Parade of St. Anne. So many friends down there! Bah.

Second, my biggest reason for not being down there: this bar! And yes, progress is being made. Though it is seriously trying my patience! I’m gonna go say farewell to one of my favorite bars today: Ninth Ward. It is a New Orleans-themed bar with cute little banquettes with curtains you can close and a real wood-burning fireplace. SUCH a shame they are closing. Ugh.

Also causing me some FOMO? So many friends in Barcelona! This past weekend was the Euro Regional Burning Man Summit (or whatever they call it) and this coming weekend is the big birthday bash for my Sign Shop cohort, Jedi. My big reason for not being there? Small Claims Court Monday. Double ugh.

So aside from freaking out about the glacial pace of this bar biz, I’m cursing Facebook as shots of my pals scroll by in other, more enticing places. With over a dozen windows open in my browser (How to Make Bitters! Custom Pint Glasses!) one more window that’s featured in my attempt at distracting myself is 16Personalities. For anyone who’s seen the alphabet soup on dating profiles and doesn’t know what they mean, the 16 personalities classifications are a combination of Jungian psychology and the Myers-Briggs test, with modern influences. Read their web site for a far more in-depth explanation.

And what is it that I fell “explains everything”? I tested out as “The Debater”:

The ENTP personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Unlike their more determined Judging (J) counterparts, ENTPs don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points.

There are pages and pages describing each personality and all of mine seriously spoke to me. Since I can remember, my parents have said, “You’d argue with the Lord.” I probably should’ve been a lawyer. Here’s what it says about us ENTPs as “subordinates”:

This dynamic is clearest with ENTP subordinates, as they are comfortable challenging their managers’ ideas and have a strong (and well-expressed) dislike for restrictive rules and guidelines. ENTPs back this unorthodox behavior with their keen minds and curiosity, and are as capable of adopting new methods as they are of suggesting others do so. If something can be done better, it’s as simple as that, and ENTP personalities gladly take criticism, so long as it’s logical and performance-oriented.

I’m sure if you asked any of the managers at jobs where I was fired or “laid off,” they would agree. Their inflexibility translated to my being “unhappy in my job.” That could never have been further from the truth. I loved just about all my jobs. But loving my job and still believing there was room for improvement — in everything! — was interpreted by my managers as my misery. So weird. Thank heavens for Burning Man and DPW (and Tony!) for recognizing the true me!

Some readers might balk at the passage of my ability to “gladly take criticism.” I wish they could all be in the room when my friend Marianne calls me on my shit. She does it so succinctly that I can’t even respond. I just nod. Though the two of us have certainly engaged in plenty of (almost 30 years!) of critical banter.

Anyway, have fun today! Happy Mardi Gras!

 

Taking Advice

EDIT (I spaced on two important people!)

In my days — and weeks — of waiting and what felt like inaction, I’ve been pretty stressed out. I’ve been obsessing, as my previous post explained, because it’s all I’ve been able to do. I received quite a bit of unsolicited advice as a result of that post. I’ll admit, most of my life I’ve been quite the know-it-all. Even in circumstances where I know less than I should. But in this situation I have seriously stepped outside myself. I’ve evaluated my flaws, one of which is not being comfortable asking for assistance, which leads to that know-it-all-ism. And I’ve overcome it. I have been soliciting advice from everyone I meet and the vast number of people I know who are experienced in this business. I have been humbly admitting all the things I know nothing about and seeking those who know everything.

This process began in earnest last March when a friend told me about a place that was secretly for sale. I wound up asking Molly if she’d sell me one of her two bars, since, although I was tempted by the secret space, my dream has always been to own a dive bar. Molly wasn’t ready to sell but she did express interest in helping me with whatever other space I wound up with. The machinations that took place before I eventually left for the desert were a little nuts; I may eventually post about them because they influenced where I am today. Molly is a neighborhood fixture and her bars are among my (few) favorites. I hope she’ll continue to be an advisor and supporter.

In the fall, after returning from the desert, I met with a friend of my sister’s who owns a large bar in San Francisco’s Marina district. He started with a small neighborhood joint, leveled up to a big bar/restaurant and then decided a nightclubby type bar was more manageable. His place is pretty fancy and definitely not a place I’d hang out. But he had some valuable advice. He suggested a specific “signature cocktail,” which I initially cringed at. But after some thought, I realized that even Double Down has a “signature cocktail” aka their house shot, “Ass Juice.” (Actually, Double Down even has an “infused vodka,” though it’s infused with bacon and not very highbrow!) So there will be a “signature cocktail” at my bar, the one he suggested, in fact, though I may not actually use the words “signature cocktail” to describe it!

My friend Scott sometimes has me join him at Perdition as a guest bartender. His boss, Jessica, sat down with me to share her years-won wisdom with me, including recommendations of accountants, insurance brokers, payroll companies and more. Probably the most valuable piece of advice she offered was to hang on tight and ride out all the bullshit, though I don’t believe she used those exact words.

Frannie is a fellow burner who has graciously offered the burner Happy Hour open bars at her old place on Rivington. She still owns half of the Manhattan Welcome to the Johnson’s but spends most of her time at her new place, the Bushwhack branch of WttJs. I’ve spent hours talking to her about the bar business; she has been very generous with her time. The one piece of advice she gave me that I’ll be incorporating into my place is the concept of creating intimate, separate spaces for people, even in a small bar. Her place on Rivington was pretty tiny — and slightly subterranean — but it had four different “conversation areas”: the bar (barstools), two-top high tables (also with barstools), a handful of low tables with two or four chairs and a back area with couches/banquettes and a low table. I’d guess that, although the feng shui is decidedly different in my space, both bars are about the same amount of square feet. So I will have almost the exact same seating options: the barstools at the bar, one or two high-tops, a couch with a low table and as many square tables with two chairs that will fit. Frannie gave me many other great tips that I’ve already internalized. She was actually the first person I sat down with about this, even before things were quite as close to becoming a reality.

Donald is the manager of Double Down and I took him out for lunch the other day to pick his brain. I asked him about a million questions and he provided me with answers, as well as phone numbers for pretty much every person, service or company necessary to keep a bar business up and running. He told me that 10 years ago a friend had done the same for him and he was happy to be able to “pay it forward.” I am now armed with the info to handle just about every imaginable crisis.

On Tuesday I ventured out into Brooklyn to meet Rosie Schaap, a barmaid Gaz Regan recommended I speak with. She writes a cocktail column for the New York Times, has published a book, “Drinking with Men,” and she works the noon to 9pm shift at South. The bar was great, I loved the jukebox, the regulars were warm and friendly and Rosie was a font of information. She even came up with an elegant solution to my desire to learn more about all the boozy things I don’t know without enrolling in the a-bit-too-basic bartending schools: attend classes at Astor Wine & Spirits. Perfect! I’ve already mentioned that I’m registered for Gaz’s Cocktails in the Country course, so I’m looking forward to tapping into his vast wisdom.

Last night the Burning Man Happy Hour was held at Sugarburg, a fairly new neighborhood bar and restaurant in Williamsburg. It also happens to be owned by a friend and fellow burner and his two brothers. I spent quite a while chatting with them about their purchase process, their buildout and what it’s been like since their opening day. The offer was made to talk again any time I need more advice and I’m sure I’ll be taking them up on that! I’ll add that the bar is pretty amazing. Everyone loved the wide assortment of craft beers, the delicious snacks and the convenient location. I, personally, had a deep appreciation for the decor and many architectural details. I know that nothing wound up on their walls without a lot of consideration. It was nice to know that they continue to make improvements and add to the eclectic collection of art.

In my recent travels, researching bars and bartenders, drinks and drink prices, competition and whatnot, I’ve spoken at length with every person on either side of the bar. I’ve asked bartenders what they do and don’t like, patrons what they want and don’t want, and everything else I can think of. I haven’t shut up about opening this bar and everyone I meet is excited to visit it.

The woman who has been helping me as my commercial real estate agent is also who I’ll be hiring to hold my hand as I learn the process of running a bar business. She owned a bar/club in my neighborhood for a decade and served on the local community board for seven years. She has a wealth of information and experience and she will literally be on my payroll. The rest of the staff at her real estate agency is uber-experienced as well, with a grand total of over 100 years in bars and restaurants between them all, most especially the man running the whole operation, who I met back in November at the Rosie O’Donnell event. He is, in my parents’ vernacular, a wheel. I feel confident that I am in capable hands.

I’m hiring a licensed architect to help me draw up the plans for the renovations and she is recommending a licensed engineer to install the new AC unit and ducting. A licensed general contractor will oversee the licensed plumber and electrician, and they will all be filing the proper permits. My liquor license lawyer is the liquor license lawyer. He is a legend. There is an army of people ready to help me realize my vision and an even larger army ready to patronize it.

The last few weeks have been pretty stressful and I anticipate that the next year or two will be equally insane. My friend at Sugarburg told me the first year is extremely tough. I’ve been impatiently waiting, itching to get my hands dirty, and today something clicked into place. The process is gonna speed up now and before I know it, I’ll be behind that bar, ready to say, “What’ll it be?” It won’t be a moment too soon!