I ended up spending about two (2) hours with a lovely Vietnamese lady, by the name of Kim Hong, who was super helpful and patient. Just a little side funny, I was talking to Tina and Ash about using thick, premium paper so that everything seems official. We kind of laughed it off, but thought, "Better safe than sorry." The first thing Kim said to me after sitting down was, "Nice paper!" Ha ha, so seriously...better safe than sorry. Anyhoo, Kim and I went through a bunch of checklist items, went through all of our paperwork, paid the government a nice little chunk of change, and was handed a Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages - which I posted up almost immediately after leaving the building:
So here we are...our fate in the hands of ABC representative Nora Amante...officially in the running to sell Beer and Wine. For those of you fidgeting right now, don't worry, included with the Beer and Wine license is Sake and Sochu *Drooooooool*!
Once we had all the ABC mumbo jumbo kicked off, since it takes approximately three (3) months to process, we have been more free to focus our energy on the design of our restaurant. Tina, Ash, and I have been kicking around ideas for a couple of months now and sketched out as much as we could how we wanted the layout of our space to be. Once we were relatively satisfied with what we came up with, we passed along all of our scribbles to our restaurant architect, Bob Parr. This is what he ended up putting together for us:As you can see, our space is much bigger than Wayne's location (18908 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708), on his recommendation. Due to the popularity of Wayne's spot, he has trouble with refrigeration space, counter space, space, space, and space. Even with this in mind, our joint was much bigger than we first anticipated, so we decided on setting aside a lounge area (it's pictured above where the sofas are, but we will not be furnishing it that way). This way, we would have a dedicated waiting area and a lounge for our friends and customers who want to come by for a drink or to relax before or after a meal. We initially had forty-seven (47) seats, in comparison to Wayne's twenty-eight(28), but decided to cut this down to forty-one (41) seats in order to enlarge the front waiting/lounge area. This was going to create a very long counter.
Did you guys notice the space between the two (2) seating counters? This popped up in Ash's head so that we would be able to keep the same amount of seats while providing a walkway for people to cut across the restaurant instead of walking allllllll the way around a full counter to get to the other side - where the restrooms will be located. We also wanted to keep lines clean and crisp, so we opted for straight cuts on the bar counter instead of the typical round cut. Because of this, we were able to carve out the two handicap spots without changing the design of the counter much at all.
With the layout finished, Ash, Tina, and I were left with our favorite part of the process - interior design. We thumbed through countless magazines and books and stopped by many restaurants since we first agreed to venture into this gig together. The three (3) of us have similar tastes in design, but we lacked a true focus. We had way too many ideas to fit into one restaurant. Dan, luckily, brought us down to earth by helping us trim down our thoughts and to try and come up with a single design theme. While this was going on, we enlisted the help of my good friend Tania, to help us sharpen our focus even more. The four (4) of us bounced around to different shops (Milk + Honey, Zipangu, Old Vine, Shabu restaurants, Izakaya Wasa, and plenty of other places) in order to find some inspiration and really hone in on what we wanted to convey. This is what Tania came up with after hearing an earfull from us:
This is not our completed "look and feel", but it's a good big step in the right direction. It's still a wee bit difficult to tell from the picture, but what we wanted as our theme was to be natural, open, and simple. Since the only windows are at the front of the store, we wanted to open up our space with lit cut-outs along one wall and creating a faux storefront window along the other side. Hopefully these, along with washing the walls with light, will help soften the length of the restaurant and give the space a more unconfined feeling. We are also planning on incorporating as many natural and organic materials as possible - wood, glass, plants, etc.
Welp, that's about where we are at this point. Check back soon for an update on an art show collaboration we are hosting with Steve, Howard, and Spencer's Cantaloop OC (http://www.cantaloopyogurt.com/)!
Boogers and snot,
Big shout outs to two people making our ideas fly while keeping our feet planted:
Tania Soo - Interior Architecture & Design
Bob Parr - Restaurant Planning Services