I live fairly close to the cemetery where we buried my mother last year. My dog and I walk through it often. And half the time, I walk past my mother’s grave and think, there’s nobody there, no part of her survived death. The other half the time I stop and talk. Today, I stopped to talk. Or rant, to be more accurate.
Here’s the thing about opening a pie shop. It sounds romantic, all about building great recipes and feeding people food that nourishes body and soul. And perhaps some of that will be true once the doors are open. But right now, it’s like trying to push water up a hill. It’s contractors and metal workers and type one or type two kitchen hoods, depending on if we truly, truly, need to cook bacon. (As it turns out, we do.) It’s reworking the budget to fit in the unexpected floor drain and the two extra sinks and the cursed kitchen hood that might be $12,000 but also might be $30,000. And the dishwasher we forgot to add in until now.
It’s following rules, lots and lots of rules, from the health department and from the building department and from the landlord. It’s meeting the requirements for city permits and county permits and state permits. It’s accepting that instead of choosing the perfect floor that will give the space an inviting feel while setting off the wall and accent colours, we’re going to pick the least ugly vinyl sheeting in our price range that can be heat sealed. Instead of the shiny new double deck convection oven and three door reach in refrigerator, we are going hunting for a used two door refrigerator with a compressor that works and a used double deck convection oven without too many dents and dings. Instead of a countertop made from recycled barn wood, we are considering which “retro” formica we prefer. We have revised our standards from what makes us smile to what doesn’t make us cry.
As I explained in detail to my dead mother, while my dog munched on the surrounding lawn (I think he thinks it’s salad) this project was intimidating from the start. But now, it’s also frustrating and exhausting. Since I carry on both sides of the conversation when I have these graveside chats, I turned to myself and said in my best approximation of my mother’s voice, “so don’t do it.” Leave it to my mother to go straight to the heart of the matter. Because of course, the only thing worse than all the things we must do to open this shop, is not doing those things and not opening the shop.
What I forgot for a moment is that it is the contractors and the compromises and the gritty, metal details that make it real. That move it from a vague future dream to something solid and cherished. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere in the telephone calls to the health department and the emails with the design guys and the floor guys and the coffee vendors, we moved past the point of no return. On schedule or not, ready or not, perfect or probably not, we’re opening a pie shop.