What IS that?
Over the past 3 weeks, this is a question I’ve found myself asking more and more. As we work to transform what was most recently a church into The Kangaroost. It’s been a continuous series of projects. Here is a photo of the dining area before all the fun began.
Who Knows What?
We knew there would be many challenges and questions along the way. I personally am not much of a style expert and Jay knew we’d need some help with the technical and mechanical issues we needed to take care of. So, we called in the experts.
Which Way Do We Go?
So, we signed the lease, and then asked ourselves, now what? I don’t know much about style, but I do know what I like when I see it. Every time I’ve visited Urban Evolutions Inc, I would leave thinking how stylish I thought the things they had were. So, I called them first. We are on a very tight budget and timeline, so I knew that would be an obstacle, but Robin from Urban Evolutions Inc. has been a huge help along the way of transforming this space full of red, white and fabricated stuff to a space with natural light and elements. Robin introduced us to Lou Ann McCutcheon of McCutcheon Design and the two of them brainstormed with us and we set out to change the look of this charming building, full of character. We wanted to show off some of it’s brilliance while downplaying the not so brilliant. They have both offered so many suggestions and support and advice along the way. It’s been invaluable to us as this is not our area of expertise.
Call In the Experts
Lou Ann and Robin have been fantastic in creating ideas and a plan, but next we needed help from those folks who knew how to get the job done.
We met Steve from Northstar Contracting a couple of years ago when we started down the road of looking for a brick and mortar restaurant. He has looked at several buildings with us and has been an asset in looking at properties with open eyes, as he will often see things we don’t. Northstar Contracting have been responsible for fine tuning the plumbing and electricity and most noticeably right now, painting the ceiling. This building has high ceilings covered with popcorn stuff popular in the 1980′s. So, Steve not only figured out a way to paint them, he took on the task himself. It’s a busy time for them right now, and knowing we are pushing to open sooner than later, he spent 2 days with us painting.
Once Steve finished painting the ceiling, we called on our friend Mark Apitz to help hang 360 square feet of wood on a ceiling 12 feet high. He showed up with a bunch of tools and an enthusiasm unlike you’ve ever seen. I’ve heard about people who own a lot of tools, but, I could not have imagined some of the things Mark showed up with. Saws, electric hammers, compressors – you name it, he brought it. In a little over 2 days, Mark had the wood in place. He even used a homemade stain recipe to blend the edges of the cut wood with the rest of the reclaimed wood. This is truly a work of art. Be sure to notice some of the detail in the wood along with some of the markings.
Mark brought with him a world of knowledge and skills that we didn’t have as we worked to get things ready. We are grateful for all of his help and have named him project manager as he seems to be readily available with an answer or solution to whatever we need help with.
From the Bottom Up
Next up, the floor. Now, this is undoubtedly, the least glamorous of all the tasks. It’s dusty, smelly but incredibly necessary. Emma, Riley, Meng and Ross pulled approximately 1500 square feet of old red carpeting from the building. It seemed never ending at times involved removing baseboards, fixtures and whatever else stood in the way of it’s riddance.
After a Sunday of putting a few finishing touches on the paint, it was time to bring in that thing.
What is THAT????
I don’t know what this thing is called, but I do know what it does. Scrapes stuff off the floor. It had a very ominous warning sticker on it and made a lot of noise and dust, but at the end of the week, the floor was brighter and ready for a finishing coat. Jay and Mark were covered in dust. It was quite the experience ~ but, as is often the case with the process of change…it’s not all fun and games!
This week, we’ll be putting the finish on the floor, adding a few finishing touches and bringing in the furnishings and fixtures. You can expect things to be simple and natural, with a few clever and kitschy items thrown in for Good Measure. Our friend Daniel Green is painting a large 6′x4′ painting that will hang in the space between the dining area and bar. This painting will indicate our suppliers and producers and show people just where their food is coming from.
Community Supported Restaurant
This brings me to my point in this blog post. We’ve been working hard and getting the things done that we need to open, but there is much to do. The structural things have been worked out, the design and décor is coming together, and now…the other stuff. All of this has only been possible with the support of you – Our Community. We are very grateful and acknowledge the fact that we are doing things different, creating a place for folks to gather, have a meal and get to know one another. We’ve been able to make the many changes and adaptations we’ve made over the past few years thanks to the generosity of our CSR (Community Supported Restaurant) members. We have over 30 people who have purchased shares. Many of you are familiar with CSA Shares (community supported agriculture) but a Community Supported Restaurant is a relatively new idea in this area. A google search will provide several articles and links to other restaurants across the country taking this new approach to running a restaurant. The link below is an article from Travel and Leisure in 2012 that called Community Supported Restaurants the trend to watch.
Based on the premise of having a lot of folks invested in a restaurant’s success rather than enter into a very competitive business with a lot of debt and risk, CSR members purchase shares to restaurants. These shares are redeemable in food and are much like a gift certificate ~ or in store credit redeemable over an extended period of time. The reason these models succeed is because of the support of members. Not only do they come in regularly to redeem their share, they bring their friends, they tell their family and most of all, they encourage us. They offer honest suggestions and feedback. They are invested. They have a reason to see they business succeed.
Another reason these restaurants are often more successful, is that the risk is shared by many, rather than a few. We have 4 investors in The Kangaroost who have loaned us the money to make some of the larger purchases and meet some of the larger expense needs to open in this space.
While doing all we can to save expense, and do the minimum needed to open, we’ve found ourselves in the position of opening without some key things. Call it a wish list, it’s really much more. It’s things like awnings (our awnings from the old location will not work in this space), a point of sale system to help better manage sales and transactions, a steam table for the kitchen to help keep soups and other things hot, a blender, and a few other things that while we can get by without them, will be needed sooner than later, to make us successful.
How Much Does a Share Cost?
We are currently offering two different share options.
- $500 Share – Redeemable at The Kangaroost or Kangaroostaurant in $25/increments over the course of 2 years. Members are also the first to know what happening as well as often a part of special events. We have a Sunday Supper planned for members this winter so that the folks who support us in this way can get to know each other.
- $1000 Share – Redeemable at The Kangaroost or Kangaroostaurant in $50 increments over the course of 2 years.
Is It Really That Simple
The answer to that is yes. And no. This is certainly a difficult business and their are innumerable obstacles to success and we appreciate that now more than ever. We do the hard part. We worry, work hard, get up early and go to bed late and do our very best to make every dollar count and every investment is taken seriously. So, is it simple for us? YES, because we LOVE what we do. All the hard work, all the fretting, all the frustration is gone when we receive emails and cards from guests who’ve eaten at the restaurant and enjoyed themselves so much that they took time to send us a card. When we see those familiar faces of friends and neighbors coming in and saying hello we forget about the struggles and get to stop for a minute and chat. We hug our customers, hold their children, support them in difficult times and they do the same for us. It’s what community is about. The little things that matter.
How Do You Purchase a Share?
If you are interested in becoming a shareholder, please let us know and we can answer any questions or concerns and get you the information you need to make a decision. You can reach us at 920-277-8173 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Emma Reiser or I would be more than happy to tell you all about it.
Where We Left Off
So, we are getting closer to opening every day. Our hope is that by Saturday, December 7th , we will be serving up food for our soft opening and open officially to the public on December 9th. But, as you can see, we’ve made a LOT of progress, but still have much work to do.
See you soon at The Kangaroost – 3301 West Prospect Avenue – Appleton Wisconsin!