The Second Shop
On December 23, 2018, we agreed to the lease. We would be opening up the second Z Beans Coffee shop on Cotton Avenue in downtown Macon, Georgia. While only 7 minutes away from our first shop, this one's a big step for us. It's the first time designing our own shop layout and the first time stepping outside of Mercer's campus.
Once or twice a week, starting January 1, I stop by the coffee shop, expecting to see some sort of progress. But, with each visit, comes another let down. What is taking so long? Why is it taking so long to get this going? I'd call the contractor - "It's coming along. It just takes time."
I've been fortunate enough this school year to work with a marketing class at Mercer taught by a former professor of mine, Dr. Crutchfield. The major project was to plan the grand opening for the second coffee shop. In early February, we discussed a date for the big day:
March 29, 2019.
I set the date in stone. The contractors said the build out would be done by the middle of march - without problems. Also, the last Friday of Cherry Blossom is the perfect time - we will have a few weeks to work on operations - a few weeks to make last minute tweaks - a few weeks to hire a new staff for the second shop.
Friday - March 1, 2019.
I receive an email. "Shane, I need to know the type of water heater you need for the shop?"
Water heater? It's March 1.
I complete all of my necessary requirements with Planning and Zoning and the health department. I need the building inspector's signature, the fire department's signature, and the health department's final inspection.
Friday - March 15, 2019.
I walk into the shop. No water heater. No paint. No floors. No bar tops. A canvas - a blank canvas.
I call the contractor - "We are on schedule."
I ask, "Will we be able to open on time?"
Monday, March 18. I call Mr. Len (the contractor) for a weekly plan.
"Mr. Len, what are we going to get done this week?"
"Today, the painters are coming to paint the ceiling and the walls."
"On Tuesday, the floor man is coming to lay the floors. He is going to lay flooring through the night and will have it done by Wednesday morning."
I stop by the next morning - Tuesday.
The ceiling is painted.
The painters are working on the walls.
The floor man is coming soon!
Wednesday morning arrives.
The ceiling is being patched do to a leak that occurred upstairs.
The walls are being sanded again. Mr. Len wasn't happy with the way it turned out.
I receive word - the floor material we ordered is no where to be found. It was shipped to the wrong location.
The painters are repainting everything tomorrow.
The water heater - it won't be coming in until next Monday.
Friday - a week before opening.
I walk into the shop. No water heater. No paint. No floors. No bar tops. A canvas - a broken canvas.
Saturday. March 23, 2019.
I sit in my office in the basement, thinking.
What can I do?
For the first time, it's not up to me. I'm not a plumber - I'm not an electrician - I'm not a professional painter.
But, I am a do'er and so is Carter. No one will feel sorry for us if it doesn't get done - if we don't open on time. The great ones have always found a way.
I make a schedule for the week.
Monday - Water Heater.
Tuesday - All painting completed.
Wednesday - Floors laid. Move in all equipment, tables, and bar tops.
Thursday - Building inspection. Fire inspection. Final health inspection.
Friday - We open.
Monday, March 25, 2019.
Four days until opening.
The plumbers arrive at 8am sharp. They work on the water heater all day and get it completed.
Carter and I start painting. We finish the ceiling, touch up the back kitchen, and work on the door frames.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
Three days until opening.
Carter and I, along with the help of some professional painters, knock out all of the painting.
We work with Georgia Artisan as well to get the bar tops and other furniture mounted.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019.
Two days until opening.
Carter and I work all day to tidy up the place - touch up any painting - and get all the debris picked up and thrown away.
6pm. The floor man arrives. The floor is here.
From 6pm - 4am, they lay the floor. Meanwhile, Carter and I organize the bathrooms, the back kitchen, and put together furniture. We even made a Walmart run - a run we will never forget - at 3am.
Thursday, March 28, 2019.
One day until opening.
It's 8am in the morning. I'm in the back storage room, laying wall base around the bottom of the walls. I had laid the wall base in the basement, so I was familiar with the process. The floor guys had ran out of it, and they wouldn't be back until the next afternoon. However, the health department lady was coming at 9am. From my experience at Mercer Village, I knew she would dock us points. So, I made a quick Lowe's run and took care of it.
The health inspector arrives. She walks through the kitchen - the storage room - the front bar area. She's making her way back to the front and bends down to look to see if any light is coming through the bottom of the door. Immediately, I run outside and let the door guy know he needs to put a weather strip on the bottom - we can't let any light shine through. He follows me inside and tells the health department lady: "I'll take care of it immediately. Please don't dock them any points."
She docks us 3 points. We needed 95 to get her approval. She gave us a 92.
I ask, "Can you come back this afternoon? I promise you we will have it ready."
"It's Cherry Blossom week. We have to monitor the food trucks, and I have a meeting. I may be able to come tomorrow morning at 8:30."
The inspector leaves.
At 3:30pm, the building inspector and fire inspector come.
All is well, but the sprinkler heads in the back kitchen are covered up by the drop ceiling. It must be fixed.
So, I ask the inspector's: "Who can fix it?"
They point to the man in red.
"I'll give you free coffee for the next six months, and I'll give you $50 in cash if you meet me here at 6am tomorrow morning and fix the sprinkler heads."
"6? That's early. I can be here at 8, and it'll only take me an hour. I'm driving from Americus."
"See you at 6."
I tell the building inspector that he will meet me tomorrow morning at 6. I ask them, "Would you please sign off on my paper, so I can open tomorrow after the health inspector comes in?"
The two inspectors look at each other. "I don't see why not."
They sign the sheet.
All I need is the health department.
Friday, March 29, 2019.
Today is the day.
Carter and I organize everything throughout the night, doing our best to have the place ready to go tomorrow morning.
The man arrives and fixes the sprinkler heads. Great start!
But, 8:30 comes.
The health inspector is no where to be found.
The inspector arrives. We are prepping pastries and cinnamon rolls for the opening. Immediately, we are forced to throw them all away.
The inspector comes to me. The sink in the women's bathroom is not getting hot enough. The plumbers will have to fix it before you can open.
I run out to Mr. Len, the contractor. He calls the plumbers - they can be here in an hour.
I know that's not good enough.
I run into the bathroom - I can fix this. I take a second and think it out.
What if I just turn down the cold water output and bump up the hot?
Bingo. It works.
The health inspector signs off.
Opening the second coffee shop was, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. Countless individuals came into the shop a few days before opening, confused. "You all are opening on Friday?" Some would even go so far to say, "There's no way."
But, in case you don't already know, if there is a will, there is always a way.
We didn't have the time to hire a single person for the new shop - we didn't have time to work on any operations. But, Carter and I made it work.
While we have only been business partners for a little over a year, I can tell you this: I would never want another person as my partner. We are not plumbers - we are not electricians - we are not painters - nor are we perfect baristas. But, we are do'ers. And, we will always find a way.