Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sad to say...

It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Lunch will no longer be moving to the old Popcorn Factory space on the corner of Broadway and Wishkaw.  I have been waiting for awhile to tell anyone with hopes that this situation would have been rectified.  Unfortunately it seems that this 6 month endeavor to move Lunch's location have officially come to a close.  This choice was not mine and I would like to explain the situation that I (as a business owner) was placed in before you come to any conclusions.  In fact I would like to tell everyone about the past six months and everything that I went through with the property manager of the Old Elks building because I would hate for anyone else to experience the same problems.

Back in late September I spoke to the owner of the Elks building who is a pharmacist in the Seattle area by the name of Martin Hubbard.  He put me in touch the management company of his building and the name of a man Robert Gray.  Robert Gray and his management company own many buildings in Grays Harbor and Kitsap County including new Hoquiam  liquor store and the Tokyo Sauna.  He was interested in my business, the food, and the atmosphere that I had created and thought that I would be a good fit for the Popcorn Factory space.  I would access to all the beach traffic and have more eyes on me having a storefront downtown.  He informed me that we would work together on designing the space to meet my needs and that he had a group of workers that would be able to do all the work.  I took him up on this opportunity since they would be willing to put the hood system and kitchen in for me at very little cost on my part.  Kitchens are a big investment and one of the reasons behind my current location.  I was entranced and very excited that the possibility of moving was now starting to become a reality.

My good friend Krister Lile and I designed a space of our dreams with the measurement restrictions of the location.  With the exception of creating a small office and closet there was very little construction that needed to take place.  I was never given a move in date since they were trying to fix the water and moisture problems which seamed to take up much of October, November, and even the beginning of December.  I was informed several times that once the leaks were addressed and the hood was in place the time it would take to finish everything else was only 3-4 weeks.  As I was delayed more and more I finally asked Robert Gray at the beginning of January when he thought construction would be coming to an end.  He told me that there was only about a month left and they should have everything done by the end of January.  I started to make plans for advertising, informed my current space that I would be leaving at the end of February, and devised a schedule of everything I would need to do over the course of the following two months.

Skip to the beginning of February.  I have already picked out colors for my walls, for my counter tops, and the flooring.  The walls are up and the hood is in the ceiling.  Time for me to bust a move and get some priming done.  I start prepping and priming the walls the beginning of the week but soon decide that I will hand over the reigns to a professional and a friend who has done some work at my family's house is brought in to finish the job.  He is quick to point out the poor quality of the work that has been done and my mother begins to ask questions.  I told both of them that Robert Gray had promised that he will fix most of items because I have already pointed out the same things.  Painting commences and the day from hell begins.

My mother Bette Worth ask Robert Gray several questions while she is on location but the main question is "what is the major hold up on this project?".  Robert Gray informs my mother that he is just waiting for the city to come in, inspect and sign off on the hood.  Now Aberdeen is a small town and my mother knows quite a few people.  She decides that she is going make a few calls and find out if she can expedite the inspection and hurry the remodel along.  We were in for a big surprise when we found out that no permits had been filed with the city of Aberdeen for the hood system or for most of the sheet rock that went up in the space.  A permit had been filed to put up the wall that created the management office on the Broadway side of the building but at that the city had not come in an signed off after each step in the wall creation.  I have lived through enough construction in my life to know that the city has the power to come in and take down all the walls if they wanted and we had just blown the proverbial whistle on our own project.  My mother returns to my space and asked the woman who works in the management office to have Robert Gray call her as soon as possible and leaves her number.

While all of this is taking place I am at work serving the lunch rush and cleaning up.  My mother has a better understanding of the story than I do since I was not there during its occurrence.  When I hear what has taken place I decide to call Robert Gray and find out exactly what is going on with my space. The tone of the phone call immediately took on a defensive tone in which I was informed that I knew very little about the workings of construction and they were following all the rules.  He told me me that my mother had no right going to speak to the city the way she did in regards to the construction.  That they indeed had a permit for the work.  I hit them back with the fact that the permit was for a wall and had not even been signed off by the city for inspection during the framing, the sheet rock process, the mudding, or the texturing.  After 20 minutes of a cross between yelling and crying (on my part) I was informed to come to the space the following day as the sole owner of Lunch.  That I was not permitted to bring any family members that this endeavor was mine alone and I was to sign the lease.  I informed him that I would be speaking with my lawyer that evening and I would be prepared with questions to be answered at the meeting.

The following day my mother and I decide that it would be best to take someone with me to the meeting so I would have a second set of ears and eyes that would vouch for me in case something went wrong.  Krister and I greet Robert Gray on Friday, February 8 and I'm holding my lease in my hand with a few excerpts highlighted and I'm ready for questions.  Robert Gray looks at me expectantly so I open the conversation with "I guess my only problem is the fact that there are no permits for most of the walls, but more importantly for the hood and I couldn't just sit and wait for the city to come in and shut me down due to the fact that they were never applied for in the first place."  Robert Grays' response is "I just don't believe we can continue this project any further."  I was shocked that those words came out of his mouth and responded with "I will be in some time in the near future to collect all of my stuff." and turned around and walked out.

Still fuming from what had just taken place I decide to go and retrieve the number for Martin Hubbard one more time from Frames and Things and I left a message for Martin to call me when he had a chance.  The first conversation I had with Mr. Hubbard was one of a promising nature.  Mr. Hubbard had no knowledge of the lack of permits or that I had been removed from the premise.  I explained my issues that I had encountered with working with Robert Gray and Martin promised that he would speak with Robert Gray and get back to me before the end of the weekend.

Three days pass and I make the motion to call Mr. Hubbard and it was a quick conversation concluding with that he still did not have all the details and had only spoken with Robert Gray for a few minutes and that he would be possibly making a trip down Grays Harbor to his building in the near future.  A few more days pass again and I hear rumblings from the city that Mayor Bill Simpson had called Mr. Hubbard but again there was no resolution.  In the mean time all of the work that Robert Gray had promised he would do over the previous two months were beginning to be completed.  My walls were soon painted a bright red color (vastly different from the blues and silvery grays that I had picked out), floors were beginning to be sanded, and today I noticed the old Mallard's blue booths were installed.

The last thing I hear from Martin Hubbard is that he was possibly going to come down to speak with everyone over President's Day weekend.  That has now come and gone and still nothing from Mr. Hubbard. I have realized that the longer I wait for a resolution the more frustrated I become.  I have decided to not pursue this location any longer much to my dismay and the dismay of all the fans of Lunch.

I waited until the last possible to announce my move and within a week all my best laid plans had gone to waist.  No complete resolutions have been in regards to Lunch itself but for the time being we are going to stay in our current East Campus location, stay open 8:00am-4:00pm, Monday-Friday.

I want everyone to know that my problems did not lie with  city of Aberdeen.  In fact it was just the opposite.  The city informed me that they would have done anything to work with me so I would be able to open in the new location on time.  Mayor Bill Simpson did not have to take time out of his busy schedule to call on my behalf.  All of my problems have stemmed from Robert Gray stringing me along for months and then decided he would be able to skirt the system by not applying for permits.  When my mother and I called him on this he decided that it would be easier for him to let me and my business go than follow the rules of construction and be in compliance with the City of Aberdeen.  It saddens me this is how the story ends but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  My mother and Callie have reminded me that everything happens for a reason so I am excited to see what will happen in Lunch's future.

Thank you for your patronage and hopefully I will see you up at Lunch up at East Campus.

Sincerely, Erin Worth

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Worst Kept Secret in Aberdeen

I'm sure you all have guessed/heard many rumors involving Lunch in the last 6 months.  You probably have seen movement downtown in the old Popcorn Factory Space and have been wondering what was going to be going in to the new space.  With the delivery of the new Senior Sunset Times a few days earlier than expected, I am excited to announce that Lunch is moving downtown into the old Popcorn Factory space.  We are slated to close our doors at our current location at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, East Campus, February 28 at 4:00 and reopen at our new location Monday, March 4 at 8:00 am.

I understand that this quite possibly is the worst kept secret in Aberdeen and you may have even asked me personally of the possible move, but I hope you understand my apprehension in regards to these rumors.  Not only has this been in the works for the past 6 months, but we also didn't know the end date until recently.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel for our remodel and we hope you enjoy our new space as much as we love our old space.  We were also afraid their would be a downturn in customers in our current location while they awaited our big move if this was announced too early.  We still hope everyone will come see us as we enter our last month up on H Street before we make our transition downtown.

We are very grateful for the opportunity Grays Harbor Hospital gave us to start our operation on their premise and to all the employees whom were frequent patrons of Lunch.  We hope they will still think of us when it comes to their Lunch needs and will come visit us in our new location.

Though we have several answers to several questions, here are a few questions we still are thinking about in regards to our move to our new location:

  • Will we extend our hours/be open on Saturdays?
  • Will we start serving full breakfasts?
  • Will we continue delivery?
  • Will we start serving dinner?
  • Will we continue catering?
We will have answers to these questions in the next month as we sit down as a small business and try and figure out our best step as we move forward with Lunch.  We ask for a bit of patience as some of these dates might change should we hit any snags in our plans.  Thank you for your patronage and we hope you are excited as we our with our future.

Sincerely,

Erin Worth, Chef/Owner