The last week has been super productive!
I managed to turn 31, hire a new electrician, get the first bit of our duct work up, and tile 2 bathrooms! I had some help on a few of these (…but turned 31 all by myself!) 🙂
The “un-written” post folder is getting out of control… I’m so far behind reality that we’ll probably have the cafe open for months and you guys will never know because I’ll still be writing about the renovation! I’ve been saving this post because it’s a beast… The Building of The Espresso Bar. Yes, good people, Fitz and I custom build espresso bars. It’s just this thing we do.
You’ll understand when you see the complexity of the images in this tangled post. But the magnitude of this project is a bit hard for even me to wrap my head around and I was there, in the thick of it, battling the 3-D beast of our minds.
The bar has to be plumbed – wired – meet ADA code – fit all of our equipment – be ergonomic for workflow on the employee side – be functional for customers – and look AMAZING and ORIGINAL.
No. Big. Deal.
Not to mention I’ve been judging espresso bars for years – both those I’ve worked at and ones we’ve met along the road. I have incredibly specific opinions. This will be my playpen for years to come. It’s gotta be good.
We spent a few months designing out in San Francisco but, like all (best-laid) plans, it was out the window upon moving to Amber Lane. So, both Mouse and Man spent the winter re-designing: a process that involved such intricately detailed consideration of measurements (equipment we don’t yet own – future growth – space for plumbing and electrical – and the geometry of fitting the pieces together: counter tops, counter face, shelving, etc.)… I shudder to think back.
I’ll leave the rest to pictures. Click on pictures for captions. Pace yourselves – take breaks. Grab a snack. And just remember, it wasn’t built in a day. (Pro Tip: It never is.)
Step 1: Build the counter tops.
First, we drew out the footprint on the floor. Then we translated this to the plywood substrate of the counter top. (Somehow.) I vaguley remember that being agonizing.
Bits and pieces of the counter top.
First layer done!
Then we added a second layer of plywood to strengthen the structure.
It came in differently configured bits and pieces.
Big man. Tiny island.
Voila! A counter top… to be filed for MUCH later use.
Step 2: Build the consoles. Our bar is a horseshoe shape “U-ing” out from the back wall of the building. Above all else, we value transparency. We wanted a design that people could walk around and see what’s happening from all angles. The bar is book-ended by 2 consoles.
The “command console” housing back stock of pastries, a computer/receiver for our sound system, and part of the support structure for our juice fridge.
And the hand sink.
Step 3: Building the shelves. Remember the barn? Those incredible 3-inch thick beams finally make their debut!
At only 14″ deep, we used the limitation of that dimension to frame the sub-structure of the bar.
There was also the unavoidable limitation of the quality of the beams themselves… beautiful but termite-ridden. Sadly. But we treated them with a chemical and then gouged out the affected areas and filled them.
But, we couldn’t use normal wood filler because we weren’t planning to stain the beams. Normal wood filler comes out a yellowish sandy color. So instead we mixed fine saw dust from the beams with wood glue to make our own custom wood fill!
You don’t want to know how long this took.
Step 4: Cutting out the floor sink. We need an indirect drain for the espresso machine and all our other waste pipes at the bar. This floor sink ties in below the floor in our crawl space. To get there, we had to get through 5 layers of flooring…
We started by laying a plywood floor underneath the footprint of the bar – to bring the floor to the same height as our (yet-to-be) tiled floor.
Then… we go through Layer 1.
And the madness begins!
All this is followed by 2 coats of “Evening Hush”.
… Fast-forward: setting the sink. Nice forethought on our part… after the bar was built, we wouldn’t be able to set this sink.
Someone was thinking! 🙂
Step 5: Pegging the shelves. Well, how would you connect a bunch of 3″ thick barn beams?
Making the pegs.
Drilling 2″ holes. This takes a LONG time. And the drill gets very, very hot!
These holes have to line up exactly. E-X-A-C-T-L-Y.
You can never have too much wood glue!
For added insurance.
Metal plates on the bottom.
They look crazy on the bottom – but, don’t worry, it all pans out. 😉
2 rows of shelves! Each turn has pegs and plates!
Step 6: Sealing the shelves. After all the insanity of the wood fill and requisite sanding, we sealed the barn beam shelves with polyurethane.
Out to dry!
Step 7: Final preparation of materials.
This is Jim.
He cuts and threads pipes for us at Home Depot. We have a very good relationship.
Getting ready to go vertical.
Spacing the shelves so the metal plates on the first shelf don’t scratch the second shelf!
Construction is a breeze!
All we do is sit around! 😉
The Army lies in wait.
This looks insane. I know.
Spoting the holes for the flanges – these marks will get translated through both shelves to hit marks on the floor. Perfectly, of course.
Step 8: Let the drilling begin!
So… we had to drill straight down, through both shelves. That’s 6 inches. The drill makes it a bit more than 3″… just enough to hit the second shelf, to carry the mark down.
Oh right, the drill broke.
First casualty of the job. But Craig’s List came through! Less than a day later, a very nice man dropped one off at our place for $10. Can’t beat that!
32 holes later… but who’s counting?
Step 9: Fine-tune for the finale!
Everyone gets in place.
Last-minute rash decisions are made.
Step 10: And up we go!!
In we go!
Flanges on top (for the counter tops).
Flanges on bottom (to give structural stability at the floor).
Do you realize how much could have gone wrong here?! Like… what if a hole was off?! You can’t bend 1″ thick steel pipe through 3″ thick wood beams. We were smart. But we were also VERY lucky.
Step 11: Placing the counter tops!
Hey, remember those counter tops we made ages ago?
Let’s hope they fit! Yikes!
Whew! From the ground up. We’re officially 3-D!
Step 12: Connecting the dots. You thought we were done, right?
Organization is key. Screwing down all the flanges.
Ah, I knew we got those tiles for a reason! I should mention, for posterity’s sake, the floor slopes by about an inch and a half across the length of the bar. The pipes were right. Our calculations were right. The floor was VERY wrong.
9 million shims later we’re… Right on!
Step 13: More pegs, on steroids.
To connect the shelves into the unit, we had the brilliant idea (with some help from our friends at Home Depot) to use pegs. Fitz decided on 5/16″ round bar cut in 4″ long pieces.
Vanity shot! Drilling x 32… again.
Done! Like I said… No. Big. Deal. 😉
Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to the skeleton of our very own Espresso Bar! Finishes to come later.