Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lots of Updates & No Time to Write

Time is not a commodity I have too much to spend at the moment, as everything seems to be happening at once. Most of it has to do with starting Brian's Grill House, but there is more to it than one might think. Interwoven in the process of setting up the business is getting a visa. The paperwork required for this combined effort is mind numbing, including signatures, thumb prints, letters, statements and more passport sized photos than you can shake a stick at. Combine this with a culture where it takes several hours to do anything, and the involvement of six busy people in the restaurant itself whom I have to collect signatures, photos and various forms from and you can begin to see that this is a time consuming process.

Paperwork though is not the only thing we are trying to manage at the moment. Having found the space we will be using we had to quickly figure out the layout of the restaurant so that the head engineer of the building could remove and erect walls as required, put toilets and doors where we needed them etc. This isn't an easy task as you have to take into account how everything is going to run. What kitchen equipment will we be using? Where will staff place orders, how will they place orders, where will dishes be dropped off, how will clean glasses be delivered to the bar, will the guy working the grill want to kill the guy working the fry station if I arrange the kitchen this way? Bathrooms were incredibly tricky as there were columns in unfortunate positions, making it very difficult to split them into men's and woman's rooms. Differences in how ventilation, lighting and separation of facilities is done here made this even more of a challenge.

The bar was another tricky spot as we wanted it to straddle an exterior wall with a large open side facing north toward the Himalaya. Figuring out how this would be set up turned out to be slightly easier that I expected, but explaining it to people and drawing it in a way that conveyed it properly was (and still is) a bit of a challenge. Last night I sat down with the head engineer after running the layout past everyone else involved and finalized the basic layout. That's just the beginning though, as we still have to figure out interiors, and equipment, much of which it appears will be purchased in a trip to China.  Other materials,decorations, and supplies will be purchased while I'm back in the US later this summer. 

Speaking of that, we were also finally able to buy flights for my first trip back to the US since I came to Asia over a year and a half ago now. We got our tickets through who I highly recommend, as I've used them for our trips here, to Thailand, Tanzania, and now back to the US and they have always been much cheaper than any other site. We also got great flight paths, avoiding India completely (yay!!!!!) and having minimum layover times, with only a long layover in Amsterdam on the way back, which I might make into a short excursion if I'm in the mood. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to see a lot of people back home when I'm there for essentially the month of August. I'll be spending about three weeks in New England (mostly Maine) and then a week in the Tampa area at toward the end of the trip.

Even this trip could be a bit hectic though as I will be in communication with partners back here as we try to put the restaurant together for a soft opening not too long after my return. Included in my agenda while at home is sourcing ingredients that we will be shipping via Harilo and setting up a supply chain, finding numerous  bar items that are unavailable in Asia, decorative items for the restaurant, and possibly getting menu's and shirts printed, as the quality is just light years better in the US than what you end up with here. Some good designers here, but the actual products they are printed on always seem second rate which is a shame. 

So aside from all of this there is the ongoing battle of designing the menu, solving the various food puzzles (like how to do good corn chips/tortillas or can I reliably get some ingredients year round), and figuring out how the menu will be presented and designed. Are certain items going to popular enough to justify prep work that is specifically for that product? What items are worth making because I can extend them into the products I sell at the market, and hopefully soon after in grocery stores? How diverse can the menu be before it overwhelms my tiny Kitchen in this place? Will Nepali staff be able to handle having various options associated with different items when dealing with people speaking other languages. It's a lot to think about and consider, and it's all being formulated while I continue to spend several days each week cooking and selling at the Saturday market.   

While it's exciting to be getting into all of this, it's also absorbing increasingly large parts of my time. Because of all of this time sensitive goings on I think I will be writing here increasingly less than before, which for me is a bit of a shame. Over the next few months I expect this will morph into the documentation of a restaurant opening in Kathmandu, and what a trip back to organized society is like after a long stay in the more chaotic parts of Asia. While I don't see myself giving up this blog entirely any time in the future, the posts will most likely slow to one  a week or so, but we'll see I suppose. 

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoy reading your time I am in Kathmandu, I hope to come to Brian's Grill :)


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