It’s been intense and amazing and fun and frustrating and exhausting and overwhelming….and I don’t know the words to describe what it’s been like.
Friday, August 9, we had our ‘inauguration’ party, or opening reception. It was a beautiful evening, flowers and plants kept arriving, all the candles were burning and the place looked absolutely beautiful. It was magical. Then at about midnight, I had one of those uh-oh déjà vu memories…. It was like being back at my son’s graduation party. You know, the party where we expected 40 and 200 hundred showed up? Well, this party was a lot like that, except that we are in a brand new location, and we are in Italy, and not all things work according to plan. Things like when all the lights and kitchen equipment are turned on, the electric circuits blow, and someone has to sprint up the steps to turn the breaker back on. Or the dishwasher that needs to be bailed after every other wash cycle. Today, Jeff and Claudio were out digging a ditch for the Telecom man because we still don’t have a phone line. We’ve been using our cell phones, but that doesn’t quite cut it. Little by little, we are working out the kinks and learning how to work as a team.
Our first lunch service on Saturday? I can’t even remember it; it’s just a haze of trying to get ourselves together. Our first dinner service, we were completely booked and turned people away. Trust me, on the first night; you don’t want a completely booked restaurant. It was chaos in the kitchen, and long waits for the diners. Thanks god, we are getting a system together and the overall experience is improving for everyone. But, that first night, as we finished cleaning up, and we were ready to head home, at about 3:00 am, we realized that there had been some rain, and our ancient, medieval walls in the bar area, were literally weeping water. Tiny little holes in the stonewalls were turning into streams. It was a horrible hour or so as we mopped and swept and tried to figure out what we could do to stop the flow. Jeff had his hands (with rubber gloves on!) elbow deep in medieval drainpipes trying to clear them out. Finally we built a dam that directed the water out of the front door and we went home. Poor Claudio was back in the kitchen at 6:30 the next morning, organizing and beginning to set the system for how the kitchen and dining rooms would operate. The whole idea of a ‘soft opening’ just seems to be non-existent in Italy. We tried to push for a soft opening, but instead we opened with a bang!
And just to add to the overall chaos of opening a restaurant, this is the week of our big festa in town, and ‘ferie’ or the August holiday time for Italy. I’m listening to the sound of drums beating, and people marching around town. The flags are flying, and town is full of merry makers. And it’s time for me to head back up to the restaurant and see what adventures lie ahead of us tonight.