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Bill DiDonna and Charles Kelly Headshot

Where To Start?

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The days running up to our return to the film-making business were spent looking for other locations for the restaurant: there was the defunct Philipino market in Atwater -- essentially the inside of a concrete cube with a 20 foot ceiling. The complex also housed a nail salon, an immigration law firm and a copy shop. It was a challenging location.

There was the former western wear store in Eagle Rock with the interesting mini turret and the cool pre-established sign frame. It had once been a restaurant and had the gas and water runs. But the wrong way. The whole place would have had to have been built out from scratch but was otherwise nice. There was the genuine googly-style diner with the well-maintained teal and orange naugahyde seating. Perfect in so many ways. Sadly the diner was smack-dab next to an elementary school. The agent who showed it was a neighborhood council member. "Beer and wine? Not going to happen", he said. A lifetime of flipping eggs and refilling coffee cups. We passed. There was a mixed-use in Highland Park with the iffy owner and the 'slice of pie' layout and the bar/restaurant in Glassell Park that turned out to be midway between two of the most notorious gang shootings of 2008.

We didn't necessarily need to be landlords, our business plan seemed solid enough. We could buy a business and lease the location. Agents were told of our interest in Silverlake and Echo Park but much of the available crop was in Hollywood and west. We were sweet on a South American restaurant that seemed to be doing mostly catering from their facility. The price seemed right. Other places had succeeded in corner malls ... We even found ourselves pressing our faces against the glass of a defunct Italian place in Beverly Hills trying to see through the newspapers that served as curtains.

There was certainly no end of available restaurants on the market, some that were cursed by their location and some that appeared to be quite successful. Did it occur to wonder why someone would sell what seemed to be a lucrative enterprise? Somewhat, but we had other things on our minds...

What did occur to us was that given our budget and the schedule that we were on, we were going to have to land in an established place, with fixtures, equipment, and permits. When you buy a business, you buy the use permit that the business had established with the city. It's yours now and unless you now want to start a chroming business or a slaughterhouse, you can open right up and have at it. The western-wear store could have been at least two years off, and upwards of a million bucks to outfit as a restaurant. Even when a neighborhood wants a new business, there are so many issues, mostly unforeseen, that one must face: the many city agencies and their byzantine permitting requirements. And that's if there are no naysayers. We heard a tale from a lovely woman the other day who owned a viable restaurant in Hollywood for six years, but every time she tried to get her beer/wine license approved there was a single neighbor who constantly objected. Eventually her restaurant went under. Selling beer and wine might have made the difference. Even the most fleet-of-foot business is unlikely to get the go-ahead to open in a timely manner. Ground-up is for the big boys with the deep pockets, we needed to find an ongoing concern and benefit from continuous use.

Now for the practical part of this entry:

Another nutty Allston Yacht Club Cocktail. This one is from Charlie and it is inspired by French Rhone wine. The blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre in certain wines produce flavors of coffee and pomegranate fruit, so, why not try these in a cocktail? This drink would be much prettier if made with a clear liquor rather than Kaluha. But for the moment, Kaluha is, by far, the best flavorant, thus the unglamorous name:

The Basement Window:

1.5 Oz. Gold Tequila (I Like Orendain Joven)
.5 Oz. Kaluha
1 Oz. Sweetened Pomegranate Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Serve to an obnoxious guest. Maybe it will help.

Then keep an eye out for more posts from Bill and Charlie in their quixotic culinary adventures.


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