January 10th. Geez it's 11:57pm so in 3 minutes it's my 50th Birthday. The pressure is so huge. Everyone wants to know what I'm doing.... And I was a bit stressed because what I really want to do is just hang around my house all day and work in the studio and clean my shop and just chill at home. I don't want to party or go out. So that's the plan.
I just spent some time updating the Satchel's website. Got pictures of some mosaic tiles on there, some info on our grants, and some info about parties in LSE.... Feels good to finally get some of that done.
In honor of my 50th Birthday I'm going to put a picture of my cat on here...
Of course that has nothing to do with my Birthday but I went to my photos and that was one of the most recent I took because when our cat got in that basket well, how could I NOT take a picture?
After many months of insanity trying to get the bar back open, and then a month of logistics and the holidays... I finally got back into mosaic tiling this week. I just finished filling the kiln today too with a new batch of tiles. The tile factory is back in action and the mosaic on the building will be happening weekly also.
My mind is exploding with all the things I want to do. I have so many more ideas than time. I'll just do the one day at a time thing for now, what choice do I have?
I went to a Gator basketball game tonight with my sister and nephew. I ended up sitting with my friend and employee Marvin who had some open seats beside him:
December 15. Finally coming around to a more normal existence. Sleeping better, not as anxious, working a bit less.... Well, today I worked 12 hours but there was a lot going on today that was out of the ordinary. I am finally feeling like talking to people again. I really enjoyed making some pizzas last night for the first time in a while.
I made so many big mistakes. Costly mistakes, like buying an extra locker. My brain was just not working and I did not check over my order good which is so stupid when it's a $3000 order of lockers.
Speaking of lockers, here is a picture of our break room locker setup. Made me think we were like in the Ford plant or something.... so many lockers!
And the next photo is one of the offices. Two ladies work in this office and they both want standing desks. The space was long enough I was able to create 2 standing desks and a double seating desk in between. One woman wanted her standing height at 3' and the other at 3 1/2'. I had gotten 2 estimates to build this and one other desk. One estimate was $4000 and the other was $1800 with me doing the sanding and finish work. I spent a couple days building this, and less than $100. I've still got build and install drawers under the standing desks, but even though i waste money on mess ups like buying an extra locker, I save money by building my own stuff. Also, I'm certain the $4000 version would have been much nicer.
Just now coming to the realization that I have to keep at it, make the upstairs happen, the sound and live music right, the gift shop into a reality,,,, I'm just one guy, with my work cut out. one day at a time. I live by these cliches
for now i rest still
december 5th. one year ago was fire and destruction. today we opened to hope and a new beginning. The perfect soft opening: the bar was still sticky. the computers were down half the day, and the smell of polyurethane from the upstairs floors came through the A/C vents into the new space.
I had fun. finally. my good friends came to cheer me on. i only have a few and I was so happy they came to see the place and see me. i screwed up the bar top finish but tonight it hardly mattered. we drank and laughed and had fun. thanks y'all. it's gonna be a good vibe sorta spot.
i can't wait to hit the bed now...
I love gainesville. I've never been so tired. here we go again..... let's crank it up and make something new.
Hard work. 19 hour days. even did a 19.5 hour day a few days ago. I'm not proud of it, it is stupid. But I just can't stop. I am obsessed. I am so looking forward to being open and resting some. Really resting.
Tonight I sealed the bar top, and did a thousand other little things no one will notice but needed to get done. Here's a couple pictures:
My family misses me. I miss my family. It is sad to be gone so much for my business. I hope I can make it up to them somehow.
We're softly opening very soon. I will update here again when I can.
November 29th. 11:49PM.
The fountain machine arrived 2 days ago. We got it unboxed and moved inside on Monday.
Tuesday we got the ice hopper sanitized, the machine lifted to the box where it sits, and the soda syrup lines hooked up. Tomorrow the plumber is coming to hook up the water and drain lines. The water tees to non-carbonated beverages and carbonated ones. The line tees to the ice machine that sits on top of the fountain. This is all stuff that is about 99.9% outsourced in the restaurant industry. Outsourced to Pepsi or Coke.
But me? I choose the road less traveled, the hard road, the road that leaves me wondering if I am sane but certain I am alive. I get a thrill from conquering the thing that seems too complicated. In this case it is fountain soda, soda in general, and the equipment to maintain soda system.
In the pictures above....Jimmy the Draft Dr installs beer taps.... The new look from the ole barn... "The Red Dragon," the 75" of soda syrup lines that had to run underground from the out of sight syrups to the fountain in the new dining room.... Getting inspiration for the new soda fountain from the old soda fountain up front....and my 16 year old son, the coolest kid around.
I gotta get the bar stools installed. I gotta get the soda machine fired up. I gotta caulk-a-lot and fancy up. I gotta bring all the "STUFF" in. I gotta decorate a little bit and find some time for my kids and wife. I gotta sleep, and eat, and shower. Gotta brush, and drive, and figure stuff out. I gotta think, gotta dream, gotta push myself through. I got payroll coming up, and so many bills, and the bank account.... and the mental health, and the employees and the customers. I need to make extra soda now. We are doubling our soda production overnight. Practically. Essentially. Basically.
Actually it is hard to express how much work making homemade fresh soda is, delivered to a fountain, with filtered water and ice.
But everything right now seems impossible. And it's not.
November 28. I must have taken pictures of something today. I know I took pictures of the sign and posted on Instagram but what else did I photograph? B-side stuff? I will know in a minute when I look....
Today was half a day excited as a butterfly and half a day slogging through shit. I see before me the 3/4 butterfly days and I know the full happy days are close. We got a sign today, (See Instagram.) We also got beer taps. We got window sills. We got power to the walk in cooler. We got shelves in the closet and shelves for the wine stock. We got 2 semi circle booths inside the space. We got a foot rest finished for the bar stool sitters. We got ethernet plugs for the POS system. We got an app that shows all eight cameras, on my phone.
But even though I took a bunch of pictures today they do not show up in my Google Photos. I don't know why (Maybe because they were sent as texts and Instagram photos???) Here is the only picture that shows up from today....
My mom texted me this and I'm like, "Who is that?"
It's Dan Mullens of course. But I am too busy to keep up with all the news, I am so busy. This morning I slept in so late... I woke up and wondered what time it could be. I checked my phone. It said "6:30" and I was like WOOOOOOOOOOOOW! I sept EIGHT HOURS. This was incredible to me. I had been sleeping 3-4 hours every night for a month, and I woke up and saw I had slept 8 hours!
So yeah. Dan Mullens. Cool.
But didn't I take other photos today? I thought I did? Whatever. Who cares? I need to sleep again tonight.
November 26. 2:10am. I should be sleeping. I am starting to feel an excited anxiety. There is a scenario where I could open exactly one year from the fire...December 5th. It would mean a lot of scheduled things have to come together in one week. It would mean 17-19 hour days this week. It would mean a hell of a lot to me if I could open exactly one year later though.
Time will tell. Time always tells.
Whatever happens I am about to get so happy to get open and take a break and a breather.
November 20. Still exhausted. Always exhausted, even when in Sunday recovery mode. Could not sleep last night worried about the floors. They were originally going to grind them down Friday and seal them Saturday. Sunday they would cure.
They started Thursday and ran the grinder machine 3 long days until late Saturday night. Sunday they sealed and today they look like crap.
After they poured the slab I sealed them to keep them from getting ruined. (Next 2 pics are of the slab after I sealed them.
Now they just look bad . (I'll post a picture of the worst part tomorrow.)
They did not grind them evenly and I never expected they could look so bad, especially in the bathrooms.
But I am not mad. I have had so may disappointments now I just want to get open and hope I will forget about the wasted money and ideas gone wrong. I can fix it all eventually I think. I can solve each bad decision in the next few years.
But the money I waste and spend wrong is embarrassing. I wasted $5000 getting the floors redone and could have done better just cleaning and resealing them myself in a weekend. I wasted over $2000 on trying to paint a fancy rust paint on the fascia and soffit. I was sent the wrong paint and I did not know it, and in the end have ugly soffits and fascia and will have to sand and repaint down the road. I spent $250 on an antique light fixture that does not work right and now I have to find something else at the last minute.
But I made lots of good decisions too. I should not expect every decision to be the right one. I tried my best with the information I had and the instincts I felt.
When it opens and I am sitting at the bar enjoying a beer and a cheese slice, I will forgive everyone who messed up and likely forgive the ones who ripped me off too. I paid almost $3000 for a very small roof that joins the 2 buildings, a job that should not have been a dime over $1000. And worse I gave the Rustoleum Company over $750 for paint that I hate, took over 40 hours of my life, and looks hideous.
But I doubt many customers will notice the mistakes. They will notice the things I did right and they will praise me and leave a good review. I may have shaved a few years off my life, but I will likely live through the process of rebuilding. What was I to do? Plant wild flowers where Lightnin' Salvage used to be? Instead of rebuilding? .......................... maybe.
But I rebuilt instead. I wanted to surprise people and do something modern yet retro, clean and contemporary, solid, interesting, and well designed. The floors and the soffits - they failed. The bar top may fail. The booth and table compatibility may fail. I still have so much to do and none of it is a sure bet. Putting it all together is tough. It's above my pay grade.
Tonight I don't even care. I didn't sleep last night from anxiety. It's almost half past midnight of the following day now. I have become so weary from it all I just go through the motions, accept the outcomes, and hope for the best.
November 17, 2017. It's happening fast now. The building was electrified today. The floors are getting sealed. the decks are being waterproofed. I am working 20 hour days now. So tired. Exhausted. I'll get some secret pictures to share here soon.
November 9th, 2017
I am too tired to tell you all about it. Here's a really cool sneak peek of some bathroom tiles. I have been working my butt off lately, working as hard as I've ever worked, to try and get the new Lightnin' Salvage ready before Christmas:
October 17, 2017. Rough day. I am hit from every side with questions, phone calls, texts, decisions, problems, personalities, issues.... It has been mind numbing. A guy came in today to show me baseboards to choose, and then we measured all the linear feet we needed up and downstairs. I've hired a guy to help with finish work like bar top and window sills and he stopped in to go over materials we will need in 2 days for hanging plywood on walls. He is detail oriented so our meeting was long and involved. The plumbers needed me to get the sink I am going to use to place the bracket that holds the sink. The welder was putting up railings and I noticed issues on the stairs. The electrician is always behind and works late at night by head lamp, always working until the last minute and not quite finishing all the little details. Drywall arrived, was placed against the wall, had to moved to get cable to the ATM location, and will have to be moved again tomorrow to allow us to hang plywood on walls. Blocking was missed upstairs that kept me there late. I photographed all the walls so maybe I can look back if I am looking for studs and blocking later. I met with the painter and have to choose colors for doors and trim and walls. I set up a schedule with the guy who is doing the bar floor. Then ADT showed up unannounced to meet and go over security wiring. I am so exhausted mentally and physically. I am hoping that walls going up will start to let me feel better and decision making will slow?? Somehow I doubt it. I am constantly facing new challenges and decisions I had not even thought of. I am ordering things online, calling companies for specs on products, changing orders on the fly, and ah yes, I also ordered new T-shirts today. Which makes me realize what picture I should show tonight. I designed a new shirt, then my wife started designing a shirt and wants to challenge me to see which one sells better. Then my son designed 2 shirts. I will share with you my favorite although they are all cool: The colors are not quite the end product but you'll get the general idea. My son did this one:
October 5th. After the craziness of the day where there are 10-15 people working on the new space and I am being pulled every direction to answer some question that is hard to answer, I stayed late to work in the peace and quiet. I started building out the foot rest on the bar because now we'll have some stools at the bar. The place is coming together fast and the pace is intense for me. At one point it was getting dark and I had just figured out the curve on the wood I was cutting and I had to hold my phone in one hand, with the flashlight on, and the jigsaw in the other cutting a careful curve. Here's a picture from earlier today before I built the footrest.
September 27th, 2017. Well, now it's here. The time where I get manic and my mind is trying to consider every detail and time everything to get done. I am constantly taking notes, meeting people, buying things, and more or less stretching the capabilities of my mind. Soon I'll be doing the bar top, tiling the bathrooms, and meeting more people, buying more things, and burning the candle on the ends and in the middle.
Here are some pics from the job site, and a pic of me and my daughter underwater. We went scalloping with some friends last weekend and my daughter talked me into trying out my camera underwater since it is supposed to be waterproof. Oh, and always gotta throw in a tile pic because I am making SO MANY TILES!!
September 17th, 2017. I have been busy as you might imagine. The hurricane alone was about 2 weeks of distraction from normal life and I'm not done cleaning up from that yet. The construction is coming along slowly but regularly. I am told that things are going to be kicking into a higher gear in the next few weeks as the trusses are delivered and the roof goes on. I think windows and doors are happening too. I am a bit nervous about the next phase because there is so much for me to do as we turn attention to the inside details.
Here are a couple shots of tiles. The first picture are glazed tiles not fired yet so you can't really see the colors that happen after the firing. The second picture shows the brightness of the colors after firing. I make so many tiles it's crazy. I show only a few here but I am really on a tear of making tiles. I wish I could be doing mosaic but the construction above the mosaic and then the hurricane prevented me from working on it anymore. I am planning to get back into the mosaic practice this week.
August 13th, 2017.
The rebuild has slowed to a crawl but I have some exclusive pictures here. The first is my practice wall for mosaic. I have been making tiles for 6 months and need to get some practice so I can see what sort of tiles I need to make and what works and what doesn't. It's been fun. I am using a lot of the first tiles I made and some of them are pretty bad, but the goal of my mosaic is to be bright and colorful and I'm on the right track for that at least. I am also practicing nipping the tiles into shapes, something I haven't done much of before. In this photo there is no grout yet and they grey grout will really help bring it all together. I plan to tile for a few more days before grouting. The reason I am doing this particular spot is eventually it will be under some stairs and have a couple air conditioner outdoor units there so tiling now will be much easier than waiting and working under stairs and behind A/C units.
Next are the columns that are framing the front doors. These were my wife's idea. I really like them. They are very hard to see in this picture and there are bolts sticking out of them that get cut off, but it's a sneak peek:
Finally tonight I will share an interior shot of the new brewery Cypress and Grove where I recently hung 8 of my paintings. I usually only show my work at Satchel's in December but I have too much art in my closet and they needed some color so...
July 23rd, 2017.
My wife had the idea early on that we could have some flags hanging in the new LSE. When she and I first met I made these small "prayer flags" after making a series of linoleum block prints and looking for ways to display them. The fabric seemed like a good way and so those flags have been hanging in our living room ever since. We asked our friend Judy to make a set of flags for the new LSE and she is making these cool scrap sewed flags with all sorts of hand stitching on them....
Then I found the old linoleum blocks and printed some new flags on bright fabric that my mom sewed into squares for me:
But boy did my wife blow me away when she decided to make a set of flags herself. She's still making them and they aren't on a string yet but they are reflections of the beach where she spends a lot of time in the summer.
We already also have a set of interesting flags our good friend John Orth made and we may find a couple other folks to make us a set of flags. This is such a cool idea and I'm so lucky to have a wife who is creative and smart. I love her flags SO MUCH!
I am making tiles like crazy too but it is a slow process. I make tiles so much but still feel like I hardly have any.
Thanks for checking in. I will try and get back here often.
July 11, 2017. I am making tiles and making other things too. I am finally coming out of my funk and starting to feel excited and hopeful again. The walls are going up at the new building and my buckets of tiles are filling up. After this post I am planning to start a podcast for the staff at Satchel's. Optional listening but a way for me to connect with them about what I want out of the place. How I want to present to the world, and what I am doing at home in my studio.
I am sharing 2 pictures tonight. The first is a small sample of the buckets of tiles filling up, and the second is some tester "cove base" tiles I am working on for the bathrooms. These cove base tiles go around the bottom of the walls to help keep the corners and edges clean. They are rough and simple but somehow they seem to be so bad they are good. Does that make sense? Don't answer. They seem to have a childlike charm in that they look like a kid made them. That is practically so.
July the first, 2017. I am legit about to make this into my main blog. I have had a journal since in my 20's which turned into "menu backs" in 2003 (writing on the back of menus...) which turned into a "blog" on Wordpress in 2007, which turned into writing on Medium in 2015, and now just gravitating towards this LSE "blog." My life revolves around LSE these days so might as well put my writing here.
One of the issues we're facing with the remodel is the city now requires two bathroom walls get tile or some slick surface like FRP board. FRP board is some orange peel like surface white plastic panel that is easy to clean. It's great stuff just not something for your restaurant bathroom. The problem is I am making homemade tiles (to mosaic the outside of the new building) so I can't imagine buying boring tiles for the bathrooms. While I don't think I can make enough tiles to do the 3 bathrooms by the time we open, I am now putting a lot of effort into making tiles "for the bathrooms." This brought me to thinking about the baseboards in the bathrooms. So I started making "cove base" for the baseboards tonight and soon I'll check the linear feet I need and do some math to figure out how many of these I need to make. I could be making these for a month or more is my suspicion.
Building a special place for people to gather and celebrate and talk and cry and laugh, is about so much more than the napkins. I like nice napkins and recently we downgraded a bit to a little bit smaller napkin that might save us $40 a week. It's a bit painful but it was also painful to throw away the piles of practically unused napkins folks would leave stacked around the tables. But I'm saving on napkins so I can buy more clay and glaze and make my own cove base for the bathrooms. Honestly I want to make everything. I dream about a day when I make all the plates even.
I'll include some (boring) pictures of my studio. You'll see my first try at the cove base tile where I used wooden rulers to make a jig, and then the actual jig I glued and nailed that I'll use going forward making these special baseboard tiles. Also, I'll include a shot of the crates I have stacking up with square and rectangular tiles, and buckets where I am filling bigger and bright colored tiles which I will break up for mosaic work. Maybe I'll even put in a picture of some ugly tiles just to prove that I am really not that good at this yet but I am learning and I know they will get better so I am okay with showing you the ugly ones here on the blog......
I really should start adding a date to these entries for the record. so today is June 22, 2017.
Getting a building permit took a long time and a lot of work by several parties. My contractor and architect were a HUGE help. They drop everything and run to the building department with updated plans as soon as any snag comes up that needs to be addressed. I have made a lot of tweets and sent emails, talked on the phone and visited the building department several times myself. It took almost 10 weeks but we are stamped and ready to go now.
I am making tiles and having a lot of fun with that but I am also slowly working on these tables for the new place. There are 11 tables. I have 2 new pictures to share tonight and both of these were finished today! I hesitate to show them because I know how cool it could be to walk in for the first time and see them in real life, but I'm too excited about them to keep them under wraps. Judy, who worked days at LSE and was the buyer of all the gift shop goodies, has been working on a table top of matchbooks for over a month. Today I did one of the easier tables which is a collection of floppy discs:
I am going to do something weird now. Since I don't know how to swap the Blog posts from first to last to last to first, I am going to just now start to write new posts at the top instead of the bottom. What this means is that AFTER THIS POST, you will see things from the beginning when I started this section. Unconventional I know but who cares? If you are checking back often it will be easier for you to start with the first post you see, and I am writing this section for the regular lookers anyway. Thanks regular lookers. I love that you care what I am up to. Here's my picture for today: An iPhone 4 and 5 table that I made to remember the iPhone wall we had back in the day.... The backs were more colorful but the fronts are are also interesting. I like to think about how these phones will "age" as new products come out....
In this section I will reveal little details of the new LSE that I won't show anywhere else. In other words, you won't find these pics on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, but only here on the website. In an age where we are overwhelmed with media, I find something romantic about this little corner booth where I can experience something new and secret. There was my favorite booth in the old LSE, if you were walking into the lounge from the gift shop, it was in the very back left corner. I could prop my legs up on the bench and see EVERYTHING in the whole place and still almost be invisible. Well, new LSE will have it's own secrets. I'll store them here. I'll try and update even mundane details every couple weeks at least.
I started to make a couple table tops for LSE. The tables might remind folks of some of the collections from the original LSE.
I really want it all to be a surprise. I want to keep anything and everything about the new LSE a secret, because it's more exciting to watch it and let the expectations build up..... But I also want to share what I am working on. I want the serious fans to be able to sneak peek some stuff. That's why we are both here. You have found the inside track, the secret phone number, the hideaway booth.
The picture above is a table I made. The next pic is the table my wife made. These tables are the obvious reminders of the juke joint I lost in the fire. I am still sad about what I lost. Making these tables is helping me reinvent and reimagine Lightnin Salvage Enterprises.
Realizing I don't want the mosaic to be just rows of cute squares, and that I cannot make one small mosaic tile at a time, I am experimenting with making slabs that I score into smaller shapes. If they break on the lines like I hope, I should be able to make endless patterns and designs using various shapes, sizes, and colors.
This is my home studio. In early June 2017 I moved my kiln from my garage to my studio. I revamped my studio and added the janky roof extension you see in the picture, to make things efficient for the years of tile making I am embarking on. I am now in the "tile factory" (as I like to call it), daily. My goal is to make mosaic tiles for the new LSE. I am going at that goal with a vengeance. It might take me the rest of my life to mosaic the new LSE, but I am ok with that. I like the idea even. I love making tiles like I love making pizzas. It's all art. Here's another "sneaky peek" at the inside of my studio. It is the quiet side of the studio, where I'll be storing tiles in buckets, and my collage collecting cabinet.... The chair is for my wife who comes to counsel me:)
I've changed the name of this section to BLOG because essentially that's what it is. It's the beginning of June and the footers were dug days ago and I spend most of my time in the studio making tile and getting my space efficient for the tile factory. Each kiln load I learn new things about tiles and I am getting more and more decent tiles from each batch. I am learning. I'll throw in pictures of some tiles, my shop, where I make the table tops, and the kiln when I opened it this morning to look at my newly glazed and ready to use tiles. I am having fun. I have no idea how I will arrange the tiles I am just photographing some laying out on the table for fun. I will put more thought into it when I am setting them and many of these early tiles will end up on the back of the building because they are "ugly." I sorta like the sound of that word ugly. Seems like a good band name.
After only 10 short years, Lightnin' Salvage had become the ultimate juke joint:
A junk museum, toy store, Florida souvenir shop.
A bar, lounge, and live music venue.
A playground for the kids, people spontaneously dancing, a Lionel train rattling overhead.
Kids running wild without a parent in sight.
Birthday parties and a local hangout.
Bocce ball, an airplane, a treehouse and greenhouse.
Even the first ever NACHO NIGHT, the last day of Alachua County School, and a big party to celebrate Nacho Libre.
There was a night for storytelling and a night for bellydancing. Folk, bluegrass, blues, rock n roll and klezmer music sharing the same stage. Open Mic night. A pinecone contest. The night of a thousand ukeleles. A place that many artists had a part in creating. A 10 1/2 year art project.
I discovered the picture above on Twitter and I don't even know who took it but I bet it was a patron of the Ole' Barn, a bar across the street. It was a Monday evening, December 5th, 2016. We were closed all day but I had been in installing a new upgraded wifi. Home and on the couch I got a call from a food truck owner who had just finished his Monday night bowling game. He said the place was sky high in flames.... "through the roof!"
By the time I arrived at the scene the next picture is the one I took, and this was as close as I was allowed to get.... I wonder if you can imagine my state of mind. This had been my art studio for 10 years, an art installation studio, and more than half of my business...