Your dream job will never happen

February 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm 1 comment

Yeah, that seems about right.

Yeah, that seems about right.

My final story for this Narrative Non-Fiction class I’m taking will be story about three guys who are determined to start a new bar from the ashes of a hallowed venue called The Marquee Club, which has incubated the Halifax music scene since 1996 or so.  I like this story for a few reasons (it’s a bad market to start a new place; the new owners are incredibly optimistic and seem to have their heads on straight; the Marquee is something of a touchstone venue and a loss to the community) but I think the idea of writing about a new bar/venue is appealing simply on its own merits.

For instance; I love the Food Network, and there are few shows I enjoy more than Restaurant Makeover.  I defy one of you to claim that you have not, at some point or another, dreamt of opening your own little neighbourhood bar/bistro/restaurant/bakery where you can decorate the way you want, serve the food you like, play the music you listen to, and develop a whole host of “regulars” that drop in specifically for those wicked sandwiches/cookies/cups of coffee that you make.

I say all this because I, too, once harboured this dream.  Still do, in fact.  My cousin Brian and I used to talk endlessly about the bar we would open once we had made our millions writing news stories and hanging drywall (for the record, Brian will likely make a million dollars, and me and my two degrees will be sleeping on your couch).  The place would be lots of dark wood, brass rails, old-timey pictures on the wall, room at the bar for 6 and no more, and the best fuckin chicken wings you ever noshed on, ever.

Oh, and then I saw Stranger Than Fiction and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s bakery looked like an easier option to the bar — i.e. no sad drunks or liquor licenses to deal with.

It’s all a lie.  In 2005, published this excellent little article by a guy who tried to start his own neighbourhood coffee shop, and if you’re in the mood to have a lifelong dream shredded and pissed on I urge you to take a look.  I’m starting to like Slate less and less because of their fierce love for limosine liberalism¹ (which they try mightily to mask, by the way) but once in a while they still publish some good stuff.

Read that article, it’s pretty interesting.  For example, it points out this neat tidbit which, upon reading,makes you feel gullible in its obviousness:

Discarding food as a self-canceling expense at best (note: the author talks about how much of their cute little pastries were thrown out at the end of the day), the coffee needed to account for all of our profit. We needed to sell roughly $500 of it a day. This kind of money is only achievable through solid foot traffic, but, of course, our cafe was too cozy and charming to pop in for a cup to go. The average coffee-to-stay customer nursed his mocha (i.e., his $5 ticket) for upward of 30 minutes. Don’t get me started on people with laptops.

Makes sense, right?  And we were all so proud of ourselves for finding that perfect spot just a few blocks from our homes with the free wireless, where we could while away an afternoon reading articles for our classes while only paying three bucks for the privilege.  I wonder how those baristas are able to smile at my cheap ass.

¹Take this for example: an article by Stephen Metcalfe about how Bruce Springsteen’s Halftime performance failed to pander to “the national mood”.  Springsteen, Metcalfe argues, would have done well to play something introspective like “The Wrestler”, that song about one-legged dogs or whatever.  Give me a break. He’s playing for thousands of bloodthirsty Steelers and Cards fans who came here to watch big men pulverize each other and cheerleaders shake their asses.  You really think they want to quiet down and get sensitive to Bruce’s depressing-ass songs about people that are down on their luck? No, they want 23 fighter jets to scream across the sky every time Bruce pumps his fist.  This is the kind of snobbery that Slate excels in every once in a while. A chance to capture the national mood?  What is this, a fucking address to the UN? Sorry, but those people didn’t shell out hundreds of dollars to see Bruce Springsteen give the E-Street Band the boot off stage and sing with one guitar about how fucked up everything is.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

A whole bowlful of wants Formula for a good day

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. daughterofben  |  February 2, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Not to mention the really comfortable regulars who bring their own pre-filled travel mugs and while away the hours for free free free.

    I have done this once or twice. I try to rationalise it by mentally listing my own student fees. The guilt remains.

    (I promise to never do this at your cafe, should it open.)


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About Upper Lip

It's mostly a collection of sweet links and copious amounts of talk talk talk. I like it more and more every day. And yes, even the ugly blue/green color scheme is not without a certain charm.

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