Around this time of year, I usually write a gift guide post. I’ve done it the last two years of this blog, here, here, here, here & here 😉 Fun, design-y options for all the people on your list. This year, though, I haven’t felt like it. At least I haven’t felt like sharing it in this space. Maybe I’ve had too much going on. Maybe the world has had too much going on. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll still shop and celebrate and if you want to catch a peak at the stuff on my wish/not gonna happen list you can check it out on my Pinterest (and follow me too please, if you don’t already!). But it has felt strangely unsatisfying to write about. Work has been so intense of late and the usual juggling job that most (all?) moms face every day has taken up all of the remaining space in my crowded brain. As per usual. And the world around me, the news, has been such a roller coaster of hard and awful and hopeful and sweet and awful again. It’s just too much and well a gift guide didn’t feel appropriate.
But work, wow, work!, that has been a really crazy thing. And the craziest of all of my current projects is a pretty exciting one. For the last few months (6 months to be precise), I’ve been working on a café-restaurant with my Lawrence and Boucherie partners, called Larrys or The Money Pit, as I like to call it. Larrys because we live in Quebec and we can’t use the apostrophe that you’d normally use when writing Larry’s. Here for your reading/viewing pleasure is the story of how Larrys came to be and what it is still in the process of becoming…
For many years, my partners and I have been eyeing the café restaurant two doors down from us. It has in the last five years been 3 or 4 different businesses. Some successful, some not. Either way it was left empty last December. We decided to make our move. We want to open a café restaurant: open early with great coffee and breakfast options then open from 11:00 am on and late into the night with great food and great drinks. A more casual, almost bar-like spot to get a quick bite and a pint or linger with a bunch of food and wine. This spot could become a great neighbourhood hang out joint and definitely fits in with the Lawrence family. It’s the little brother if you will (the way my 6 year old has been explaining it to everyone ;-)).
Luckily/worst news ever, the landlords of Lawrence also own the Larrys building. I say building but this is being generous: it is a covered alleyway. Two exterior walls on either side, a draft-y, hole-filled back door, four sliding window panes with huge gaps where the air comes in. But more on that later. The landlords gave us a key and agreed in principle to rent us the space. This is what it looked like when we walked in:
This is what I wanted it to look like:
No disrespect to previous owners/decorators: it was always dark and super woody and very “ye olde pub” with the faux tin tiles and the pipes and the dark woods. It always felt kind of like a film set café, everything was faux finished. My plan was to lighten and brighten. Originally, we thought we’d just give ‘er a coat of paint and remove some of the excess decor/tin etc. And I also realized that behind the yellow-y banquette wall was some brick.
So I had a couple of guys come in to start the demo work. Easy peasy take down of the busy-ness above the bar and removal of the plaster that was covering the brick. And then the problems started…The brick was excruciating to expose as the layer on top was too thin to sandblast without wrecking the brick. And the kicker: when we removed the tin section above the bar we found a warped and soggy gypsum ceiling, crazy wiring and evidence that there had been a fire up there at some point. UGH. Somehow our cheap and cheerful reno took on way bigger implications. And thus, we entered into the money pit phase of the proceedings. Every previous tenant had complained about freezing temperatures indoors, about pipe leaks, about roof leaks. Once we removed the beadboard and tin tiles from the ceiling, exposing the warped gypse above, we discovered why there had been so many temperature issues. There was zero insulation between the ceiling and the roof. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Plus the gap-filled windows and the hole-filled back door. For years tenants had just added layer upon layer of stuff to mask the issues or to make do. The landlords hadn’t made any improvements maybe ever. And so we now had years of damage to undo…
Stay tuned for more. And thanks for checking in.
P.S. Not to leave you totally hanging in the Holiday shopping field, may I recommend Boucherie Lawrence for gifts (Plug Plug Plug! perfect for the teachers, janitors, grandparents, secret Santas in your life). Co, (the shop next to the butcher shop), is a place I really like that is sadly closing it’s doors at the end of the month. Everything is at minimum 20% off if not more and they have some cute gift options. Then there are all of the Holiday markets out there, way too many to list here, for some great locally-made gifts. And if you can, try to donate to the needy people out there- this time of year is hard on a lot of people and we are so very lucky.
Good luck out there!