Well, we've had the cafe for a week now. There's not too much to report but I thought maybe some pictures would help to do our fatigue justice. We have been sorting, cleaning and priming the walls in preparation for a colour scheme not yet chosen. Lots of people came out yesterday and we pretty much primed the entire 1500 square foot space in one day. Just a bit left to do in the bathroom (I won't get the image of my brother's head practically in the urinal as he painted around it out of my head evar!).
We have been having lots of meetings with coffee roasters (you'll be happy to know my barista skills are coming along), marketing people, health inspectors, etc... Today we are going to apply for our restaurant license and to have the liquor license transferred!
Also, we are now in the market for donations. If you have old high chairs, booster seats and toys (that can go in the dishwasher) and you want to pass them along, we'll take them! Also books. Kids books or books for parents would be great. Just send us an e-mail or drop by the cafe if you're in the area.
And now, some pictures.
Here is an extremely flattering photo of me behind the bar. I've never looked better, don't you think?
This is from the front looking towards the back.
This is from the back looking towards the front.
Playful Grounds is ours and we have the champagne to prove it!
At approximately 2:30 yesterday afternoon we signed the last of what had to be ten thousand documents and became the proud owners of Playful Grounds! It will be located at 605 College Street which was formerly 'I Feel Like Crepe'. It's on the south side just west of Clinton. It is spitting distance from the main branch of the College Montrose Children's Place. It's close the the library, Metro, Trinity Bellwoods and is in the heart of moms with strollers everywhere.
Pictured above is myself and Davina drinking the bubbly in our new cafe! Feel free to drop by and say hello as we'll be living there from here on in. Seriously. Today we will be starting to sort and throw out and generally get things ready. Planning for an opening some time in January. I can't believe it, it's finally ours!!!
Wow, this is really happening!
Today we had our meeting with the landlord and his leasing agent up at our agent's office. We initialed several times per page on 3 copies of the lease we had previously signed. We handed over a bank draft for first and last. We made out 10 cheques for monthly rent plus all the other stuff that gets paid to the landlord each month. We had to do the cheques twice 'cause we were so nervous writing them that we kept screwing them up. :-) We chatted with the landlord about kids, languages and just general stuff. The meeting was only about 1/2 an hour long but sort of felt like forever. And then we left.
Tomorrow is the big day with the lawyer and the seller and the purchase price and the KEYS!
So it's 6:00 am on a Sunday morning and I'm writing this blog instead of sleeping, 'cause my nerves are raw and sleep isn't really an option. We've hit a snag. The closing for the purchase of the business is on Tuesday. All is going fine with that. On Monday we meet with the landlord. All is fine with that. The snag is with our loans.
We have money coming in from a lot of different sources and everything has more or less happened as we planned for - until now.
The last loan is either from the RBC directly or the CSBFL (Canadian Small Business Financing Loan). Which one it actually is has fluctuated a bit in the last few months. One is lump sum loan and the other is metered out in bits and sods based on money we are spending and what we are spending it on. Suffice to say we had come to expect a lump sum and now we're not getting it. This has left us filled with anxiety and needing to come up with scenario after scenario of how we will pay for things.
Don't get me wrong, the cafe is still going to have coffee, alcohol, food and a play area for kids as well as all the other little conveniences that moms need to save their sanity. However, to start with, we won't be able to decorate quite the way we wanted or have quite the varied menu we wanted or begin with some of the bells and whistles we were planning. That's okay. We may have to be open only 6 days a week not 7, and not hire any staff and just do everything ourselves just to save cash flow. We will still have a great cafe that moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and everyone else who spends a good deal of their waking hours with a small child, are going to be clambering to get into. As soon as we build up some cash flow we'll be able to do everything we had planned and more.
Maybe this is how the cosmos gives us a little reality check; reminding us not to go crazy with the money in the bank. We need a mantra;
We Will Have The Money We Need To Open.
We Will Run A Great Business.
We Will Be Successful.
That's all for now.
How can so much hinge on just an e-mail? No fanfare, no handshake, not even a piece of paper. Just an e-mail that says "My client agrees to sign the lease".
I'll back up a touch to yesterday. Turns out it's not just my low tolerance for stupid, this deal really has been problematic from the start. Some of the people involved have been pretty apathetic which has made the work for the rest of us that much more difficult. Suffice to say yesterday was filled with many frantic calls between me, our lawyer and our agent during which we unleashed our frustration with the situation on each other, just a little bit. Davina, through no fault of her own, was unavailable although it's possible she broke several laws trying to stay in touch from an airplane!
What we were waiting for was a signed lease. As soon as the other side signed the lease, then we could waive the conditions on the purchase of the business and we would have a firm deal so the lawyer could start the paperwork. Too many chefs in the kitchen led to the most annoying game of broken telephone that I've ever participated in. Sometime while trying to feed Kai and get his skates on and get his helmet on (cut my hand doing up the stupid snaps), I got a call from Gary saying it was done. An e-mail was sent from the lawyer for the landlord saying that the landlord will be signing the lease. And that e-mail is binding. I sort of said 'cool - I have to go!' 'cause I was bleeding and Kai was fussing and it was one of those moments where I needed four hands. When I got off the phone I thought, 'Wait a minute - that's it? We have a cafe? Wow!'
So now we just wait. I asked our lawyer if I can blog about the location and he said no. Not yet. December 20th. Closing day. So for now the exact location is still a secret.
Today we have a meeting at the bank to get more money. A meeting with a sign company (I can't wait to see our sign up there!) and a meeting with a coffee roaster who also does barista training. Then I'm meeting with old friends from high school, one of whom is a personal trainer and would love to come into the cafe and do a free training session for moms and babies, so it's a busy day! Wish us luck!
I have no fingernails left. And I'm on an anxiety diet. It's lovely.
Where were we? We had an extension until Friday and the Landlord had a meeting with his lawyer on Thursday so that's plenty of time for them to send us a lease to sign right? Except they both went M.I.A after their Thursday a.m. meeting. Our lawyer left messages for them all day Thursday and Friday while Davina and I sent texts to each other reading 'Anything?!' 'Anything!?' 'Anything!!!??'. Bad for the blood pressure. Anyway, our realtor finally reached theirs mid afternoon and put him on the case and after another couple of grueling hours a shiny new lease arrived in my In Box. We pretty much got what we wanted, although we are personally liable for the rent for 2 years (as opposed to it being just the corporation) which terrifies us only a little bit. We also realized that we needed yet another extension to the offer because as much as Davina and I are on opposite sides of the country right now, and could get the signing done in about half an hour (ah computers, we love you), there's no way the landlord would sign the lease before 5:00 which was the deadline.
I was sitting in front of the computer all day staring at my In Box waiting, while nothing whatsoever happened. Of course, the lease arrived about 20 minutes before I was supposed to go pick up Kai and head to the drop-in centre's Christmas party so I flew into overdrive. My printer is out of ink (of course it is) so I literally ran to an internet cafe, printed out the lease and the extension, scanned them and e-mailed them to myself and ran to get Kai and then ran to the centre. As I was leaving the internet cafe our realtor called and said not to bother with the extension because the other side was doing up a fresh one and had just e-mailed it to me and could I please hurry up and sign it and scan it and send it back. I didn't have time to go back so I actually had to do it after the party, sleepy Kai in tow. But it's done. And I also managed to turn my phone off for the party and just pay attention to my child. If you know me, you know that's a big deal.
So this is where we are: I have signed the lease and scanned it to Davina who will sign it and scan it back to our lawyer today. We have an extension on the purchase of the cafe until Tuesday which is conditional on the lease being signed. So we just need to make sure the landlord signs the thing on Monday. Then the cafe is ours - that's when we get really busy.
Also, when the time for opening comes, I'm going to be asking everyone who is reading this, all 2 or 3 of you to please help tell EVERYONE YOU'VE EVER MET about the existence of Playful Grounds! Help us make the best place for parents ever!
Oh man this process is grueling! We are still working on the same location from the last post. We have gotten farther with this place than the first two meaning we have a signed conditional deal. There are also more parties involved in this transaction than there normally would be. Normally when you buy an existing business you assume their lease. In the case of this place, their lease was coming to an end anyway so we are negotiating a new lease with the landlord. So here are all the players: Davina and me, our realtor, our lawyer, the business seller, his realtor, the landlord, his leasing agent and his lawyer. Say that 10 times fast.
So the purchase (of the business) is conditional on us signing a lease with the landlord. The conditional period ends today so this post was supposed to be the one telling the world we got the space. However, the landlord is out of town or sick or at a movie or something and isn't available until tomorrow, so our lawyer wants our realtor to get the seller's realtor to agree to extend the conditional date until Friday. Meanwhile, Davina and I will both have to sign something to that effect which requires printing, signing, scanning and e-mailing since she's in Vancouver at the moment (3 hours behind us). Clear as mud?
Assuming (fingers crossed) this all goes through on Friday then our closing date is December 20 for the purchase of the business. Hopefully we'll get a short period free of rent to fix the place up, clean, paint, create a play area, all that good stuff and then we open!
Who wants to come to a painting party?