I love the office at Emmer & Rye, with its unfinished floors and tangled wires. It’s comforting. Maybe it is the family pictures on the wall or the fact that the heat rises from the kitchen causing it to be warm like a blanket. Maybe it is because just a few stairs below lies the dining room, with polished glassware and perfectly folded napkins. Yet up here, amongst the wrinkled chef coats ands wine invoices, the dream is real.
The computer turns on and the harsh light from the screen stings my bloodshot eyes. This week has caught up to me and I am blissfully tired. My heart is full. When I was a teenager, I dreamt of opening a small café. I was going to sell baked goods and coffee and pictures of my adventures would adorn the walls. This dream led me to cut apart my mom’s interior design magazines and make collages of possible concepts. The name would be scribbled along the side of the paper as well as possible dishes. I always kept these scrapbooks, even after I pursued career paths away from food, they remained in my possession calling to me. As I sit in this office, I think of that 13-year-old with her scissors and braces, she would be proud right now.
As I reach for the check book and stack of invoices, I can feel the ache in my bicep. Days of slinging boxes and moving tables has made me realize I should really hit the gym when things calm down. I still can’t believe it all came together. Just a few days ago, the electrician was fiddling with the hood system and the team was assembling tables while trying to maneuver around the painters. All the while, the construction leads kept assuring Kevin and I, “Don’t stress, this part comes together quick.” If I had truly believed them, it would have saved me a 36-hour eye twitch.
I shut my computer, just as I have finished the last sip of coffee. Slowly I descend the stairs into the kitchen. The morning crew is peaceful. The glide through the kitchen a softness in their expressions. Bread is proofing in the corner while another chef calmly inspects the latest order. It is peaceful in the morning. Kevin is at the pass. There are no tickets or garnishes yet, instead just the pasta extruder. Rhythmically he cuts the strozzpreti and they gently fall onto the sheet tray below.
The phone at the host stand rings breaking my trance. Someone is making a reservation. I hang up and glance around the bar. A few floral arrangements strewed throughout the room are the only indication that we had a big occasion last night. The opening has passed and it is time to transition from screw drivers to wine keys. The reviews both positive and negative will come. Some of the staff will transition and the menu will evolve. Tomorrow, I will head back to work, my vacation coming to an end. Year’s of planning has led us to this moment.
As I gaze back into the kitchen, with both disbelief and humility a grin spreads across my face and my eyes well with happiness, this week we opened our restaurant. Now my love, It is time to run it.