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The Summit's Blog

chronicles of starting an art bar / cafe in san francisco

We’re less than three weeks away from the Summit’s projected Grand Opening. That means I have less than two weeks to find a pair of black, non-slip chef shoes if I want clearance into Eddie’s kitchen. It’s hard to choose comfort over fashion when I just want to rock a pair of these.

Alas, my fashion woes aren’t the focus of this post but the transformation of the Summit over the course of a week. Folks might be interested in knowing that we’re no longer just at the corner of 19th and Valencia. Our main entrance has been tramp stamped with SEVEN EIGHTY. As in 780 Valencia St.

claim your third space at 780 Valencia St.

After a few rounds of inspections, it looks like we’re making headway. The naked beams in the kitchen and bar areas have been stuffed with insulation and are starting to sport drywall.

i just want to hop onto this portable lift and finish the job myself. that way when friends come by i can point to the ceiling and brag, “hell yea, i did that”

We recently submitted our application for an outdoor-seating permit. I hyperventilate at the thought of having to buy Adobe Illustrator; instead, I used Microsoft Paint to create the site plan. While fiddling with the graphics, my status as an outlier grew exponentially, as I pumped out JPEGs on my Toshiba notebook in a cafe full of Mac users. Perhaps Microsoft Paint isn’t an outdated tool after all; as long as the City of San Francisco accepts this submission (and it did), MS Paint and I are best friends.

future of the summit's front space

There are days when the toughest decisions we make might involve determining the type of glasses beers will be served in or the bowls soup will be slurped from. We were scratching our heads at one point deciding between espresso cups in sky-blue porcelain or stainless steel. Wondering which was the victor? Come to our opening in a few weeks to find out.

a hybrid of these two would be pretty awesome

Mid-week, we took a small break from decisions for barbecuing and beer-sipping on the rooftop of the Summit space.  The ice breaker served to introduce newly hired members of the Summit staff to the fellows who regularly come to the incubation space for mentorship from the I/O Ventures team.

rooftop mingling + burger broiling = summer lovin’

grill us some knackwurst, and we will follow

Now that our address is official and the incubation space is quickly evolving into the envisioned Third Space, I’d suggest that curious readers drop by to check out the spot. But if in a few weeks there’s not a single thing you recall from this post, at least remember that if you’re looking for a place to find knock-out grub tastefully-paired with a glass of wine or a cold beer, look no further than our space at the corner of 19th St and Valencia.

—Miss U

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These days everyone needs a third space. It’s the perfect outlet, because telecommuting from home is ideal but often hones distractions that inhibit productivity, much like the 15-watt energy-efficient light bulb that is saving the earth but not so much your eyesight.

So you hit up your third space, a café down the street. You’re equipped with a laptop and every intention to do work. But what’s that I see? You are facebook-stalking the girl you met last week. Although sometimes, when the wifi connection is too slow to successfully cyber stalk and the hot girl sitting at the adjacent table (who, by the way, is also a regular) always fails to notice your excessive glances, you’re relegated to staring at blank walls while working on your fourth free refill.

the Summit walls. ready for some action.

Come September 2010 the Summit’s walls will be dressed to whet your imagination, so that a muse isn’t the only reason you come in for a macchiato. I’ve got fresh details on the Summit’s Peek Gallery that may pique your interest. Gallery director, Marky Enriquez, has named the first show “33 1/3: Album Art in the 3rd Space”. The opening will showcase the Bay Area’s renowned record collectors, shop owners, designers, DJ’s and album covers that best represent the “third space” concept. It will be the first of a series of album art shows at the Peek, which will feature futurist and space-age themes.

Marky Enriquez, gallery director of Peek Gallery

Among the shows slated to rotate after the first opening are “The Nightlife is the Right Life” and “History of the Mixer”, each focusing on applied arts and emphasizing exceptional graphic, industrial and fashion/textile design work. Ultimately, Marky would like the Peek to emphasize the Summit as the third space in the “third place” and to embody the concept that public gathering spaces are essential parts of the community.

your third space

On another high note, we have artwork in the name of coffee. We’ve finished up a week of formal Blue Bottle training at BB’s Oakland headquarters. Lessons included learning to consistently brew the ideal cup of espresso and getting milk to steam and foam just right so that the first drink we pour you might look this delicious:

who says you can't enjoy your latté with Bruce Lee?

Four days into training, and I’m candidly admitting that it’s not an easy task (is this callous formation on these palms from espresso tamping?). Tip your baristas well; it takes a latté work to produce the perfect latté.

—Miss U

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I’m ashamed to admit this, but about two weeks ago I was on a mission to find out What the hell is Blue Bottle coffee? I was embarrassed, because people talk about it as if Gandhi were the barista behind every cup. And as we know, The Summit’s menu will exclusively feature Blue Bottle coffee.

Every time Blue and Bottle are uttered together, the loyalist fans fight to have the last word about how much they love this stuff. Initially, I secretly poked fun at this Blue Bottle following. Two weeks post-first sip, and, yes, now I find myself on the Blue Bottle bandwagon.

it’s okay. you can laugh at me about my love for Blue Bottle coffee

Blue Bottle receives recognition for starting with single-origin beans from artisanal producers who sustainably grow and harvest to enhance flavor. The beans are then roasted in small batches and brewed on a drip bar. The Summit will prepare its Blue Bottle coffee in the same manner.

I‘m not a coffee connoisseur, so I’m bashful about ordering lattes and cappuccinos. I’m a drip coffee kinda’ girl, preferably black and absent of cream and sugar. Really, that’s all you need, because every Blue Bottle blend produces a drink rich in aroma, full in flavor, and absent of any bitterness.

There is much pleasure in knowing that soon enough I’ll be able to order a cup of Blue Bottle coffee from the Mission’s own Summit location. For now, I usually pick up a cup from the Blue Bottle venue located at Mint Plaza.  I like to admire the $20,000 piece of equipment that sits towards the back of the cafe:

this bad boy, imported from Japan, is the only halogen-powered model in the US

a scientist at heart, i sometimes feel inclined to don a lab coat and safety goggles and work this equipment

With a crash course of Blue Bottle 101 under my belt, I now find myself scratching my head over our next project, as Eddie and I work on putting a custom-built drip bar together. Once The Summit doors are open, please fight the urge to punch me if I happen to cut to the front of the line in an effort to grab the first cup of Blue Bottle coffee.

Miss U

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I learned about The Summit after returning home to the Bay with plans to attend culinary school (and, of course, without an ounce of experience in the food business). A few conversations later with culinary school graduates, I started to question whether I was ready to consummate my relationship with cooking and agree to this long-term commitment—a fairly costly one, too. Where in the culinary world did I fit? Was I getting hot and bothered about the idea because I was that average Jane who strapped herself to the Food Network channel and had wet dreams about creating dishes that earned visits from Anthony Bourdain?

Timing is everything. After I failed to answer all of the above questions, I was introduced to Desi and Eddie, two guys who worked in the restaurant industry for years and came together so that before this summer’s end, the City will find out that a well-designed space complemented with a menu boasting rich flavors can frenzy a palate into ecstasy.

My first meeting with Eddie involved a trip to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in preparation for a few upcoming tastings. I joined him in the kitchen as he prepared dishes that are likely appearing on the menu.

pulled pork + wild greens + fresh loaf = heaven

I felt like a pretty lucky intern; the tasting included a medley of roasted baby potatoes and wild mushrooms in vadouvan, followed by a pulled pork sandwich with wild greens.

call me crazy, but the butter bolete might be my all-time favorite mushroom

it would be an injustice if this dish didn't make a cameo

I’ve had a chance to witness a side of cafe-opening I never imagined. As the launch nears, there’s new meaning to the term crunch time; there are still plenty of contracts to sign, applications to submit and permits to request. That’s just one layer to the complexities of the project. To simply say the process requires hard work is an understatement. And now I find myself  hot and bothered about the collaboration and chaos that goes into a highly anticipated kick-off.

— Miss U

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it’s crunch time! construction is underway, permits are in play, help wanted ads are on their way… things to do, things to-do. i’m gitty and nervous at the same time. alot can still go wrong–like more construction going over budget, furniture not arriving on time, or worse inspectors being dicks. at this juncture i’m at the mercy of variables out of my control.

but when i take a step back, take a deep, breath, it’s really not that bad. between the stress of meetings and timelines i get to enjoy tasting like this with our first incubated chef:

jared formerly of orson / citizen cake looks on as we slice into his sample brioche loaf

and after tastings i get to spend time with creatives on the branding like this:

freddy anzures giving us a sneak peak of The Summit's brand identity

or spending time with the incubated start-ups:

the first gathering of i/o venture partners, incubated start-ups, and their tech mentors

but for the next 3o days my attention will be focused on the builders and designers of the summit space:

kanbayashi design + travis construction = the build-out of the summit

10 months of planning and day dreaming are coming to culmination. inside i’m dreading the long hours it’ll take to see this thru. gone are my weekend jaunts across SF’s myriad of night clubs. gone are the 11a-6p days of leisure.  the little voice in my head tells me “i should be careful what i wish for” because dreams do become realities…

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Jared of Rivera PR emailed me to pick my brain about vendor recommendations and general advice for eager new restauranteurs. I quickly reply back places to buy cheap places, designers to work with, etc.

2 hours later it hits me during bikram yoga that it’s really about The Hustle and The Game. Consultations from my guru Kitchenstink and late night jamo sessions with Tim Luym mixed with a hiphop soundtrack have made me see the industry in 2 distinct ways. As “The Hustle” (execution) and “The Game” (strategy). Like yin-yang, right and left, the constant push and pull of these polar ideas, and the balance of duality ultimately drive the restaurant industry.  These 6 books have influenced me greatly and have given me guiding principles that no MBA, certificate program, or bachelor degree ever will.

The Hustle:
Tips on efficiency, process, promotion, and legalities of partnerships gone bad.

By Roger Fields. Here lies secret Excel formulas.

Word of mouth is not bought, but is an epidemic. Malcom Gladwell coined the term "Stickiness."

When the shit hits the fan--have your ass covered.

The Game:
See the industry in more holistic and interconnected way.

Mastermind behindf NYC's Shake Shake, Blue Smoke, The Modern, Tabla, Gramacy Park

Founder/CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality - California's largest boutique hotel breaks down the Game.

Go beyond the brand and create a community thru the theory of 3rd Spaces.


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this blog will be of little words. i will let the unspoken language of design speak for itself.

i plan on crashing here once a day

i bow down to mid-century design. i just wish there were 2 of them.

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