Tuesday, October 2, 2007

End of a Blogging Era

Despite our best intentions to keep on blogging throughout the first year of Z's operation, we haven't been able to give this little bit of space on the Web the attention it deserves. We are, however, happy to have a record of what those hazy, crazy and anything-but-lazy days were like between closing the deal and the opening the doors and happier still to have been able to share it with you.

In many ways it's hard to believe that Z has been open for six months already. Sometimes it feels like yesterday that we served our first customer and others as though this is all we've ever done. Manchester has received us well and for that we're grateful. After all, we chose this city deliberately and deliberate decisions have a way of working out even better than you expected.

Quite simple, it's been extraordinary.

We hope to see you soon at our home-away-from-home and to continue sharing the extraordinary with you.

Our best,
Tom & Maureen

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

While We Were Not Blogging

Ah, summer. Everything slows down, no? Including the desire to sit at the keyboard one second longer than you have to when skies are blue, the sun is warm and humidity has taken the day off from its assault.

While were not blogging:

  1. Maureen's business unit was reassigned to a brand-new initiative that's both exciting and hush-hush. The net/net: more change, more opportunity and a hell of a lot less time to write for anything considered to be pleasure.
  2. Several members of Tom's family blew through town for visits of varying lengths, on their way to other destinations and, I imagine, in attempts to escape the blistering heat that is any California valley in the summer.
  3. The new and last Harry Potter was released (Maureen lost a whole weekend there).
  4. Maureen was also gardening at home while Tom continued to scour the farmer's markets and ranches for seasonal and other products in support of our objective to make Z's Sunday Dinner Menu as local as possible.
  5. We were mulling over the idea of retiring the blog, or, at the least, taking another extended hiatus until such time as, well, until we can carve out more time to give this space the attention it needs.

Hope summer's treating you all well. It was both with a bit of thrill and despair that we noticed the first yellow leaves drift into the yard from a neighbor's tree. Autumn's going to be here before we know it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Seriously Sidewalk....Seating

Our patio furniture has arrived!

Seating is limited.

Berets are optional.

Mojitos just might be mandatory.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Honor Thy Papa @ Z

We'll be extending our regular Sunday service by one hour for Father's Day with family dinner going from 3:00p 'til 8:00p.

This week's Sunday dinner menu features fresh lamb, organic free-range turkey breast, and salmon as our trio of entree selections. I have heard a rumor about certain something-something for dessert, but mum's (or pop's, if we want to be strictly punny) the word.

Our Sunday dinner menu is market reactive and creatively spontaneous; posting the details in advance isn't always possible. We may, however, try to do that here or eventually over at our main Web site. If you'd like to see that happen sooner versus later, please post a comment or send an e-mail to maureen@zfoodanddrink.com.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Almost Forgot: Vacancy!

Maureen says:
Our upstairs unit (2nd fl) will be available to rent in early July. If you or anyone you know are interested, please send an email to maureen@zfoodanddrink.com. Details are as follows:

  • Owner occupied, close to downtown, highway, Derryfield Park
  • 3 BR, 1 BA plus office; eat-in-kitchen w/dishwasher; approx 1600 sq. feet
  • Washer/dryer hookups (current tenant has 18 month-old washer/dryer for sale in unit)
  • All new windows
  • Off-street parking for two (2) cars
  • No smoking, no dogs
  • $1100/mo + util (gas heat, electricity), deposit (may be paid in installments)
  • One-year lease; discount for multiple-year lease
  • Will send photos via email

We are going to be replacing the carpet in the master bedroom, so tenants will need to work with us to get that done if desired move-in is prior to the July 15th.

Thank you - M&T

And We're Back

Maureen says:
Our blog hiatus is over--also, thankfully, are my carpal tunnel symptoms--and June has arrived in all its characteristic New England splendor: heat, haze and humidity; startling shifts in temperature; and thunderstorms replete with hail that, believe it or not, I missed when we lived in California.

On the Plate
We launched our Sunday Dinner program on May 20th, inspired in part Suzanne Goin's concept Sunday Suppers at Lucques (some of you may have seen her as a guest judge on season two of Bravo TV's series Top Chef).

Our version is a four-course, prix fixe meal ($28) that constantly evolves based on foods in season, local market availability and the whims of our chef. Once you select your entree course (poultry, beef or seafood), the Seriously Fun starters, salads and side dishes start coming and are served family style, as is Sous Chef Nellie Booth's dessert course.

Even though Tom and I try to sit down, no matter how late, and have dinner together on Friday and Saturday nights, it's the Sunday menu that's quickly become our personal favorite to share while we reflect on the week just past and discuss our plans for the week ahead. The menu is out of the ordinary, the ingredients couldn't be fresher and, as I've been overheard to say on occasion, it's the closest I've come to eating Tom's home cooking since opened for business (and maybe, just maybe, that's his sneaky way of getting me to work a third day on site).

We've also got another fun announcement coming up this month that isn't exactly food related. Keep your eye on the blog or sign up for the newsletter--we'll make the announcement in a few places.

On the Side
What we're reading: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and next up, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

What we're watching: Not much, but the DVR is programmed to record season three of Top Chef (I am hoping that because it's based in Miami that some of the restaurants Tom and I love there are featured; during season one, a challenge was set in San Francisco's Frisson, where we celebrated the first anniversary of togetherness).

What else? I'm in the beginning stages of mapping out a book proposal (!). I committed, in writing (okay, email, but it still counts) to another writer-friend that I would, if nothing else, have the proposal completed by January. And then, when I shared the idea with a friend who's a photograph (Hi Matt!), he nodded vigorously and said, "Yes, in addition to everything else you've got going on, you should write a book."

Why the hell not.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

One in 10

Maureen says:
Seems like we're only good for a blog post one in every 10 days. It's not for lack of stories to share so much as a combination of things familiar to any new business owner.

Things like staying one day ahead of being officially rundown by lack of sleep, eating once a day if we're lucky (the cobbler always has barefoot children and so do restaurateurs not feed themselves properly) and generally trying to squeeze too many tasks into too few hours and still maintain a sense of humor.

Additionally, the insane amout of hours I've been spending at the keyboard for my full-time job, the work I do for Z and email correspondence have started to take their toll in the form of pins and needles in my both wrists.

Sadly, the notes for blog entries languishing in my notebook will continue to languish as I give myself a much-needed break from typing 90wpm ten hours a day. One of the benefits of this Corporate America job of mine is a generous amount of paid time off. I'm taking this week and next week and will be on site at Z a bit more than usual and hope to resume blogging by the end of the month. It's all up to Tunnel de Carpal.

Til then--

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Only Seriously Loved Mamas Get to go to Z

Maureen says:

With the weather we've been having, it seemed Spring would never come, but the air is warming up and that's helped us forgive the April showers and their habit of coming and going.

Still, how is it possible that when we flip the page on the calendar next week it will be May? In some ways it feels like we just opened the doors at Z, but in reality, we're one month old today!

Mother's Day will be here before you know it and while Tom's mother is used to the occupational hazard that means working (read: a belated phone call), mine isn't. We'll have her in for dinner beforehand, of course (Tom's parents live on the West Coast) and somewhere in between we'll be celebrating my birthday as well. Although the two dates don't coincide this year, I was actually born on Mother's Day lo those years ago. It was a Sunday and family lore has it that the day I arrived into the world couldn't have been more fitting (it was not an easy pregnancy).

Thusly: Z will be open expanded hours on Sunday, May 13th, offering its full dinner menu from 12p to 7p. Reservations are already coming in, so if you seriously love your mama, call now to make yours--603.629.9383. We bet she likes the Mojitos.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Still Here, Just Busy

Maureen says:
Having been open for business for just over three weeks, it's perhaps naive of me to think that Tom and I would have settled into something resembling a routine or gotten a grasp (no matter how loose) on what the new state of normal for our lives. Hopeful, yes, but also naive. The business of our lives is, out of necessity, the life of our business. And I'm fairly certain that won't change in six months or a year or even five years. It's the nature of the entrepreneurial beast, is it not? And it must be why you so often hear industry peers half joke that the two best days of owning a restaurant are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. Me, I try not to think about that.

Because, if you're good at what you do--and biased or not, I'm going to say again that Tom is brilliant and not until now, working side by side, did I understand just how brilliant--there are a lot of days in between the purchase and the sale. And the best thing you can do you for customers and yourself is focus on those days one at a time.

And focusing on the day at hand is exactly what we've been doing, though lately those days have felt more like they've had their way with us than the other way around. No sooner did we get our boy cat home and healing than our girl cat took a turn that our vet described as 'as serious as internal medicine gets'. We'll spare you the details, in part because even though she's a fighter and a strong little girl, they are fairly heart wrenching. Which means that Tom and I had A Painful Conversation (TM) after hours at the vet's office, the result of which is was the mutual agreement to take things four hours at a time. So far, the little one is better and better each time we check in on her and if she continues to do well, she may come home in a day or so.

I really can't say enough good things about Lockridge Animal Hospital; everyone there is the embodiment of the practice's mission statement. In a world where compassion is often hard to find, Manchester is blessed to have them as part of the community.

Stay tuned for more restaurant-related anecodotes, information about our expanded hours for Mother's Day and other points of interest.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Into a Groove

Maureen says:
It occurred to me the other day that I shouldn't have said you were 'stuck with me' in relation to the dearth of entries from Tom. Not because the phrase smacked of low writerly self-esteem (though one could argue it did), but because once the doors opened, Tom stepped into his wheelhouse and the list of new-and-interesting-to-him things to write about began to dwindle or, at the least, aren't appropriate to publish in a public space.

I, on the other hand? I sit daily, not always calmly, but I sit daily in the center of an information storm. I'm learning the nuances of a line of business with which I have limited experience (things like how, when you're out to dinner and the owner or manager visits your table, yes, they're gauging your experience, but they're also examining the plating and presentation of your meal). I am learning how to modify my skill set to support the restaurant, service our customers and empower our staff. I am learning that the practice of being present and focusing solely on the immediate reality doesn't just keep you grounded and centered, but might in fact be a smart way to build a business.

We are slowly getting into a groove, Tom and I. Slowly learning what life as restaurateurs looks and feels like. And by life I mean the whole of it--professional, personal, domestic, familial, social, spiritual, emotional, physical (we're still not eating our first meal of the day before noon). We're finding our way and finding it more quickly than I anticipated even though this last week has been anything been but typical and none of the anomalies had anything to do with the restaurant (shakeups at my company and the ensuing additional job responsibilities, semi-emergency surgery for our boy cat that's set him right as rain--thank you Dr. McCammon et al at Lockridge Animal Hospital--and yet more snow in April).

So I'll be writing about this search for balance between owning a restaurant and having a life, what I'm learning and what maybe I wish I didn't have to learn and keeping you all up to date on any happenings at Z. Until next, read on for a visual-literary representation of what the 48 hours prior to opening felt like (with apologies to William Faulkner).

Still tweaking the menus and need to finalize them now so the printer can print them and we can stuff them into the menu books and wow they look hot don't they, but we need take-away versions and we're going to have wait on that because there is staff to train and paperwork to complete for payroll and tax withholding and direct deposit and the back door where deliveries come might as well be a revolving and I think right now I could focus better in the middle of Grand Central Station or the Filene's Basement wedding gown sale because I've realized fully and finally that we have XX people in our employ and for me, the long-time good corporate worker bee, it's enough to strike terror in my heart, but there's no time to be scared which is actually helpful because the kitchen and the pantries and the dining room need to be set up and organized because I still have to procure things from the office-supply store like rubber bands and tip envelopes and thermal paper rolls and plastic sheet protectors and more (more!) dry erase markers which disappear more stealthily than socks in a dryer and small trashcans that are in keeping with decor but aren't priced in keeping with decor and then I have to print and hole punch the reservation sheets and what about gift certficates and has anyone seen the stack of take-away menus I just printed or the fuel cells for the table lamps and dear lord in heaven we don't have carryout containers can Joan go out for some, but that's right, the lunch menu isn't completely programmed in the POS yet and we need her for that because Kristine is running all over hither and yon to complete the bar inventory and I still need to record the voicemail message on both lines and why is there so much interference on the line whenever I try to do that, well, I can't worry about that because the glasses and flatware have been buffed and need to held to the light and checked and we only just now determined how we want to present the salt and pepper and yes Joan, you're right that neither Tom nor I has eaten in about 36 hours but I'm off to the mall and I hate the mall, but I'm off to the mall because we both need multiple pairs of dark wash jeans to wear on site and Tom's size is the notoriously difficult to find 32" x 34" and please tell me if you know where I can find jeans that are age/style appropriate for me because there is low-rise and there is no-rise and we are apparently living in a no-rise world and who wants to look at no-rise when they're eating, let's be real, and don't get me started on how it seems that the fashion industry designs for the 20-year-olds and the 60+-year-olds or the issue I take with being ignored as a demographic with spending power and how I can't do anything about it because owning a restaurant and launching a clothing line and having a full time job would kill me and Kristine, please tell me, even if you're lying, that this gets easier and that okay, really, by next week at this time I won't give this day a second thought because there are only 24 hours before we open and there is not enough kava tea in the world to get me to the place where I'll believe we're going to be ready or I can take a full and complete breath.

But we were. And I did. And Kristine was right: it's way easier now. More terrifying in a lot of ways, but way easier.