The past week has, so far, been filled with (poisoned by?) café issues. With all of our production for the concession business completed (we had our first event two weeks ago, and sales were encouraging), and the end of our lease bearing down upon us, this has been the week to concentrate on disassembling and cleaning. And, just like every single task ever associated with the place, it has not been easy, quick, or even remotely fun.
Despite my crawling around on my hands and knees, wielding scrub brushes, steel wool and metal scrapers, the kitchen floor stubbornly remains spotted, stained and, in places, encased in a thin layer of grease which seems to have chemically bonded with the cement. Every sink and floor drain is permanently discolored by mineral residue from years of assault by Scappoose water (and we drink that stuff?) The dining room floor looks like the building might have been used as a garage for the past sixty months. In short, the clean-up job has been a microcosm of the way things have gone for me with that damned place from Day 1.
Perhaps my problem is—has always been—that my standards are just too high. At any rate, they consistently surpass my abilities. The end result of that equation has been that I have spent the past five years never having true victory over any challenge. "It's good enough" or "It will have to do" became my mantras. Truly, things probably were good enough; perfectly wonderful, in fact, for everyone else—the customers, the employees, the vendors, the landlord—but they were never where I wanted them to be. My tenure at the café became an exercise in finding out exactly how frustrated and unfulfilled I could get before I simply…imploded.
So, once again, "good enough" is going to have to do. I have to remind myself that the place had been operating as a restaurant for over a year by the time I got it. So any notion I might have had of whipping it back into pristine, looks-like-new shape was probably a pipe dream anyway. It's not trashed by any means, and it certainly looks acceptable enough to anyone who wants to put another eatery in the space. If Mr. Landlord wants to delve into the scary chemicals and pure intense elbow grease it's going to take to make the space sparkle and shine like new, he's welcome to have at it. He's ten years younger than I; presumably he can get it done without crippling himself. I personally am practically in need of traction at this point.
This evening, we will take Mr. Landlord on a tour, hand him his keys, dust off our hands and drive away. This will be the end, for good and all, of the "Old Town Café" chapter of my life. I will not have to absorb one more kick from that place that has been abusing my posterior with steel-toed boots for waaaay too long.
There WILL be a ceremony. I got into a conversation on Facebook last night with a couple of former employees, and ended up planning a spur of the moment Old Town Café "funeral." Several of us are going to meet up in the parking lot outside the building tonight. We'll set off some fireworks and say a few words. I should have saved a box of wine glasses or coffee cups…we could have smashed them on the sidewalk!
Then, maybe we'll go down the street for pizza. Or go sit at one of the other restaurants in town for two hours, have a meeting and drink water (inside joke…) It should be fun. If anyone shows up. Which, knowing my employees as I do, is pretty much a crap shoot.
Goodbye, café! You won't have ME to kick around anymore. A Nixon-ism. Appropriate to the termination of a futile venture, n'est ce pas?