Have you ever moved into a new space, splurged on a new gadget, or bought something really useful and then wonder how you did without it for so long? That’s how everyone at Drew Cooks! has been feeling for the past 3.5 weeks after moving into our newly renovated office/operations space! When our staff and I look at the tiny corner of the kitchen that all our operations staff were crammed into for several years, elbows and chairs bumping every time we moved or got up, the words “personal space” totally non-existent, we can’t believe we made it work for so long. But we did.
And when the space directly next door to us (a former karate dojo) became available earlier this year, I knew it was finally the right time to make a big change. Little did my staff and I know the surprises that would await us after seeing the space for the first time. We had envisioned a beautiful, open, clean space ready to move in after a quick sweep, mop and a coat of paint.
What we saw was an abandoned space filled with junk and construction debris. The ceiling tiles were old and falling apart, the paint was chipping and the electrical was a mess. Junk was piled almost all the way to the roof. Here’s what we walked into that first day:
But alas, I saw potential. The space plan was wide open, perfect for what we had in mind, and the floor was in great shape despite the dirt and junk piled up. The ceilings were high (almost 13 ft), perfect for storage. When I walked in a day later with the keys and proudly declared, eyes gleaming, “It’s ours!” the DC staff looked at me like I was crazy. Now, it was time to put my money where my mouth is! I had a plan and a budget; do as much of the work myself as I could, replace the old ugly ceiling tiles, paint, clean, and bring in the pros for anything that could electrocute or dismember me. Easy enough, right?
My plan lasted as long as day 1 before, inevitably, changing into something completely different.
After a thoroughly miserable day for two of our prep cooks and myself removing thousands of pounds of junk, old furniture, construction debris and some other surprises that will be left unnamed from the space, I got up on a ladder and began to remove the old ceiling tiles. After removing a few, I yelled for Todd, our Chef de Cuisine, to come have a look.
We looked up and saw some of the most beautiful old growth fir beams along the roof we had ever seen. They were at least 50 years old.
“You can’t find wood like that anymore, man.” Todd said.
He was right. I removed more and more ceiling tiles and exposed more of the wood. It was in perfect condition, a rich, aged look that can only truly be created with age. Todd and I began to remove the old ugly painted plywood from the support beams in the floor too. More old growth fir.
It was right at that moment the concept of the space changed. I immediately called Jason and Josh Lyle, owners of Lyle Construction – http://www.lyleconstruction.ca/ – to come have a look. They’re worked with us on many projects around the DC kitchen including our Fresh Window and charcuterie drying room and I trust their opinion.
Upon seeing the space and looking up at the exposed beams, Jason immediately asked, “Why would you want to cover that up?” He was right, too.
The open concept, exposed lumber look came to life that moment and things started falling into place. Electricians did their thing, we fixed the crooked walls, Tristan from our delivery team came in on his day off and painted with me for 10 hours. Kathryn, our sales representative who formerly worked as an Interior Designer for 20 years, was commissioned to design a space plan, which she did beautifully.
The space was becoming the culmination of a group of talents from within our own team, which was very exciting to see.
Lights went up.
Finally, we had an idea for our piece de resistance, something to add a real ‘wow’ factor to our new digs. The original dojo had 4 huge sections of mirror on the wall, 8 ft tall and 5 ft wide each. Josh Lyle and his construction crew were skilled enough to keep these all in one piece during removal, so we came up with the idea to frame one of the sections using scrap wood we salvaged from the roof. How cool is that? Josh and his team were thrilled to help and did a spectacular job on the design and install of the piece.
Finally, moving day was upon us. We held our breath and disconnected all the computers and phone lines, moving them into their new homes and getting ourselves settled. It almost didn’t seem real that first day. We had room to move, room to grow and add new employees, room to stand up without knocking into someones work station. What a treat.
Now almost a month after moving day, it still seems surreal coming to work seeing how far we’ve come and the hard work put in by our staff to get here. If you’re anywhere near 1312 SW Marine dr, pop in for a visit. Come sit in our comfy red chairs and see what’s cooking in the DC kitchen. We’d love to have you.
Thank you for supporting us to do what we love to do for all these years. It is so greatly appreciated.