When I Dream, This Is What I Dream Of
February 22, 2012
There’s no new writing today, unfortunately. I think I may be allergic to the place I’m living in and unless I can start getting together a better income every month, I’m kind of stuck there for the time being. Especially since it’ll probably cost $1,200 a month to get a small apartment, power, and internet access that I can rely on. Yeah, that’s not including transportation, washing my clothes, doing anything but sitting at home, or eating. Orange County is ridiculously expensive. Anyway, this is depressing and the long and the short of it is I have an allergy problem that is reminiscent of an awful head cold.
So instead I’m going to tell you all about the other thing I’d like to do with my life. The business I’d like to start if, somehow, I could find some investors that are interested in completely off the wall business ventures rooted in things that make a lot of sense, once you get past the zaniness of the plan at first glance.
When I dream, I dream of a business. I dream of a big business, an integrated business, a business designed from the ground up to be a part of our customer’s lives and a part of our partner’s business. I dream of a business that is cohesive and nimble, that is intelligent and insightful, that is both cutting edge and comfortably worn in.
I dream of a multifaceted business I have called The Magus’ Workshop.
Externally, when people ask me what it is, the first few aspects of it are intimidating. The Workshop would be a 13 story building with 2-3 basement floors here in Southern California. Eleven of those floors would be apartments, each well appointed with full soundproofing and fiber-optic network cabling directly to the living room. The apartments would be smart with RFID-enabled awareness of itself and its devices, it would be efficient with solar power generation on external windows as well as custom timed kill-switches for lighting, environment control, and powered devices. There would be at least 8 of these apartments on each floor, from three bedroom family homes to one bedroom homes with large work-lofts or dens. While these apartments would be a backbone to our business, it isn’t our most important feature.
The first floor would be a combination of small business kiosks, the entry hall for our apartments, the base of our elevator (itself something I’m working on doing differently than the standard hydraulic push system), a laundry room including low-water using and high-efficiency washing machines and dryers, and two relaxing lounges – one a business lounge and the other a smoking lounge with separate ventilation. In front of this first floor would be a large patio, stretching all the way to the street, with our tables and leather-padded metal chairs, and a segmented area for outdoor performances. The perfect place for spring evening expressions of Shakespeare plays, or summer night discussions and debates, or even demonstrations of artisinal crafts from weaving to smithing. Guarding this patio from both light and rain are delicately designed but robustly engineered solar cells that take the place of standard umbrellas, generating power over 300 days out of the year.
Underneath all of this is the heart of the business, though. Beneath the patio is our parking, reducing the effects of heat islands in the city by breaking up the wide expanse of metal and asphalt. As well, the cars are more protected and easier to monitor as there are few entrances and exits to the small parking structure. Beneath the building itself is the beating heart of the Workshop – our gastropub. It is a place that celebrates three things – beer, fine foods, and innovation. Lets talk about the Innovation first.
The first part of this is the experience. The restaurant will be designed to replicate a Victorian-inspired experience, with slightly closer tables and staff dressed and trained on Victorian mannerisms and slang, with individual characters created for each member of the wait staff. Our servers will be trained on how our beers, wines, and spirits interact with the flavors of our foods and what kinds of foods to look for when pairing meals while taking the weight of the menus off of their shoulders. The menus, you see, will be stored on our tables, integrated into a touchscreen interface that allows resizing of portions, remixing of dishes as far as what sides and what entrees can be paired, and requesting modifications in much simpler manner. The menu will be dynamic (as is necessary, which I’ll explore in the following paragraph) and only what we have available will be shown. Before and after the ordering, as well, the table will be available to peruse the internet, to examine our beer, wine, and spirit choices (as well as explore our Drink Engine, a mixology application designed for creating custom cocktails using the spirits and mixers we have available), and play some of the (eventually) numerous Steampunk and Victorian themed games created for the touchscreen experience. These tables will run on Chromium (or another flavor of Linux, if it’s determined another is better) and the entire interface will be designed in HTML5 and connected to SQL-reinforced CMS systems oriented toward an efficient and entertaining customer experience. These same tables are used out on our patio, connected to the kitchen and to our tobacconist in the smoking lounge where customers may request hookahs or other tobacco products for enjoyment on the patio. Within the pub itself, as well, technology will be used to reinforce the experience of being in the Magus’ den and sitting room, which is the design of the pub’s atmosphere. Along the walls will be moving platforms built on small motors and armatures that display artifacts and photos from the Magus’ many ‘adventures’ in the style of turn of the century hunting clubs. The bar, itself, will be designed as a great machine with whirling gears and gouts of steam behind the bartenders and the spirits attached to hooks (with pouring nozzles and sensors inside of them) on a revolving chain system throughout the rear-portion of the bar area. Mostly for entertainment, mind you. Commonly used well spirits will still be kept in the well for ease of access.
The second leg of our pub is the food. I’m not content with a standard fair menu, I’m not even content with ingenious foods from an inspired chef. I want nothing less than a menu full of everything form unique variations on comfort classics to new interpretations of food and plating, all sourced from local ingredients and purchased as fresh as possible in the tradition of fine restaurants all over the world. Were I living in the midwest, this would be an impossible dream but here in California we have several large ports within a few hours of here and we have huge agricultural resources just waiting to be used. By purchasing fresh, and purchasing often, our food has the most potential for flavor and impact. Combined with a database-driven menu system, we can keep thousands of potential dishes available and have processes and systems available to our kitchen staff to let them know exactly what needs to be done without worrying about them having to memorize the menu – just like our wait staff. Only our chef and our computers need be obsessed with the entire menu, our sous and supporting chef staff can focus on perfecting their operations and systems for cooking and preparing the food. Our menu should reflect that the people at the Workshop love food. We would have delicious food for anyone’s budget, anyone’s dietary restrictions, anyone’s caloric restrictions.
Finally, the beer. Beer was the first thing that made me want to build a gastropub, and beer is the last idea I have when I go to bed at night. Beer brought me and my girlfriend together, beer is part of what my life is built around, and beer is the only thing in my diet I ensure special exceptions for. Good beer, especially, is an important thing to me. Diverse beers, from lambics to lagers, from stouts to sours, from porters to pale ales, from triples to triple IPAs. Delicious beers from brewers as far as Belgium, Austria, or Japan or as close as Firestone Walker, Stone, or Bootlegger’s. Beer for drinking, beer for downing, beer for savoring, beer for loving. Beer is so important to me and my quality of life that I can’t help to encourage others to try it. So much that I think that, given enough time and enough conversation, I can find the perfect beer for anyone. Anyone. So important that, eventually, I’d like to brew my own beer (in a steampunk inspired brewery, of course). This is the axis the Workshop will turn around. I want to have 40 taps available without a single one of the Big Three on them, without a single American Light Lager for sale. All of our servers, all of our bartenders, all of our bussers will be trained on beer. On how to taste it, how to chose it, and how to talk about it. If the Workshop does become a business of mine, if the brewery I want does get built, eventually all of our employees will visit the brewery and learn how our beer is made and the work and complexity that goes into one of the most important liquids in human history. Without beer there would be no civilization, without beer there would be no Workshop, and without beer there would be much less joy and wonder in this world.
This is a business I would live and breath. It would become who I am. In many ways it has become who I am. While I am Daniel A Samuelson, I am also the Magus, Daniel Lehrer, and I am the captain of the ship of the Workshop. I am not a manager, I am not a businessperson, I am not a chef nor a brewer nor an architect. I am a visionary, I can see a this thing whole and complete. I can speak the languages of these professions and positions to turn this dream into reality. I can understand the math and the emotions of the business and adjust the idea itself to ensure its operation.
The only thing I lack is funding. It’s difficult to find the money to build this dream, though, when you’re a down and out writer and former tech support analyst in Orange County. Incidentally, if you know anyone with a big investment budget and willing to listen to a big dream, let me know? This business isn’t just something to make my world better but to make yours better too. I promise, it’ll be in our charter.
Until next time, I’m going back to working rather than dreaming. Have a wonderful day.