Continuing with Electrical and Plumbing

It's starting to look like a restaurant

It's starting to look like a restaurant

Things are moving along very smoothly. The electrical and plumbing contractors are busily running their conduits and pipes within and above the walls. We can see where the bar, walls, and doors will be. It starting to feel like a restaurant and a new home for us. It's where we're going to be spending a lot of time.

Already, we can imagine where the griddle will go, sizzling with patties, and where the taps will emerge from the wall, offering the finest draught of ice cold San Diego craft beer.

We hope you are excited as we are.

Mixing the old with the new - Framing begins

Antique bottles found during construction

Antique bottles found during construction

We've completed the trenching for the plumbing, which was then promptly covered with concrete. What is more interesting to us is what happens next. The framing of the walls begins, giving us an idea of what Burger Bench is going to be like. We're starting to see rooms, doorways, and halls. It's pretty exciting to see what were merely lines on paper actually become reality before our eyes.

The vision on paper

The vision on paper

Seeing our modern vision mingle with the architecture of the 1924 building has been great. OBR Architecture and Blueprint Contracting have been like partners throughout this project and the response so far from the Escondido community has been overwhelming.

A side hallway

A side hallway

The next few weeks will be pretty exciting, as we make some adjustments here and there. We have a couple of large hurdles to overcome, but we're confident of our success. Thanks for reading.

These things take time - a Burger Bench update

The hub of activity

The hub of activity

Yesterday was National Hamburger Day, and in a perfect world, we would have been open, celebrating burgers and beer with all of you. However, when creating something large and complex, things will undoubtedly emerge to slow things down.

In November, we enthusiastically chose OBR Architecture, a local firm whose aesthetic sense matched ours. It was immediately clear we made the right choice. We actually had fun while designing the restaurant. Together we designed an experience that we feel can serve downtown Escondido well. They also provided a level of service that no other firm was willing to provide.

Chris and Melissa from OBR, working hard on the design

Chris and Melissa from OBR, working hard on the design

After several months of design revisions, including plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, it was time to reveal the 3D rendering of Burger Bench. It was clear they understood what we wanted for downtown Escondido and we were again reassured that we made the right choice.

We later received preliminary approval with the City of Escondido and the County Health Department and the plans were ready to send to contractors for bidding.

The 1924-era brick wall that was revealed

The 1924-era brick wall that was revealed

At the end of the bidding process, which took a couple of months, we chose Blueprint Contracting. They've built amazing restaurants and are enthusiastic about building Burger Bench for Escondido.

A very special thanks to the other contractors who bid for the project. Their efforts were incredible and we feel we made some friends along the way. At least one round is on us.

Construction has begun

Construction has begun

Construction has begun, and we are on track to open some time this fall. As we get closer, we can be more accurate with our opening date. We will unfortunately miss Cruisin' Grand, but it will be back again in April, we're told.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your patience. We can't wait to meet all of you in person and learn your names. We'd love to hear you say, "I'll have the usual," and know exactly what you'd like.

Opening a hamburger restaurant

This post was originally posted on my 100 Peaks hiking blog on July 18, 2014, when we closed escrow on our property on Grand Avenue.


Our address number

As I mentioned in my blog post from May, there are some changes coming ahead. We will make it back to San Diego at the end of this month, easing back into our old home there.

Today, we purchased a commercial property in Historic Downtown Escondido. It used to be an adult book store and we will be turning it into a restaurant. Yes, you heard that right, a restaurant.

But Derek, you might ask, Why a restaurant? I haven't seen any cooking pictures in your blog posts or anywhere else in your social media feeds. Are you a chef?

No, I am not a chef, nor have I had any formal restaurant experience. I consider myself a businessman, an expert in user experience, and will be part of a team of great people that includes people with restaurant experience. I will be primarily running the restaurant 'machine' and working eagerly to get people in there and enjoying the food. I will be major part of the creative portion of the concept and design.

What type of restaurant will it be?

While the concept is still evolving, and we don't have a name yet [Update: At the time of the writing of this post we didn't have a name yet, of course now we know that it is Burger Bench], our current concept prototype involves three Bs: Breakfast, Burgers, and Beer. [Update: We may have breakfast at later point, but we are opening with Lunch and Dinner]

It will be a fast casual restaurant (FCR), with as fresh and local ingredients as we can make it without charging too much. I want it to be a great place to hang out, with good music, great food, and smiling service. An overall good value for couples, families, and whoever is hungry for some quality food.

Why Escondido?

Downtown Escondido is a charming street with historic buildings. Crusin' Grand, a popular event where thousands come from across the county to see and have their classic cars seen, is held on Fridays from April thru September. There are also festivals and parades that run through the town. The building we're purchasing, under the retail facade, has old brick and wood accents that we think will be a great dining environment. We'll be able to have some outside seating (dog-friendly) and provide a great eating space.

As of now, the City of Escondido and its Fire Department have been a great source of information and truly supportive of turning this old adult book store into something the community can get behind. They are familiar with the property and, without them, I wouldn't have been able to perform as much due diligence on the property as I did. They truly care about the character of Downtown Escondido and it shows.

Crowds for Cruisin' Grand

When will it open?

Well, we just closed on the property today, and we still have a lot of work to do, so stay tuned for an updated timeline and a link to a new blog that will be focused on the restaurant, since I don't want to pummel my hiking community with posts about starting and running a restaurant.

[Update: We are aiming for Fall 2015, not in time for the next season of Crusin' Grand.]

But, seriously, why a restaurant?

This has been an idea that we've been kicking around for a while. I've gotten a bit tired of the tech industry, with its fair share of stakeholders. I love being in charge of the user experience and would like to continue to do so, but in a different way, for a different kind of product. The websites and interfaces that I've been involved with over the years have been greatly improved by my work and I am proud of that. With my own restaurant, I get to be passionate about my customers and provide them with the best experience I can offer. I understand customer expectations, and therefore can apply what I know and give customers a great eating experience out the gate.

What else?

What I truly would like, once the restaurant is complete, is for all of you in the San Diego area to consider coming by after a hot and dusty day in the San Diego backcountry and have some tasty burgers, some local craft beer, and milkshakes. And tell me all about your hikes.

[Update: Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!]