Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bought the Building!

We own it! Welcome to the Urban Depot!

Headquarters of our Urban Grill Food Truck business and 
will serve as the Depot for the truck.
This will also become the future location of our commissary 
and who knows what other plans we may make for this space! 
Always stayed tuned!

Urban Depot - emphasis on Urban? :) We own that building next door also, to the left. Landlords!

The building was built in 1900. Great history in our City.

The brickwork inside and out is beautiful!

But like all things, it took a while and there's a story! A few stories in fact. The first story could be entitled:

How to protect the investment you're making in your food truck business?
Park inside. What if the truck is too tall for the building?

Get a different building?
Buy it if necessary?
Invest in the city which is to be the home base of our business?
Invest in the business in a more permanent way?
We did all of the above.

Urban Grill Food Truck (ugft llc.) did just that, all of the above! We felt it was important for us to park our truck indoors and sought to meet that goal almost as soon as we purchased the (stripped down gutter) truck. That led us to today. Why park inside?

We are investing in a really nice poly-vinyl wrap for the truck exterior, as most all food trucks do. It should last us a number of years. It will last years longer kept out of harsh weather whenever possible- sun/sleet/hail/ all of the above.

Next we have three (3) refrigerators on the truck. At night they'll need to be plugged in. There would be nothing stopping someone from unplugging our truck during the night in some of the outdoor locations we were first seeking. And nothing preventing someone from swiping those cords. And what happens to the food we had prepared for that day? And the people counting on us to serve them? No, too risky to rely on someone not kicking the plug out. Indoors please.

Our morning start up routine is going to be easier and more reliable if starting from a non-frozen state when the weather turns cold again next year. Being inside will keep the truck, the engine, and all the kitchen components at a more even and reliable state, all the time. 

Security. Right now the truck is our full commissary, which is great. It's set up to be that. But rather than being parked outside somewhere and working late on the truck to prep for the next day's meal, being inside your own building is a nicer 'home base' from which to work. We can't cook on our truck in the building, but can prep for the next day and that's a lot.

It's our offices for planning events and future operations and who knows what else....

Plus, did I mention? It's a damn fine building.

But, story two. What led us to find it?

This is what to do when your partner doesn't measure all the parameters 
and you're too nice to yell at her. 
Find a new building.

It starts with an exhaust fan that is just too (curse word) big, but is the right specs for the number of BTU's we are capable of generating on our full service food truck. But that exhaust fan on the top of our truck makes us a little or a lot too tall for some of the places we wanted to rent for a 'Depot' for our truck.

We had secured a great (indoor) spot to store our truck and I was working with the couple who managed this space. The nicest couple! I really wanted to work with them. The truck fit into the door per the dimensions given me. When we eventually brought our truck back to Cincinnati, after having it partially fabricated out of town and went to pull into the space.....it fit in through the doors, but NOT UNDER THE SPRINKLER SYSTEM which was completely unavoidable and was definitely lower than the door height. We were just the first vehicle to 'test the limit' and even the extremely nice building owner was not aware of the disparity. OOPS! We parked outside and punted.

But shortly thereafter there's my partner sending me links to properties. And where are the properties? They are in the downtown area, near ground central of where we plan to conduct at least some of our business. And these weren't rental properties, they are for purchase. Uh oh!

As my husband now rather famously said,, "Shouldn't you at least sell a sandwich or two before you invest again in your business?"

Um, prolly. But no, we went to check it out. We sat awhile and had some of the best pizza around at Pizza Bomba in Covington and made the decision. (Try the Brussels Sprout pizza, the best.) It only made sense to buy, not rent. And it only made sense to be so close to where things occur,  rather than outside the 275 beltway. Our originally intended space was beyond the I275 loop and especially if doing two events in one day, would be a bit of a trek if we needed to go back and forth. With a conveniently located downtown  Depot to regroup within, well that changes things! A lot. We were sold!
But wait, I haven't told you the most amazing part.....

Well first this, also my partner never yelled at me for buying such a hideously tall exhaust fan either. And he should have. It is ugly. But we've mitigated it's appearance somewhat or are working on that. But it is tall. So um, thanks Randy. Just cause we had to buy our own whole building to accommodate that, no big deal, right?

Okay, I'm showing you this photo because by now you know the truck will NOT be THIS UGLY! but the exhaust fan is this ugly. This is not where we were going to store it, this is where Randy is finishing the fabrication. The wheels had to be completely deflated, about 1,000 lbs of concrete blocks and three guys rode on the back to get it under the doorframe. I repeat the truck is NOT YELLOW in real life:

But it did fit. Oh, Randy built those lockers on the back for our propane tanks!

It's a really small world, after all!

Here's what happened. I hadn't yet mentioned to Dick that we looked at the building because of that 'sell a sandwich' comment mentioned above. It was New Years Eve and Dick and I went to dinner with our closest friends. Until the last few years we've always spent New Years with them, so this was a reunion of sorts...and I casually let it drop at dinner that Randy and I looked at a building to store our truck indoors. (I see Dick giving me 'the look' out of the corner of my eye.) And the friends ask where the buildiing is located. I gave them the street name, not a big a street. She drops her fork, he says, "no way, that's our building." And I did something I never do when dining with Bruce and Tina, I picked up my phone mid-meal and sent a text.  To Randy! I didn't know what it meant that we were dining with the owners of the building we had just determined we had to own, but I knew it meant something!

Okay, let's be clear. Most of you know me. You are wondering how I got to dinner NOT KNOWING they owned it. If I'm looking at a building I certainly know who owns it, how much they paid, what the taxes are and every other possible detail before I walk up to the front of the thing. And the answer is, this is the last piece of property of an LLC relationship they were ending and their specific name wasn't listed.

Well it turns out we had an advocate from within the selling LLC to our little purchasing LLC, and we appreciate the help, the friendship, the advice and we LOVE THE BUILDING and the NEW HOME of our little company that we can't wait to get off the ground!

It's happening soon. Randy is working night and day to finish it out. Really. It's coming.
Thanks to all of our supporters and friends and readers of this little blog. We appreciate your patience.

Thank you Bruce and Tina. Thanks Bruce for cancelling two (2) meetings in Columbus to be at the closing today, even though you didn't have to be there! You knew how important this is to us. We love you!

And all the previous mentions of Architects and architecture, are related to needing to build a rather complicated ramp system into the bulding to allow our truck to drive inside. Waiting for the city to decide they like that idea, that it meets zoning requirements, and that it is structured properly etc. was a contingency we had on our purchase agreement. (There was no point buying the building if we couldn't drive our truck into it.) We went through the whole permit process prior to closing on the property, that kept us all on our toes!!!

Thanks to the very professional Structural Engineer Bill Judd, Principal at THP Ltd. for his work toward this effort along with Dwayne Boso. We called in the big dogs and got it done.

Make the most of today, it's the only one of which any of us are guaranteed!

ugft llc.
Co-owner of Urban Grill Food Truck and Urban Depot
Along with extraordinary partner, Randy "the fabricator/welder/plumber/engineer" Reichelderfer


Becky said...

I was wondering where the fancy brickwork was located and was pretty darn sure when you posted it, that it wasn't as "random" as it appeared! I was SOOOOOO certain you were cooking today, I could almost taste it!

Betsy Eicher said...

I am ready to cook! But not today, sorry! Yes, I thought you'd know the brick was not so random.....It's good to know you're ready when we get out there! Thanks.

Denny said...

Congratulations! Your blog today was a great story. Can't wait for UGFT to be open.

Betsy Eicher said...

Thanks Den., I can't wait either!