Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A meeting of the minds

Kevin is desperate for jumping into a professional kitchen and all of us around him can feel (and suffer) his urge to get going, so we all decided to prioritize the kitchen. The idea is that although construction will be still in progress at the dining room area, Kevin will be able to start cooking.

The meeting you see in this photos is between the contractors and the kitchen designers and suppliers. We had to review every detail of the drawings made by the designers to make sure the contractors understood it and found it feasible. We also had to identify potential conflicts between the structure of the building and Kevin’s dream kitchen.

It was really interesting for us to see how engineers analyze drawings and what issues are critical when approving final designs: gas pipes, gutters, air ducts, electricity outlets... Our kitchen is especially tricky because apart from being open and thus very visible, we came out with the idea of playing with different elevations and that turned out to be very difficult to implement. You need to understand and coordinate multiple heights: the kitchen equipment, the cooks, the bar counter, the stools, the customers… A headache that we hope will be worth it when you see the end result.  

Despite the several complex issues derived from design, the team managed to find the way around them and make sure our original ideas were respected when planning for their implementation. What a relief!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Gas VS Electricity

Kevin’s master plan for his kitchen before moving to Bali was to get all electrical equipment. After years facing open fires, he was convinced that gas is messy and electric stoves and equipment are the way to go especially for open kitchens. During numerous meetings with our designers the focus was electricity but sometime down this long road of finalizing the kitchen the engineer uttered: “Well, with all this equipment you are going to require as much electricity as a Balinese village…” This comment sounded off an alarm… We have heard a few people say that electricity is quite expensive in Bali and if our consumption was that high… oopps… But before changing our entire concept we had to gather more information and getting actual numbers was really difficult. Nobody in the island was using this type of equipment in its electrical version so we could only guess.

Our contractor, Pak Didik, discussing structure details with the gas supplier.

Time passed by and Kevin was quieter than usual (something rather unusual) until one sunny morning he dropped the bomb: “Virginia, I think we better switch all the equipment to gas”. Surprisingly for him, I couldn’t agree more: to settle now for an option that would forever carry a high monthly cost was not the way to start our project. So determinedly we met the kitchen suppliers and with the best of our smiles we asked them to change all the equipment. Together we found ways to adapt it to an open kitchen and we kept a couple of appliances electric as they would not be consuming too much power.

This week we met a supplier for the gas piping equipment and after showing us the most shocking sales video we have ever seen (happy customers using their services and national news of a huge fire at a restaurant using the competitor’s services), we learned that the installation is quite expensive but the consumption cost is really low (especially when you compare it with the very high electricity cost on the island). Unfortunately there are more cons: we found out that the ugly gas pipes must come from the ceiling and cannot be hidden beneath the floor. Given our open kitchen concept, if we cannot find a good way to hide them, you will be first-hand witnesses to our clever cost effective strategy :)

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Let there be light

If there is something that contributes to create a great atmosphere in a restaurant, it is lighting. This is something that restaurateurs either entirely overlook or become obsessed with as the possibilities seem endless.

Cuca will enjoy natural light during the day with its unique open space design, but how to create a magical intimate environment in the evenings? We had an idea of what type of atmosphere we want in each space of the restaurant but we had no clue on how to achieve that result. We needed our interior designers to help us with the type of lighting required and they will also need the support of a lighting consultant to determine the specifications of each lighting device. A long chain of people that need to trust each other and agree despite all having different opinions and interests in mind.

For the bar our interior designers chose a set of fashionable and gorgeous lights from overseas that look great but cost a small fortune. We, who are responsible for the budgets, started to think of options available on the island to find more affordable prices and save the additional shipping cost. The designers showed their concern for local quality and we thought of the potential problems related to servicing overseas products. As you see, everyone is right.

For the dining room our designers proposed a concept completely based on lighting. We were very happy to agree this time with them as we loved their vision but our partner expressed his concern for the electricity cost in Bali. Once again, everyone is right.

We are still facing this dilemma and are trying to find a solution that addresses everyone’s concerns. Not easy, but we like to be surrounded by professionals who care and have principles. And anyway, balance between cost, look and long term feasibility are factors that we would need to take into consideration no matter who is involved, so better to have passionate professionals who know what they are talking about. At the end of the day, we are sure there will be light.