Sunday, January 24, 2016

Food Cart Project Part XXXVIII: Ceiling, etc.

I got a number of things done on the cart this weekend. The first task knocked out of the way was installing and painting the threshold:

After painting this, and then walking across it a few times, it occurred to me that white may not be the smartest color for a threshold. So, I'll probably paint it a nice practical gray at some point. I also built an awning for the front window. I'll most likely be serving out of this window, rather than the side window, and being that the materials are cheap and the build is easy, I decided to make another one rather than repurpose the first one...

The main accomplishment this weekend, however, was installing FRP panels on the ceiling to cover up the joists and insulation. This was a two person job, for sure. James, who does lapidary work at Civilian, gave me a hand with the first half of the job, and my friend Devin pitched in for the second half. This gives the ceiling a much more finished look, obviously, and I'm pretty sure the health inspector wouldn't have been down with the exposed ceiling guts...

I was hoping to meet up with the electrician this weekend as well, but he couldn't seem to make it happen. I may just be calling another electrician here in the next day or two. Hopefully, you'll be seeing a post revolving around outlets, conduit and a panel before much longer. Either way, stay tuned!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Food Cart Project Part XXXVII: Roof completed

The past couple weeks have been spent finishing up the roof. The first thing I did after getting it into place was to build a soffit around it to keep the wind from pulling it off:

I got some plywood in place in front of the soffit, to cover the exposed Tyvek, and once that was done, I was ready to paint. Here are a couple shots of the end result:

This is a big step forward in terms of having the exterior more or less finished, but there's still much work to be done. The graywater tank still needs to be mounted, and the internal plumbing is only about halfway done. I'm also still sorting out scheduling with my electrician, hoping to have that work done by the end of the month. And, I'm only just starting to poke around about finding a space to rent. But the end, or rather the beginning, is in sight... Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXXVI: Raising the Roof

The past couple weekends have involved getting the roof canopy finished, and moved into place. I'd built the basic structure a few months back, and with the hood and fan in place, I was finally able to start attaching the corrugated steel:

Of course, a notch had to be cut out to accomodate the fan...

It took four of us to hoist it into place. It was an awkward job that involved several ladders, but took us all of five minutes...

I've got it on supports which put it at about a two degree angle:

I'll probably rig up some sort of soffit on there to keep the wind from getting under the canopy, which is not attached by a whole lot. As far as overhang, there's about eight inches on the sides, and around eighteen on either end. Not a ton, but probably just enough:

Here it is from above. This gives you a better idea of how it fits with the fan. The piece of corrugated on the lower right corner goes back on once I've caulked the front and side of the fan...

I also put in a call to Chris, an electrician who was recommended to me by Dale, who installed the hood and fan. Chris has some time in January, so the electrical will soon be getting dialed in. That should be pretty straightforward, I don't imagine it'll be much more than a one day job for him. Once I have a date for that nailed down, I think it'll be time to start calling around to cart pods and see who might have some space for a Burmese cart!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXXV: Hood Installation

I met up with my hood installation guy, Dale Barron, and one of his employees, Israel, this weekend to get the exhaust hood and fan into place. The hood was mounted directly against the wall, into the studs, using angle aluminum:

A hole was then cut into the ceiling through to the roof:

Up on the roof we have the curb, which the fan itself mounts to:

Once the curb was all set up, the hood was pulled back down and the ductwork was welded in:

The hood then went back up, and the ductwork was attached to the curb before mounting the fan:

Here we have the more or less completed cooking wall:

Another view of that, through the service window:

Here's a detail of one of the service window Buddhas:

The next big step, which probably won't happen until the holidays, is getting the electrical work done, and apart from getting the roof canopy into place, that's pretty much the last step before finding a spot in a pod to rent and getting this thing operational.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXXIV: Service Counter and Exhaust Hood

More forward movement's been made on the cart. I got a string of lights mounted underneath the awning over the service window. I think this gives a nice inviting effect, and of course a little extra light won't hurt when it gets dark out (these days, around 5:00 pm):

I also stained and finished the service counter:

I used a pretty dark stain, sanded some of it off to get this interesting grain effect, then finished it with six coats of polyurethane. The combination of the finish and the dents, gouges and wear the wood had to begin with (an old doug fir 2x8, by the way, for those of you who keep track of such things) gives it a nice patina, I think:

I also got a lot of caulking done around the trim. I'm about halfway done with that. Most significantly, though, my exhaust hood and fan arrived this week. Those will get installed next weekend...

Definitely looking forward to having those in place. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXXIII: Exhaust Hood, Awning and Menu.

Last weekend I met with a guy called Dale Barron, who does exhaust hood installations for restaurants, to assess my cart and discuss helping me with installing a hood. A few days later, I ordered my hood and fan from a company called Ventilation Direct. It's basically a six foot wide version of this (minus the fire suppression system; a class B extinguisher should suffice, in the short term, anyway):

That's set to ship about a week and a half into November, so installation of that will probably happen in the second half of the month, or perhaps early December. After that comes the electrical work. In the meantime, there are lots of loose ends to be tied up. This weekend, one of those loose ends I attended to was building an awning and some steps for the service window:

The awning is mounted on hinges just above the window, and the supports are secured at the base of the window with linch pins:

I also worked on the chalkboard menu, which mounts in the window:

If you're thinking I didn't quite crop that photo tight enough to read what's on the menu, well, yeah, you're right. Don't want to give away too much this early in the game... But I've got the menu items pretty much nailed down at this point. The prices will be added to it once I've finished sorting out all of the food costing. Here's what that awning looks like when it's collapsed, by the way:

That'll be secured with a padlock eventually. The shelf underneath the window is a fir 2x8 I picked up at the Rebuilding Center. I'll be staining and varnishing that next weekend.

I also had a great talk this weekend with an old friend of mine who's a web developer. He's going to take what I designed for the Squarespace website I created, and mark up something a little more sophisticated with respect to search engine optimization, mobile device displays and the like. I'm looking forward to getting that rebuilt, because the Squarespace site, while attractive, doesn't support HTML text, which makes it difficult for Google, Bing, et al to find it; obviously, less than ideal.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXXII: Thoughts...

A good friend of mine from high school died yesterday. I hadn't seen her in years, but we'd stayed in touch sporadically through social media, and I'd remained close to her family over the years, particularly with her step-brother, Dan. He's one of my favorite people in this world, and a guy I still spend time with on a regular basis, even though we live in different states. Dan's step-sister Gretchen died far too young, a few years younger than I am now, and her passing has me thinking about my own life, and the crossroads I'm standing at now.

I'm more than a bit intimidated by what it is I'm about to do, and it's not lost on me that the idea of turning one's passion into a career is, even under the best of circumstances, arguably an exercise in foolish naiveté. But despite all common sense, I can't ignore the constant nagging pull of that passion, either. I find myself, mid-way through life, thinking a lot about food these days. I think about how it's defined my sensibilities. I think about how it's sustained my relationships. I think about how it's informed my opinions, and I think about how it's served as a context through which I've navigated my experiences over the years, and how it's enabled me to grow and investigate my own capacities. As I've come to regard food as a creative medium, I now see those abstract yet familiar objects, colorful and tactile, enticing or mundane, that we take for granted with every trip to the grocery store, as the foundation of a sort of language, one that becomes more native to me with each passing day, week, month and year.

I've learned a lot of things in the past year or so. I've learned how to strip rust from a flatbed trailer, and how to prime and paint the bare metal. I've learned how to replace axles and leaf springs. I've learned how to frame out a floor, four walls and a roof. I've learned how to install sheathing, insulation, FRP, siding, trim and sheet stainless. I've learned how to hang doors and windows. Flooring. Lighting. Counters. Sinks. Plumbing. Health department regulations... I've learned all of that. I've also learned about sourcing ingredients, food costing, layering flavors, designing recipes, service logistics, POS and accounting software... What I've really learned in all of this, though, is how much I don't know, and how much I have to learn.

What is it that leads us to abandon the path that those who loved us the most did their best to set us upon? What is it about that cliff we all inevitably encounter that prompts us to leap, despite everything that's conditioned us to the contrary? Why is it that desire and security have never been able to exist in the same place, and why can't all of this shit just be simple, for fuck's sake? And why don't any of us have any idea where any of this is heading? I have no answers to these questions, obviously, nobody does. But we all face them nevertheless, and we all do our best to answer them in our own way.

My best guess is a food cart... God help me.

Rest in peace, Gretchen.