This is the last post of 2022. I'm going to do a year in review, and next week I'll post about the exciting things coming up in 2023.
Construction Issues and Such
As a lot of you know, it took a long time for the cafe to actually open. We signed our lease in February of 2022. For starters, our first architect, my uncle, quit when I argued with him about the necessity of urinals. I was going to stand my ground on all-gender bathrooms, not to mention the additional plumbing costs that would have made. Luckily, our landlord has an architect on staff and he helped us out by reworking our plans for the city's approval.
Before we could get the city to look at our application though, we needed approval from the Will County Health Department for our Plan Review. That was a struggle because there were a lot of documents, certifications, menus, and material lists we had to get together for the county to approve, And while getting these together, we couldn't do anything construction-wise except tear up the old floor. Once all that paperwork was together we got approval from the county in about 2 weeks. This brings us to April.
Along the way, we learned how much more construction needed to be done and it was going to cost way more than we budgeted for. We had to add a second bathroom, we had to build a storage room, we had to put in a ceiling over the service counter, the floor couldn't be the same throughout and we needed tile in the bathrooms, kitchen, and service area. So, we were at a stand-still until we could get the money to begin construction. We're very grateful for our friends and family who donated to our gofundme. It made a big difference.
Some of the contractors we'd originally gotten quotes from were now booked, so we needed to find new companies to work with. We finally found those and got our permits submitted to the city with the rest of our paperwork. Unfortunately the carpenter still hadn't registered with the city, and he was taking his time with it. By the end of June he brought it in and we were able to get our permits.
Time for construction. Construction started in July and the plumber and electrician were basically done in September. The painting had to be done before the floor could be done so it was time to bring all hands on deck to clean and paint EVERYTHING.
The floor was done by the carpenter, and though it wasn't what we had actually wanted... it was fine. But he didn't coat it properly, several times, and every time we had to bring him back, we lost several days because we couldn't walk on it. Finally we said, good enough.
Then we had to our part to do. FRP paneling in the kitchen and service area, moving furniture, setting up the R/O system, installing the tile flooring, putting in the floor trim, installing the swinging door, replacing the backdoor hardware, hooking up the espresso machine and coffee equipment, bringing in the game library, hiring and training employees. We are eternally grateful to our friends and family members who helped us with these insanely daunting tasks. Our coffee partners, Two Brothers, were also a big help with training employees how to use the espresso machine, and setting up the R/O (water filtration) system.
Finally we had our soft opening at the end of October so our employees could become comfortable with the menu and serving customers.
November 1st was our Grand Opening and November 10th was our ribbon cutting with the Plainfield Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce.
We stumbled a bit by hiring so many people out the gate. We were paying more per hour than we were making. We had to let our amazing staff go for the time being while we build up our daily customers and sales. I am here from open to close every day. That's also when we made the decision to close on Wednesdays, to give me a day off. Shaun comes in some evenings on the weekdays and is here most weekends.
We've been open for almost 2 months now and it's honestly one of the most incredible things. Our Monday Night Magic events and Thursday D&D Nights have been picking up quickly. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are typically very busy with friends and families coming in to play. New people are discovering us every day.
Struggles we still face are with the day crowd. We're still pretty slow on weekdays and I'd love to turn that around. To find more people to work here, remotely. For the retired crowd to come hang here. For stay at home parents, or homeschoolers, to bring their kiddos in. For groups or organizations to pop in for a meeting. It's just a matter of reaching these people to let them all know we're here.
(honorable mentions - in no particular order)
--> Started doing gaming events at Miskatonic Brewing Company in Darien, for 3 months starting in September.
--> Started gaming events at Flight Tasting Room & Bottle Shoppe in Yorkville on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.
--> We joined the Plainfield Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce, Plainfield Pride, and Joliet Pride Network.
--> Host game library for Lodge Con for the second year.
--> Worked with Weird City Games to promote their Kickstarter, Leaf.
--> Spent a few days at Gen Con in Indy forging relationships with game publishing companies.
--> Participated in the first convention for Meeple Swing at The Roxy in Lockport.
--> Started a functioning game library rental system.
--> Excellent write up in the Joliet Patch.
--> Started selling items from Axial Creations (chainmaille jewelry) & SAS Creative Art (coasters)
I'll get into goals and plans for the future in my post next week so stay tuned. In the meantime, if there are any specific events you'd like to see from us, please let us know!
Critical Grind wouldn't exist without our customers so we want to hear from you.
Thank you for your support and encouragement this year. We are very excited for what 2023 will bring.