Cook & Brown Update

People’ve been askin’ me, “Yo Dietsch! What’s up with Cook & Brown?” Well, I’ll tell ya, these are the unglamorous days of sweating, scrubbing, lifting, ripping, and swearing. The Bolins are taking these weeks to do some very important things, but none of them is what anyone would call “sexy.”

First, the place needs a thorough cleaning. Nemo, Jenny, and sous chef Adam Mir started in the basement, clearing out decades of detritus left by former owners. With that done, they power-washed the floor and when it was dry, they painted. A guy came in to rip out the soda system, gun and all (I wish I’d have seen it go), leaving Nemo the task of cleaning the syrupy muck left behind in the basement.

(Aside: Flat panel TV that hung in the bar? Gone. Soda gun? Gone. Limoncherry Pucker? Gone.)

With the basement emptied and cleaned, they could move stuff down from the kitchen and dining room. So, we sorted through the barware and dinnerware left behind so we could move downstairs the stuff we’re keeping and offload the stuff we don’t want. Fans of 16-ounce cocktails? You’re SOL; those glasses are on the Gone list. (On the To Do list: order coupe glasses and Irish-coffee mugs.)

We’re still in the process of cleaning the basement and moving things downstairs. Right now, the cleaning focus is on the walk-in fridge and the standalone freezers and fridges. I spent a good part of today removing metal shelving from the walk-in and scrubbing its walls and floor.

The Bolins are calling in reinforcements this week and weekend. The goal is to finish moving everything out of the dining room (and anything portable from the kitchen) so we can thoroughly clean the upstairs, and …

… so we can start ripping shit apart upstairs. That’s the next stage of this. The Bolins are renovating the restaurant. Major changes include rebuilding the bar and back bar, ripping out the wainscoting, repainting, chipping up the tile floor in the bar area (except for behind the bar), and redoing the drop-ceiling treatment. Minor work includes reupholstering chair cushions and refinishing table tops.

They’ve put out a call for volunteers to come in and help remake the restaurant. We’re doing the demo and painting work ourselves to save money, and then a team from Site Specific is coming in to rebuild the bar and back bar and do some other projects in the house.

While I was scrubbing out the walk-in, Chris Amirault (from eGullet) was upstairs, ripping out the butt-ugly back bar. Unfortunately, I have no “before” photos of the back bar, but here’s an “after”:

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(I am very much looking forward to yanking up that shitty, shitty bar top. More on those plans as things progress.)

Meanwhile, we’ve been interviewing cooks, servers, and bartenders. In a classic case of burying the lede, I’m happy to announce that Chris will be joining us one night every week or two to sling drinks.

We’ve been working on our respective menus–Nemo and Adam on the food; Dietsch on cocktails. One fun thing about Cook & Brown is that we’ll have small plates, share plates, apps, and entrées, so we’ll have a range of choices. As we get closer, I’ll start talking in detail about the food, wine, and beer. As for the cocktail menu, we’re starting with a list of drinks based around warming, brown spirits–rum, whiskey, cognac–to befit our late-winter opening.

So, you want to know what’s going on? That’s what’s going on. It’s not pretty, and nor is it glamorous. But it’s crazy fun.

DISCLAIMER: I am no longer a part of Cook and Brown.

6 thoughts on “Cook & Brown Update

  1. One thing that always helps me get volunteers for this kind of work is beer…just saying… :)
    Just today I rented a new house for the company and I managed to get a quite a few friends and coworkers engaged in the move in, painting and yard work with just a few cases of “incentives”.
    Hey! It´s Carnaval around here this week. How did you expect me to get anyone else to help during Carnaval? And it does turn out cheaper than hiring pros for some functions – results may vary.
    After we´ve done some of the work I’ll get some pros to do the finishing and the parts we can’t do ourselves.
    Can´t wait to see your menu!

  2. I actually remember a particularly potent – not in a good way – 16-ounce cocktail from Oak once; I think it had a punny name. I won’t miss it, and can’t wait to see your cocktails there instead!

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