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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voicebox in The Oregonian


Hey Everyone!

Only about a week and a half until we open our doors. Sorry about the diminished pic and post frequency, but I assure everyone that we're on track.

We had some excellent coverage in The Oregonian in last Friday's A&E section. You can read the article here.

In the print edition, we also got a whole half-page photo of me in the big box. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Opening Date?


There's been some questions about exactly when Voicebox will be opening. Construction still moves apace, but perhaps not as apace as I would like. The short answer is that we'll be opening in the second half of October -- with the nuance that our liquor license is still in process and won't be ready until sometime in November.

The plan is to soft open (beta test) as soon as possible, then to host the Grand Opening once we get the license.

More pics soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting there...


Just posted a big new set of pictures.

Go check them out.

More narrative soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sneak preview of the murals by the Pander Brothers


We've commissioned the renowned Pander Bros to create three large murals for Voicebox's interior. They've posted a few videos of their progress. Check them out:

Voicebox mural in progress.

Voicebox mural in progress.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Voicebox on the radio


If you're awake at 8:40am Pacific tomorrow (Friday) morning, tune in to KPAM 860 (listen live online). I'll be talking with morning show host Bob Miller about karaoke and Voicebox's pending opening. It's our first broadcast coverage!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rock Loudly and Hire a Great Staff


It's five weeks until Voicebox opens to the public and it looks like we're going to have a sprint to the finish.

So much has happened in the past two weeks. The final HVAC work for the studios has been completed. The big paint fills are done. Kitchen equipment is on its way. Press releases have been released. And today, I started the staffing process.

I posted this ad on craigslist this morning and already had twelve interviewees turn up for the jobs. At one point, while I was doing the interviews, I had 3 people lined up outside waiting. I don't think it's going to be hard to find enough candidates.

Two and a half hours later I was exhausted, shell shocked and a little daunted about having to do this for the next 8 days. Hopefully I'll get some good candidates this week so I can wrap this up a little earlier. Based on the response I've been getting, I'm optimistic.

Tom and Stacey have been busy building the benches. One of the boxes is now complete, and I think they look really fantastic. The design was a collaborative effort between Raquel, Tom and myself. Our ideas and cooperation have really paid off. The next design step is to get the padding designed and made. The idea is to create minimal cushions that are comfy and supportive while still maintaining the clean lines and bare wood that you can see in the pictures.

Raquel's been on a buying spree. All the major lighting has been purchased as well as furniture for the lounge and the large box. It's a huge milestone. I'd show you preview pictures, but I want to keep it a suprise for now.

Finally, we've had a little bit more press. This bit appeared in the "In Portland" section of the Oregonian last Thursday.

Go look at pictures while I sleep.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

T minus: two months


It's the 17th of August today. The grand opening celebration in scheduled to start in just two months -- and we're opening doors to the public in just 7 weeks. What seemed like an eternity away is now shockingly imminent.

In the past week, the space has assumed it's final shape. The drywall team's work is complete and the interior is now comprised of primer-white, perfectly smooth walls.

Raquel, my designer and I spent four hours yesterday at the Janzten Beach Home Depot, getting the paint mixed. Special thanks to Paint and Customer Service Goddesses Laura and Becca for bearing with our outlandishly complex order. We bought 15 different colors and spent over $1,000 just on paint. Tomorrow morning, the paint crew gets started -- it will take them most of the week to get through it all.

This week, I also purchased the six television sets for the studios. We're going with a 50" plasma for the biggest studio, a 42" for the second largest and 37"ers for the rest. I jumped on a great sale on top-rated Samsung models at Fry's and got them below my budgeted price (a very rare occurrence!) Big thanks to my brother, Steve for helping me haul them around -- and to Scott & Saundra Lennartz for providing their truck for said hauling.

The signs continue to vex. I've decided on the style -- we'll be shooting for an internally illuminated sign using push-through lettering for the logo. Here's an example. Of course, ours will be the Voicebox logo and look much cooler. At night, it will glow similarly to the logo on the top of the webpage.

In other news, Raquel and I selected a sectional couch for the large studio: the Oregon Chaise from Dania.

Also, this week I plan on getting started on my hiring process. Staffing is the last big unknown for me -- I feel like I've researched everything else well enough to take a good stab -- but labor still makes me nervous. As usual, I'm probably over complicating it in my mind, so I'm just going to get started by writing up some job descriptions and seeing where that takes me. I'll run it by my restaurant-management contacts here in town for feedback -- I'd like to start posting ads the first week of September to give myself a month to get people lined up.

Pics are up. Click above or here to go.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Voicebox's first press coverage


It's not much, but it's still an exciting milestone. A reporter from the NW Examiner met me outside the space a few weeks ago and did a 5 minute phone interview. True to his word, the blurb appeared in the just-released August issue.

Well hung


We have boxes.

For the past few days, the Eliud's drywall team has been working hard to get the drywall hung. They're all done now and it's looking fine. Mudding and taping begins this weekend. Click the photo above for the pics.

The acoustic issues I was concerned about actually seem a bit better now that all the walls are completely covered. There's still some issues with echo, but I've found some inexpensive solutions online that should do the trick.

In other news, I'm getting ready to order the signs. The signs have been a source of frustration for me, since I'm very concerned about getting them just right. The trick is that Voicebox is located on Hoyt St, 50 feet off the main drag on 21st Ave. For customers approaching from the north, a large sign flat on the facade would be most visible. For customers approaching from the south, a perpendicularly protruding sign would be better. Making it more complicated is the large tree that sits in the middle of the sight line.

For the sign itself, there's tons of choices to make. Internally vs. externally illuminated? Neon? Acrylic? Size? Content?

Oh, and with a city historic review process that can take 70 days and fabrication times of up to five weeks, there's next to no chance that the sign will be up in time for the grand opening. Blerg.

Undaunted, we press on.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting stuffy


Sorry for the lack of posts, I'm finally recovered from the ComedySportz World Championship that wonderfully devoured my time last week.

The open-wall plumbing, electrical, framing and alarm inspections are complete. Yesterday, JB insulation got started on filling in the walls.

Arriving at the space yesterday afternoon was an interesting experience. With the insulation up, the space is finally starting to feel partitioned. Light doesn't travel around, and sound doesn't carry either. I'm really glad we had Will, the electrician, install temporary ceiling light in each room. It's getting dark in there.

The good news is that we can finally start to see how the rooms will feel, dimension-wise. I was a bit nervous about the proportions, but they seem just right.

The bad news is that I think the in-room acoustics are going to be problematic. With the rooms sectioned off, sound doesn't echo through the entire space anymore. On the other hand, the in-room echo is now obvious. And it's going to be bad.

The hard floors and ceiling cause sound to reverberate repeatedly, as do the parallel walls. I saw this coming, but I'm scared that it's going to be a lot worse than I expected.

All is not lost. First, it's a lot worse in some of the rooms than others. Studio 4, the little one by the door, and Studio 5, the big one, are the worst. The others are pretty good and will probably be fine once we get some furniture in there.

For the problem studios, we have several strategies. After the drywall is in, we'll see how bad it really is and start experimenting.

Drywall starts today.

New photos are up. Click the pic above to go.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How's that cloning technology coming along?


I've been telling my friends all day that for every two items I scratch off my ToDo list, four more appear in their place.

I spent yesterday at the home of my newly hired publicist, Lyla Foggia. Lyla interviewed the heck out of me -- dumping my brain so she can get started on putting together Voicebox's PR campaign. She'll be designing the website copy, media list and kit and the grand opening bash and guest lists. We're targeting print, radio, magazines, websites -- you name it.

Early on, I was thinking that I would handle the PR myself, but weeks ago, it became clear that I needed to offload that mighty task to someone who'd done it before. I'm really glad I did. I'm expecting Lyla's expertise and enthusiasm to pay off big.

Today, the site was abuzz. While Tom, Stacy and I laid out and framed the bar, Carlos' team put the finishing touches on the upper walls. Roy and Nick from Rayborn's Plumbing were also there doing their rough-in for the kitchen fixtures. Meanwhile, Will and Mike from Sunnyside Electric got started, too. Their first task was to replace the noisy fans in the restrooms with newer, nearly silent models. There's nothing I hate more than noisy restroom fans.

Speaking of which, I need to go buy more toilet paper and paper towels for the restrooms. It's only a job site, but we're going through it fast. The only problem is that the dispensers are the fancy commercial type that have little locks to prevent paper theft -- and I don't have the keys. Dealing with this is just one of the many tasks that just keeps getting pushed lower on the list.

Stopped by Global Net today and picked up the server. Kenn had it all ready and so far, it's performing great. I'm blogging while I copy over all the ripped CD+G media I've been converting. I'll be up all night ripping the rest of my library in time for the ComedySportz World Championship karaoke party on Wednesday.

No pictures today, sorry. I left my camera at home in all the hubbub. I promise some tomorrow. There's a lot of new work to show off.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And on the fifth day, they framed


When I arrived at the site on Thursday morning, the lumber was already delivered and Tom was laying out the floor plates for the walls. Shortly thereafter, Tom's framing crew, headed by Carlos turned up to give us a hand.

Click the Hilti Ramset pic above for the day's photolog.

Kenn at Global Net Computers stepped in to help me out with my server build problem. The machine we spec'd is actually better featured than the one Belmont was building and it will be ready Monday. Thanks, Kenn.

Friday had the floor guys finishing up -- the whole floor is finished now and looks great. Friday night, Scott and Saundra Lennartz came over to help me lay out the wall plates on the east side of the building -- and fool around on the scissor lift.

We had to lay out the wall plates last night because Tom came in this morning at 5am to shoot the plates so the framers could put up the walls today. Tom and his team are really on the ball.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

End of Day 4


The past two days have been very active. Yesterday, Specialty Coatings started work on grinding the concrete floor. The old floor was painted in ugly dark splotchyness. For Voicebox, we're grinding off the paint and patching and leveling the floor, finishing up with a hardening treatment and an 800 grit polish. The end result will be durable, slip-resistant and full of character as the natural variation of 70 year old concrete and more recent pours comes through.

After the guys got started on the floor, I went down to the Development Service Center to try for my building permit. The process was mostly smooth sailing, thanks to all the research and prep work I've done over the past year. After visiting inspectors and examiners for everything from fire safety and plumbing to trash control and zoning, I emerged three hours later with my big, blank, bright orange permit record. A good milestone.

This morning, I checked in on the concrete team to find the floors coming along slowly. Tom and I were both surprised at the amount of variation across the various sections of floor. The end result is going to have a funky industrial look to it.

Most of today was spent trying to figure out the fire alarm situation. Usually, spaces this small don't require fire alarm systems, but I was required to put one in to satisfy a building code appeal.

According to the code, emergency egress paths may not pass through "intervening spaces". Since my emergency exit is inside Studio 5, I needed to get an appeal. It was granted on the condition that I install fire alarms.

After taking bids from several vendors across town, we've got it down to two. I spent a while on the phone today trying to nail down all the details between them. Hopefully tomorrow we'll put it to bed. Time is short since the framing is scheduled to be finished by the middle of next week, so the subcontractors will have to get in there to start the rough-in.

In another frustrating moment, I learned that my computer vendor completely screwed up. I ordered the server from Belmont Computers two and half weeks ago. It was supposed to be ready in a week, but then the guy who was in charge of building it quit -- and then his replacement was fired and walked off with one of my hard drives in the process.

Angrily, I called today to hear that the machine was finally ready only to learn that Belmont Computers is going out of business this week. When I arrived to pick up the machine, it was build completely wrong. I told them I didn't want it and asked for a refund. Thankfully, they agreed -- but still, this was a minor speedbump.

I was hoping to get the server in last week so I could get it crunching on the music library -- now I have to start from scratch with another computer vendor tomorrow and spend the weekend getting things up and running in time to debut the first bulk of the library at the karaoke party at the Comedysportz World Championship.

Pictures are up. Click my mug above to go. Nite!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Build Day 2: Paint the ceiling


Today's photo journal is up. Click the photo to see it and then scroll down to Day 2.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Build Day 1: Demolition


We got a lot done today. Ripped out the old tile, tore down the old wall, reworked the old ducts, installed new work lighting. The whole story can be found in the photo journal.