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michael bulkowski

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  1. i really can't believe that responding to a simple post about places to eat in ohio i have now found myself in a position that compells me to extoll the virtues of meatloaf and bologna, but before i do, i would like to agree with your comments about some interesting restaurants in smaller towns. although i have not been to the ones i assume your refering to(chez francois in vermillion, the small place in wooster(i can't recall the name) not sure about ashland or mansfield) i have heard good things about them. now when it comes to being a midwesterner as i'm sure you know, we have all grown up with bologna and meatloaf. just like new englanders and clam chowder or any other local specialty around the globe. so if i understand you correctly no matter how these items are prepared or what the atmosphere is in the establishments which thay are served they will never rise above peasant status in your opinion? if charlie trotter prepared meatloaf form kobe beef just for you would you thumb your nose at it? is it impossible that there could be an artisan bologna producer that uses only berkshire hogs finished on chestnuts and apples, toiling away without fanfare in the small town of waldo ohio? really my only point is that no matter what you cook whether its foie gras or meatloaf if you do it well and proper then it can be high quality fare. there are way too many intangables in any dining experience to say definatively what should or shouldn't be recommended to complete strangers via the internet. i personally chose to recommend a few places that may or may not be the most memorable food experiences but would undoubtedly leave a smile on even the most hardened critics face.
  2. whats wrong with bologna and meatloaf? if you are crazy enough to drive around rural ohio looking for dining experiences what do you expect? last time i checked toledo wasn't a small town. if you want sweetbreads and foie gras then why would you leave the city? if your going to the stix then i assume for whatever reason you are looking for a unique local experience that is what i'm offering. maybe i should have suggested some traditional amish cuisine. now thats rural ohio.
  3. i have three suggestions for nw oh. first for one of the most interesting renditions of bbq try the new riegel cafe in new riegel oh. next is a bologna sandwich in waldo oh. iv'e never been there but all the old timers around here swear by it. finally if you pass through findlay, for 3 dollars you can get a meatloaf sandwich and a beer at the fern cafe(it doesn't get any more midwestern than that).
  4. don't forget sweet thang for croissants on north avenue
  5. i did not have investors but i was around when shawn sue and peter were getting ready to open spring. i believe that most of the investors were patrons of trio and the rest were family. fortunately i did not need a business plan because i was not asking for a loan or looking for investors but i do recall chef mcclain going to an attorney and having a prospectus(i think that is the right word) drawn up. which is another word for a business plan that you give to potntial investors. maybe if peter is following this thread he could shed some more light on the situation. i also should add that no bank will give loans for restaurants unless they are secured. but there are sba loans available but those are matching fund loans(i think) i'm sure that that process is extremely tedious and painstaking but it can be done.
  6. sorry i haven't posted anything in months. it seems like only yesterday i had the grand idea of posting to this forum daily. i guess it's not a total shock that opening a restaurant would be a little overwelming. i think the restaurant will be open in september. nothing is set in stone. i will definately be opening without a liquor permit. there is a problem with back taxes from the previous owner but it will eventuall be cleared up. we are dangerously close to running out of funds but i think we will skate by. the design of the restaurant is turning better than i expected. the only potential problem is being ada compliant in the bathroom. i've done my best to make it work but the existing space was extremly small and awkward. i think i might 1or 2 inches off on the position of the toilet. i hope they let it slide.
  7. According to Nationmaster.com, Findlay's population was 40,175 at the time of the 2004 census. You can click on the above link for more details. =R= ← Thanks. I suppose I could have looked it up. 40,000 is small - I think of Bloomington as small but it's closer to 75,000, I think. ← Well, the numbers hardly ever tell the whole story. I'll bet that there are a lot of nuances about which, I hope, Michael can provide additional details. =R= ← i've passed through bloomington and it is a booming metropolis compared to findlay. to be brutally honest, the risk of opening in such small town is huge, but i can't let myself get discourged. when i drive by the packed parking lots of chain restaurant after chain restaurant i can't help think that people want something better. they just haven't found it yet. i truly believe that if you give people a quality product with great service at a fair price, you can be successful just about anywhere. hopefully i can survive the wal-mart mentality and develope a devoted clientel. one of the main stumbling blocks i've experienced is acquiring a licquor license. it is quite possibly the most bizare and unfair system i have ever seen. the number of licenses issued to a municipality are based on population. so there is a finite #per town. once they're gone it is impossible to get a new one. so in order to sell alcohol you must find someone to sell an existing license to you. currently the going rate is between 40k and 60k. this is insane! i think this is a big reason why chain restaurants are so predominent in ohio. they have no problem spending this kind of cash. are there any other states like this? well regardless i was fortunate enough to find one for the low low price of 45k. thankfully the owner was willing to sell on a land contract with no payments until next may, but a balloon payment of 20k at that time. not to mention a yearly renwal fee from the state of $2,844. friday is a big day at the restaurant. 3 steel beams weighing a total of 2000lbs. are being delivered. this is my plan to support the 2nd floor. i'm no engineer but everyone seems to agree that this will work. the only problem will be getting them 12ft. off the ground into place. we haven't figured out how to do this yet. but once these are in the building we can go ahead and put the storefront on. i should have preficed this with the fact that the building was built in 1890 and has had little if any structural improvements since.
  8. the restaurant will be located in downtown findlay, oh. i am returning home(findlay) from an 8 year stay in chicago. i had considered opening in chicago but having a daughter just starting school, so my wife and i felt returning to ohio to open would be the best decision for all. also the benifits of opening in small town ohio i.e. start up costs, less competition, no need for investors. the concept is modern midwestern food in a mid-century modern atmosphere. ← Thanks for illuminating on the reasons why Ohio. I, too, thought about Chicago, until I thought about the costs/beauracracy (sp?) and etc. Plus, I am getting married and want to eventually have kids too, and I really think Chicago is a bad place for that. On a more philosophical level, I don't care much for the herd mentality that surrounds Chicago restaurant culture, and I really want to serve good, creative food to regular people. I know the city I'm moving back to (Bloomington, Indiana) very well, while Chicago, where I've lived the last year-and-a-half, is still more than a bit foreign to me. PLus, I don't particularly want to cook for stuck-up, condescending Yuppies - and to be successful in Chicago, unfortunately, you have to cater to those people. On a side note, one of my first meals in Chicago was at Green Zebra, and it was absoutely astounding - so much so that I asked to work there on the spot (I was denied!) and then replicated the meal at home the next day - corn mezza lunas, pureed salsify, the whole works. So thanks for inspiring me. ← i guess i should start by saying this is not the first restaurant opening i've been a part of. in 2001 i had the good fortune to be the opening sous chef at spring restaurant and again in 2004 as the chef de cuisine at green zebra. sue, peter and chef shawn were kind enough to allow me to be involved with almost all aspects of the process from concept to completion. as much as those experiences have helped me you can never be completely prepared for all of the twists and turns involved in opening a restaurant. one major difference is the fact that this time it is my money and reputation on the line. it was easy for me to enjoy the experience of spring and gz because i didn't have the money pressures that the partners did. so now i do and the enjoyment level is greatly diminished. finding a space for this restaurant was much more challenging than i had anticipated. although there aren't many good restaurants around they all seem to stay in business. i really had no interest in a new build nor could i afford one so i tried the door to door aproach. i just went into existing restaurants that fit the location i desired and offered to buy them. eventually i found someone who wanted out of the business and was willing to sell. the space is very small(1100 sq.ft.) but that is what i needed. since there is a lack of qualified help in this area i need to be able to see the entire room from the kitchen. fortunately the owner was willing to sell on a land contract and we agreed on a price of 85,000. i will try to post some pictures in the near future so you can see what 85,000 gets you in findlay, oh. i know that's peanuts in chicago but it still seems like a lot to me. it was very important for me to buy an existing restaurant. i thought i could save a lot of money if i only needed to do cosmetic changes and also would be able to open very quickly. i still think this was the correct line of thinking but the harsh reality soon set in. the restaurant was run down due to years of neglect and since i know nothing about construction and renovation i maybe took on more than i should have(more on this later). so i am almost 4 mos. into this project and have finally started building instead of tearing down. on saturday we poured a cement floor. now things are moving.
  9. the restaurant will be located in downtown findlay, oh. i am returning home(findlay) from an 8 year stay in chicago. i had considered opening in chicago but having a daughter just starting school, so my wife and i felt returning to ohio to open would be the best decision for all. also the benifits of opening in small town ohio i.e. start up costs, less competition, no need for investors. the concept is modern midwestern food in a mid-century modern atmosphere.
  10. i am currently opening an independent restaurant in ohio and was wondering if anyone would be interested in reading about the process. i would be willing to share the financial details and try my best to answer any questions about the day to day happenings and decisions being made.
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