[dropcap1]S[/dropcap1]o we all know that no large project gets done without the generous help of lots of folks. We thought the story of how our bar and tabletops are being constructed was no exception and pretty interesting to boot. With that in mind and by way of letting you all know we really are getting close to opening (we have tables!) this post is devoted to that tale.
Throughout our construction phase on this project, we have tried to used sustainable and repurposed materials wherever possible. We have had pretty good success in finding some of our lighting, our tabletops and bases, other finishing items and design pieces and even some bar ware in this fashion. Most of the refinishing of smaller pieces we did ourselves, but when it came to the carpentry we knew to throw in the towel and seek help elsewhere. This is the story of those devoted souls that made our vision for the interior really come to life.
Unloading the Ash at the woodshop
The table tops and bar tops for the restaurant were crafted from wood graciously made available to us by our Chef’s family and hails from their farm in Ohio. The tables tops are constructed from vintage ash wood from fallen trees that had been collected from their property over the years. The bar (which is also almost finished) has been constructed from vintage poplar collected in the same fashion. The trees were rough cut and stored for future use in a big barn on their property. Lumber in this condition is not like the wood you see at Home Depot. It needs to be hand planed (evened out), custom cut piece by piece and biscuits (small joiners that fit between the wood) must be used to fuse the individual slabs of wood together. Mind you, we knew next to nothing about this process at the beginning of our project, w only knew we wanted to used reclaimed wood. Now, we speak carpenterease pretty well. Any of you who have done a big improvement project likely know what I am referring to, watching your crew work requires many of us urbanites to learn to speak “builder’s English” with all that entails.
One of the things that we definitely learned more about was the character and colors of these vintage woods. Ash for example, such as that used for our tabletops, is a very hard wood and has some lovely, blonde & honey toned color variations. We love the natural color and decided that we would have them finished with a natural clear coat, the craftsmanship and natural durability of the wood ensured that these tops will last a very long time. Poplar has deeper color changes, but again we loved the natural character and finished as is. It too will likely wear well gaining more character with age.
The table tops were built by a group of Mennonites from the Ohio River Valley that have done work for many in the area for years. Their expert craftsmanship of the table tops cannot be understated, especially when you consider that all the work they do is by hand, with no help of modern power tools or electricity. Their wood shop is outfitted with all manner of vintage tools that allow them to get the job done. When the table tops arrived with Chef Dan from his weekend home at the farm, we were blown away by the simple beauty of what had been created. We will let you judge for yourself, but we just love them. This weekend we will be receiving the two remaining tables which are long communal tables that they are building for us as I write this post.
The Finished Product
The bar is another story. It has been designed and crafted all on site by our brother in law, who is a custom home builder. He has been tremendously generous to take on this project and has labored for the past few weeks, cutting, planing and biscuiting wood on site as he built out the bar to our exact dimensions. He is still working to finish it this week but you will all see it soon and again we think it is just delicious. We are heading into the last few weeks of pre-opening hoopla and can’t wait to show you all the finished product. We hope that when you dine with us these little stories of how it all comes together, enrich your experience. See you soon!