As the Gnarles Barkley song goes, Maybe I’m Crazy….
Someone once said, the only thing constant in life is change. I mean life can change at a drop of a hat. Look at what the last two plus years have brought with this pandemic. So many things are different now. Are they better? Probably not for most unless you are a mask, plexiglass or hand sanitizing manufacturer. I would add the exercise gear company Peloton too, but apparently, things have turned dramatically for them as of late. Bottom line, it seems businesses as a whole have greatly suffered.
Supply chain issues abound, new variants of Covid-19 are mutating, and repercussions are being felt across every industry. Staffing issues are horrendous and the list goes on and on. We have been waiting for a week now to get a propane delivery. It was totally our fault we let the tank get so low, but it took me 5 attempts to actually get a person to answer the call and figure out scheduling. We have a heat pump for the main heating, but propane is my cooking fuel, so I am making our Valentine’s dinner in an electric skillet and a toaster oven. No worries. I can make do.
We all need to be more patient these days. Things are taking longer, are costing more money and I am pleasantly surprised when I get a friendly, enthusiastic person to help me in any kind of retail experience. I am also trying to be SUPER nice to everyone working anywhere these days. I appreciate their working in the store and honestly can’t believe I could get a job at Burger King today for $15 an hour and get paid TOMORROW. What is going on???
A few months ago, a friend who I don’t see often who works at Meadowcroft Village and is an amazing Historian asked me to meet her for coffee at Poor Johnny’s in West Middletown. I asked, where is there a coffee shop in West Middletown? Google maps took me 4.4 miles down the road and is changing my life.
I had driven through this tiny town that you blink, and you miss it, DOZENS of times and always was enamored and disappointed. The town had obviously been amazing. In less than a mile and a half, there are about a dozen 200 + year old structures lined RIGHT up to the road and there are some BEAUTIFUL houses, but most of the buildings have been crumbling for a century or more. Mitch and I would drive through and think, this place must have been so cool. Someone should do something here.
When I got to the really funky antique and unique store, I was met with an amazing aroma of freshly ground coffee and a charming and beautiful woman named Andrea. She and her beau John are the proprietors. These “kids” dove into the deep end here and have taken on multiple projects to bring West Middletown back. They were looking for helpers.
After being incredibly impressed with their plans and attitude, I went home and got Mitch.
I am going to be 54 years old by month end, an age where most people, certainly women were not so long ago considered completely over the hill and less than desirable to hire, but I do think today’s 50s are the new 30s. If that is the case, I am still DECADES away from actually retiring, right?
So, for the past several months, I have been quietly shopping for and buying up used restaurant equipment and organizing my GIGANTIC collection of recipes and cataloging them in categories to open Marsha Cassel’s Kitchen on Main. It will be called The Kitchen for short, and I could not be more excited. A large part of what I need and am purchasing will come from my synagogue as they are selling the building. I am filled with great pride that their dishware and flatware and linens and such will have a new home with me. My grandparents would be so proud.
I am researching all kinds of things like home equity loans, liability insurance, POS equipment, and preparing menus, talking with my friends who have opened many restaurants and collecting tea pots from every thrift store around. I am going to have an amazing selection of healing herbs to make individual pots of tea blends made especially for YOU. Got a headache? I can make you a soothing tea to help.
My dad has shined up all those teapots and is working on some of the decor pieces that I have picked up at thrift stores and making them display ready.
Finances are certainly not what I had hoped they would be in 2022 and many of you know exactly what that means, but who cares? No one I know has a bankroll of dough in the bank just waiting for a new opportunity. Besides a lottery win, there would never be a comfortable financial time and place to do such a thing without risk of complete and epic failure. And I am ok with that. Mitch is being 100% supportive. I love him SO much!
Andrea’s father, Rick, who is an amazing craftsman and lives in Minnesota, is right now over there reconstructing a small restaurant from an 1820’s little 2 story house. He can do an incredible amount of work in a short amount of time and spends a few days here and there and sometimes a week or two getting this place together. The daily progress in simply mind blowing.
Yes, there will be a bathtub in the restroom! See previous blog to understand that one.
The plan is for the place to be ready for me to move in and start decorating during June, schedule inspections, hire help and be open for business July 1st. Of course, 1000 things need to go right to make this happen, but I am an optimistic person. I will still be marshawillcookforyou but now you are going to have to come to ME. I am excited and equally panicked. I always have a hard time sleeping and now with the thoughts of the added amount of work that needs done and the accompanying stress, I am really exhausted and the old dreams of being in college and not prepared for exams or taking enough credits to graduate have reared their ugly heads. I am atrociously worried and fretting but also positively imagining EVERYTHING. In my mind I can picture it all. It is going to be really neat.
Personally, I am worried the dogs, cats and Mitch will miss me and the house will get really messy. I worry I am going to overdo completely and end up in traction. I have been major injury-free a few months now and really trying to be careful.
I am going to have to change the dogs’ daily hike time and rearrange a large part of the efforts I put in at the house, farm and cabin to the restaurant and hire some HELP. There is a new concept. HELP. YES, I have a neighbor who I have posted about who is going to help me with the watering, harvesting, chicken work and such so I can do this. I can find more assistance. I plan on getting up earlier to I can get my exercise in, and Mitch and I will still play pickleball early mornings with a cool group of people who are so excited for me. They promise to come and eat and bring friends!! Every person who has been through this town has recognized the possibilities and seem giddy that we are going to be involved in the resurrection of West Middletown.
Jaya will be helping of course, and Mitch will do some meat smoking for me and playing acoustic music on the deck. I am planning on having cooking classes, book club meetings, there will be a reading and old-fashioned game corner…. the ideas to make this a destination are numbering into the dozens and the food is going to be fabulous!!!! Farm to table WILL be a reality.
Mitch will come to the restaurant which really is only an 8-minute drive from our farm and eat dinner with me instead of me cooking when I get home. I will take two days off a week to not lose my sanity and resupply the ingredients. I plan to be open for lunch and dinner and probably closed for an hour or two in between to ready. We will see. I have owned a brick-and-mortar store before, but it was a completely different animal. I THINK I know what I am getting into. We shall see. We may never take another vacation or have another party at the farm. I really have no idea!
The town is having its bicentennial in 2023 and I am chairing the committee for this year long event. There is so much to do!!!! So, maybe I’m crazy!
I have been thinking about how to announce this. Blogging seemed right. I got to outline some hopes and fears here. Heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right???? At the very least, writing this blog was a good therapy session so THANK YOU for your time and attention.
Will you come and see what fun I create? Stay tuned!!! #liveyourdreams #gocrazyandopenarestaurantduringapandemic #eatrealfood #pittsburghfoodie #allhomemade #farmtotable