Some of the steps up until this point:
April 27, 2007 A day or so after returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, something jars me awake in the middle of the night, and I find myself sitting up in bed in the "guest room" at my parents’ house with a fully formed vision (location and everything) of the music spot I need to open in South Philly. I had never thought about doing this before. (Only a couple people know what the original location I had in mind was. Needless to say, it didn't work out.)
April 28, 2007 I call Miss P. and share the plan with her. Miss P. is my buddy, a former coworker, and a soul mate. She’s also one of my guides to the Philly jazz scene and a veteran of Pep’s, the Showboat, and the Aqua Lounge--some of the great gone-but-not-forgotten Philly jazz clubs. She says she’s been saying we should do this for years. She’s in.
April 30, 2007 I return to Philly and, during a round of backgammon, I inform old friend Ben about my plans and invite him to bring his years of restaurant experience (and, perhaps, his woodworking skills) on board.
May 1, 2007 I begin trying to determine who owns the seemingly abandoned property that appeared in my initial vision.
May 2, 2007 The bureaucratic part of the process begins with an innocent email to email@example.com. It’s a 3-sentence description of the business, followed by this question: “Can you tell me all of the licenses I would need to start such a business?”
early May 2007 I have a great phone conversation with my grandfather Bob. He’s very excited about my plans, especially since he’d always been encouraging me to start some sort of music-related business. He shares a little of his wisdom, gleaned from 50+ years as a real estate developer. He offers to come down to Philly and visit some properties with me.
May 3, 2007 I make my first inquiry about a property.
May 7, 2007 Back to work delivering Indian food... and the property search continues...
May 30, 2007 Bob, my grandfather, dies at the age of 87.
Summer 2007 One of the many properties I consider is 1713 McKean St. Anna Maria, who owns the building with her husband, only wants to lease me the 1st floor. The space is too small. I move on.
October 2007 Anna Maria and I talk again. It seems we’ve both been wondering about the possibility of my leasing the whole 2-story building and removing a portion of the 2nd floor, creating a balcony-like area on the 2nd floor. She’s into it. 1713 McKean starts to look like a better option.
October 31, 2007 I contact the chair of the Newbold Neighbors Association’s Planning & Zoning Committee. We meet a couple weeks later, and I feel even better about bringing my concept to Newbold.
November 7, 2007 As we walk to my car after meeting with Miss P.’s friend in Councilwoman Verna’s office, we have a moment of synergy. We’ve given the venue a name, one that pays tribute to my grandfather and her father, both named Bob.
December 2007 I decide to go with 1713 McKean and begin looking for an architect.
January 2008 Lease negotiations begin.
February 26, 2008 Lucky Old Souls, the radio show, debuts on G-town Radio, with music from Arnett Cobb, Billy Eckstine, Wynonie Harris, Ruth Brown, Dexter Gordon, the Ravens, and more. The name is an amalgam of the song title “That Lucky Old Sun” and the expression “old soul.”
June 9, 2008 I go on my first date with Q. There’s ice cream, CD shopping, cocktails, sushi, great live jazz (Leon!), and a late night walk. We soon fall in love.
August 2, 2008 While half asleep in a hostel in Toronto with Miss P., I discover there might be a problem with our chosen name. A few weeks later, I confirm it: The name we’ve chosen means “white man” in several West African languages. Oops.
September 6, 2008 I run into Lizzie, an old college friend, at a Fringe Festival dance performance. She’s a year out of architecture school now, and she wants to help.
September 11, 2008 After many months and a variety of delays due to a variety of factors, the lease is finally signed. The now nameless establishment will be at 1713 McKean St.
September 2008 Lizzie begins working on the initial plans.
October 27, 2008 Sitting in my car on South Broad St., Miss P. and I come up with a new name. I like it a lot, but a tiny part of me thinks it might not be right.
November 24, 2008 With much help from Lizzie, I present my plans to a general meeting of the Newbold Neighbors Association. In addition to Lizzie, Ben, Miss P., and Q., drummer Lucky Thompson and guitarist Ben O’Neill come to show their support.
January 8, 2009 I go to L&I to file my use permit application. I will then have to wait for it to be refused, so I can appeal it to the Zoning Board and ask for a variance. Instead, I’m told that the application can’t even be filed because there’s an outstanding violation on the building. I call Anna Maria, and she explains that the violation pertains to something they repaired over a year ago but never got re-inspected.
January 9, 2009 We begin calling the South Philly building inspector to schedule an inspection.
January 27, 2009 After a couple weeks of trying to get in touch with him and calls to various L&I numbers and the city’s 311 hotline, the building inspector finally comes to inspect the property. He lifts the violation.
February 2, 2009 Back to L&I to submit the use permit application. Now the waiting for the refusal begins.
February 9, 2009 I make a final decision on the name of the bar: Lucky Old Souls. It was the obvious choice all along, but it took me a while to realize it.
March 13, 2009 I host my first Lucky Old Souls @ Moonstone show, with Robert Kenyatta and the Khan Jamal Trio. The crowd’s not bad for a 1st show, and the vibe in the room is great.
May 6, 2009 After several phone calls from a helpful but overworked L&I examiner and a few more trips to the Municipal Services Building, I finally get my refusal.
May 7, 2009 I contract with Cicada Architecture & Planning to provide all of the architectural services for the project.
June 7, 2009 Miss P. and I go door-to-door in the area around 1713 McKean to spread the word and get signatures on a petition of support. The response is overwhelmingly positive, and I feel better than ever about bringing Lucky Old Souls to the neighborhood.
June 9 , 2009 I present my plans to a meeting of the Newbold Neighbors Association Planning & Zoning Committee.
June 11, 2009 The Newbold Neighbors Association gives me a letter expressing their unconditional support for the project.
June 17, 2009 The moment I’ve been waiting for: The ZBA hearing. After a short presentation by my lawyer and a few questions, the board votes unanimously to grant a variance.
June 18, 2009 Our first little bit of press, on the kitchenplay food blog.
June 19, 2009 A little more press, this time on the Citypaper's Meal Ticket blog and in the print edition of the paper the following week.
July 13, 2009 After finally receiving the written notice of the ZBA’s decision, I go to L&I to get the actual use permit, but it seems they haven’t gotten the paperwork from the ZBA yet. No go.
July 15, 2009 While at ICA watching Brother From Another Planet, the Sun Ra documentary, I get a phone call from the same helpful L&I examiner. The use permit is ready.
July 17, 2009 Back to L&I. Only there for a couple hours, and I leave with use permit in hand.
Next steps: Acquire a liquor license, hire a contractor, hire a chef, finalize the design... And so much more :)