The Long Story of a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy

This article is for all of you that love our beautiful restaurant. All of you that have been waiting with us, cheering us up when it wasn’t very easy to be happy and excited.

It is also for all those folks that decide to embark on the rough journey of building a restaurant (or renovating the space that will be occupied by a restaurant).

February 28th of 2019 was our last day of business at our old location in Brooklyn Heights, of course we were sad: we were leaving so many locals that became close friends in that neighborhood. At the same time we were very excited: first, we signed a new 15 years lease with an amazing landlord (that we truly love because he’s the smartest and funniest person we’ve ever met), for an amazing location, an amazing space…no more than 20 minutes walk away from where we successfully operated for more than 6 years.

We were just ready to close, take a couple of months break and reopen. The 2 months slowly became 4 then 6…8…and now we almost reached the full year.

How this year was spent is material for another post (just know that I took and dust off my guitar after so many years).

Why this year was spent is material for this.

The first 3 months after closing we were completely taken by a frantic activity of putting together the team that would build our restaurant after the sign off of ALT 1 which is the gut renovation of the space that our Landlord executed. So by May we completed our task of finding the right people for the right project. For people we mean: Architect of Record, Designers, Branding Gurus, General Contractor, Sub Contractors, Mechanical Engineer, Hood and Fire Protection Specialist, HVAC company.

That wasn’t easy, but we found the best of the best in terms of professionalism, experience and ethics. We are so so happy with every single one of them.

Our Architect of Record warned us: “we won’t start putting our hands into this space until your Landlord give us a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy”. “Well ok” we thought… “this will take what….weeks? a month max??? maybe 2??”. June, July, August, September, October….Certificate of Occupancy inspection FAILED “6 conditions to be fixed”…Boiler Sign off inspection FAILED “the exhaustion is not large enough, now it’s large enough but too long” etc….etc….etc…

We started to be very tempted to fall into a deep depression, but we never did…we’ve always looked at each other thanking God for what we have, for how many people around us constantly giving us pure love and for the many beautiful things that always, eventually come to us. So many people are suffering around the world, or just down the street…so many are ill, hungry, they are cold… ok we are struggling waiting for our Certificate of Occupancy but we eat good food everyday, we take hot showers and we live in a wonderful apartment, we drink good wine and we have the best family and friends. We forced each other to stop complaining for small petty stuff.

If anybody thinks that obtaining this certificate is an easy task or you wonder why it took so long please take a look at this “ITEMS REQUIRED” screenshot and you’ll get a figure of the nightmare that it is in reality…and above all what kind of a HUGE achievement it is to obtain it.

We really have to thank John-Scott from Urban Standard Capital (our Landlord Company) for the patience and the understanding of having us emailing him multiple times a week when he had nothing to tell us or no good news to share. They have been super close to us throughout the whole process, they financed the initial steps of our journey, they’ve always told us “don’t worry we’re here to help”.

The certificate of Occupancy is released after a renovation job is finished and signed off by the Department of Buildings. They come they inspect everything a million times, they check that the thousand and thousand pages of paperwork and drawings matches their records and eventually they tell you the space is safe to be occupied. Only now we’re aware of how long it takes to obtain this precious document.

If we didn’t listen to John (our Architect of Record) we could’ve started building our restaurant (Alt 2) and complete it before Alt 1 (Landlord’s gut renovation) was signed off. We would have filed for the Certificate of Occupancy after completing our works. This would have brought us to having a restaurant completely finished and ready to operate but that cannot be occupied, and having failed so many boiler inspections we would be probably looking to open at the end of this year or later. Breaking walls, changing exhaustion piping and lines when the space is raw is way easier and cost effective than doing so when you have a bar completed and an industrial kitchen hooked up and table chairs and furniture in your way. This is the main reason why some places are done and built-up and never end up opening. They build wonderful perfect restaurants on top of unlawful uninhabitable premises (think of asbestos, carbon monoxide pollution or even worse boiler explosions). The Department of Buildings do what they are supposed to do: if they put their seal of approval on your project, it means your space is safe to be occupied. If not, you don’t occupy, period. We decided to do the things the proper way and wait for our turn and now everything is coming together and it feels so good.

We will file for our Alt2 most likely tomorrow, by 10 days/two weeks we will have our building permits in place and 10 to 12 weeks from there we will most likely be back in business: HOW EXCITING !!!!!!!

Thanks for reading.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rick says:

    Whew! Just in time for burrata season!


  2. Abstract says:

    Keep battling, my friends. We stand at the ready to eat you out of house and home once you’re open.

    We’ve been training for this.


    1. socialebk says:

      Perfect !!! Both I and Megh can’t wait (just received my Green Card also … Ita been a great week so far… lol (for that I waited only 13 years so Building Dept is a piece of cake compared to Immigration)… but I’ve and I will never give up.


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