Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
My restaurant project, The Painted Burro, will open this week. Last night, I went to its first Friends & Family night--a time for the restaurant to test its menu and the staff prior to officially opening. I had butterflies all day--so excited for my family to see the project I've been working on and talking about for months. Usually, my audience when a project unveils is a residential client--typically the woman of the house. So to experience a more public unveiling is very different. I thought I'd dedicate this post to the power of social media which catalyzed this project for me. Later in the week, I'll discuss how the design of this restaurant unfolded to illustrate how important collaboration between designer and client is to the success of a project.
Last July, I had the heavenly experience of spending three weeks in Italy to celebrate my sister's big birthday. I came home to face two things: first, the post-vacation blues, and second, my limited mobility because I had broken my foot in Florence (fifth metatarsal). By the way, if you have to break your foot, do it on a vacation like this. First of all, it cost only about $100 for all the medical care I received! This included 1) a visit to the Emergency Room; 2) two sets of x-rays; 3) a cast; 4) an injection; and 5) a follow-up visit with the hospital's attending orthopedist. Secondly, all the indoor sites we wanted to visit were handicap-accessible. The Roman Forum and Colosseum were tricky, and hiking in the Cinque Terre was impossible, but otherwise, between taxicabs, piggy-back rides from my sister's friend, Chris, and patience from my travel companions, I was able to stick to our itinerary.
Once I got home, I was feeling miserable. It was summer, the time of year I live for, and I was stuck inside. I was in a cast and on crutches and couldn't do the beach or any of the outdoor activities I love. What I did do was sit at my computer all day long and do what normally I had no time to do: work on marketing Laurie Gorelick Interiors. I started with revamping my web site and committing to start this blog. And then I delved 100% into social media. I posted to my Facebook page and started tweeting. Let me just say that up until this point, I'd be damned if I was going to tweet. All my associations with Twitter were Ashton Kutcher-esque. But if I hadn't started tweeting, I would not have gotten this project. So, to all you twitter naysayers, I say: Fools!
While in my cast, I saw a tweet from a business columnist for the Boston Globe looking to interview small business owners about how the recession was affecting their businesses. I tweeted back that I was interested. Because of those tweets, I was featured in a front-page article on August 15, 2011. In the article, I said how I was considering offering my services for free to restaurateurs and retailers opening new stores as a way to further showcase my work. From the article, I received two responses: one from a web designer wanting to re-do my website, and the other from Joe, my future client. Here's what he wrote:
Hello Laurie, My name is Joe Cassinelli and I am the chef/owner of Posto in Somerville. First, congratulations on the Boston Globe article! I know how much press can help. Second, I am just starting the design process for a new restaurant concept in Davis Square, Somerville and was considering reaching out to a few friends I know that do interior design for some help with the new space. When I saw your statement about working with commercial spaces as a way to promote your business I thought I would reach out and see if you have any interest in helping me with some design elements. I am working on a Mexican/Oaxacan space and didn't know if you would be comfortable with that genre . . . On a side note, the restaurant will have full press coverage . . . You can google Posto and see the kind of coverage I have been getting. If this is any interest to you please feel free to contact me!
And this is what I wrote back:
This is destiny! I just looked at your site, and more important than the design of your new venture, I MUST eat at Posto! I spent three weeks in July in Italy, one of which was exclusively in Tuscany . . . There, I lapped up the food, culture and wine. I'm now hooked on Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and anything sangiovese . . . I'd be delighted to help you with your new venture. When can we meet?
As they say, the rest is history. I did not meet with Joe face-to-face until the property was his, which was some time around the end of October. I went to that meeting loaded with an idea file of images that reflected my interpretation of the design he envisioned. Something must have clicked, because by the end of the meeting Joe asked me to come up with a project fee. You may think, Stupid!, but I declined. A deal is a deal. There's more for me in store, I believe.