Photo taken in real life
I was feeling very prepared to tackle this newsletter and then immediately upon starting (seven days ago), I came down with a terrible case of newsletter writer’s block (similar in symptoms to catalogue writer’s block, or say, pamphlet writer’s block). And if you could extrapolate that block out farther and wider, you would see we are also navigating the more general kinds of blocks—road blocks, stumbling blocks, mental blocks, and even the dreaded and oft-shamed, energetic block. See, now that the life threatening terror has subsided in our small corner of the world, many other feelings are being exhumed from beneath layers of what geologists might call the ancient crust from the late Triassic period (this one goes out to all my Alluvial fans). You might think this all sounds a little hyperbolic, but lucky for me there are very few igneous rocks to provide reliable radiometric dates, so the time span of the past fourteen months vs. the past 241 million years cannot be so accurately sussed out, and thus such dates are subject to revision only when new determinations based on actual science and fact can be made. In the event you did not get my geological pun but for some odd reason are still reading, let me put it a simpler way: we’re fucking tired. All of us.
Now remember, this isn’t a caption, it’s a newsletter (I think more accurately it could be called a storyletter or the trials and tribulations from a somewhat fabricator and procrastinator) and so although you have but one burning question, I must make it worth your while.
Let me acknowledge right away the good fortune we’ve had all this time because of your support and evergreen loyalty. It is heart-bursting to just reflect on it! We have survived on your patronage, kindnesses, words of encouragement, and by becoming a different business entirely, which itself was fueled by heavy doses of adrenaline and almost no time to think or plan. In hindsight that had its benefits; we couldn’t stop. And now, we have to put things back in a different order—a lot of things. And instead of running for our lives it kind of feels like someone shot us up with a horse tranquilizer; the list of physical and mental tasks is long and daunting. So in our first-ever attempt to leap afterwe look, we are actually taking some time to gauge the distance of this next cliff (we’re not actually measuring it, just trying to eyeball its height within a few hundred or so feet and stop long enough to put on some elbow pads).
We are making many needed improvements to the space! This is thrilling. We would never have had the opportunity to do these things before. We’ve installed a new and very beautiful window that opens and closes as windows are famously known to do! As such, you won’t have to stand in a line with forty hungover twenty somethings waiting to sit down and instead you will get your coffee and chocolate chip muffin to go almost as seamlessly as if you plucked it from one of those floating sushi buffets. But fresher. We are building new redwood shelves inside, the likes of which will be packed to the brim with all of the wine I’ve been hoarding (most of it, there were medicines to administer this past year); we are planting more California native and edible life so that outside it feels less like a parking lot with smelly dumpsters and more like an unlikely paradise sanctuary in a parking lot with smelly dumpsters. We’re waiting for approval on several permits to go forward (with the alterations we are already working on) so as to fortify ourselves against the traditional offensive play the city of LA has been known to make in this board game we call doing business, a move commonly referred to as an eight piece dicking.
We have a laundry list of logistics, from rewiring the entire POS system, to replacing the refrigerators and metros with tables and chairs, to locating the plates and glassware and cleaning off fourteen months of dust, to making a new menu and wine list, to finding the right people who want to cook and work with us. My pizzas are pretty ok, though Tommy’s are better, but we both have our hands full: we need him to build stuff and I have lots more to do than stretch dough, much to my own dismay. Just believe me when I say: all of these items represent a mere smattering of items that amount to the mountain we’re trying to climb. I’m not trying to elicit pity, we want only to somehow convey that opening up, or more to it, our delay on opening up, is not a moral decision, or even any longer a safety one, but it’s also not a switch we can flip.
There has also been so much grief and loss and pain wrapped up in the past year and half, that to smash such intensity and subsequent drain immediately against the forthcoming intensity of opening seems to ignore something very crucial and human. We need to decompress and process a little, so as not to carry our collective and individual shocks and traumas into the next chapter. To be conscious not to adversely alter the fabric of future service with the bruises and breaks we are all still healing. We need to let the previous pressure out a little first, lest we become crushed by the natural pressures, the motivating ones, that come with normal operations. We need to take a road trip, do the work and joy of being married away from the walls of All Time, in the woods cooking over a fire without cell service and reservation requests, so we can become inspired and inspiring again. We need to be outside, take baths, and cook at home. We need to see our friends and families. Our staff need all this too—time off without fear, to see their families, to recover, to refill their own coffers. And those needs we have, they are yours, also, we know. It’s why your desire to sit and be cared for in a familiar place, to be relieved of the immense burdens that have stacked up all this time, by way of wine and candlelight, that’s why it’s all so dire. We know. We just have to wade through our own rivers first, plug up the holes in the walls and the leaks in our souls so we are able to generously turn toward you in true service.
Please rest-assured we remember every one of you—your egg allergy, your favorite table, your preferred white wine (we stashed plenty of Ermes Pavese for you Jeff and Cathy!), your side of salt (Catherine), the fact that you may have lost your dad this year, or mom, or uncle, or had a miscarriage, or a new baby, or gone through a divorce, or battled cancer, or changed careers—we want to hold all of it for you and make a space at our table to feed you much more than salad and steak. We want to suspend time for you, together, and celebrate you being here. Because that, in itself, will be a feat worth celebrating.
That’s what we’re working on. We are readying ourselves and our space and our team to do this thing right and grand and beautiful so we can be here for you beyond the basic motions of being a restaurant. We will be present and available and open, to give and receive. I am excited just typing those words out, filled with optimism and a swell of emotion that can only be described as pure love—for what we do, for you, for ourselves, each other, for the wine growers and farmers, for our team and community.
So to answer your question, the big question, the question hanging so heavy and dangling from our juevos that are backs are hurting (it’s true, our chef actually threw his back out this week), what’s the what, when’s The Big When, ask you? SOON. Mid summer? End of summer? The timeline, like the work, is dynamic; we won’t commit to a hard date, we can’t. But know that soon means real. Soon means happening. And, as soon as we can do it right we will. We’re working on hiring, building, retooling, resting, writing, recharging, swimming, dreaming, strengthening and improving. We’re working thoughtfully instead of frantically, for the first time probably ever; that means this will go somewhat slower, but also smoother, and softer, and by our belief, better.
in gratitude and abundance,
The A in T & A
Tyler testing the new window! Photo by our special projects consultant Michael Gorlami Ardelean