Opening an eatery is never easy. It requires a slew of permits and inspections, the acquisition of good staffers and many hours of labor. But some places have a harder time getting it together than others.
The Old North End's Nunyuns, for example, was supposed to start serving up BBQ seitan sandwiches and espresso cookies in July, but probably won't open its doors until sometime in September. Why? Contractor trouble.
"We'd hired someone back in April to do some work for us; it was kind of a big job," attests Kristine Harbour, who owns the eatery with husband Paul Bonelli. "He was supposed to order the equipment, take care of permits . . ."
But despite numerous promises, the offending party didn't come through. "He strung us along for a couple of months," she admits. "Bottom line is: He never ordered the equipment we paid for." He didn't deal with permits or zoning, either. Worse, the couple had already handed over nearly $10,000.
To help make up the loss, they're fundraising. Donations are accepted, but the couple is also willing to barter with people who want to "invest in future breakfasts and lunches," Harbour says, à la The Bobcat Café and Claire's. People who can part with $100-plus now can eat up their investment when Nunyuns opens. "We'd set up an account," she explains. Participants would be able to cash in up to $25 per week.
In the meantime, Harbour and Bonelli are scheduling permits and inspections and have hired a new contractor. "Hopefully we won't have any more problems," Harbour says with a sigh.
"We've got the guys," he explains. "The dudicals have been in-placed." In English: He's hired a worthy team to run the kitchen, including Erik Donaldson, a former Smokejacks sous-chef, and Roberto Seales, who has been churning out pizza dough and breads for 15 years.
"He always wanted to be able to create something of value, not with orange shit dripping off all over the place and preservatives everywhere," O'Brien expounds. The pies at Bite Me will be creative, organic, almost entirely local, and delivered in boxes that change weekly. "The package is the message. To my knowledge this hasn't been done, ever," he states.
What will be inside the boxes? That will be up to the eater, O'Brien says. "Just because they're reading something [on the menu], that's not what they have to have," he explains. "They can come in and make their own food. We're getting away from the thing where you say, 'I want the Greek thing,' or, 'I want Number 7.' I don't do Number 7. We're gonna have all this interesting stuff to fool with," O'Brien declares. "The menu is a living, community thing."
Now that Bite Me is almost ready to open, its proprietor has a couple of future projects on his mind, two of which involve the resto's roof. He's planning to install three wind turbines to offset the company's electric bill, and plant a rooftop garden next spring. O'Brien is in the process of learning how "to extend the growing season using heat from the ovens," he reports.