We discovered the building that writing letters lyrics was to become the future Wine Vault & Bistro in 2004. It had been home to something like six different restaurants in the space of a couple of years, and was in horrible condition – both aesthetically and structurally. Undaunted, we got it anyway, little knowing just how bad it was. After doing a cursory clean up after the last tenant moved out, reality began to set in. Thus began the year-and-a-half construction project from hell.
First we discovered that the foundations were toast. Then we discovered that the fireplace was literally ready to fall down. Then we discovered moisture penetration issues which can lead to rot and mold. Then it was the electrical, then the plumbing, then the drain lines, then the grease trap – the list just went on and on with no end in sight.
It became crystal clear that what we thought was going to be a little cosmetic fixer-upper was going to turn into a major, major project. Fortunately, we came from a design and construction background so knew what had to be done and how to do it. Only problem is that we had budgeted for one thing and were now having to do something more expensive. Much more expensive.
But there was no turning back. So we borrowed every dime we could and went for it.
We took the building down to the dirt, leaving only the shell of the outside walls. We poured all new foundations. We built an 85 foot long retaining wall (the rear of the restaurant is basically underground as it’s built into the hillside) to support the rear walls. We installed 100% new electrical, 100% new plumbing and 100% new drain lines. We completely re-framed all of the floor joists, subfloors and interior walls. We built the outside patio with its spectacular firepit. We built a beautiful new interior fireplace and a walk-in wine cellar. But even with all the “modernization,” we tried to keep the vintage cottage feel of the original building – down to painstakingly installing the original cedar siding – shingle by shingle.
In October of 2005 we finally opened the doors. We had literally worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week for a solid year and a half. What a ride it had been, taking us to the brink of exhaustion and to the edge of bankruptcy. Fortunately we’re now able to take a little time off here and there, and were able to pay off our debts years ago – but profuse and grateful thank yous go to you – our many loyal customers for making WV&B the only restaurant to last more than a year in this hidden, off-the-beaten-path location.
And if you ever get a hankering to remodel a restaurant … well, you may want to study these construction photos first!