Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Bread for August 9

Many of you have been asking when I plan to open a storefront. Most of you know I have a place on Main Street ready to go and have installed the needed (extremely expensive) commercial flooring and the many sinks required for a commercial kitchen, but working with Siskiyou County has been aggravating.

It takes many weeks, in fact months, to pass each incremental step, and most times you go backwards, not forwards. They give wrong or inconsistent information, too, and then blame you for taking it. Sometimes it's so preposterous as to be comic: last April I was denied my environmental permit (I submitted the application in February) for the stated reason that I had not yet obtained a building permit for the ventilation hood on my oven. So, I got that process going, and finally last week, months after starting the ventilation hood permit application, I was told that the building application cannot proceed because I have not completed the environmental permit process! Consequently, I am no further along in any of this right now than I was six months ago. After I protested this Kafka-esque treatment, both departments told me that they would do me a "favor" by not putting my new environmental and building applications at the "bottom of the pile" even though I was sternly cautioned that I probably do not deserve this charitable treatment and the favor may not be extended for long.

Back in May, the building inspector told me, in a room full of people, that there are no companies between Sacramento and Portland who can install a ventilation hood, and that I should get out the phone book and start calling mechanical engineers in Sacramento, and work my way south until I find one that can do the job. He told me Denny Bar had to go all the way to Seattle to find an engineer who could install a ventilation hood, and warned me that it was going to be extremely expensive because I would have to fly these professionals to Etna for a site visit before they even got started on the building plans.

This of course was hogwash: Denny Bar did no such thing, and there are numerous firms, none of whom employ mechanical engineers, between Medford and Redding who can install ventilation hoods. Why did he give me this preposterous, untrue "advice"?

I cannot explain any of it, other than maybe he was playing a practical joke on me? Outside of that or malice, I cannot explain why he would tell me such a thing, and I'm a little bit irked over the day I spent listening to mechanical engineers from Sacramento to Oakland laugh at me and tell me they've never before been asked to install a restaurant ventilation hood, and don't expect ever to be asked again, since it isn't something mechanical engineers do.

Nor can I explain why the County is so unhelpful and unsupportive of someone who has been trying for many months now to hire employees and put a functioning business in a shuttered, downtown storefront in a county that everyone agrees is economically depressed. It's obvious Siskiyou County doesn't want this business (or at least doesn't care one way or the other whether it ever opens) and I am nearing the point where I give up. (If my landlord did not exhibit the patience of a saint every time I have to report to him that the County has told me to "try back in three weeks," I'd have given up months ago.)

I have been exploring locations in other counties for my bakery, but as a last effort I have hired a person who has planning certifications to help get me through the process since this County won't even return phone calls, much less render any help to a person trying make it through their process.

So, I have no idea when I might open. Maybe in a year, if the County starts speeding up what they are doing? If it becomes apparent I cannot do it by then, I intend to move to Jackson or Klamath County, Oregon.

Meanwhile, next week I'll have golden raisin and oat batards, semolina sandwich loaves, Country French rounds, and sprouted grain batards. I'm sure I'll have some sweets, too. See you on Thursday on Main Street from 5-7!

--Erik Ryberg

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