Saturday, May 19, 2012

Signage : A Milestone Incarnate

There signs were designed by Matt Stevens in collaboration with a Gastonia company, Sign Connection,  who fabricated and installed them. This is the first real chance to preview what is to come at JJ's. We've been pretty stealthy to date, but with the signs, especially these, there is no hiding whatsoever. And we lined the windows with a graphic print, also designed by Stevens.

The signs were fabricated at Sign Connection and I was fortunate enough to meet the folks who built them in person. Seeing the signs in the shop unexpectedly overwhelmed me and I was taken completely by surprise by their size, shape, impact and sheer beauty. But more importantly, they were perfectly constructed with a high attention to detail. I was told they don't get a chance to work on signs like this too often and they thanked me for giving them the opportunity. It was a great experience meeting with them.

Their installation team also worked diligently do get the signs mounted perfectly. And we are only half way done...the blade sign needs to be mounted as do the two strips of neon that will run along the roofline of the building. That and some finishing work on the deck, railings and take out area should really complete the transformation. In my opinion, it will become known as a landmark that will add richness and beauty to the Dilworth neighborhood and Charlotte at large. And we think fans of the famous Drum Restaurant, originally constructed in 1948, will be pleased to see what we have done. A new history is being created, so to speak.

Special thanks to  Matt Elkin, Chip and the entire crew at Sign Connection who did inspired and prideful work.


JJ's Red Hots in vintage yellow outlined in white neon. Mounted on textured red aluminum sign. check out detail in background outline and intricate neon work:

Blade sign, to go near take out area. Backlit routed aluminum with eventual neon border. Special thanks to Igor, the sign model:

Our Strategic Heartbeat is: Don't Dis' The Dog! This wraps around front of building, warning all who approach:

The 'tivoli' can lights are on the East Blvd. Side:

On Site:

This really was poetry in motion.

Heavy Lifting Machinery:

The One Timer...

Fits like a glove...note wrap around arrow.

Notice the oft imitated, never perfected 'reverse spin' technique:

Jeremy, "supervising":

This is our JJ's print designed by Matt will eventually be a red print and will be used on our custom printed deli paper. Really captures our fun and irreverence.

These are shots of the signscape looking northwest up East Blvd. Crowded with some high pole signs, but I believe our signage is complementary to the others and really adds character to East Blvd. A great addition to the skyline, in my opinion, and we've had very favorable comments from many other retailers up and down the street. Happy to see the neighbors being so courteous.

Lebowskis, as you can see has a very high pole sign and we fit nicely underneath it.

The old Blade sign at BBillys..well above the roofline.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Holder's Furniture/Lenoir, NC

As I have mentioned many times, we are very lucky to have master craftsmen working on the JJ's project in several disciplines. Meat packers, sign fabricators and masons, to name a few. 

Today, I had a chance to visit Holder's Furniture to see our booths and tables being fabricated. Founder Robert Holder gave me the tour of his factory and showed me what he has been working on. 

I love wood. My grandfather Lawrence Dickman was a master carpenter and I used to watch in awe as his thick arms would saw and hammer things together in his workshop. The smell of fresh sawdust always reminds me of him, and as I did not inherit his deft with tools, I am especially reverent about folks who can work well with wood. 

Robert has high grade sawdust in his veins. Touring the facility and seeing the work in process was meaningful for many reasons, (Check out our custom radius oak slab table below. Remarkable) but most impactful was listening to him describe the details and features of the booths. Attacking the furniture with a giddy zeal, he tore into the guts of the thing to show me the quality poplar frame assembly, reinforced wire springs and impeccable upholstery.

And as I sat down on one, a slow smile crept across my face.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I have been waiting for this day since July 14th, 2011. That was the day, sitting in my parents house in Long Island, watching my kids and their cousins swimming in their pool where I first began to formalize the idea of a handcrafted hot dog concept. I was between projects at Seismic and a prolonged proposal process with Martha Stewart Living had finally ended in a "no go" decision by the brand. Quite frankly, I was relieved. Building a restaurant for that woman would have been a nightmare of Amityville-like proportions.

And so yesterday, roughly 300 days later, the walls closed in....literally. It is finally starting to look like an actual restaurant. Yesterday was a good day. Here's a look.


Front assembly line. Will eventually be white subway tile on the back wall and quilted stainless on the front of the counter

Eric building platform for booths along front window:

Brick along far wall. Looks like it's been there for 100 years:

Loose connection. I feel like this a lot. All the time, actually.

The natural light streaming into this restaurant is quite beautiful. Due to the situation of the restaurant on the property, he sun never streams directly into the windows, and lighter colored buildings across the street reflects a ton of white light. You would notice this, of course, if I had thought to remove the craft paper over the windows.

Another example:

Dark Shadows:

The tradesman building this restaurant are the unsung heroes of the project. Every beautiful building you have ever seen began with with studs, plumbing, electrical and concrete. The respect I have for their craftsmanship is immeasurable. And they will always be welcome in my restaurant.

The Virtual Office: