More About This Website

This blog is about our new restaurant Lulu & Po. We wanted to start the blog with our contruction phase and share the photos and findings with you. This blog will eventually turn into our menu blog after we open, posting our updated menus with you as they change, seasonally, weekly and daily. Enjoy.

Books to read
  • The Art of Eating
    The Art of Eating
    by M. F. K. Fisher, Joan Reardon
  • The Rituals of Dinner: Visser, Margaret
    The Rituals of Dinner: Visser, Margaret
    by Margaret Visser
  • Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library)
    Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library)
    by Pellegrino Artusi
  • Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia
    Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia
    by Patience Gray
  • The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
    The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
    by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
  • La Cuisine Du Comté De Nice par Jacques Médecin
    La Cuisine Du Comté De Nice par Jacques Médecin
    by Jacques Médecin
  • Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth
    Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth
    by Roy Andries De Groot
  • Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer
    Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer
    by Christopher Hirsheimer, Melissa Hamilton

Lulu & Po Demo January 2012

Entries by Matteo (21)


Community Board Meeting & The Hospital drama

You may or may not have heard, (look at the press link The Local 2/2/2012) but I spent the night in the hospital last night. Yup. Right before I was suppose to appear before Community Board 2 to hopefully get their support for our liquor license application, I went down. Here's the story.

So I found out that I was on the agenda for this Weds to apply for Liquor license approval. there is an application and a bunch of important documents you have to get together and submit in order for them to hear your case, and you don't want to miss anything or you have to postpone. I had been doing so much demo work I had to refocus on it and scramble, trying to contact people who had to send me forms, gather signatures, etc

I was almost there by Weds afternoon, only missing one important item. Around 2 pm I headed out of my house in Clinton Hill (for the umpteenth time) to finish up getting signatures of support from local merchants and neighbors and then to make a gazillion photocopies of it all to submit to the board for the hearing that night. I had my game plan: Get the signatures, make copies, pick up my daughter Lucy from school, check a few things at the space, get a cup of joe from Bittersweet, hand Lucy off to my wife when she got home from work, and head over to the Brooklyn hospital where the meeting was to be held at 6. I walked down the stairs, realized I forgot my phone, ran back up, and then again for some other items - and finally hit the tar, feeling a little odd, which I attributed to having forgotten to eat anything.  I crossed Lafayette ave, walked about a block and a half and noticed I was short of breath. I thought nothing at first because I had just run up and down three fights of brownstone stairs. So I said to myself, I'm just a bit winded. But it didn't go away. Then my legs started to buckle and my heart began to beat the fastest it had ever beaten. Now I got scared. Visions of my wife trying to figure out how the raise Lucy without me ran through my head. Visions of Lucy asking Po where Papa was. And yes, I actually had a vision of Po in front of the community board telling them I was dead and they had to give us a license. I knelt down. I tried to dial my phone, but my hands were too shaky. I looked back toward the church were the episode had begun and some older church goers were coming out. I waved to them, they just looked at me. I looked up again and this gentleman with two kids was crossing the street. They came towards me and I asked for help. He asked what was wrong and I explained. He told I would be fine and not to worry and he said ambulance was on the way. He also told me about how his friend had collapsed while looking for apartments with him once. He helped me call my wife to let her know this new turn of events.

The engine 210 FDNY fire truck showed up first and I recognized Joe from the firehouse, two doors down from Lulu & Po!  He was just as surprised as me. Then the ambulance came and they took me away. I won't bore you with the details of the next 24 hours of my stay in Brooklyn Hospital, but I will tell you how my wife Po saved the day for Lulu and Po...........

I was on a gurney in the ER when wife came in. She was already there looking for me, but had come in the other entrance and insisted the nurse come find me when then told I wasn't in the system yet. They were getting ready to hook me up for blood, EKG and a bunch of other stuff. I said, "community board, here in this hospital, tonight, I'm not going to make it". She said, "what do I need to do?".  I said "You have to finish getting these signatures from the community around Lulu & Po. Then we need nine copies of everything. Go see Brian at gnarly vines. Michael our landlord has to sign too. Smooch. Other businesses. Residents, ask people walking down the street if they live near by". She took the stuff and was gone. I guess she thought I would be okay.  She also had to find someone to pick Lucy up from school while she helped me out.

She came back in about an hour and a half with a whole bunch of signatures and the photo copies. At that time I was on the gurney in the hall waiting to go in for a heart xray so Po borrowed a stapler from the ER desk and I collated the documents for each board member. The ER staff thought I was crazy. It was obvious that they had never been to a community board meeting. Po then ran out and got us some nice sandwiches from the Grill Cheese truck and I waited. So glad she went to get the sandwiches. I really did not want to eat the food that the ER was offering - jell-o in a cup being the high point. She came back, I gobbled down my sandwich and now it was time  to head off to the board meeting - but the Doctor said no chance, you aren't going anywhere. She looked at me, not too happy.  Good luck? I said.  She left, but not before leaving me with her magazine where I read a nice article about artist Lucian Freud. He had 14 kids - unimaginable.

Well I can't tell you what happened at the meeting because I was not there, but she came back in about an hour and a half with a smile on her face and gave me news that the board approved Lulu & Po for our liquor license! Very impressive indeed. I am very proud of her and I love her very much. Then they decided they wanted me to stay for observation, so they admitted me and I had to stay the night. I ended up being in the hospital for exactly 24 hours. They found nothing wrong with me. My wife is sure it was stress.  Lets hope they didn't miss anything...

The next morning Po had to meet architects Kanan Shree and Sanjive Vaidya by herself to go over specifics for the plumbing and electrical work, and brainstorm about some materials - I will post all that as soon as they get me up to speed!

The man that helped me on the street was named Daryl Khan. He was the editor of The Local Fort Greene/Clinton Hill until the end of last month.






The facade (part one)

We are moving along nicely on the front of Lulu & Po. Its so amazing to see the entrance coming alive - becoming a part of the street landscape. People stop all day long while we're working asking what, when, hows.  I cant wait to feed them all.

Last Saturday we took the old gates down - as before, our man Caliman came over to give us a hand.  We scraped off the old paint, caulked and primed the whole front, and got it ready for the new colors. Our architect friend Kanan Vyas is helping us with the reno - we had pulled some lighter greys but she found a great rich blue-grey called "draw your sword" only she thought we should name it "draw your butcher knife." See photos below with the two finalist gray samples, ours is the bottom one. The red we are using for the door is call pomegranate - a favorite fruit - love to use it in salads, syrups. Nice right?

We just found some great lights for the exterior: They are cast iron barn lights. Bright shiny red to match the door (and throw to the firehouse a few doors down.) I love them. I have included a photo from the website of what they look like.

We also ordered gates for the windows from Joe the locksmith down the block at A Express - he's the one who told us about the underground social club that used to be here before abistro. Very cool guy. He's going to install them this weekend. We want to be an astetic feature as well as a security measure, and only on the big front windows. We will keep the front door just glass, well as the two long windows on both sides of the door, so we can keep it open and welcoming inside and out, but we'll use security glass that has wire in the glass. Breakproof. There was a chunky A/C in the opening above the door but we're pulling it out and reinstating the transom window to let more light into our wonderful space. We should finish that this week too. Here are the photos up to the first day with our wonderful new colors. Enjoy.

 this is how the space looked when it was posted on BrownstonerGerrett scraping the old stuff offfirst coat of primer color choices. we went for the bottom one. draw your sword from California Paints  our red option. pomegranate that's me. it was a nice warm 55 degree Saturday in JanuaryDone for the dayme again, boringOur man Caliman. He helps us with everything. There goes the old gates.trying to cut my fingers offfinishing upalmost done for the day. Po took this photo.another nice shot by Poa taste of what is to come in tomorrow's blog. that's gerrettthe lights we are hanging outside    



Final clean out of the floor (for now)

If you noticed in the older photos, there were a lot of metal studs that we removed. We had them piled on the floor for a bit, getting in the way. We called our man "Caliman" and he got that crap outta there for us along with a few (45!) bags of sheetrock we'd taken down. Caliman can fit more stuff into the back of his truck than is humanly possible - I think he might be ready for a Guinness World Record. (will post photo on next entry)

With most of the debris out of the way we really got a chance to take a closer look at what we had here. After removing the layers of sheetrock on the two corner pillars in the front of the restaurantwe noticed they had originally been covered with hand hammered tin. It was cool to see the handiwork but after inspected the tin we realized that it had to go. It was pretty rusted. I had a hard time letting the tin go, it really let me imagine the old spanish dudes playing cards in there when it was their little private locals club - but Gerrett was right. It was beat up from the feet up, and we really wanted to expose that brick underneath, especially since we wont have as much brick on the walls as we had expected (more on that later.)

We took a better look at the ceiling too and found the original tin ceiling up there to. It is really beautiful, but we opted to not expose it. It just seems like every restaurant in Manhattan, and in Brooklyn, has a tin ceiling whether its new or old. We want something different. And a bit modern, to some extent. We haven't included any ceiling photos yet because it is still just sheet rock and pocket lights. We are going to modify that though (more on later.) Take a look at the inside now.

   what a messmost be importantreally. it's importantlooking at the kitchenhere is the old hand hammered tin on the brick. you can see the rust on the right sidehere is brick sans the tinsome old lathe and plaster. this is where the bar is going to beold studs. bar area


The basement

Since our first post and today, we worked on the basement too. its so much bigger than upstairs! There was a small boxy office at the bottom of the stairs in the back of the space, that Gerrett removed. The demo'd space that you are now looking at will be a bathroom and a smaller office area. on the other side (photos soon) there will be an open gated wine vault in the alcove under the sidewalk, and in the middle will be a large communal table for seating of up to 14 people - when we have large parties. We will be improving the stairs when our permit arrives since they are steep and precarious currently. And we have to put rail up around the entry at the top since it is just a trap door now. There will be an open prep area in the back for day prep, and in the event of a private party downstairs we will have an extra hand assembling cold plates down here during service.  I like the idea of downstairs guests kind of being in our kitchen and in our wine cave - and basements are cool because they reveal the bones of a building.  It's gonna be funky and great.


Moving along. 

At this stage Gerrett and I have most of all of the inside gutted. We took the sheet rock off the walls and brought the place back to the 1990's (see photos of the blow by blow.) It was a little socal club from what we are told by some folks who have been on the block for decades. Beneath what was a giant pink wall there are some calendars and postings on the original walls made out of cardboard and old newspapers, all in Spanish. The names and dates on the calendar seem to record deaths of friends and loved ones - one 83 year old guy is listed as Querido Jefe ("beloved boss") and another is an 11 year old kid. The caption at the top translates: "dates that will make your hair stand on end and your skin crawl." Lots of history here. I love that these guys created a private social club where they could hang and play cards and be a community. Po is working on translation now, but the poem seems to be a kind of eulegy for the deceased listed on the other posting.  

We have also started to really get into the bones of the building. Here are some new photos.