Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 -What a year!

It has been exciting from the beginning to the end, filled with new experiences, heart beating moments and a truck load full of surprises:

Remember the fuzz about Hamburg Doener taking over the Mighty Midget Kitchen? That was our start into 2008. Still indulging ourselves in the celebration of new year, we received urgent emails from local newspapers to comment on Leesburg's first scandal of the year - How the heck could we do that to the BBQ guy? The town got involved and things got heated up. After a few weeks the issue sort of solved itself - people got to know Hamburg Doener had nothing to to with the famous BBQ business leaving  Leesburg's landmark, while town officials recognized it was not their issue after all.

Within three month we were able to remodel, restore and revive the Mighty Midget Kitchen and made it the smallest Doener Kitchen in the World!

We stripped, cleaned and insulated the Midget, painted, air conditioned and equipped it with custom equipment, which we somehow had to fit in the 6' by 8' metal building :-)


The inside area got an overall paint job, the bar was 'homemade' and even the airplane seats were custom fitted into a bar table-seating area by Timo and Nils. From sanding to wallpapering, from welding to online ordering - we multi tasked our way through those days and nights of January till the end of March 2008. 


During those month Timo, Nils, Natalie and I not only cemented our friendship, we also made a lot more friends along the way. I would like to mention Gordon and Julie who gave us not only unbelievable helpful physical, but also emotional support and Gordon's, Natalie's and Nils' parents with whom we were able to build  special relationships during those month. Oh, and not to forget, a big thank you to Kyle (and of course Johnny and Ham) for the detailed tile work on our mob sink...

Time was right to open up -so we though- along came a violation notice for our composite decking material with which we resurfaced the existent concrete slap. Not knowing what we have gotten ourselves into we started going to the monthly BAR meetings where hours of heated discussions started even a notion to dismiss the BAR. Well, that stuff went on until the 18th of August when staff finally decided the material was appropriate if we hide it from the public right of way ( that's why we planted those nice Arbor Vitae trees up front and along the side)....

Since we somehow had to open though, we spontaneously decided on opening on the 28th of March 2008 after receiving the GO from the Health Department (which was a story of it's own).

For a month we had to deal with not being allowed to use the inside area other than having customers pay at the register. We were prohibited from using our seating area, the soda fountain, the draft tower nor any of the new equipment in that room. Thinking of it now, there was a certain renaissance feeling to it. Back to the roots or rather back to the truck- feeling if I now look back on having customers get their sodas out of our big cooler located outside. With selling beer though, that just had to be handled differently...

During regular business days our customers made every effort worth. Their interest in our project, their smiles, mindfulness, constructive criticism, ideas and encouragement along the way mobilized the whole Hamburg Doener crew . Everyone from cashier to cook still reflects the excitement our customers bring into our door by feeling the importance of their work though them.

We are blessed with such a unique team created in 2008 though especially Nils' daily mentoring and hard work.

Energized and excited, we celebrated the European Soccer Championships, our first Oktoberfest and Leesburg's first German ChristkindlMarket together with a vibrant crowd of customers and friends. Seeing team members and customers dancing with each other, singing and banging their glasses or Steins together just had to make us proud! - Mission accomplished :-)


Our last focus of the year was set on the wintertime. Scary, if you mainly depend on 58 seats outside, can only seat eight people in the inside area and all your hopes for being able to provide shelter for your customers from the winter weather conditions through a tent are shattered because of time consuming, old-habited bureaucracy.

After experiencing declining customer volumes steadily measurable on the daily weather forecast, we received a helping hand just on the edge of our frustration. Gordon MacDowell was so kind to offer us part of his MacDowell Custom Kitchen showroom, for us to be able to expand our inside seating capacity. Within only nine days we knocked down walls together, build a door frame, sanded, painted wallpapered, installed flooring and were ready for happy holidays!


Just the right time for Dave Pepper, who still encourages others to bring their instrument, sing a long or just bang on the tables to his fun spreading shanty songs played on Fridays and Saturdays, to start a musical freestyle tradition...

New Year, our Grande Finale for 2008, around thirty customers and friends gathered at the restaurant to celebrate the start of 2009 – most residents probably heard us around midnight ;-)

Prost Doener Community – Let's rock 2009!


Your Hamburg Doener Team

written by Nicole

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