I opened The Fountain Coffee and Ice Cream House October 14, 2019. I thought you might be interested in (or curious about) the steps involved to open a business on Magna Main Street and specifically the steps I went through to get it opened.
In the beginning
Attached is a picture of the building when I first thought about buying it. Of course, you have to find a building for sale. Nov 2018
It helps to do some homework. What have other building sold for? What is the square footage? What utilities are available and where in the building (especially plumbing, gas and electricity needs)? These buildings are old, so what condition is the building. Many were built early in the 1900’s. Mine was built 1924. This was before building codes (1987) so you might find some unusual stuff
Once I procured the building, I had to decide what to do with it. I am retired, so I didn’t want a high maintenance business (KISS) and to build a comfortable place with a sense of community. I bought some time to decide and plan by leasing back the building to the previous owner. They were building their own custom home and workshop and it wasn’t ready yet. I knew construction always takes longer than you plan. I looked around the neighborhood and decided on a coffee and ice cream shop that would bring people together. I visited more than a dozen coffee shops around the SL valley and asked a lot of questions to get ideas to figure out what I wanted to do and what was possible. I created a rough budget to be sure I could afford it or needed to take out a loan. (Double whatever you come up with) I looked up business plans and ‘How to start a small business’ on-line to help. There was a surprise expense for sewer replacement in March 2019 while I was leasing back the building. Pictures below.
Once I decided on the coffee and ice cream shop, I contacted the SL County Health Department to determine the equipment I needed. Coffee and ice cream are considered food, so I came under ‘restaurant-specialty food’ for my plan review, inspections and application (money and inspections). This required the addition of a three compartment sink, hand wash stations, 50 gallon water heater and a mop sink. All this required plumbing to be added, along with coffee brewing equipment, filters and a coffee bean grinder I also wanted to add a water and ice machine (with filters) which required more plumbing and electrical work. The brewer also had a hot water dispenser so I could provide a variety of teas. The Health Department approved the plan review for Risk 1 (they will determine the risk level for you and charge accordingly). Below are pictures of potential kitchen area, wall and ceiling.
Building Plan and permit 7/2-7/31
Once I knew the needs of the Health Department, I applied for a SL County Plan Review (money and inspections). I knew the SL County would require an ADA restroom, so I added that to my plans before I was asked (more plumbing and electrical.) Since I wasn’t changing the structure of this old, beautiful building (built 1924), I drew the construction plans myself on Excel. I was trying to keep the plans simple (remember KISS). More elaborate plans may need professional help. I contacted licensed handymen, licensed plumbers and licensed electricians. Delays caused several licensed plumbers and electricians to drop out and/or not return my calls since I couldn’t give them a specific date of work. They can’t wait on things, especially during their busy season. They need firm schedules for their jobs. I think I went through six or seven plumbers and electricians, so be aware. After going back and forth with the county on my plan review and answering questions at the end they mentioned I needed a general contractor with the permit before they would approve my plans. Luckily I knew a general contractor and he already had a PIN with SL County. He was also going to use the same licensed people I had already contacted (more money). Once the general was added, they approved my plan, stamped all my submittals after about a month (did I mention all permitting is now done on-line?) and more money. I could start the remodeling. Pictures are at back restroom and front area of building.
Interim 7/2-7/31 waiting for building permit
While we were waiting for plan approval and the building permit I did some things that didn’t require a permit, such as sanding, staining and coating the original wood floor. We also sealed the exposed original brick wall. I liked the ambiance of the original structure and tried to keep it as much as possible and still meet the building/health department code requirements. Rough plumbing and SL County inspection took about 1 week (no inspections on Fridays and no weekends).
To progress the plumbing, we pulled up the floor boards along the east wall and dug 2-4 ft. deep for about 50 ft. along the east wall for the new sewer line to be installed. I procured a plumber at the last minute and paid premium to get it done. This rough plumbing was holding up everything else so it was worth it. They were grateful that we had dug for them. I relied on my handyman to help them for placing pipe. I was grateful they were patient and waited 3 days for the SL County inspector and performed the testing required.
Pics of indoor plumbing dirt piles and boards replaced
Progress August 2019
Once the rough plumbing was inspected and approved (8/13-8/14), then things could progress rapidly with the remodel. The next challenge was the ADA restroom framing and fixtures, installation of a 50 gallon water heater (min size required by SLCoHD) and all hot and cold water lines run for sinks, toilets, etc. All restrooms, sinks and fixtures had to be over a hard cleanable floor (I chose tile) and walls had to be hard and cleanable (FRP sheeting) or epoxy paint.
Pics of shop with ADA frame & water heater
Frustration and Encouragement
About now it seemed like I would never get this project done and open to the public. I was getting pretty frustrated and I apologize if I took it out on you. I also appreciate everyone that came by and encouraged me to persevere. I received the chairs, tables and started staging items to go up front, just to keep my vision of a coffee shop going. It was starting to take shape, even if there was still a lot to do.
As I said it was hard to get licensed electricians to commit, because of scheduling. You can’t expect (or afford) them to wait around. As I got close to being ready, I was able to contract a license electrician. In two days all work was done. It helped to know exactly where I wanted conduit run and outlets added. The electrician also needed to know amperage of all equipment to size wire, conduit and breakers properly. We should be ready for the final building inspection to approve the electrical and water lines to close the building permit.
Inspector found a few things to reject. He also got into some finish plumbing requirements, which were included in his inspection. We agreed to all. We will have him come back next week to ok all requests and hopefully close the building permit. More time and money and another delay in opening. I was hoping to open in August..
Re-inspection 4 days later (never count weekends) partial approval-allowed to close up drywall and paint
Pictures of front outside, inside, finished ADA restroom and kitchen.