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Preview: DNA Lounge: What's New

DNA Lounge

Last Build Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2017 04:00:02 +0000


Wherein we have discovered an amazing new form of sludge.

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 04:00:02 +0000

Well, we're all moved out of Codeword. We spent a couple of days consolidating all of our equipment, moving the best of it over to DNA Lounge and prepping the remainder for sale or for the dump. Most notably, this means that DNA Pizza gets an upgraded oven. The newer oven from Codeword was both smaller and yet higher capacity than our old oven. It also seems to hold its heat more consistently, and I think the pizza crusts are coming out with a better crispiness. Let us know what you think! We also swapped a bunch of other gear: coolers, refrigerators, amps, speakers. But one refrigerator in particular... oh, man. The fridge on the back wall of the pizza bar, underneath the alcohol shelves, has been flaky for years. It was here when we moved in, and we've had to repair the compressor repeatedly. So it was time to swap it out for a new one. We thought we could sell the old one, since the countertop appeared to just be sitting on top of it, so the plan was: tear off countertop, slide old fridge out, slide new fridge in. But no. Apparently when some previous tenant originally built this bar, what they did was, they bolted a steel frame to the floor and then welded the refrigerator to that. That is some unprecedented confidence in the lifetime of a refrigerator. So we had to tear the thing apart to get it out. But also: you may have noticed that the back bar was at a jaunty angle. For some insane reason, they decided to angle the fridge, making the counter way deeper than it would ever need to be, and also leaving a 2'×4' triangular void between the fridge and the wall. It was completely hidden and inaccessible under the counter... but apparently not water-tight. Also there's a floor drain back there. Equally hidden and unreachable, and completely blocked. This is apparently where the beer taps were draining. I will spare you the photos of what we found there, but someone said, "I think that's the same stuff that was in the microwave at the end of Time Bandits." Devon accidentally stepped into the drain. He had to throw that shoe away. I'm surprised he didn't burn it. And his foot. And maybe the whole leg, just to be safe. So that could have maybe, just maybe, been a part of our fruit fly problem, do you think? Wheels! All kitchen and bar equipment on wheels! Always!

Wherein Codeword is Kaput.

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 08:13:35 +0000

That's it, Codeword is closed. RIP CW Nov 2015 Jul 2017. Thanks to all of the promoters who made a go of it, to the customers who actually showed up, and to all of our staff who put up with this disaster. (I'm trying not to be overly negative or cynical here, but hey, they say write what you know.) By the numbers: Total events: 322 (3.5 events per week, not counting happy hour) Total DJs: 522. Total bands: 94. Total guests: about 25,000 That comes out to an average of about 275 guests a week, which is less than half of what we would have needed for the business to break even. I just put the website into permanent cryosleep. I've never had to do that with a web site before. It's strange to think that if there's any lasting legacy at all to the work we put in there over the last two years, it might be only the few weeks of research that I spent building the calendar and flyer archive of the Covered Wagon Saloon days. We are packing up and moving out on Monday and Tuesday. This means that DNA Pizza on Eleventh Street will be closed on Tuesday, since we're moving the (newer, better) pizza oven from Codeword over to the Eleventh Street location, and that's a pretty time consuming process, including needing to give the old oven six hours to cool down first. In all this time, only one person that I know of discovered the hidden meaning of the Codeword logo, and I gave him a big hint first. I guess I'll just leave it like that. No spoilers. Anyway, once more into the breach. Long Live DNA Lounge.

Wherein it's Robot Time!

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 20:30:01 +0000

The Fourth Annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge is coming up this Sunday, July 16! Come for the Mad Science, stay for the cocktails! Or maybe the other way around! I don't even know! This is one of my favorite events that we do all year. You must come. On the agenda so far: Beerbot: It follows... Chassis: Shiny and mobile! Schrödinger's Martini: A superposition of wet and dry! N. E. BREE-8: Three Laws Compliant! Steve the Bartending Robot. TikiTron: Prepare your sacrifice! Tipsy Train: LEGO of your inhibitions! Whiskeyball: The excitement of Skee-Ball and cocktails! Not all of them have sexy glamour shots, but here are a few: Also! if you are planning to come to the FM-84 & The Midnight show this Friday, you should buy tickets now, because it is definitely going to sell out. Hooray!

Wherein you should come to Hotline tomorrow, plus a bit on deliveries and Codeword.

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 01:57:06 +0000

Our Hotline party tomorrow got a very nice write-up in 48 Hills, so you should take their word for it and come out! The last one was really fun. So it's a big, bright deal when representatives of 10 of our biggest indie dance parties -- Popscene, Club Leisure, Fringe, The Queen is Dead, Harder Better Faster Stronger, Last Nite, Club Gossip, Boy Division, Turbo Drive, and Indie Cent DJ -- come together for a huge quarterly blowout called Hotline. The first installment, back in March, more than fulfilled the dreams of anyone wishing to wig out to Grimes and Morrissey back-to-back. But the ongoing impetus of the party is a deep, community-minded mission to help save a classic part of SF nightlife. "The idea for Hotline has been years in the making, but was really kicked into action when news that one of San Francisco's most beloved alternative dance clubs, DNA Lounge, might be in jeopardy of closing," DJ Blondie K, aka Kristin Graff, of the lovely Fringe party at Madrone Art Bar told me. "There is a cult-like following for the small, neighborhood indie dance parties, and as fans of the music, DJs in this space are often supporting each other's events. I think we were all curious if we could join forces, combine our individual communities, and give them a large-scale night club experience celebrating the music we all love," Blondie K continued. "At the same time, we wanted to bring some attention and financial support to DNA Lounge. Hopefully deliveries will be up and running again late next week. Initially we will be using Grubhub for deliveries (it turns out that they now do deliveries as well as ordering, which we didn't realize.) We are looking in to ways to supplement that with other delivery mechanisms as well, though, because they stop delivering at 11pm. As one of the tiny minority of 24 hour restaurants in San Francisco, we did a big chunk of our delivery business between midnight and 3am, and we'd sure like to continue doing that. Here's a sad moment. We go through a huge number of paper tickets in this business, so we order them in large quantities, and well in advance. Well, last week it was finally time to crack open the new box of drink tickets... And they are the new design, which includes the Codeword logo. Sigh. So we're going to be staring at that and being sad for the next year or so. As for Codeword, we're still going through the depressing process of working out how to shut things down in an orderly manner, working out what equipment we want to bring over to DNA, what is sellable, etc. One of the things we definitely want to do is bring the (newer, better) pizza oven from CW to DNA. This is very involved, because pizza stones are notoriously fragile; the oven won't fit around the bar so it either has to go over it, or through the front window; and I don't yet have a straight answer on who's going to be responsible for disconnecting and reconnecting the gas without blowing up the building. So, it's a work in progress. The most valuable thing over there is the liquor license, which we are allegedly in the process of selling, though there hasn't been any visible motion on that yet. The damned things are worth in the neighborhood of a quarter million dollars, and demand is high, but it takes months to complete the sale. And we've sure got some stuff we could spend that money on right now, let me tell you. Some photos from recent shows... You may notice that this is not many galleries for the past month. That's because we're again having trouble getting reliable photographers. If that's you, drop us a note. Rave to the Grave Xandria Candlemass Days and Daze Hubba Hubba

Wherein we're currently not doing deliveries, because Uber sucks.

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 05:48:39 +0000

We find ourselves in an unfortunate position of no longer being able to do deliveries of DNA Pizza, because Uber is flexing their monopolistic muscle in an attempt to take over an unrelated industry! First some background: Since we opened DNA Pizza in 2009, we've done online ordering through all of the popular online ordering sites: Eat24, Grubhub, whatever. A new service would pop up and say, "We offer exactly the same features in as every other site that does this, you should list your menu here!" and we'd say, "Ok, why not". Sometimes people go to looking for a way to order from us, but often people go to whatever ordering site they used last, and type in "pizza", so it behooves us to be listed on as many as possible. These sites gather the order, charge the credit card, take a percentage, send the order along to us, and then we deliver it. (And one of the nice things that Eat24 did, and none of the others do, is if the referrer on the click came from our site, they didn't take a cut -- because in that case, it's clear that we drove the traffic to that order rather than them. That was cool of them.) For actual delivery, in the early days, we hired our own delivery drivers. This is a huge pain for a few reasons: Finding reliable restaurant employees is hard enough, but now we need to find ones who also have a car. If their job is "delivery driver only", you're paying them an hourly wage to sit around doing nothing during all the time when no deliveries are happening. So you try to double them up, and put them to work as regular restaurant staff when they're not out delivering. This is the worst of both worlds, though, because if you think it through there are only two possible scenarios there. Let's say you feel the restaurant needs 3 staff to work properly, and now you add 1 driver. So now either: You have no deliveries, and you're overstaffed, because you have 4 when you needed 3; Or, those 4 staff are actually all busy, meaning you really did need 4, so whoops, now you're understaffed by one driver. (These will both happen within the same shift, and you never hit the sweet spot where you are staffed properly.) And the nature of the business is that all of the delivery orders come in at the same time, right at 7pm or right at 2:15am. So for most of the day you need one driver, if that, except that for sixty crucial minutes you need twelve drivers. Then we started using Uber: We hired in-house drivers from 2009 until early 2014 when we transitioned over to using Uber as our delivery service. It works how you think: You tell them you have a pick-up, and they come and get it. It worked as badly as you think, too. Because Uber has thousands of drivers, and terrible employee retention, just about every time you called one, you got someone who had only been on the job for a week and had literally never driven in San Francisco before. Customer satisfaction was, shall we say, not great. Now, to be clear, when we had in-house drivers, they were pretty terrible at their jobs too. But Uber was largely worse. At least, though, they gave us some cover, because when we apologized to the customer that the driver hadn't bothered ringing the bell, or had carried the pizza box sideways, we got to blame it on Uber, and bond with the customer over, "Fucking Uber, man." I absolutely despise Uber as a company. They make San Francisco worse in every way. But I didn't have a better option, so I held my nose and worked with them anyway. (Foreshadowing!) We looked around for other delivery services that a restaurant could use to outsource their deliveries, and there were only a few, but every one of them used Uber as their back-end anyway! So by using them you were just giving some other middleman an extra cut. And here's what happened last week: Uber just sprung on us that they are no longer offering the service of "deliveries". Now they offer the service of "integrated orders and deliveries". And only that. That's right[...]

Wherein Codeword will will be closing at the end of July.

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 21:35:54 +0000

I'm sorry to report that, three years after the beginning of this project, and after nearly two years of operation, we are shutting Codeword down. Stick a fork in it, it's done. To be clear, Codeword is closing, DNA Lounge is not. So please watch it with those misleading headlines, ok? Codeword's attached restaurant, the Fifth and Folsom location of DNA Pizza, will also be closing. However, both DNA Lounge and the Eleventh Street location of DNA Pizza remain open. We have had some really fun events at Codeword, and worked with some great artists and promoters. But even though many of the parties were fun, very few of them made enough money to cover our rent, and those that did were few and far between. So to all of the artists and promoters who made a go of it there, thank you for all your hard work, and I'm sorry we couldn't figure out how to make the venue succeed. And to our staff, I'm sorry to have put you all through this. Especially to the restaurant staff, who spent less of their time serving food than they did fighting with angry schizophrenics, trying to keep heroin addicts from using our restrooms as their shooting gallery, mopping the lake of trash and human shit off of the sidewalk, and arguing with whichever meth dealer du jour had decided to do business out of the hotel upstairs. We literally do not pay them enough to put up with the kind of nonsense that came their way every night. Our landlord has been remarkably understanding and generous during this process. He recently gave us a substantial rent reduction, but even that wasn't enough. We spent more than eight months trying to find someone willing to buy the business and take over our lease, but nobody would take the bait. Our landlord would be totally within his rights to demand our monthly rent until the end of our lease, quite a few years in the future, but we've negotiated an exit: he's letting us out of the lease. That leaves him with an empty building, awaiting the next person to come along, so letting us walk away is pretty huge. The Fallacy of Sunk Cost is a monster. It's very difficult not to view situations like this with the framing of: "We have invested so much, and if we stop now, we are wasting that money". But the reality is, that money has been spent. It is already gone. The remaining decision is only whether continuing down this path, or down another, has better future potential. Does the facility we have on hand have a strong enough economic potential that it is better to devote even more resources to it? Or would those same resources be better spent at DNA Lounge? And those resources are not exclusively financial. It's hard to quantify the brain drain in financial terms. Every hour that I and my managers spend trying to figure out how to improve Codeword is an hour that is not being spent thinking about how to improve DNA, where the potential benefits could be much larger. There are many theories about what went wrong. I have a few, maybe you have some of your own. One perennial favorite is that the interminable construction project next door made our side of the street invisible, unwalkable and filthy. There are some arguments for being optimistic about the location, so here are some of the difficult debates we've had with ourselves about why not to close: The sidewalk is open again, and that has made a great visual improvement. The construction is almost finished, and the condo building next door will soon be full of hundreds of new potential pizza customers. The construction on Moscone will be finished in a year or two, bringing more conference tourism to the neighborhood. So, maybe in a couple of years, this will be a great spot for a restaurant and bar. But that's a lot of rent to pay in the mean time, waiting for a potential coming Golden Age of Fifth and Folsom. In the shorter term, with the sidewalk being open, maybe now is the right time to try again to be open for lunch. To do that right, i[...]