Where to start? You know the saying, I think it’s attributed to Bette Davis, ‘getting old isn’t for sissies’. Well that saying applies to buildings as well as people -or at least Sump’s building.
St. Louis was the west coast (meaning the Mississippi River) of the US at the turn of the 1900’s and as a result there is amazing brick building architecture, of which (and I’m biased) Sump is one. But lurking beneath these 100 plus year old brick beauties is cast iron and clay ‘tubes’ buried deep, deep below the ground under layers and layers of gravel and concrete. These ‘tubes’, especially the cast iron, have rated lifetimes of say 70 years. These ‘tubes’ are also known as sewer laterals.
In brief (kidding) our lateral is out. Totally gone. So bad that the cast iron was neither iron or cast. This mean water can come into the building but can’t leave the building. It’s amazing, but what, at the time (100 plus years ago) someone thinks is a good idea, a ‘forever solution’, and well … who knows what a 100 years from now will bring. But why bury it so deep? Why make it so hard to get?
Resolving the problem requires several parties, time and capital; and nothing moves quickly. As it stands now, it looks like the outside piece will be completed by the end of this week -no guarantee with rain this week. As for the inside bit, never ever underestimate what a horrible bit of business this is or what having good friends (ones with shovels and rubber boots) are worth. But the floor is trenched and ready for PVC as of today. What makes this whole thing uncertain, and anyone who has worked on an old building knows, that when you do one thing something else breaks (and if it were only one thing we’d be lucky). One broke very expensive thing resulted in another broke very expensive thing(s).
So that is where we are after two days. We can roast still. For those interested in supporting or helping Sump until we can open again you can do one of two things, or both, (1) be there for us when we reopen; and (2) order coffee from us using our website starting April 15th and/or (and I guess this is (3)), pick up our coffee at Comet Coffee or Half & Half (or anyone else that retails our coffee).
Thanks to everyone who has emailed or texted us ideas about temporary spots or volunteered to help. It means tons to us. I can’t say this emphatically enough. So I’ll say it in all caps: WE’RE HONORED AND HUMBLE AND GRATEFUL. Everyone who has emailed us, tweeted or texted has been amazing. When all this happened it felt like the end. It still feels pretty low, but it’s good to have people in our corner even if it’s just a good word. (One caveat -this person and organization was not helpful, insurance and the associated agent -useless, and I quote “you’re only covered for covered loses" -so Kafkaesque (as in the ‘forever solution’ how can someone ever foresee everything that can possibly go wrong -this isn’t a problem isolated to us, but seems to be the general structure of any insurance ‘scheme’).
If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, we will. We’ve been breaking concrete and shoveling for the last two days. There is still a great deal to do, but we love the shop, the coffee, the people and the culture it has begun to nurture and create. We don’t want to stop yet and also hope you don’t want us to stop.