TWO HOMES SOLD AND ONE HOME TO GO
By Stephen A Duncan
Today marked seven and a half months a For Sale sign went up in the yard to sell my home.
It was raining… raining hard this morning. I drove to the school bus parking lot and ran to my bus from my car under an umbrella trying not to get totally drenched. I started my bus. As I listened to the engine warm I checked the zip lock bag I brought with me and realized several items had fell out of the bag. I looked out the side window of the bus and noticed several keys and one garage door opener on the wet sidewalk a few feet from the bus. I jumped out into a heavy down pour and picked up two keys and the garage door opener and jumped back into the bus.
Today is the day I sign away the home I planned on living in the rest of my life. She is a fine home. She just needed some tender loving care.
Built in 1950, the home had hard wood floors throughout, a full basement, an upstairs, two and a half baths, a fireplace with gas logs, a hot tub, and a two car detached garage. It was built by a couple, Claudia and Dick Clark. Dick was an air traffic controller at the Weir Cook airport and they liked to have friends over to party. The home had two fully stocked bars, one in the basement and one on the upper level.
When I purchased the home fourteen years ago the home was dated with yellow carpet and yellow painted walls. The kitchen cabinets were painted yellow. As the years go by, you make the improvements you can afford and that’s what I did. It was slow going the first couple of years. After all, first things first… buy the home and once you catch your financial breath you can begin to slowly make improvements to this grand home.
Dinning Room 2000
Dinning room 2013
Dinning Room 2007
Living room 2000
Living room 2013
That is all behind me now. Seven and a half months passed waiting for an offer. I was told the bad winter was part of the problem. I was told the economy was the problem. But we all know it takes a willing seller and a willing buyer to make a real estate transaction work. Was I willing enough?
Today is the day I had to let go. I was scheduled to meet the buyer across a closing table and sign away the home in exchange for a check.
I dropped my student off at school and had a couple hours to kill before the event. I decided to go to an area near the closing location to have breakfast before I forced myself to walk in the settlement room. I moved to the north side of Indianapolis and found the title company building in an upscale office complex. Now that I knew the closing location I looked for a restaurant.
The sign said, “Another Broken Egg Café.” It looked a little too upscale to me and I hesitated just for a moment before pulling the door open and entering the restaurant. I mean, what can a couple of eggs cost for crying out loud? The place had large windows running the full length of the restaurant.
The inside had very bright and hip colors on the walls. The hostess told me to take any seat I liked and she would follow me with the menu. I chose a booth. As I looked around the restaurant I could see it was a hot spot for businessmen. A ballet was taking place at each table as one man was leaning in to the other man talking and using his hands to give his pitch that little extra creditability. The other gentleman was leaning back in his chair with his elbows close to this body and his hand over his mouth. Body language told the story. Others were playing power politics. It’s the old game of listening, watching and making a judgment. I’m so glad I’m out of that business climate.
James introduced himself and offered a cup of coffee. I told him to give me a few minutes so I could scan the menu. I looked behind me and noticed a bar. A fully stocked cocktail bar in a breakfast place? James came back to take my order and I asked him about the bar. He informed me the that a third shift kind of guy simply looks at eight o’ clock in the morning as their supper time. My mind was trying to wrap itself around the concept that a third shift type of guy would be coming to this upscale breakfast place full of suits and polished slacks and knock down a couple drinks before going home to bed.
“Does the bar do any business?” I asked.
James, my waiter, assured me the bar gets its own activity. I can’t imagine that bar sees a sizeable business during the week, perhaps a Bloody Mary on the week-end. I ordered a safe breakfast, two eggs over easy, spuds, bacon and English muffin. As time marched forward to the appointed hour it was getting time for me to leave, James had a few minutes to talk. I told him I had never heard of Another Broken Egg Café. Who owns this place?
“Well, it depends on who you’re talking about. The story goes that a man by the name of Ron Green was working as an engineer for the Department of Defense at NASA in the early 1990’s. He was bored out of his gourd with his 9 to 5 government job. Ron Green says he started experiencing “midlife clarity.”
He realized he needed to escape the corporate world of political correctness and the government bureaucracy. He was living and working in California and on weekends he would drive up and down the Coast trying to find a decent brunch spot. He found nothing that appealed to him.
Ron couldn’t take it anymore and finally took the plunge activating his government pension, pulling his saving accounts, deep sixed his government job and moved back to the south-east. Again he continued to look for a place to enjoy a different kind of culinary experience. What he found was mostly average menu “chains” that offered basic food, basic service with no ambiance, no creativity in the presentation of the food or atmosphere. He was now on a mission. Ron was determined he would open his own restaurant. His restaurant would be the kind of place he wanted to experience. It had to offer exceptional service, it had to feel like being on vacation with family and it had to be very comfortable. All the elements wrapped into one restaurant experience.
Ron wanted a very unique location for his startup. He found an old run down home built in 1908 by a doctor in Mandeville, Louisiana. It was in terrible shape from years of neglect. Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain this Creole cottage took two years of work to bring back to life. The first Broken Egg Café was open for business Thanksgiving weekend 1996. Within two months they were breaking 1400 eggs a week.”
“Okay, so this guy Ron Green owns this place?”
“No… let me tell you more… about a year after the start of the first restaurant a repeat customer asked Ron, “Will you please open Another Broken Egg in New Orleans?” Ron liked the way the named rolled off the tongue and decided to use the name “Another Broken Egg Café” for all café’s to follow.”
The wealth of knowledge this guy has is unlimited, don’t you think?
“So, Duncan, do you know anything about the Hoosier Hospitality Group? They are the ones who own this restaurant in Indianapolis. Hoosier Hospitality Group is best known for owning and operating five Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants in Indianapolis, St. Louis and South Bend, Indiana. Hoosier Hospitality Group signed an agreement with Another Broken Egg of America in 2012 to open 16 of Another Broken Egg Café restaurants in Indiana, Kentucky and New Orleans by 2023. In fact, we are going to open “Another Broken Egg Café” in Fishers, Indiana, right on 116th street across from the DEPOT, currently under construction. I’m going to be the manager of the place.”
President at Hoosier Hospitality Group
“Really, you’re going to be the manager. When will it open?”
James was not sure of an opening date but thought around the end of July or the first few weeks of August. I also tried to sell James on the idea of buying our third home but James was not interested in our three bedroom home in Fishers. He has 5 kids, and a three bedroom home is not big enough for his family, but he was very proud to show pictures of his family.
As I walked out of the Broken Egg I searched the web for Broken Egg on my phone. It takes a franchise fee of $50,000 to start Another Broken Egg Cafe. Then you need to rent space and build out that space. The space should be in an area that has a medium family income of at least $90,000. Once you have the space, then building out for the kitchen and dining area will cost between $400,000 to $900,000 dollars. Corporate requires 5% reimbursement of the net sales each month. On top of that, Hoosier Hospitality Group has agreed to open 16 ABE restaurants by 2023.
You may be asking yourself, how was the service and how was the food? I’m not sure I felt like I was on holiday, but it was fun watching the big egos and big personalities bumping up against each other at the other tables. Remember, I ordered two eggs over easy, bacon with potatoes and an English muffin, that’s a pretty basic breakfast. The average bill per person according to their web site is $13.00. The web site also indicates the largest monthly expenses for the restaurant are food, labor costs and rent. The target for food is 23-25% (of revenues), for labor 26-30% and rent 6-8%.
I pulled up to the building and noticed Barb Getty, my Realtor, getting out of her car. She smiled and we went up to the second floor to the title company to settle the transaction. We were the first to arrive. I decided that I would be very quiet and just sign the papers put before me and get this process over as fast as possible. The lady with a big pile of papers in her folder entered the room and shook hands with everyone being as positive, upbeat and professional as she could be. She asked for my driver’s license, and wanted my social security number. The settlement statement was reviewed, the seller side first and then the buyers side. The papers came at me one after another. Then, papers were put in front of the buyer. The closing agent left the room to make copies of all the papers for the four of us. That left an awkward few minutes to just sit and look off into space. They wanted to engage me in conversation, but I was in no mood to be chatty.
The lady with all the papers came back into the room and handed me and my Realtor a check. It was over… I wanted to leave. I stood up and took a couple of quick shots of the room.
I went down the long hall to the elevator and pushed the button. Barb Getty came in behind me and we were quiet on the way to first floor and to the front doors of the building. It was raining again, hard. I told Barb I really needed to go and so I said goodbye.
I pulled into the bank parking lot and went inside. I deposited the check to an account and walked back to the car… It was over. My home was gone. Fourteen years of memories sold to the highest bidder. Now, in order to move to warm this process must be repeated again, just one more time.