Our story so far: Frank Connell and his cousin Mike Clements have been struggling to get their new restaurant, the Red Bean, open before they run out of money. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.
Frank Connell sucks back a red Slurpee as he rolls into the Red Bean wearing purple shorts, a full-brimmed hat, dark shades and several days of scruff.
Whoa, says Frank. To his surprise, the Mount Pleasant restaurant is humming with activity. A couple of contractors are working in the kitchen. The landlord, an old friend of Frank's who has given him breaks on rent until the restaurant opens, has stopped by to check on its progress. And Mike Clements, Frank's cousin and business partner, is talking with two dour-faced men. Frank knows right away that they are inspectors for the city.
Good news, Mike says to Frank. The Red Bean has just passed a series of District inspections: fire, plumbing and building. The clipboard-carrying men bid farewell to Mike and Frank and leave behind a stack of ratified permits.
Whoopee! Frank exults. "Let's party."
Just then a small, middle-aged man dripping with sweat struggles through the door, pushing a bike ahead of him. It's Mr. Permit -- also known as Jim Smith -- the private consultant Frank and Mike have hired to guide them through the city's regulatory maze. Frank shows Mr. Permit the stack of papers signed by the inspectors.
"Okay," Mr. Permit concludes, after perusing the papers. "So now we just need to get your health permit." That is easier said than done.
Health inspections for new restaurants are tough, says Mr. Permit, who casts a scolding eye at the cigarette between Frank's lips. "You guys shouldn't be smoking" in the restaurant, he says, because it makes the place smell dirty.
Frank doesn't take issue with Mr. Permit. The man knows everything there is to know about doing business with the District government. "What he's done for us, if we had to do for ourselves, it would have taken months," Frank says. Of course a good service costs good money -- $5,000, in this case.
Mr. Permit prowls around the Red Bean looking for potential health violations. "The thing that fails most restaurants from opening is dust," he warns. He points to the windows, to the floor, to an air-conditioning duct. "Get all that dust off everything . . . You're going to have about 48 hours of cleaning from what I can tell." So snap to it, he tells Frank and Mike.
The next day, Frank and Mike stand in an alley behind the Red Bean, scouring a steel table that will go in the kitchen. Cleaning the table takes a lot more elbow grease than they expected. Later, Frank drops into a chair inside the restaurant, cracks open a beer and says he's had enough cleaning for the day.
The dust has yet to be wiped away. But Frank has a plan. The weekend is just two days away. He says he's going to buy a lot of beer, cook some food and invite all his friends over for a cleaning party.
-- Tyler Currie