Removing Tile Flooring: Restaurants can’t have dust.

A year ago I decided to re-do the tile in the café. It was the original tile from the original construction of, say, the early Jurassic period, and was pretty outdated.

I’d done a great job with paint and new furnishings and art and stuff, but there was no getting away from the dated tile and everything that that screamed to customers. It was time for a face-lift.

I wanted a completely different look, and I knew that to accomplish that, I’d have to get rid of the old tile completely. Not just lay down a new flooring over it.

It would require a tile-removal company. Where the heck to find that?

I let my fingers do the walking—I know, that’s also from the Jurassic period—and found a company called FloorBusters. Tile removal with no dust, they chirped. Sounded great to me.

Actually I hadn’t even thought about dust. Who thinks about dust when it comes to tile? Or removing it?

I looked at their site and realized I was a total nube when it came to tile removal. Apparently tile removal done the traditional cave-man way produces billuminous ( I just made that word up) clouds of dust that if they weren’t trapped in your building would go up into the atmosphere and produce skies like we saw when Mt. St. Helens let loose.

I exaggerate, yes. But apparently not by much.

Started thinking about all that dust swirling around in my awesome little café . . . landing on picture frames, baseboard edges, top-shelf knickknacks, stacks of plates, vents, registers, kitchen appliances, glass-topped tables, window sills, registers, yada, yada, yada . . . and realized: I DO NOT WANT DUST.

I looked around a little more to see if there were other tile-removal companies that did the no-dust-during-process thing. Didn’t really find any others so I called up FloorBusters and had a nice chat and a guy came out the next day to look over my project.

I liked the sound of the way they work. Apparently they bring in like monster-grade vacuum cleaners, basically. They fire those up while the tile-removal is happening and those suckers gobble the dust up before it even has a chance to think about mimicking Mt. St. Helens.

Pry up tile; suck up dust. Pry up tile; suck up dust. Pry up tile; suck up dust. And so on until all the tile is up and the job is done.

What’s not to like about a process like that? Heck, sign me up!

That’s exactly what I did—I signed them up. They came out a week or so later, worked a couple of days, and got all my old tile out of there. I watched a bit while they worked. I didn’t hover. Nobody likes a hovering business owner while they’re trying to get their work done.

But I was curious, so I asked if I could watch a little bit. Super interesting. Well, that’s a little over the top. Somewhat interesting is more accurate.

They got the job done. My café was as dust-free when they left as when they arrived. And I was ready to put down my new flooring. I was happy, happy, happy.

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Ways to Trendify Your Biz

So, if you’ve read my blogs prior to this one, you’ll know I own a café, (not as nice as hardrock though) which is the bomb of all cafes, if I do say so myself, and you’ll know that a couple of years ago I redid the floor.I had to do a whole bunch of tile-removal first, and that went great. A-plus experience when it came to the company I contracted to do the tile removal, partly because they did a GREAT job getting my prehistoric tile out, and partly because they were so KLEEEEEEEEEN.

Yeah, clean.

They did the whole job and I would swear in a court of law that not a single speck of dust escaped their mombo vacuums. Every surface was a dust-free when they left as the day they arrived.

Anyway, about what I did with the floor afterward . . . .

Underneath the tile was bare concrete. So I really had all my options open as far as choosing what I wanted to lay down on it.

In the front area of the café, I put down wide-plank hardwood, and then I put classy-looking rugs on top of that. The rugs didn’t cover up the hardwood. They just kind of warmed it up and created social areas and comfort areas.

Like where the overstuffed chairs are. There’s a round rug in that area, and it makes it look inviting.

In the main café area, where all the regular and high-top tables are, I did something different.

A few years ago, in a bathroom of a sales center for an upscale community, I saw the coolest concrete floors EVER. They had been stained in several different colors, and the stain was laid down in organic swirls and swoops. The colors were what you’d find in a piece of petrified wood that has been cut and polished: golds, warm browns, flecks of green, that sort of thing. On the floor, it looked spectacular.

I saw that floor and decided then and there that I would duplicate that treatment somewhere, some time, some place!

When I saw the bare concrete in my café, I knew right away what I was going to do. Concrete stain.

It would have to be a different color combination from that sales center bathroom floor, because my wall and chair colors were red, black, and silver. I decided to use those three colors and throw in flecks of gold.

If it didn’t work, I could strip it and start again, I thought.

I actually did the project myself. I could’ve hired someone, but it’s the kind of project I enjoy, and besides, I had it in my mind’s eye how I wanted the swirls and swoops. I wasn’t sure I could communicate that to someone else.

I dug in one day pretty soon after the tile-removal company had finished. Got out my cans of stain, my rags, my solvent, and all that stuff. Cranked Adele through the house speakers and got to work.

And baby, it turned out GREAT. My knees were shot to pieces by the end of the project, but I hardly noticed because I was so excited about how it turned out.

There are a couple of places where a swoop turned into a blotch and a swirl became a glob, but so what. I put my initials right on top of those places. Celebrate the mistakes, right? They just show off the perfect parts that much more.

Yeah, so that’s my floor now. I get comments all the time. I swear, I could probably make a living doing concrete floors for a living if I decided to give up my café!

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A Flightmare

Experiencing a medical episode in the middle of a flight . . . that has to be one of the worst things to happen.

I’m on a trip to the west coast, and the first leg is a 4+-hour flight to Phoenix. We’re an hour into the flight, and a flight attendant comes on the intercom.

Is there a doctor on board? she asks.

A few minutes later, after no doctor materializes: is there a nurse on board?

And a few minutes later: is there a paramedic on board?

I’m at the back of the plane in the row reserved for travelers who like to feel the rush of traffic of all the forward passengers visiting the restrooms. This means I have a great view of all activities commencing in rows 33 to 1.

I see a white-haired guy stand up and go to the flight attendant. He basically spends the rest of the flight in row 20 with what turns out to be a middle-aged woman in some sort of medical distress.

I never hear what actually transpired. But the flight attendant who called for the doc eventually comes back to the rear bay area—seventeen inches from where I’m sitting—and I hear her talking to another flight attendant.

The woman in distress is now ok—sitting up, able to buckle herself in, and have a drink of water.

I still don’t know what happened.

Medical Emergency On Board a Flight

The poor woman, though. Can you imagine having a medical emergency on a flight? You’re 39,000 feet up in the air, surrounded by strangers, with no way out. You could call 911 but up here, it’s not like that’s going to work. You’re at the mercy of the passenger composition on that particular flight, and whether or not it includes anyone that knows anything about treating emergency health situations. With no equipment or medicine or tools, presumably.

Yeah, they could land the plane if necessary (assuming you’re not on an international flight somewhere between Hawaii and Singapore). But even that can’t happen in two minutes.


I will not tell my friend Betty about this episode. She has claustrophobia of an epic proportion. She can’t get on an airplane to go visit her kids cross-country because she can’t handle the plane ride. It’s the no-easy-escape thing that wrecks her.

She’s working on it, with intense therapy. It’s why I go to Disney with her every other weekend. We go on rides, over and over and over, so that she can incorporate her therapy strategies and eventually get to the place where she can get on an airplane.

If I tell her about this medical emergency that happened on my flight, she’ll be like, Hell, no. Oh, hell, no. no, no, no. I’m not doing that! She’ll bellow. (She does that. Bellows, I mean.)

I can TOTALLY hear her saying that.

She’ll imagine herself as that distressed woman with no way to get off the plane, and it’ll put her back six months in her therapy.

And it’ll put the two of us back into the Finding Nemo clamshell ride. Hell, no. Oh, hell, no!


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Ugh, Stains and Cash

I have a daughter. Yes. I had another life before I opened my café, and that life involved a husband—who fled the scene a while ago—and a daughter and two sons.

My life now still involves the daughter and sons, but it doesn’t involve the husband any more, thank God.

Anyway . . . the daughter. She’s a picky person. No, she’s selective. That sounds better than picky. Got a picky kid, here are some tips.

Her tastes are refined and careful.

She would rather purchase food or clothing or whatever from a vendor that doesn’t use child labor or sweatshops or workers exploited in any way. She tracks down that information with the intensity of a blood hound. One whiff of a practice that involves treatment of a person in a substandard or subhuman or sub-anything way, and she is off that vendor site faster than travelers off a plane after a transcontinental flight.

When she finds what she wants, it’s usually not cheap. But she will pay the price, and as a result she doesn’t have a large collection of anything. She can’t afford it! Whether its jeans or Thanksgiving turkeys or cherry tomatoes, she will pay premium prices to get sustainable, fair-wage, globally-responsible stuff.

So . . . a few months ago she decided to invest in a new pair of jeans and a good pair of boots. She searched high and low and finally found what she wanted. The jeans were $50 and the boots were $120.

Ok, to some of you that doesn’t sound like too much. But keep in mind this is a girl who is working an unpaid internship, getting a stipend that nets her, oh, say, about $1.27/hour when all is said and done. A $50 pair of jeans for her is like a $400 pair of jeans for some of you. Not cheap.

She had the jeans and shoes for maybe a couple of months. They were perfect.

I get a call one day, and I learn that the jeans and boots have met an untimely end. All of a sudden. My daughter has spilled peanut oil down her front, and it has traveled down the full length of the jeans and all over the boots.

Unbelievably, the jeans and boots are completely ruined. “Is there any hope for them?” I ask. I mean, can they be boiled in lye in a giant cauldron over a roaring fire or something? With incantations and peanut-oil-removal spells?

Seriously, in this current age where we can send in a micro-thing to pick the nose of an interstitial cell and retrieve a booger with which to extract DNA and create a brand new human being, we can’t figure out a solution to get peanut oil out of cotton pants and suede shoes?

Alas, no. The jeans and boots are dead. For my daughter, I am crushed. She takes it like a trooper, as usual. But I know it’s a really disappointing loss.

Her birthday is next month. I can’t really afford her taste in clothes either, but hey, I’m her mom. I have ordered her the exact same jeans and boots, and she’ll have them again.

I’m gonna tell her to Scotchguard them this time. And stay away from peanut oil.

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