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The Making of The Fat Ham, Part 8: Countdown!

The restaurant is now less than three weeks away.

Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga restaurant on South Broad Street is planning his second restaurant, The Fat Ham, at 3131 Walnut St. in The Left Bank in University City.

In Part 1, he let us in on a design meeting for the space, which he hopes to open in November.

In Part 2, the rubber hits the road as he and his associates went on a road trip to explore Southern cuisine.

In Part 3, Sbraga and company meet the press.

In Part 4, construction starts on the space.

In Part 5, Sbraga and crew test recipes.

In Part 6, Sbraga hires staff.

In Part 7, the lights go in.

Part 8: The countdown to opening.

"This is when it gets nuts," Kevin Sbraga said today, as the countdown clock began ticking ever more loudly toward the opening of The Fat Ham.

A few delays - such as the arrival of only 36 of 38 chairs and the delay of table tops - led Sbraga to call an audible and push back the "late November" public opening by a little more than a week.

"I'm now just a puppet master," he said. "People need to do what they need to do."

The frenzy continues inside the former Tria Wine Bar. The bar top - crafted from a spectacular piece of hemlock - was installed the other day, along with the walk-in refrigerator. The sound system is next to go in, as are some pendant lights.

One piece of plumbing remains: The new ice machine.

New ice machine? Designers had planned to install a large ice machine outside in the back, but then realized that the line could freeze. The ice machine was returned and a smaller one was purchased to fit under the bar. Sbraga is concerned that the restaurant may not have enough ice on peak days, so he plans to have employees make cubes early in the day and store them.

Sbraga also recently decided to move the flatware from Sbraga, his other restaurant, to The Fat Ham. So Sbraga diners will see new flatware.

Fifteen to 20 employees have been hired, and Sbraga still needs one more.

His countdown leads us to an open house on Dec. 2 for people in the restaurant business. On Dec. 3 and 4, he will invite friends and family - much as Marc Vetri did for the soft openings of Pizzeria Vetri. Dec. 5 will be a day to regroup.

Dec. 6 is showtime.