The next time you find yourself at Leader Block Wine Co. & Eatery in Ferndale, prepare for a shiny surprise. In January, the restaurant installed a coin floor made from more than 41,000 pennies.

The idea started in 2012, when Chef Justin Oberg saw a coin floor in a temple in Asia. When the floor at Leader Block needed repairs, the idea fell into place — or rather was glued into place, one penny at a time.

If you’re wondering how many pennies it takes to cover a floor, the answer is 278 per square foot. In addition to contributions from staff, Leader Block collected pennies from regular guests and friends. “We used them all and feel like they are now and forever part of Leader Block!” says Leader Block manager and wine director Amberleigh Brownson. Even after donations, the team had to go to 10 different banks to collect the remaining needed pennies.

The five-person team quickly learned that installing more than 40,000 pennies is an exercise in patience, epoxy, and back strength. To pass the time, they chatted and played word games. With fumes from the epoxy, the conversation quickly turned silly. “We all know so much more about each other than we did before,” Brownson says.

Excluding prep time, the back-bending project took the five workers 15 hours each. Toward the end, even standing up was painful. “We were sore with every inch of our bodies!” Brownson says.

I think everyone would agree that the pain was worth it — the diversity of pennies creates a unique copper mosaic. Head to Leader Block to check it out for yourself.

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