Like a good hedonist, I am gaining pleasure at autumn’s expense this afternoon, watching the oaks and maples change into their more colorful garments before dispensing of them entirely. Similarly, I am also basking in the afterglow of an incredible week of restaurant life, much in part to the review in the Lincoln Journal Star on a week ago Friday.

Reviews can make or break a place, and we certainly saw the former at work all week. It allowed folks to know that we now serve a dinner menu every night of the week, and attendance proved that fact. Around 6pm on Wednesday night, a usual night off for me, Karen called and said to get down here because they were already in the weeds. My bother quickly changed to adrenaline when I got in the kitchen and reminded myself that this is why we do what we do; we make people happy, and doing so better make me happy as well, or I’m in the wrong business.

Success breeds success, because if good news is really good news, it spreads virally on its own. If I can talk about my restaurant, I’ll take every chance I’m given. But if I can get you to talk about it for me, that’s even better. Customers make better advertisements than ads in any publication.

The conversation about success usually leads to questions like this; “When are you going to expand?” or “You could franchise this, you know?” And while I appreciate the reasoning behind it, it’s the opposite rationale that has made our concept work.

A franchise is a formula built on the lowest common denominator: What’s the lowest level of skill needed to reproduce the product? The reason our food stands out above the crowd is it made with increasing skill. We are constantly reading, studying new ideas, trying new techniques so we can present better plates in front of you. We are currently tearing through Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie, a book on curing, smoking and preserving meats. The Tasso ham we made convinced us we need to keep moving in that direction. Eventually all our meats on the Meat Plate and Ploughman will be created in house. It made us happy when we took the first taste, so we assumed it would do the same for you.

I am a thankful man this afternoon, and now I know what my dad meant when I would hear him say countless times, “my cup runneth over.” To be a part of this little hub of activity on the corner of 8 & S streets in Lincoln, Nebraska, I dreamed it would be good, and now I know what good feels like.

Fifty Five Degrees and Counting

One thought on “Fifty Five Degrees and Counting

  • October 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm
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    It is good to see the positive response from the local press. It is even better to read that you got called in on your night off. Owning your own business gives you the advantage of setting your own work hours – ALL OF THEM.

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