{Photo of Drugstore Restaurant kitchen}

Had a great opportunity to stage (pronounced with an “ah” sound) at Justus Drugstore Restaurant in Smithville, MO this week. What this means is the executive chef allowed me as a visitor to observe the work in his kitchen. I was both impressed and intimidated, which I would say is a good place to be stuck between.

While I trimmed green beans & peeled onions, I was first struck by the intent focus of the staff. Everyone seemed to know exactly what needed to be done and how long it would take to complete, and as a result there was very little superfluous chatter that would hinder that goal. Every work environment has its rhythm, and theirs was in sync to a solid downbeat of high expectation and pride in the finished product. I was very impressed by this level of commitment, even from the dish guy.

Chef Jonathan has an obsession with his food, and it is evident in the detail that is paid to each and every aspect of constructing a dish. He has succeeded in passing on that passion to his staff, as each person with whom I spoke; they wanted more than to just please the chef, but to take pride in the work on their own. It was their food they were putting on the plate, not just the executive’s.

I often tell my staff that the best employees don’t work for me, but rather the most valuable team member works for themselves. Drawing a sizeable paycheck is a secondary concern. Higher pay does not necessarily elicit higher quality work. It has to come from within and not from external forces. No employer wants to throw money at a person to get them to do more, but will gladly pay more to reward a contribution that has become hard to replace.

High summer vegetables are near. The heirloom tomatoes will be back on the menu soon, as will sweet corn and melons. Is there any other taste that equates with the months of July and August and bring back memories of dusty blue skies and drinking straight out of the garden hose?

We are in the process of expanding our evening menus, starting with Thursday Night Pizza & Beer. Every week, we are constructing pizzas with a local, seasonal composition, baked on our own bread, of course. The Fajita Pizza has emerged as the front runner for house favorite.

We are approaching our 2nd anniversary next month, Aug 6th. Looking back, its hard to believe how far we have come in such a short time. Thanks for helping make the dream a reality.

Stage, with an "ah"