An Evening with Woodsmoke

We had a houseful of people last night for our Evening with Woodsmoke. The title makes it sound more like a BBQ festival, but instead it was an event highlighting the work of Sean Coetzee, a young entrepreneur from South Africa, who is bringing the art and culture of African to an American audience.

About a month ago, when Sean proposed the idea of us hosting the gathering at bread&cup, I thought back to the memorable experience I had traveling in Africa years ago. Since I was familiar with some of the common foods in Eastern Africa, I decided … more »

A game of inches

Its uncanny in so many of life’s circumstances how something so small can have such a big effect. You can’t watch the Olympics very long without seeing someone’s dream dashed because of a missed landing, a missed gate or a fraction of a second too slow. Al Pacino’s speech in Any Given Sunday rings clear…” You find out that life is just a game of inches.”

We had a nice evening of service tonight, with the exception of an error that left a customer without her food. It was clearly my mistake, an oversight on my part. I had … more »

Why I’m voting Yes on the new Haymarket Arena

The obvious presumption to this statement is because I own a restaurant a mere stone’s throw away from the proposed arena location, and that I am simply looking to cash in on the potential increase in business from the vortices that will trail behind such an economic engine. Yes, I do believe I personally stand to gain from its construction. I also believe a new arena is in the best interest of the future of Lincoln for many years to come.

Two and a half years ago, my wife and I pushed everything we had to our name into the … more »

Breathe in; Breathe out

{boilerroom restaurant}

I took a day this week to spend in the kitchen at The Boiler Room in Omaha. Chef Paul Kulik and his staff are putting together some outstanding food with a bent toward local sourcing. I would recommend a visit soon.

{boilerroom staff}

For me, the importance of a day of observation like this is simply to watch and learn. Our restaurants are not the same in style or execution; however we do share the same values for care of preparation, local sourcing and creativity. I enjoy seeing people committed to their craft and listening to their explanations … more »

Objective #4 for 2010

Our fourth objective for 2010:

  • To create a place our employees love to work

Restaurants are notorious for short-term, short-time, transient staff that turn over as often as flapjacks on the griddle of a Pancake Man fundraiser. Part has to do with the nature of the work, appealing to a young person who needs a job to fund other more stimulating interest, but I would be willing to bet that more often than not, staff leave a job because it’s just not a fun place to be.

There is a dermis of self interest in this objective, especially in the … more »

Making Pasta from Scratch

In defense of scratch made components, here is a visual explanation of why we are committed to making as much of what we serve from raw ingredients. It is a lesson in craftsmanship, which I believe is often times confused with artisanal. Pardon my beef with semantics, but here’s how I keep the two clear in my mind.

Art is the act of creating something new, whereas Craft is the act of creating something the same. Art has its focus on pushing boundaries and limits. Craft, on the other hand, knows the importance of restriction for the sake of a … more »

Objective #3 for 2010

A third objective for 2010:

  • To attract and maintain a loyal customer base via WOM

The busier you get, the more selective you need to be when it comes to anything that demands your time. This objective gives me reason to just say no to countless sales calls for marketing gimmicks. I tell the caller that we are committed to marketing our business through word of mouth and would not be interested in their product. When they push back with their scripted, conditioned response, I ask them what it’s like to have a job trying to sell me something I … more »

Objective #2 for 2010

A second objective we are setting for ourselves this year:

  • To be a prominent reference point for Lincoln’s culinary opinion.

If experts were to do a story about role of sports in Lincoln, to whom are they going to speak? Obviously the Husker football program is going to play a major part in telling that story. So if a food writer, researcher or other seeker of information wants to know what is developing in our town in the area of food and its enjoyment, I would like to find myself on the top of the list of choices.

I love … more »

The Kitchen and the Table

For every business leader, there comes a time when a sober assessment of one’s business is crucial in determining the next step to take. For many eating establishments in Lincoln in the last two years, that step has been to get out of the game. Gratefully for us, considering that direction is not necessary. We need to make sure we are taking steps forward, and thus, how far?

It is not a stretch for me to say that the approach we are taking to food and drink is unique not only to Lincoln but to many of our out of … more »