When the customer is absolutely right

Sunday morning, as I opened my computer for my PostSecret ritual, I read an email with the subject line that read, “Rather Unimpressed.” Dread washed over me immediately, because I had a feeling this complaint was going to be accurate, which it was. It began with this paragraph,


After hearing about your establishment from several people, I was very excited to stop in and give you a try. To say that I left there unimpressed would be an understatement.


To cut to the chase, the customer received poorly prepared food, and had every right to be upset … more »

When the customer isn’t always right

If you’ve worked in any kind of service industry, you’ve no doubt heard the mantra repeatedly, “The customer is always right.” The thinking behind it is to always bend to the customer’s wishes, give him what he wants, and make him feel right in his own eyes, and you will make the sale. It works to a degree, but as with any absolute, hard and fast rule, you find it fails to reach to the heart of the matter.

I deal with odd requests all the time. If you want dessert as an entrée and to have it sent out … more »

Sticking to the plan

Here are a couple of business decisions we’ve made recently, and our reasoning behind them.


When we first opened, it was hit or miss on how many people might show up during the evening. In the early days, we might not have a soul step through the door after 7PM, and with that kind of uncertainty, it was hard to know how late to keep the lights on. Thus came our use of the word, “late” in the explanation of our hours. 7am to Late was how we explained it to people, and it worked fine for that season, … more »

This Offal is Awful

Pardon if this seems a bit graphic, but I was working with beef tongue and beef heart tonight in preparation for this Saturday’s Slow Meal, which is all about meat. A quick glance may make you think this is a roast of some kind, but you will see the tell tale signs of organ meat that I have yet to clean up.

My goal for the meal this weekend is for my guests to each be able to say they liked everything that was served. Serving offal can sometimes feel like attending a frat party, its wild and fun, but … more »

So you want my job?

The grass is always greener on the other side, and while I would not trade what I have created with very many people, there are the days like today that are full of tasks that don’t exactly fit into the perception of what an executive chef does with his time. This is precisely why I believe so many restaurants go under. Incompetence in the kitchen can kill a place quickly, but so can incompetence with the spreadsheet or with leading employees to work to their fullest potential.

My eyes are drawn to television commercials that talk about career and retirement … more »

Inserted back into the Matrix

Back home now, trying to re-enter the Matrix after four days of eating well. Our plane landed in Omaha last night, and neither of us were ready for the hour drive back to Lincoln, so we took our friend Luke’s suggestion and stopped at Pitch in Dundee for one last meal. Pitch is a coal fired pizza restaurant, with a simple menu and superb flavor combinations. The house was packed on a Wednesday night and makes use of the community table, one long common table that several parties can fit in around it. We saw this at use in Avec … more »

Excuse me, but could you tell me where the…

Its amazing how fast four days can slip by, even when the main activity on the travelog was eating. The Bristol last night was my best overall experience. They have the whole package figured out, and Chicagoland is beating a path to their door.

The Violet Hour is proof that signage is optional, if indeed you have a reason for people to enter and re-enter your front door. I was warned about its obscurity, and even still, walked right by it twice. Excellent, hand crafted cocktails with an urban pricetag.

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The Definition of a Gastropub

If you were to ask me to describe what a gastropub is, I would keep my mouth shut and just point you in the direction of Hopleaf and let it speak for itself. Memorable food, a list full of beers that are keepers in a warm, bustling publike building. I believe Lincoln needs one of these.

No brush with greatness today, for which I am glad. I came here to get away from the hubub. XOCO for lunch, Violet Hour and The Bristol later today.… more »


Karen and I
are taking a few days away to Chicago with the prime objective of eating good food and gaining inspiration. On Sunday we found our way to Bin 36, which specializes in very good affordable wines and small plates in accompaniment. A wide selection of cheese, charcuterie led to a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon despite the bracing chill in the Windy City.

Avec was our destination for the evening. It seems like everyone who found out we were going to Chicago mentioned this loud, buzzy, eatery as a necessary item on our agenda. Imagine dining in a … more »