Geppetto’s Log - Stardate 073020.1
Old School Beats Modern Day
I admit I was disappointed when Shelby, the genius mechanic, told me the 3D printer guys would not return his calls. He had been trying to reach them for a week or more for help with Ma’s ravioli machine parts and they just weren’t connecting.
“I’m just gonna take it to my guy.” He said.
Shelby’s guy is Richard. Richard at G&S Machine on Cherry Avenue in Keizer is another one of those guys who can figure anything out. Shelby brought Richard Ma’s busted ravioli machine parts and within a day… we had them back. Shelby came to the restaurant in the evening and installed them. “No time for a cold one.“ He said. “I’ve got some work to do for my mom and we’re getting ready to go camping at the coast.” He continued… “When you get this thing rollin’ you might need to adjust it some to get the amount of filling you want. Loosen that nut and slide this bolt a little to the right for more and a little to the left for less.” Mission complete. He was gone.
Roger and I just stood and stared at her for a minute or two. “Wow. I said. I wonder if this is gonna work.”
The next morning, Saturday, Roger and I whipped up a 1/4 batch for a test run. Rog makes the pasta and I prep the filling. Eric arrived around 9:30 to help and it was go time!
It only took a few clicks to see the fix had worked. The machine worked so well... not only were the little pillows full… but they were bursting at the seams!
“I think we need to back it off a little.” I said. Collectively, the three of us were holding our breath. You could tell for a few seconds nobody wanted to make that move. I looked at my hands and made my arms reach out. I took the panel off to reveal the part that would need adjusting. Roger went for a crescent wrench. “Wait!” I said. “Let me call Shelby. I can’t remember if we’re supposed to go to the left or the right.”
Robin answered Shelby’s phone. “Sorry, She said. He’s on top of the motor home. She hollered to him. “It’s Julie. She can’t remember which way to move the bolt to make less meat? Toward the gear he said. Slide the bolt more to the center in the direction of the gear.” I thanked her. Hung up the phone and relayed Shelby’s instructions.
Holding our breath again, Roger loosened the nut. To our surprise, gravity took over and the bolt slipped all the way to the left. We simultaneously gasped. Regrouped and slid the part back to where we though it was previously. “Now, I said. Shelby said to move it a little to the right… more toward center. Roger tightened the nut. We replaced the panel. Said a little prayer and turned the switch.
What little we could make with the remaining materials turned out great! I hooped and hollered and may have performed my most incredible victory dance to date. Ma’s ravioli machine had been re-born! Shelby’s research from Salem to Italy had revealed she was probably manufactured sometime in the 50s. Here we are some 70 years later and she’s popping out raviolis like a champ!
Shelby is the hero here. Richard is his side-kick. Thanks to them, we are back in the ravioli business! Answering the call is the real message here. We are all born with gifts and abilities and we are here to use them for the good of all.
Houston, we have a problem!
I have hesitated to speak of this publicly.
The weight of this story’s outcome is potentially great.
When Geppetto’s door opened August 26th, 1974, Ma Borsotti was making her delicious ravioli by hand. I’ve heard said, it would take her six days and many expletives to make seven days worth of ravioli. Around that time, Tom, her son, heard tell of a man in San Francisco making ravioli for United Airlines at the time. The man wanted to buy a bigger machine and was interested in selling the smaller one.
How Tom learned about this guy and his machine for sale… without the internet is beyond me. Regardless, his sister’s husband was sent to San Francisco to pick it up. For Christmas 1974, Ma was given the former United Airlines ravioli machine. It came without instructions and no owner’s manual. Tom tells some great stories about the trial and error days as they perfected the new way. Ma’s life was made much easier and that machine is still in use to this day at Geppetto’s. At least it was… until two Saturdays ago.
There is a lot to making Ma’s Ravioli. The fresh pasta, the filling and the process of bringing the two together are all important. It is an art. An undeniable change in the end result has unfortunately revealed a problem. Yield and quality have diminished. Something has gone wrong and we can’t make Ma’s Ravioli with her machine unless it can be repaired. It has no identifying markings as to its manufacturer. All we know is that it was made in Italy. Probably quite some time before 1974. The machine’s technology is simple and smart and beyond our ability to make any kind of definite diagnosis as to the problem.
Looking over the old girl, I remarked aloud, “We need that “older guy” who likes to tinker with stuff. The kind of guy who can figure anything out. Does the world even make those kind of guys anymore?”
Just then, twenty-four year Geppetto’s server/bartender, Jamie, a man of few words, softly spoke one name, “Shelby.”
“Really?!” I asked.
“Oh yeah, he said. That guy’s amazing. He can figure anything out when it comes to machinery.”
Shelby and his lovely wife, Robin, are true friends and regular Geppetto’s customers. A Ma’s Ravioli fan, all it took was a quick text and Shelby was on his way. He looked like a surgeon in his headlamp as he observed the machine. I watched in admiration as he studied how the mechanisms worked over and over again. I showed him an example of our latest batch which had not been broken up yet.
“It’s definitely a delivery problem.” Shelby said.
Discerning that narrowed the field and he was able to identify the source.
“It’s a timing issue.” He said. And this gear (which could fit in the palm of my hand) is the problem. That metal star has turned so many times it’s just plain worn out. Its points have worn unevenly and that’s where the problem lies. With this machine… timing is everything. You need a new gear.”
We spent a week attempting to track down manufacturer, specs and information to no avail. One night, at dinner here, our son-in-law made the suggestion of using 3D printing to manufacture a new part. I forwarded the link to Shelby assuming he would be too “old school” for that. Nothing could have been further from reality. He jumped at the opportunity to learn.
“I’ve always wanted to learn about 3D printing.” He said. Shelby came back to the restaurant the next day to remove the part. He took it to a guy in Portland where it will be reverse engineered and its original size determined. When ready the specs will be sent to a 3D print company in Bend. They will manufacture the part and only then will we know if Geppetto’s coveted machine will live to produce again.
Some have said, "Why bother? Get a knew one." It's not that simple. And I believe, the machine and Ma and Tom and Shelby and many others deserve our best effort to restore what was once great.
We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile… say a little prayer… and give thanks for the “older guys’ who like to tinker and aren’t afraid to learn. We won’t make it much longer on the number Raviolis we have left in house. What Ma would do in this moment has crossed my mind. What she would have to say, I imagine, is perhaps too colorful for publication and matches my sentiments precisely.
We made our way to Flight Deck for an awesome lunch today. I have always loved the view overlooking the tarmac. Reminds me of visiting airshows with my dad as a kid. While dining at Flight Deck… in the midst of summer… Autumn was fantastic! She was our server. Frank, whom I assume, is the head chef… because he was wearing black and had a thermometer tucked in his sleeve… popped out to greet us as we left. The place was very clean. Roger thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips and my quesadilla was great! Portion so large… I know what I’m having for dinner. On a side note… I want commercial air travel in Salem. To fly over the commute to PDX would be amazing!
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce GREETERS
Salem Aviation Fueling
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
Amidst the difficulty of a pandemic… love remains and continues to bring new life. You see… while Geppetto’s has been busy navigating the black hole of guidelines and protocols our daughter has been busy growing a baby and working as an RN in the Neuro Trama Care Department of Salem Hospital. True to form… she carries herself and that busy baby boy with grace and grit. Suddenly, he’s due to arrive in three short weeks! A baby shower upon us and no time to clean house… I was less than prepared. Then it hit me… Let’s have a pizza party! So… Baby Pelley’s First Pizza Party took place last Saturday at 2:00, here at Geppetto’s. Of course, we were limited in number… about twenty in total. We socially distanced and had a blast laughing and building our own pizzas. So… if you don’t have time to clean house… and you need to throw a party... consider our house your house… our “home” that is Geppetto’s. Call to inquire - 503.378.1271. We remain... healthy and thankful.
Had the pleasure of docking at the Oregon Department of Revenue this morning. Made an appointment beforehand. I admit… I don’t quite understand how it all works. They couldn’t tell us how much we owed but they were willing to take our money!
“You can take my payment even though you can’t tell me how much we owe?”
“Yes.” He said. “Does that make sense?” He asked.
“Well, no. It doesn’t.” I said. “But I believe you.”
Just then the woman in the adjacent kiosk says, “Hey! You’re the Stardate Post lady! You’re funny. I’m not even a StarTrek fan and I find your posts so enjoyable! I feel like I met somebody famous!”
I must say, her remarks lessened the sting of taxes. Just when I was feeling confused and discouraged she lifted my spirits and inspired me to write.
We returned to the Geppetto’s van, realizing we had forgotten to “feed the meter.”
“Roger, I said, I don’t understand how the Department of Revenue works.”
He replied, “ Honey, you know how a department store has a Men’s department and a Women’s department? They are separate for a reason. The difference is, department stores are private companies and all departments actually communicate.”
Now, I understand.
Important side note… Our one day off since January was spent doing a variety of things. We found another “vacation spot.” It’s called the Graystone Lounge. It happens to be owned by faithful Geppetto’s customers. They have gone above and beyond with the renovation of Silverton’s oldest bar. Felt like we were in Key West! The cheeseburger we shared was fresh and delicious! The crab cake before hand was out of this world! Check them out I know it’s “Salem Eats” but Silverton is not far and Graystone Lounge is way worth the trip!
Our ship is docked today. Looking forward to a day of rest, house cleaning and maybe a little yard work. Regular customers (Ryane & Phil) gifted us with some very fancy sparklers. Thanks to them, Roger and I will have our own little fireworks show tonight! God Bless us, everyone. May God bring us all together in unity and love, in hope and peace. May God Bless America and the whole wide world! May everyone eat well today. And... who's open for great BBQ? We don't even know if our grill works anymore!
“Company is Coming! Marco continued...
Sunday came quickly. I knew 6:00 and the arrival of Marco Baldieri, his wife and nephew would be fast upon us.
Remembering when I was young… to hear the cry, “Company is coming!” meant get to cleaning. My siblings and I would wind up giant imaginary keys on our backs and kick it in to high gear preparing our home for guests. Owning a restaurant feels like “Company is coming!” every day. Being here… more than anywhere else these days… it’s like home. I always say, “God’s in charge of invitations. He knows who is coming, how many are in their party, exactly what time they will arrive and what they will eat. It is our job to be ready.
Marco of Marco Ristorante Italiano, his wife and their nephew Fredo came through the little red door at Geppetto’s shortly before six. I had run around straightening, sweeping and wiping down the things I thought a world renowned chef and restaurateur might notice. I greeted them as they sat and saw to it Fredo, a very handsome Italian man, probably in his mid to late twenties, had a Kids Menu and four fresh crayons for coloring. That act drew a good laugh and we were off to a great start.
It was hard not to hover. I wanted so badly to know what they thought. I fought the urge to visit their table until they were finished with their meal. Fredo tried Geppetto’s Crispy Italian Chicken. As he shrugged his shoulders and tilted his head to one side he said, “It was good.” Then he correctly guessed one of the secret ingredients in our Crispy Chicken batter. Hmm… perhaps it wasn’t the right dish for him. Alas, you can’t please all of the people all the time.
Marco’s wife tried the Caesar salad and said she enjoyed the added sautéed shrimp. She smiled and seemed genuinely excited as she held up one of Geppetto’s Sesame Breadsticks. She said she loved them. “Really, I asked?” Thinking maybe she was joking. If you know Geppetto’s Sesame Breadsticks… you know they are about the size and shape of the average index finger. They are hard and crunchy, served standing tall, five or six to a water glass, with our house made whipped garlic butter. When I realized she was serious about enjoying them I told her, “I like them too! And, I said, if we ever run out of them there is hell to be paid! The people who love them, love them and miss them when they’re gone.”
Marco had ordered Geppetto’s thin crust pizza, 1/2 Mushroom, 1/2 pepperoni.
“What did you think?” I asked.
“I have to admit, Marco said, as he sat back and rubbed his stomach with both hands. “That was a gooood pizza… a really gooood pizza. One of the best I’ve ever had.”
Yay! He liked our pizza! Victory is mine! Still, he doesn’t care for our meat sauce because, “It’s too thick.” He also noted “Some people like it that way.” To which I replied, Yes, in fact, it seems, lots of people.” (wink)
Fredo’s heart was won with Geppetto’s Chocolate Nut Torta. I’m pretty sure I heard him say it was, “Bomb.” That made Marty, a thirty-year Geppetto’s employee, feel good knowing his dessert had beaten Alonzo’s house made Cannoli… this time.
Blessings to Marco, his family and restaurants. I’ve decided. Your place is like vacation. Our place… is like home. You are welcome anytime.
(Photo Credit to
, Fluffy) 503.378.1271
Our latest mission in search of great food and service was more than successful. After blocks of walking and talking and holding hands, it was officially a “date.” It was late lunch… after two… when we found ourselves at Marco Ristorante Italiano at the corner of High and Court. Roger ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich and I the Chicken Picatta.
“Fredo, I think we need to try the fresh fried mozzarella appetizer to start.” I said.
“Of course, Bella.” He replied.
As Fredo walked away I reached across the table, grabbed Roger’s hands and said” “Oh my gosh, honey, I feel like we’re on vacation!”
Marco’s fried mozzarella appetizer was delicious. It was not like Geppetto’s fried mozzarella sticks which satisfy me and the multitudes just fine. They’re good, especially with Geppetto’s Family sauces for dipping. What Marco prepared for us that day was a beautiful slice of fresh, hand breaded mozzarella. It was wonderfully obvious… we weren’t at Geppetto’s in Salem, Oregon. We were somewhere in Rome. Roger and I often dream together about traveling there. Someday, God willing, that dream will become a reality.
Meanwhile, I noticed the couple seated at table on the sidewalk had been finished with their meal for some time. I expected them to pay and leave, when suddenly they ordered Espresso. Surprised, I thought, this is the kind of place where you relax, take your time, get away from the insanity of the world around us, enjoy fresh food prepared to order and take time to breathe. Hmmm… sounds a lot like vacation.
Following our fabulous lunch, chef, Marco Baldieri, visited our table. We chatted a while. We enjoyed hearing some about the many photos which adorn the walls. Marco is a world renowned chef who obviously cares deeply about food quality and preparation.
Eventually, Roger let the cat out of the bag about us owning Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant here in town. The conversation then turned into a master class and a good bit of “You bought a restaurant? You’re crazy!”
As we left Marco said, “We take Sundays off. If you’re open we’ll come for dinner this Sunday.” My heart skipped a little. Sure enough, a reservation for three was on the books for six o’clock Sunday. More later… this story is too good for one Stardate. Our vacation ended as we drove home to Geppetto’s but we were given a getaway at Marco Ristorante and the memories remain. Stay tuned!
Through the organization called Rise Services which worked in partnership with People Ready we met Brandon. He is amazing. Some would think, people like Brandon would be difficult to employ. Here to say... nothing could be further from the truth. Brandon took a major responsibility from me a little over a year ago. He cleans Geppetto’s Monday through Friday before we open. He ensures we are ready to make customers “feel first.” This morning he did something I thought might not be possible. He taught sweet Dorothy, who has come to us through Garten to do his job. Dorothy will fill Brandon’s shoes on Saturday mornings. Come to find out... Brandon is not only capable of preparing our space for diners... he is also a natural born teacher. Narrating his work is not unusual but this morning he was quite capable of teaching Dorothy how to do his job. I was blown away by his attention to detail and his ability to encourage Dorothy in such positive ways. “Great job, Dorothy.” He said as they clocked out. Brandon has been taught well by his family and educators. He is extremely capable. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with folks such as Brandon and Dorothy... who work hard because they know they should and provide such wonderful service within the community. #sograteful
Tracy Hastings Louthan, Brandon Coston, Lana Milligan, Garten Services, PeopleReady, Shawn Benson-Berkau, Geppetto's Italian Restaurant, https://riseservicesinc.org