Lost Things and Cake!
Me thinks if space doesn’t offer cake... then I’d rather stay here. Ventured to Gerry Frank's Konditorei. Service was exceptional.
I couldn’t help myself. It all looked so good.
Roger and I enjoyed; the Potato Chowder, Gerry’s Cob, a Chicken Salad Sandwich... a Peanut Butter Cookie and a slice of After School Cake. Okay... I know it sounds like a lot of food. But we were sustained through dinner last night and on into breakfast this morning. Nothing says breakfast like a slice of After School Cake and a cup of hot coffee! I picked up an extra piece of cake for our son and daughter-in-law.
You see... he had called earlier asking me to pray. His wife had fallen on the steps taking the dog out to potty. She wasn’t hurt but her wedding ring flew off in the process and landed in the snow. I replied as I always to do lost things. “Dear Saint Anthony look around. Something’s lost and can’t be found.” I offered to come help look. “It’s okay, momma.” He said. If we’re gonna find it. I think we’ll have to wait for the snow to melt.” Some know... I’m a pretty determined person. And... I believe Saint Anthony loves to intercede and helps us to find lost things.
The two were surprised by my arrival. The cake was an added bonus. They retraced their steps for me and theorized as to the trajectory of the flying ring. I focused on the staircase. I stood two steps up and looked down at the wet, muddy soil... and there it was. Just then I heard my daughter-in-law say, as she wandered out into the snowy yard. “I think we’ll find it... eventually.” To which I replied, as I winked at my son, “I know you will.” He then put the ring in the box with the cake and handed it to her. He said, “Have a look honey. Mom brought cake.” She was surprised. You could see relief wash over her face. Thank you, God, for Konditorei, for cake and the opportunity to believe together, to search and find lost things. Never give up... and when you can... eat cake. #salemeatschallenge
Geppetto's Log - Stardate 012521.1
We were hijacked!
In case there is someone out there who doesn’t know what a Google listing is… It’s like an ad in an old school phone book. It’s the information which comes up when a business is “Googled” or searched online.
With a bit of effort… and a little help from a techie friend… I managed to secure Geppetto’s Google listing early on in ownership. Then I got busy… really freaking busy... learning the ropes here. And that was before closure due to arson fire in the neighboring business, a water crisis and the pandemic!
Somehow along the way… I lost control. “Ownership” of our Google listing was hijacked.
Customer complaints due to internet discrepancies have come around here and there over the last couple of years. I was frustrated until COVID hit… then I got mad. Not having the ability to update our hours began to impact our business. If Google says you’re not open… people believe it. If you can’t change the information… sucks for you.
Over time… the many phone calls offering help to fix our listing began to make sense. They wanted money to “help us.” I refused. Someone or some company hijacked our Google listing more than two years ago. I did not have the time, tech knowledge or the energy to fight it. “You can’t trust The Google!” was all I could say to our frustrated, angry and concerned customers.
Meanwhile… time was marching on… and with the pandemic and statewide guidelines flopping all over the place… I needed to reinstate our power ASAP… for the sake of our business.
I reached out to my dear friend who had helped me the first time around. She must have heard the desperation in my voice. She sent me contact info for another of her friends who she knew would be able to help us with our Google issue. My friend’s friend gave me great confidence when she said these words via text, “Don’t worry, Julie, I’ve slayed this beast before.” From that moment forward I called her My Zena, the warrior princess.
Zena quickly requested ownership of the listing on my behalf. Imposter/owner then had three business days to respond.
Zena gave these instructions, “If after three days there is no response from said “owner…” a postcard will be mailed to the restaurant address within five days. Watch for it. That postcard will contain a five digit code. Once you receive it… send me the five digit code… and we will take the next steps.”
I swear to Jesus, it felt like we were on a scavenger hunt, waiting for our next clue in the Billiard Room with Mr. Green and the lead pipe!
The card indeed arrived. The code was real. I sent it to Zena immediately. Just a couple more minor hoops… and it was done. I was in! Within half an hour I had updated our listing and replied to a bad review which spoke of the “immaturity and unprofessionalism of our answering machine message.” Obviously the woman was frustrated, and rightfully so, by her inability to get through during our busiest hours. Access to the listing gave me a way to respond. Without access… there is nothing you can do.
Small business is hard work on a good day. These days it’s exponentially more difficult. Bigger business has people who get paid to maintain a good internet presence. May we all remember… bad reviews stand out… but they might not be the whole story. Even hours of operation could be out of ownerships control. I bet I’m not the only person who didn’t have time or the knowledge to fix such a thing as a Google listing problem.
“Zena, how do I pay you? Do you Venmo?”
I wondered for the first time… what her help would cost.
“Julie, she said. You owe me nothing. This never should have happened to you in the first place.”
“Are you local?” I asked. Thinking perhaps I could at least deliver a pizza.
“No.” She said. “I’m actually living in Hawaii.”
Not at all what I envisioned. In my mind, my Zena, was somewhere in Oregon, working from home in her jammies because of COVID. I told her, “As much as I would love a getaway… Hawaii is a little out of our delivery zone.” My Zena is now tropical!
Everyone, every company has a choice. We can work for good, justice and peace… or not. Whoever took ownership of our listing wasn’t out for good, justice or peace. The person or company who took what wasn’t theirs wanted us to feel helpless and desperate and willing to pay any amount. I’m certain our business suffered because of my unwillingness to cave. The need to regain control had grown painfully obvious. Zena came along at the perfect time. Talk about a sigh of relief. True... this ability brings more responsibility... but my hands are no longer tied and I will be forever grateful.
Black Sheep Cafe Turns World Upside Down
I was awake at 4:00... mind reeling, stomach growling. Didn’t have dinner last night. Yesterday’s Manila Fiesta lunch sustained me. I’ve had a hankering for a breakfast burrito lately. My tastebuds were calling for savory. Great reviews on Salem Eats brought me to Black Sheep Cafe’s website. I was happy to see they are open on Sundays. I called ahead for take-out; breakfast burrito with brisket and a breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel. Once inside I saw the cinnamon rolls in the bakery case and I was sold. Then it was mentioned that fresh blueberry muffins had just come out of the oven. How often does one get to start a Sunday with a hot cup of coffee and a fresh, warm blueberry muffin? Plans changed. Just being there turned my world upside down. I went from savory to sweet in a matter of moments... and couldn’t be happier. Thank you, Black Sheep Café & Catering. So fresh and delicious. The cinnamon roll will have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe the the breakfast burrito for dinner tonight? Roger ate the bagel sandwich and loved it! Ps... She was right. If I didn’t wait for it to cool a bit it might fall apart. It did and it was delicious! #salemeatschallenge
Italy Meets the Philippines!
At the urging of our daughter, Maddie Pelley.... we ventured to The Manila Fiesta today... to support local, family owned business and to meet our grandson’s other Grandmother. Marissa (Eeza?) is a beautiful soul and her son Dennis is a real sweetheart. Hospitality abounds with these folks. Little did we know our daughter and son-in-law had won the hearts of this wonderful family when they first started out at The Yard Food Park. They were surprised recently to discover our Maddie is an RN at Salem Health and works with one of their other dear friends, who happens to be a doctor at the hospital and also a customer. And... as it turns out... we attend the same church! They didn’t know Maddie’s parents owned Geppetto’s and Dennis happens to be a fan of our Geppetto’s Log posts. Coming together today brought home again how small the world is and whether aware or not... we are all truly connected. One big familiy... brought together by food, friendship and faith in the midst of a pandemic. Lumpia is Maddie’s fave. Roger and I tried the BBQ Chicken Skewer Special. The portions were huge and delicious. You can taste the love. You can feel the heart. #salemeatschallenge
Geppetto’s Mysteries Abound.
Was there an earthquake today?
For over forty-six years now Geppetto’s has stood in the same location. The evolution of time has brought the inevitability of change. The address remains the same but people have come and gone… some as far as heaven. With time comes history... lives lived and some lost. If you’re like me you believe each one who invests heart and soul here leaves a bit of their spirit behind.
It’s no secret that over time Geppetto’s has experienced a few unexplained incidents. This day brought another. Before I go on… a brief health update on Marty and Eric. Marty’s heart was soldered back into rhythm and Eric’s brain was rid of an unwelcome growth. The two long time friends had surgeries on consecutive days last month and miraculously… both are back at work. Each has a few limitations which we are all happy to work with. We are a team. Having them back in the building makes things feel right again. We are all thankful for the thoughts and prayers sent their way.
This morning started early. Roger and I were in by 6:00. I wanted to get a jump on a couple of tasks which would save Eric some heavy lifting when he arrived. He’s back at work and doing a great job… but he is not supposed to lift more than 20lbs.
Eric came to work about 10:00. I think he was genuinely surprised and appreciative I had handled putting away the four large pans of our Meat Sauce and the blending of our Garibaldi mix and the clean up which goes with it. Didn’t take long for him to reveal the fact that I had forgotten to add the Romano cheese to the Garibaldi.
“No worries. Eric said. We’ll just pop it back in the bowl and mix it up quick.” Just then my phone rang. It was Roger. Only a few sentences into our conversation… I heard a loud bang come from the kitchen. Oh no! I thought. Did Eric try to lift that bowl? I quickly hung up the phone and ran to see what was the matter.
There stood Eric… in front of the Hobart mixer… with his hands up and a shocked look on his face.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” He said. “It just moved!”
“What just moved?”
“The whole thing.” He said. “The mixer.”
“The Hobart?! I asked.
The “Hobart,” as we call it, is our mixer. I can’t tell you what year it was made… but it’s old… and heavy. It weighs well over 300lbs. I’m guessing it dates pre 1974… by a long shot. It handles many tasks here at Geppetto’s; dough, bread, dressings, meatballs, Garibaldi and Ma’s Ravioli mix. It stands over 4 and a half feet high. It has a 60 quart bowl which has required re-tinning a couple of times since we bought the place. I would bet that machine hasn’t moved since it entered the building. Without the motor running… Eric lowered bowl and the whole thing suddenly jumped up and moved… 4 inches to the left… and 3 inches forward.
I looked at Eric and asked, “Did you try to lift that bowl?”
“No.” He insisted. I just shut it off, lowered it and was going to ask Alonzo to lift it for me.”
I whispered in disbelief as we both stared at the Hobart’s cast iron base.
“Ma’s powers are growing stronger, Eric.”
“Actually, maybe when the doctor’s were operating on your brain you gained a super power. Now… you just need to learn to control it.”
There were five people in the building at the time. None of us have an explanation. It took three of us to get it back in place. Left me wondering if there had been an earthquake. Or was Tremors real and Kevin Bacon will be arriving soon to investigate?
I love Geppetto’s. This place keeps us all on our toes! Sometime later... I caught Eric staring at the pizza oven. I asked him if he was trying to move it too.
With grateful hearts and a love for mysteries… we continue the quest!
Oh and… we are open for takeout and delivery, all of Salem and Keizer. Our special - Meatball Stuffed Calzone with a cheese stuffed crust and our Garlicky Calzone sauce. Served with soup or salad for $15.95. Call: 503.378.1271
“Well, she said, if I’m at home I pick them right up and eat them with my fingers. I guess though, if I were dining in at a nice place like yours, it would be best to eat them with a fork.” We agreed.
Roger looked at me quizzically and as I hung up... he asked, “What was that all about?”
I replied... “That was one of our frequent customers asking what I thought was the proper way to eat a cannoli.
“What is the proper way to eat a cannoli?” He asked. “Quickly. He said. Before somebody else eats it!”
Funny guy. Great answer.
We’re running the veal special through January. Our pizza of the month is a meatball calzone with stuffed cheese crust! Call to order: 503.378.1271
You are only as good as your crew.
When we came aboard the Starship Geppetto’s we inherited a dedicated staff. They knew the food and service side of the restaurant inside and out. We had only ever been customers. A lifetime of experience in dining out had taught us what we liked in terms of cleanliness, food quality and service but we knew nothing about what it takes to run a restaurant. I can only imagine what they thought or what it must have felt like to see us coming. With faith as our guide we took the leap. Without mutual respect, a plethora of grace and a great deal of laughter we all might have killed each other early on. Like a family… we have grown together. We continue to learn from one another each and every day.
Marty and Eric, pictured here with Miss Oregon 2019, Shivali Kadam, are a couple of great sports. They have been through a lot as friends over the years and have held a great deal of responsibility here at the restaurant when it comes to our house made offerings. Marty, on the right, has about thirty years of Geppetto’s experience. He runs the pizza kitchen like a boss and can direct deliveries like no other because he knows the timing of our two kitchens well and Salem and Keizer like the back of his hand. Eric on the left has been with Geppetto’s for somewhere around thirteen years. He works both the line and pizza kitchen. He also, with the help of others, bears the majority of the weight when it comes to our house made sauces.
These two knuckleheads hold a special place in my heart. As 2020 would have it… they both happen to be having significant medical procedures on consecutive days this week. Our customers may have noticed some bumpy moments in the past few months as we trained new folks and filled gaps in absence. We are thankful to our customers for understanding as new staff members have come aboard and are working hard to learn our systems, processes and procedures. Thank you to those who have been patient when the curve is quite variable and sometimes steep.
I write this Geppetto’s Log today asking for good thoughts and prayers for Marty and Eric. COVID season is tough enough. Dealing with health issues in the midst of it just makes the weird more unbelievable. We pray for all who are suffering, especially now. We want Marty and Eric completely healed, healthy and strong, goofy as ever and back onboard as soon as possible.
We are but one family in this community. When one hurts… we all hurt. We advance in time and space… filled with hope and determination.
As tired as we might be of guidelines and mandates... we continue the quest... and stay the course. We are not as busy as we were when the first pause came around. Perhaps it’s the time of year and the fact that we have little or no holiday parties to cater. Who knows? Just another round of 2020 to navigate. Thanks to customers old and new, hotel partnerships and and gift card sales we are making it. We would love to keep folks on the clock... but are certain all understand... we are forced to close each day when we are slow. Outdoor dining is simply not a viable option for us. Although, it seems, short of a tent and heat lamps, we could just open the front door, turn the heat off and call it “outdoor dining.” (Written with a grin.) Know that we are here... keeping faith and continuing to provide our full menu for takeout and delivery.
Thanks to Miss Dorothy, for inspiring us all. She brought the spirit of Christmas to our home that is Geppetto’s. Stockings for each staff member will be hung tomorrow! Our delicious Cheeses of Nazareth pizza is being offered this month as well as veal cutlet prepared as you wish; Parmigiana, Piccata or Marsala. Take good care and support local. Strange days are these... but there is hope... not only hope... but assurance... that God is with us and in control. We remain... Geppetto’s.
Just came across this treasure. Given to us when “Rona” (a.k.a. Coronavirus) took over. Such a sweet blessing once again. So glad I kept it.
The Valley we live in is special. The Salem community is big but small. I am grateful to be here. We are surrounded by good folks. We have survived thus far and will continue to fight the good fight. We are determined. Through Rona and wildfires, with wonderful customers and our awesome staff... we will survive.
Little known fact... my Grandfather, Frank, always wanted to live here in the Willamette Valley. Living in the Midwest and life being what it was in the early 1900s... he never had that chance. I do, Grandpa Frank, and I am thankful. I think you would have loved it here.
God knows just what we need and when we need it... because the view from Heaven is infinite!
Hang in there everyone. Love each other, shop local and keep looking up!
To echo the Brown family, “May God keep you safe and healthy. Praying for a lot of blessings!”
As we have done since last March we will continue to do. While the word compliance makes me squirm... we will do as we are told for the sake of all.
It started with disinfectant and a six foot rule. Then came non essential business shut downs. Thank God we were deemed essential. No dine in but take out and delivery remained. Thank God that was already in place. It was painful to see others close because they were unable to offer delivery or enough takeout business to stay in business.
Then she said,
“You can re-open with limitations.”
Six foot rules in place now, with barriers. No more than 10 at a table. We moved furniture like crazy, measured and scrambled to find 2x2s and plexiglass. Masks required! Some not able to afford to remain open close indefinitely.
Time goes by. Numbers increase. Less then a week ago it was, “No more than 6 at a table and no more than 50 in your establishment including staff.” Not even Buffalo Wild Wings could afford to remain open for business! Side note... I miss their queso dip. I do hope they come back.
Two days later... Lockdown looming. Whatever it takes. We will comply in order to keep everyone safe.
Over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house you go? Not this year. I hope you like who you live with because that’s who is coming to dinner!
Church is mad, sad and disappointed. They too are following guidelines to the enth degree. For many... church is essential... at least as essential as Costco and Walmart.
Deep down I know the two week window on this latest shift is the minimum. We are preparing for longer.
Employees are worried. Feeling unsettled. We spent the better part of yesterday scheduling. Will we be busy? We hope so but we just don’t know. The hardest part is holding the pencil. We can’t afford to over staff. Our team is amazing. Who is essential? Is anyone not? We promise to do our best to keep everyone working as much as possible.
Man, this is hard!
Still, hope remains because that’s how we roll. We pray for all workers and businesses effected by these latest directives. We pray for those who are sick, for those who are struggling and for those who have died.
While we hoped for a sprint... this trial is a marathon. Keep swimming. Pivot, get creative and trust in the bigger picture. There is a long term plan we’re navigating here. We are on this planet at the same time for good reason. Stay connected, shop local and know that you are never alone. If you’ve read this far... know that I am praying for you. There is power in numbers... no matter how few. God has got this. I trust that above all else. May peace be with you and may we all live long and prosper.
Geppetto’s will remain open for dine in through tomorrow, Tuesday night. From then on... until further notice.. we will remain open for takeout and delivery, 7 days a week, 11:00am to 8, 9 or 10ish. When business is slow... we must go.