Just... left... ACME... Cafe. Roll me over and stick a fork in me... I’m so full! I went for it and thoroughly enjoyed the chicken fried chicken. I appreciate the way the scrambled eggs kept the potatoes hot to the finish. The gravy did the same for the chicken. The chicken was juicy and tender. Even the ketchup was delicious. The muzak was a little out of my league. Made me want to jump up and bang my head around, like I used to back in the day. That’s okay though... at least I ate fast. Our server, Brian, told us he was a little off his game because he recently went cold turkey on the Redbull. Brian is a busy server and very good at his job. Acme Cafe is doing it right.
Now, Roger and I are off to put up the raviolis we made yesterday. We also need to make a fresh batch of our house made creamy garlic dressing, chocolate mousse and mousse pie! Wish us luck... what I really want is a pillow and a nap! @ ACME Cafe
We would love to be fishing or camping or traveling to some fascinating destination. Alas... it’s the restaurant business we’re in and it never stops. We chatted a bit in the wee hours of this morning about date nights and things away from this place. We are blessed beyond belief simply to have each other. We and our staff remain healthy. Thanks be to God... and to strict guidelines... and great hygiene. We pray for those afflicted, for people and businesses who have suffered during this time. We watch in awe those who have managed to endure... to bounce back, to adapt and change. We are humans. We will never be perfect but we know how to evolve and survive
We are thankful to be here at Starship Geppetto’s making Ma’s ravioli by hand. I’m responsible for the filling. Roger is handling the pasta. The dress shirt he used to wear in medical management now serves as a shield from the massive amounts of flour required in making ravioli. Reminds me of art time in grade school where each student brought one of dad’s shirts to wear. Even though Roger’s shirt fits better than dad’s shirts ever did he still looks adorable. We do this work with true love for each other and grateful hearts. Master mechanic, Shelby continues the quest to resurrect our coveted ravioli machine
To those of you who manage to escape, to relax and explore... carry us in your hearts. Share your adventures. We want to know what is happening out there... away from the news. Know that Ma’s ravioli and a whole bunch of other deliciousness will be waiting here for you. Just a reminder... we are open 11:00am, 7 days a week for dine in, takeout and delivery. Our closing hours vary based on business. If we are slow... we must go!
Praying for all. Make it a great day!
You may be aware we have identified jobs which we can most easily delegate. We hire folks with special needs to take on tasks they are absolutely qualified to execute.
It is our belief that each of us has special needs... some of which are just more visible than others. This guy, Brandon, not only sees to it that each customer feels first upon arrival... but that Dorothy... who follows him on Wednesdays is directed and provided for equally as well. Brandon’s attention to detail is unmatched. He trained Dorothy when she first came aboard and leaves her each Wednesday with specific instructions as to how to complete the tasks at hand for that day. Along with that, he sees to it that Dorothy has a pizza waiting for her as she finishes her shift.
Brandon says he wants to make Geppetto’s pizza for others. I let him know... “When you can make Geppetto’s pizza the way we make it... you may have the opportunity to do so.” Until then... Brandon provides for us in seeing to it the customer feels first... and that his family and Dorothy are provided for each Wednesday, Brandon Coston Style!
Bless you, Brandon. You are an awesome human with a great big heart... and we are thankful for you!
Mayday! Mayday! . . . - - - ... Starship Geppetto’s to Shelby...
. . . - - - . . .
Ravioli... machine... DOWN!
Pasta rolled and ready early this am. Filling prepped and at the ready. A flip of the switch... a few short revolutions and then... silence. Nothing more. She wouldn’t turn!
Shelby came as quickly as possible. He’s headed to Richard and G &S Machine in Keizer.
We are into some next level “sheeet” here. It seems the motor rebuilding of decades ago was installed backwards. Time will tell and the genius of Shelby will reveal itself.
To watch him analyze the situation was like watching a highly qualified surgeon. He knows what makes it work. And so we wait.
Raviolis down for now.
The good news... Roger and others put up ravs by hand. They will be tested tomorrow... to see what they bring.
Meanwhile, mechanic, Shelby, will do his due diligence and see to it the challenge is addressed and rectified. We trust that much. Shelby is the best!
Meanwhile... we began the long forgotten quest of hand pressing Ma’s raviolis.
Such a trip.!
Reminds me of this...
Ma Barsotti’s grandson, Tony Bidwell came in for dinner. He ordered Ma’s Ravioli. In truth... he received the last full serving. From here forward... we will be going old school... pressing and rolling... waiting for the news that Shelby has found the fix... and the way to get us back in the business of mass producing Ma’s Raviolis!
As I have been known to say... “Holy "sheet" Balls... God is in control!"
Tomorrow will tell. Prayers appreciated!
It was a shortly before 7:30pm when they came through the little red door. They were quiet, very well mannered and patient as they waited for a table that Friday night. They appeared tired and dirty. Their uniforms gave them away. They were three wild land firefighters here all they way from South Dakota to assist in fighting the fires which have ravaged our beautiful state. Even before they sat, another table of customers, dear friends of Geppetto’s, had offered to anonymously pay for their meal. The three men ate well and left happy and full. They were surprised by the generosity. With genuine gratitude they excepted the gift. They left to sleep for the night and to fight the Beachie Creek fire yet another day.
I wished after they left I had gotten their names. I wished I had asked more questions about who they are and where they are from. Oh well, I thought. They will remain in my prayers as the three tired, courageous firefighters from South Dakota who came all this way to help.
Fast forward to Wednesday around 8:00pm. Just as the rush was waning, faithful Geppetto’s customer, Charlie, reaches out to me and says, “Here’s some money. Firefighters are on their way in and I want to put this toward their meal.” Because Geppetto’s has no windows I was a little confused at first until the little red door flew open and the parade began.
From behind the pizza counter I watched as they filed in... not three this time but 10.
“You came back!” I shouted as I pointed to one of the three I had seen before.
Just then, Charlie turned to the group. With his booming voice and great big heart he thanked the men for their service.
So much taking my breath away these days. So much good is happening in the midst of suffering.
The men had the same look of exhaustion on their faces. “Come on in, I said. We’ll get you fed and ready for a good nights sleep.”
As they headed to table, Charlie picked up his pizza and turned toward the door.
“Thanks, Charlie. I said. You’re a good man. Your contribution will go a long way. We’ll see to it they are taken care of.”
Immediately my husband, Roger, quietly asked, “And just how are you going to do that?”
I quickly did a little math in my head... with Charlie’s donation and a recent gift from my mom, add $100 from another contributor and the $20 sent back to the restaurant from a delivery given for this very cause...
“Let’s see where we land.” I told Roger. “God will provide.”
Their final bill, when all was said and done, amounted to one dollar shy of the amount we had collected.
I went to Roger to give him the good news. “Well, he said, It’s coming out of your pocket.”
Those of you who know Roger know he was totally kidding. Together we acknowledge the fact that the losses are great, the depth and breadth of which continues to be revealed. No matter what your place in all this… know that you are never alone. We are in it together for the long haul. Even when the fires are out there will be more to do. Know that Roger and I are praying for all, trusting God will provide perfectly for each and every circumstance. We also wish to acknowledge the spirit of generosity which has exploded in our midst.
Digging fire lines through the forest floor of the Oregon wilderness is no small task. To Lowden, Jake, Jeremy and Crew; May your lives be blessed for every inch of progress you made on our behalf.
Side note... South Dakota is one of my most favorite states. If you haven’t seen the Crazy Horse Monument near Mt. Rushmore, you should. Its history will blow your mind.
Holy Meatballs! We Have a Winner!
The restaurant business has its challenges, not the least of which is dissatisfied customers. When a complaint repeats itself you know it’s time to make a change. Change can be hard in any environment. Change in a place where things have been done the same for decades can be downright painful.
Since Roger and I beamed up here; 3.31 years ago today, in fact, there have been changes. We wouldn’t dare mess with Geppetto’s signature recipes but replacing Sysco brand meatballs with my East Coast girlfriend’s Sicilian Grandmother’s recipe was a no brainer. They are labor intensive, which I know can be a bad thing in business but in this case so worth it. The investment of time is a lot. Our Stuffed Meatball Pizza is a huge hit! It’s when the meatballs are served on a plate, in orders of three where trouble seems to come. It hurts my heart to find them on a plate in the dish room or to hear customers say, “Their dry. Too dense. Couldn’t even cut it with my fork.” My reactions have run the gamut, from “Well they are just impossible to please.” To… “ Who was on the line when they ate?!” Last evening’s complaint was to be the last. Knowing the hours myself and others spent making them over the weekend, I vowed to get to the root of the problem.
I laid in bed overnight, unable to sleep. I went over the entire meatball process. From the time my dear friend surrendered her Grandmother’s recipe and helped me figure and multiply “a little bit of this and a handful of that” by forty. I remembered with great fondness the time I enjoyed those meatballs in their family home. I thought perhaps I’d died and gone to Italian Grandmother heaven! Then it hit me, the missing stretch in the road to consumption! What Geppetto’s wasn’t doing made all the difference and it wasn’t good. They needed to simmer, in sauce, for HOURS! Then and only then should they ever be consumed.
So, this morning, I arrived at the restaurant with a plan in mind and it worked! I was so happy to have found a solution. No more of the old way. The new way has begun and it is a Geppetto’s meatball game changer! I can’t wait for folks to order. The tenderness is there. The flavor is rich. This is gonna be great, I thought.
Well, my awesome change in procedure was not well received by some.
“You’re giving us one more thing to do and obviously… you’re not a cook. You don’t know what it’s like.“
My response, “What if this makes it easier for you?” Ultimately, the goal has to be customer satisfaction! A little more time in preparation can make all the difference!”
We reached an understanding when he took the time to taste them. The rocky road smoothed and all will be well. All will be better as we learn and grow. Reflection and examination of things is not always easy or comfortable but so worth it.
To quote a wise Vulcan, "Change is the essential process of all existence." -- Spock
As I rolled out of bed I spoke to myself. Saying; “Gotta keep moving forward in faith and hope for brighter days."
We didn’t sign up for today’s parish BBQ but I told Rog, “If we can… I’d really like to go to church.” I know God is always with me… but there is something quite special about meeting Him there.
We have been to church twice since March 16th. Life feels strange without that part of community but we’ve had to be present here and able to pivot on a moment’s notice. Signing up for anything beyond ordering and deliveries is truly a gamble. Our schedule is predictable in one way; we open at 11:00 am, seven days a week.
My dear husband is not particularly good at remembering so I was surprised when he returned from an errand and said, “You ready? Let’s go to church.” I dropped what I was doing, grabbed my purse and as we headed toward the door we were intercepted with the news that there would be a delivery order ready in about an hour. Roger’s eyes met mine and we spoke without words.
Maybe next time.
“Let’s go get something to eat.” I said. We have time for that.”
The two of us spoke along the way to Flight Deck about how hard these times are for so many. The depth of loss is great. As a business we are doing what we can for our guests and our staff on a very personal one-by-one basis. I mentioned to Roger that I wished we could do more. Then the Still Small Voice spoke to my heart and assured me, we are doing what we can, for now, and there may be more to do tomorrow. Message received… let the space between hurting and helping remain and prepare yourselves for what is to come.
We parked and donned our masks. I can’t wait till this is over too. I thought. Gazing into the gray over the tarmac, another reality hit; There will be no take offs or landings today. It’s hard to know where the smoke ends and the fog begins. We are simply stuck. Forced to wait for Mother Nature to help. “Dear God, please, clear the air and let it rain.”
As we entered the Flight Deck, a sweet voice called from inside the restaurant, “Roger and Julie, your table awaits!” There she stood. Flight Deck server, Victoria, had set a table for us. She spun and smiled and outstretched her arm like Vanna White presenting prizes on Wheel of Fortune. I haven’t approached a set table since March and COVID-19 guidelines have been in place. Paper napkins around flatware and red plastic drink cups never felt so fancy. I was genuinely moved by the gesture and about two bites into Chef, Frank Primley’s, Huevos Rancheros when the lump in my throat took over. Tears came to my eyes as I spoke, “Roger, look what God did. He knew we wouldn’t make it to church today and instead he set a table for us here at Flight Deck.” Frank and Victoria were not aware of our earlier disappointment but they were part of the plan… a better plan. God nourished our bodies and blessed our hearts.
We left breakfast well fed and with a deeper sense of community. If you don’t feel like you’re helping… or doing enough… keep doing what YOU do. Do it well so you are ready. We never know how or when God will use what each of us has to offer. Thank you Frank and Victoria for being and doing your best. You made a big difference in our lives today. And so y’all know… Frank’s Ranchero Sauce… is really, really yummy.
Supply Chain Realities - I Married Our Sysco Rep!
Even in space there is need for supplies. The things we acquire help us to function and thrive. Those of us in the restaurant business are dependent upon vendors to keep necessary supplies coming. Vendors provide the things we need… so that we are able to provide for our customers. Since March the uncertain sands of supply chains have, at times, affected our ability to provide as we would like. Some suppliers seem to be struggling more than others. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words, “There is nothing I can do.” I would be on vacation and somebody else would be guiding this ship! As long as the we are open for business, “There is nothing I can do.” is simply not an option. In ever changing times such as these we have to do something. Quick thinking and creativity are required. If one vendor cannot provide we have to find another way.
Sysco is one of Geppetto’s vendors. I would like to take an unusual moment and offer thanks for our sales rep. I call him “Sysco David.” He deserves a shout out of galactic proportions. He is creative and helpful and genuinely concerned for the well being of his customers, the success of their businesses and the community in general. Through it all he has been by our side, ready to assist in figuring out a work around no matter the challenge we face. Today I came across the above picture in my photo library. Sysco David is pictured at center. The photo was taken a year ago at Friends of Pimpollo's Tamale Trot here in Salem. Sysco David, #5156, was running to raise money to provide education for those in Southern Mexico who cannot otherwise afford it. David has a huge heart. He is generous with his time and wisdom. I am grateful for the partnership we share. Side note… he is very funny and an incredibly gifted chef who has solid answers to my frequent culinary questions. He is always watching for ways to help us do and be better.
Roger and I were heading to the bank on Thursday when Sysco David messaged. He needed our weekly check. The money is not the most fun part of our relationship… but supplies don’t come for free. We agreed to meet for lunch at Ritter’s. We took time to discuss the two most important ingredients in the restaurant business; food quality and consistency. Ritter’s and Wild Pear truly have those two things dialed in. Because we are willing, we are learning and growing with every experience.
David ordered the crab sandwich. I followed his lead because I trust his taste in food. He wasn’t wrong… it was absolutely delicious! He is perpetually helpful. He is the Sysco rep I call, friend.
It is true, about a month ago I married Sysco David. Well, actually, I officiated for the marriage of he and his lovely bride. They are destined for a life together filled with great food, deep love and lots and lots of laughter. You can either be the rep who easily accepts defeat and “There is nothing I can do.” Or… you can pivot and change, offer other options and perhaps make an even better way.
Geppetto’s Log - Stardate 081520
Dining out used to be a special treat. Since we bought a restaurant... it's what we do... every day. Most often our days end sharing a small thin crust pizza. The current state of things has given us good reason and many opportunities to support local restaurants other than our own. We've been meeting new people and trying new things. It's been a joy to share the cuisine of our community with each other and our staff.
I made a pizza delivery the other day to a dear man and decades-long Geppetto's customer. His name is Gary Epping. Gary's family is well known in the area for their community oriented giving. Through the Epping Family Foundation they do more good than I could speak of here. Boys and Girls Club among other things are being built because of their generosity and the hard work and dedication of many.
As I made my delivery to Gary's office, I noticed the giant, bountiful green-apple tree out front. I suggested Gary get a horse or a goat to help with the harvest. When invited to partake, I jumped at the opportunity (literally). The old tree is part of the Epping Family property. I can imagine many years ago, before the buildings, it stood with other trees. Down to one in that spot, it still bears fruit. Much like their family, year after year it just keeps giving.
What I realized that day is that sometimes there is nothing better than receiving the gift of fresh fruit, picked from an old family tree. Standing in the grass with friends feels good, some taller friends, who could reach apples much higher than I. Thanks, Chuck! First bite made me pucker, as well it should have! Take time. Eat well. Be well. Love deeply, Give and Laugh much!
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Geppetto's Log - Stardate 081220
Holy snap! Warp speed has been reached! The last few weeks have been a wild ride.
We're missing our thirty year guy, Marty. He is dealing with some health issues and is taking some much needed time away. Ain't gonna lie... not having him here leaves one heck of a gap. I called for guidance as to making our Chocolate Mousse and Frozen Mousse Pie. He patiently gave precise, step-by-step instructions and our mission to remove those beautiful desserts from the "86 List" was complete. We may attempt our Chocolate Nut Torta today but time will have to allow. Get well Marty! And get your "self" back here!
In other news... Geppetto's has a brand new customer! His name is Grayson Roger Pelley. He was born at Salem Hospital to our daughter Maddie and her dear husband, Zach. He weighed 8lbs 12oz. Because of COVID restrictions we were unable to visit the hospital. We had to wait until they were home and ready for a visit. I was in Tualatin on delivery when I received her text.
"You guys wanna come by?"
By the grace of God, traffic wasn't all that bad. Still, I could not make the trip go fast enough. I called for their order... because to arrive withough food would be ridiculous!
"I'll have a small Black Olive pizza, medium rare." Maddie said. "Zach will have the Penne with Meat Sauce, no salad."
I called Roger and asked him to put the order in. I headed for home. I showered and vowed to wear anything but black. I grabbed two fresh face coverings for Grandpa Roger and myself, then raced to the restaurant where we grabbed the food and set out for what felt like a first date.
There he was... in Daddy's arms. Be still my heart. He is beautiful. They are strong and lovely as a family. I could not be more proud. Feelings run deep. Heart strings are real. There is a constant tugging now. Just want to be with him. As time allows I will. Such a gift. Such a blessing. Much more to share.
More posts to come! Thank you for your patience.