Creatures of Habit
The day started early…. long before daylight. Coffee on - post haste! The smell of fresh brew is magic.
I didn’t drink coffee regularly until we bought a restaurant. Now it’s part of the morning routine; alarm off, lights on, coffee rolling!
Geppetto’s has an older model industrial coffee maker with three burners. It makes great coffee, fast. Since we started serving breakfast consumption has increased, not for me but for the restaurant.
Last night, Miss Lilly took after our treasured coffee pot. You see… great servers are never bored. As is known in any business; If there’s time to lean… there’s time to clean! Well, Lilly shined that coffee maker till it looked like new. She even took off the little metal filter which diffuses the water before it hits the grounds.
(sound of screeching brakes)
That’s where things went wrong. It took two pots of brown water this morning before it hit me; Lilly cleaned the coffee pot last night!
I waited as long as I could to text.
“Lilly!! What did you do to the coffee maker? I’ve been here since 5:30 and all I’ve had is hot, brown, water!”
“Oh, Miss Julie… what you are looking for is about the size of a fifty cent piece. It has holes in it. I sent it through the dish room.”
After several thorough searches… Alex found it. Might have been the gradual rising of anxiety… due to a lack of routine… but I couldn’t see it. Thank you, St. Anthony and Thank you dishwasher, Gabe, for tucking it somewhere safe… so it wouldn’t get lost forever.
Didn’t get my first cup till 8:30. All is well. We are all creatures of habit. The restaurant business has made me one of the worst.
Note to EVERYBODY; Any small parts… especially those belonging to the coffee maker… should be followed through the dish room and returned ASAP.
It’s not just your life you’re saving.
No Dinx & Hungarian
We ventured out today. Landed in Albany. Picked up a shirt order at No Dinx.
After pickup… we made a B-line for Novak's Hungarian Restaurant at 208 SW 2nd Ave. Between their website, Facebook page and Google listing… we found conflicting information as to hours of operation. More on that later. The good news is… we arrived in perfect time.
Owners Karen and Matilda were there along with a few volunteers. Yes, I said volunteers. Karen remembered my call after the fire at Mattress World. At that time… Novak’s had been dealing with a fire closure for nearly a year. Overwhelmed by our own circumstances I reached out for wisdom. Never having navigated a fire claim… I sought to know how they were handling things. Our conversation brought comfort and mutual inspiration to drive forward and make it through to the other side.
Novak’s damage was far more extensive than ours. Their fire was upstairs downstairs and they lost most everything. Smoke and soot took its toll here but a thorough cleaning, fresh paint and carpet brought us back to life in six short weeks. They were shut down for more than a year. As in our case… financial assistance is difficult to qualify for because 2020 actually looks better on the books… because of the closures in 2019.
“Two weeks after we re-opened after the fire, Karen said, we were shut down because of COVID.” It’s been a nightmare.”
Novak’s is currently open Thursday through Saturday. They are serving up the same delicious Hungarian family food recipes as always.
“New phone lines came in today.” Matilda said. “Suddenly nothing but our land line would work. No internet, no merchant services. I didn’t know what to do. Then our dear friend Caleb came to help. Thank God he was able to get all things going again.”
“I paid him in food.” She said. “I have plenty of that to give.”
I don’t think she could tell but my mind reeled. I could so relate… not only as to technical difficulties, but the general situation at hand. Knowing what it’s like when phone’s won’t work, merchant services are down, gas pipes leak, the website needs updating and Google is being Google. It’s all going on at the same time or another and the customer expectation is that you should be able to handle it all up to the minute. It’s hard on a good day. Our suffering has been nothing compared to theirs. They survived the fire, lost both parents and almost the family restaurant. Volunteers keep customers happy Thursday through Saturday. Matilda, Karen and family are working so hard.
I could feel the presence of their mother and father… standing with their daughters, keeping their legacy alive.
Matilda, I asked, How can I help?
She took a deep breath and softly replied. “Pray for us.”
So… here I go.
God, please grant Karen, Matilda and family all that they need. Give volunteers continued time in their schedules and financial support to keep the help coming. Please, God, bring trusted advisors to help the Novak family find any assistance, grants or otherwise, which they may qualify for. Bring support from all over the Valley. You, God, are in charge of invitations! Bring all the right customers at just the right time. I trust that you will bring the Novak family through these trying times and into a new season of exponential growth and financial security. Finally, as my son Alex says, “We know you’re driving the bus. Now, if you would just put your hands on the wheel for a minute… that would be awesome!”
For the sake of everything that is good, keep the Novak’s legacy of deliciousness alive and well. Theirs defines “comfort food” Like my Grandma used to make.
It seems the most accurate hours of operation can be found on the Novak’s Facebook page. If you can help in any way… call them: 541-967-9488. And btw… this post wasn’t their idea… so if they seem surprised by any offers for help… tell them I was inspired to ask on their behalf.
We are all out and all in! No Dinx and Hungarian.
Community Partnership & Perseverance
At least that’s what this post was supposed to be about… until the plumbing backed up again.
If I could… I would swear here. I’m rather tired. Feeling stretched. Grateful for everything… even challenges… because challenges make us stronger, right? I guess I need to be stronger still.
We closed early. Roger did everything he could to fix it. Our fine neighbors to the south, Office Max, allowed our customers to use their facilities. Plumber will be here first thing. Hoping to sleep without worry… because what would worry do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. My head will hit the pillow trusting that the fix is on the way. God is the god of restoration… even when it comes to plumbing. Thank you to our customers for their understanding. Grace and latitude win again.
More soon. As to partnerships and perseverance. Yes. Together we win again!
Two weeks ago Salem Chamber of Commerce Greeters Meeting was at The Yard Food Park. Tomorrow at 8:30am we’ll be at Scottish Rite on South Commercial. Partnership is where it’s at. Join us if you can. Partnership is good for business! Perseverance is a survival technique.
I look forward to greeting the plumber here in the morning. Now that’s one profession that deserves the utmost respect and appreciation. #somebodyhastodoit
Better Than Space
A first for us…
We set out on a date in search of a treat. Frozation Nation called us this time. He went vanilla, granola, nuts and peanut butter sauce. I opted for chocolate, vanilla, M&Ms, brownie and chocolate sauce. YUM! Of course we share. I kinda liked his better. But mine had CHOCOLATE!
Makes me wonder… what did the crew have for dessert on The Enterprise. Perhaps this is Googleable!
We had the pleasure of meeting Alvaro, the owner. Interestingly… when our eyes met… before I knew he owned the place… I could tell he understood. We share a common bond in an unusual time; food, hospitality and ownership. Made me think… perhaps a new kind of support group is necessary. I know it’s been harder on some than others. I don’t know what I would do without the support of the Salem community and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Fellowship is where it’s at… and not only at church. There is a big network here… strength in numbers and companionship no matter how difficult the journey. We are here together… at this particular time… for many wonderful reasons.
As we sat in the sun on Liberty Street with the bustle of Brown's Towne Lounge and music coming out of Noble Wave… I felt inspired.
Think outside the routine and support local businesses. We may not be able to do much about the bigger picture but maybe… just maybe… the bigger picture will improve when the smaller ones get it right.
We are here for you, Alvaro. And your Frozation Nation gave us a great date spot on a sunny, Fall day and yummy, YUMMY treats. Thank you and Bless you.
Unicorns are Coming!
The response to my unconditional job posting has been amazing. Thank you Salem Eats and thank you to the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce for giving the community a place to support and encourage local business.
As I sat interviewing one potential new hire… Esther came by the table.
“Sorry to interrupt. She said. But there is a woman here who would like to see you. She says she’s a unicorn.”
For those of you who missed the unconventional job posting… unicorns at Geppetto’s can do some of everything. When they are on the clock they serve in the area of greatest need (AGN). They prioritize by the minute. Unicorns are like that collector card everybody wants but is so hard to find.
I politely excused myself and hustled to greet her.
“Hi… I said, I hear you’re a unicorn!”
“I am.” She said. “I’m Anne and I would love to work here. It’s been a while but I have lots of experience and I’ll do anything! I’m a unicorn!”
I could tell she wasn’t kidding. She handed me an envelope with her resume and cover letter inside. I placed the envelope to my head like Johnny Carson might have done as Carnac the Magnificent.
Then I asked her two questions…
When can you start and how many hours a week would you like to work?
An hour and a half later Anne came back for a working interview opportunity.
“I love it here.” She said, I absolutely love it here.”
This was music to my ears.
I’m not a super fan of less daylight hours… but the valley is beautiful and the sunset last night brought me peace… I slowed down a bit… at first thinking it would keep me from hitting a deer… then I was reminded… God is taking care of us. People who want to work are out there. Now… if we could just find a unicorn who wants to be a delivery driver!
Breakfast is rollin’ here 9-1 Saturdays and Sundays, Lunch and Dinner seven days a week 11-8 or 9ish. Thanks to my birthday party prime rib dinner… we are offering this weekend Prime Rib Hash with Two Eggs and Toast for $14.95. Dine-in, Takeout and Delivery 503.378.1271
Come on in and see if you can spot a Unicorn!
On this date - 093065.1 - A star was born in Seattle, WA. Our parents brought six children into this world. I am known as “Number Five.”
Mom used to say, “You are so spoiled.” I would argue, “I am not!” She would softly reply, “Yes you are… and If you weren’t… you wouldn’t be one of my children.”
Mom teaches me daily, as she has my whole life, about love and courage, grace and loyalty, perseverance, integrity and the importance of laughter. She sent me flowers today… just as I was reaching to order some up for her. How do you thank someone for giving you life? I think I know the answer. It came on a plaque from my Aunt Chuck, a gift for my high school graduation.
What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.
It’s kind of the same for my parents. They gave me life… and what I do with it matters.
Each day I do as much as I can… as much as I can. All in! All out! I choose life and light, joy and hope. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable.
We are having my birthday dinner at Geppetto’s tonight. Chef Frank is cooking up something special. If all goes well… perhaps prime rib will make it’s way onto the menu! I never say never anymore… for truly anything is possible.
Meanwhile… tomorrow will bring October, Our NEW Impossible Pizza and other deliciousness. Until then… I don’t feel a day over fifty six!
The Morning After
Dinner was delicious. Chef Frank Primley knows his way around a prime rib. It was so tender… you could cut with a fork! And the flavor... delicious! I think Geppetto’s needs to offer prime rib... if not all the time... maybe as a special. I’ll reach out to Stephen at Rudy's Butcher Shop today to see about pricing. Also, numbers 1, 4 and 6 came for the party last night. So grateful Mom was able to get there too! Blessings to all on this... the first day of October 2021.
Courage and A Willing Spirit - An Unconventional Job Posting
Sweet guy knew we were struggling and wanted to help. He gave two weeks notice at his other job as a CDL driver. He’d never worked in a restaurant before… not for one minute. He had dined out plenty thanks to me and made his way through many a restaurant kitchen delivering beer. His hands were calloused from lifting so much. His tolerance for heat was minimal and he relished his time spent in walk-in coolers throughout the valley. In bars and convenience stores around the area he was known as the polite and thoughtful, strong and funny beer guy. His name is Alex and he is my son.
He serves on the line at Geppetto’s now and doesn’t seem to hate the pressure or the heat. It’s like he’s been equipped with a different kind of suit… the heat is there but he doesn’t bitch about it. He says, “What good would it do anyway? You gotta just get in there and get the job done… one ticket at a time.” He brings comedy and calm to the chaos. He cares about customer satisfaction and has quickly become a dang good line and prep cook. He cares about this place and the people he works with. He drops in sometimes… just in case the help is needed.
He does the heavy lifting for me now. Shoulder pain doesn’t keep me up at night so much anymore. His being here is help multiplied exponentially.
He has taught me so much. Mostly, that it isn’t always experience you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s courage and a willing spirit.
Are you… or is anyone in your world looking for a change or maybe even a side job? Geppetto’s is in need of Delivery Drivers, Line Cooks, Pizza Cooks, Order Takers, Servers and Unicorns!
Yes, I said Unicorns! Unicorns are what we call utility players. They fall into the category we call “AGN.” AGN stands for Area of Greatest Need. Unicorns show up and float. A cross trained employee can go wherever they are needed throughout a shift.
If you know anyone interested in any one of the afore mentioned job duties call 503.378.1271 or drop off a resume at 616 Lancaster Dr NE. In Salem. Geppetto’s is a family owned restaurant. We care about our staff and welcome those who can learn quickly and want to work.
Have courage! You never know where you might find your passion.
I remember one evening when Alex was a little boy. We were out to dinner when I noticed him staring at my Fish & Chips. When asked if he wanted a bite he replied, “No thanks… but mom… if that’s the batter… what’s the gooder?" Now I can say, with absolute certainty, My son, you are the gooder. I love you with my whole heart. - Mom
I challenge you… write three lines.
1. Five syllables
2. Seven Syllables
3. Five Syllables
5 The rain is grounding
7 Showers refreshment on Earth
5 Eat at Geppetto’s!
Our dining room is open and delicious breakfast is served 9am-1pm, Saturday and Sunday. Little known fact… if it’s pizza your longing for in the morning… we can make it! Lunch and Dinner are served 7 days a week from 11:00am-close. Dine-in at 616 Lancaster Dr. NE… or call for takeout and delivery, 503.378.1271.
Spirit Halloween Store opened yesterday! And they’re right next door! The Among us costume hasn't arrived yet but it’s coming.
Come on in. Eat Geppetto's and shop at Spirit Halloween, OfficeMax, Mattress World and the The Salvation Army Store! Hometown Buffet is gone but the El Torito Market is opening soon! ((El Mensajero Magazine)) Lot’s going on here at Lancaster Center East. Feels hopeful.
Now it’s your turn to write a Haiku. Make it a great day and enjoy the rain!
Factors and Variables - The Slippery Slope of a Bad Guest Experience
It took me three tries to pass college Algebra… but I did it. Since owning Geppetto’s I have dealt with more factors and variables than I ever did in a math class.
I ask a server as he flies by… “Need Anything?”
“Yes please, he quickly replies, Dr. Pepper to 27.”
I bring Dr. Pepper to 27 only to find it was intended for 32. At 32 I find they also wanted a refill on Coke. I returned to the table with the Coke and I notice the woman looking strangely at me.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Well, no.” She said, while smiling. “As a matter of fact… this has become one of our favorite places for Italian. And tonight it’s just not the same. Everything is terrible. Did you get a new cook or something?”
Whenever I hear that… I know, deep down, EVERYTHING can’t possibly be terrible. I know there must be more to the story.
“Please, tell me what you mean by EVERYTHING is terrible? What happened here tonight?”
“Well, she said, I didn’t want to say anything but it’s just not as good as it was the last time we were here. The marinara isn’t right. It tastes like nothing. Like it’s watery. It has NO flavor. It tastes like NOTHING.”
I then noticed she has hardly touched her lasagna. Lasagna has nothing to do with the marinara. I thought to myself… she just isn’t happy. Something more was at play and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
I excuse myself to taste the sauce. It tasted just like our marinara. In my opinion… delicious. The only thing I could think was that maybe the pasta was not drained properly before plating which would add water to the sauce. Was the cook moving too fast? When he cooked off the pasta… did he remember to add a dash of salt to the water?
Wanting more information I asked the server, “What’s up with 32?”
“Well… he said… they started out with (the other server)… then I took over. She wanted her mozzarella bread the same time as her entree. Her entree wasn’t ready so the mozzarella bread sat and was cold when I brought it to the table. She was not happy.”
Timing between two separate kitchens takes some getting used to. As a server you need to know how to communicate with both kitchens in order to ensure the best possible guest experience. Asking that an appetizer be delivered at the same time as an entree… is… believe it or not… a complicating factor… not impossible… but like a next level, improved gamer move. Perhaps a task a new server hasn’t had to complete… yet.
Side note: We’re doing what we have to do in light of staffing issues. It seems… only in COVID season… is it possible to have a bigger Monday than a Thursday. So much… impossible to predict. Never ending variables! We did not expect that night to be busy. Note to self: If you can avoid it… never schedule two new servers in the same shift.
The couple didn’t want me to but I took care of their meal and encouraged them to give us another try another day. By the time the encounter had ended… I was spent. I think trouble began when customer service felt unsettled. They were passed from one inexperienced server to another… while I was on delivery. She didn’t get to eat her mozzarella bread with her lasagna and I really think that ruined everything.
Factors and variables… service… timing… food quality… and unmet expectations can ruin an appetite and change perception. It’s a slippery slope.
I hope that couple comes back and when they do they have a better guest experience. Meanwhile… I pray for grace… for myself and for those we serve. #ihatemath
Early Dinner at The Ranch
We used to say… eating early was eating like old people. Well… maybe we are old people… cause we love eating dinner early. Digestion well under way before bed is a good thing!
First time at Rancho Miramar on 12th Street. Two words… Fresh and Delicious! I had the Spinach Enchiladas and Roger had the Enchiladas Suiza. Yum Yum Yum!
The Cheese Dip appetizer with fresh jalapeños kinda blew my mind. So good.
Spoke with Francisco there today. You all probably know… but I did not… these good folks also have a restaurant in Dallas. That one is doing the heavy lifting for both locations. This new spot opened a year and a half ago… just as the pandemic arrived. Show ‘em some love here in Salem. #hardworkingfolks #reallygoodfood