“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
“I don’t know how much more she can take, Captain! I’m giving it everything she’s got!”
We have been — experiencing ——— difficulty —— with —— com - mun - ications — here. With time — things —— are —— improving.
It has been a lesson hard learned here at Geppetto’s to NOT simply unplug something which appears to be doing nothing. Time and experience have taught us, most likely, it is doing something. Further, one doesn’t know what has been broken or disabled until it doesn’t work! Forty-five years of operations, advancements in technology and every good idea can make for a complicated mess sometimes.
A couple of years ago I unplugged what looked like an old lamp chord which came out of the wall in the office next to my desk. As far as I could tell it went into the wall and never came out. A few days later, early in the morning, there was sudden loud banging on the alley door. At first I was frightened and then annoyed when I realized it was our dairy delivery driver. Then it hit me…. the delivery buzzer! Sure enough… the old lamp chord supplied the power to the delivery buzzer in the alley. The poor driver was just trying to be heard. I went from frightened to annoyed to apologetic in a matter of seconds. The old buzzer died all together a couple of weeks later when repairs were made to the old security system. You can bet your boots though I’ve still got the old lamp chord plugged in… just in case.
Technology is such a joy! (Deep breath and exhale.) It is with a grateful heart that I report we have been experiencing higher than normal call volume lately. While exciting, this has brought to light issues with our dated phone system. It’s supposed to work like this… when Line One is busy it rolls over to Line Two. When both lines are tied up the call goes to voicemail. Confused by the fact that customers were saying they reached a fax machine… I called Comcast. Turns out Geppetto’s has a mysterious third phone line. It has been part of Geppetto’s “package” as far back as they could see. They had no explanation for the fax tone since we don't have a fax machine. Checking first... I made sure the third line wasn’t being used by our security company for our alarm system. Once confirmed, the mysterious third line was removed. Saving $39.99/month and we are now looking into more efficient, less expensive options all together.
Meanwhile… we are truly sorry if you have had difficulty getting through. Know that we are forever learning, uncovering Geppetto’s rich past and seeking to improve as we advance into the future. As for Line Three… please keep your eyes and ears open for anything which upsets the balance of the universe. If I need to call Comcast back and reinstate… I will.
P.S. We are open for Dine-in. Reservations are not required but are recommended. Takeout & Delivery are also available. 503.378.1271. Be well!
Thank you to Pioneer Trust Bank, for ordering up about forty-four Geppetto’s lunches for their staff last Friday. Three waves of yummy goodness delivered to both their Commercial and Oak Street branches. We so appreciate the support. They also printed some pretty awesome coasters for the restaurant and bar… which we are able to use now that we are open for Dine-in! Pioneer Trust provides professional, personal service. They truly care about all aspects of each business they serve. They saw to it we were in line early for the PPP Loan which we were successful in receiving. I’ve heard some real horror stories about other small businesses dealing with big banks. There is nothing like a pandemic to make you realize you are well cared for by your friendly, local, financial institution. Thank you, Pioneer Trust for looking out for us!
Pioneer Trust Bank
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce GREETERS
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
Well, it's true. Geppetto's is open for Phase One dine-in!
We spent the last few weeks visiting other restaurant starships in the area. We watched. We listened and we learned much. Thank you, most especially to; Calvin & Nancy Eng of Top Dog, Tylee & Jeff Chipman of Subway, Melissa at Masonry Grill, John & Debbie McGrath of McGrath’s, Jodi & Monty Baker of Sparky’s and Bradley, who manages Pietro’s and loves our deep dish! You went first and we have greatly benefited from your wisdom and courage. Thank you!
A few things to note… We have moved furniture, donned masks, acquired disinfectants and adopted processes and procedures to keep ourselves and our customers safe. It feels good to be open again. Although limited, it was time. Our soft open yesterday was lightly attended but rich in joy. We will continue to learn and make necessary changes as we move through the phases of this strange time. How well we know things might be different tomorrow.
Those of you who are familiar with Geppetto’s will notice we have gone from five different menus to one… all day. All food items are still available they can now simply be found in one place. It’s much less complicated. The old way felt like a Vulcan mind meld gone very bad. We believe simplicity with regard to our menu is paramount at this time.
Our Mina’s Thai Pizzas are still rolling out and DEEELICIOUS! Takeout and deliveries continue. Four of our five Lottery machines are ready for play! (Inside tip… it’s the ATM which pays out every time! As long as you have money in the bank… you win!). Seating available for groups of 1-10. Reservations are not required but are recommended. Call... 503.378.1271. Can't wait to see you!
Thanks again to the Salem community. This is a great place to work and live! @ Salem Area Chamber of Commerce GREETERS
Three years ago to this date we began our restauranteurial quest. Survived the algae crisis of 2018, every repair imaginable, a fire closure in Spring 2019, the pandemic of 2020 and now rioting in the streets and curfews... and all this... while owning a restaurant. The fact that Roger and I have not killed each other or run away crying is truly a miracle. Well, I might have run away crying for a few days in 2019... but that was for the good of everyone. When I think of words to say... expletives abound. Unbelievable! Just saying, we could not have made it without the love and support of incredible friends and family and the close knit community which is Salem. To everyone, we say, Thank You! And... wherever you are... hang in there. We’re gonna make it through this too. Blessings, love and peace to all!