Anyway, it's July 3rd and I am unapologetically coasting into a long (2 days) holiday weekend. Seems like a good moment to bring this blog up into the present.
We are nearly nine months into the life of this restaurant and things are going pretty darn well, I must say. I've been slogging out the six-day weeks of 10+ hours a day and have more or less gotten used to that routine, carving out bits of personal and/or downtime as is possible. My employees have proven to be extremely reliable and we've been blessed with nearly no turnover, and despite just having had to shell out nearly a thousand bucks for an air conditioner fix, I've been remarkably free of pricey maintenance expenditures as well.
So? Partly lucky, partly by design, we're churning right along. The burgers continue to wow the customers and I've added some fun twists, trying out beef from different local farmers and offering it as an upgrade option over the standard burger. We've been getting Dietzler Farms' fantastic dry aged beef for months now, and even won an award for it.
The other big thing I've been doing recently is canvassing the Evanston Farmer's Market every Saturday and then high-tailing it back to the restaurant to put together a market burger special and farmer's market shake with whatever produce seems at its peak. It's resulted in some fun and interesting combinations like a burger topped with a deep fried fromage blanc-stuffed squash blossom and a Michigan black raspberry milkshake. Fun stuff!
For those reading who might want to get updates about these kind of specials, you can follow me on Twitter @edlakin, or "like" us on Facebook to receive all the info about specials as well as loads of other blather from yours truly. Those two outlets for my musings are a big part of why this blog has been so quiet as of late.
We won another "best of" thing recently as well, this one from the Chicago Reader, whose critics honored us with their award for "best new burger", so my wife and I will be forced to attend yet another of these swanky cocktail receptions and pick that up in the coming week. Oh, the glamour!
Well, actually this is only the second swanky cocktail and passed hors d'oeuvres thing that we've been invited to, but we'll take it whenever we can get it. We are blessed to have an incredibly active and vibrant food and food writing culture in Chicago, and I thank my lucky stars every single day that folks like the burgers and make the decision to pay attention to us in any way, shape, or form, whether it's in print, on blogs, Twitter, whatever.
Looking back to a year ago, when I was sitting, waiting to see if the deal to purchase and lease this space wouldn't fall apart like our first deal did, I entertained zero notions that things would work out the way they have thus far. None. I hoped for far less, and would've considered myself extremely fortunate to be breaking even and paying myself on the day before the fourth of July, 2010.
So I'll be toasting my good fortune and all the wonderful people in my life that have helped me and continue to help me make this happen every day--our customers, my employees, my family, and my wife, who runs pretty much every other aspect of our family's life while my attention and energy is near-exclusively focused on running this restaurant. Thanks so much, I could not do this without you!
That said, happy fourth!