Eating out no treat

Pardon this rather long commentary/rant on the restaurant industry. Just got home from eating out (yeah, I know I do that way too much). Ate at an order-at-the-counter-type-chain. And once again, the experience was less than ideal. In this case, the entrée itself was good, but . . . the drink machine had a sign on it “sorry, no ice.” It’s 88 degrees today, and the soda was less than cold. The lady at the next table wasn’t so lucky. She got the wrong item, and the replacement didn’t get to her until her table-mates were done eating. And by the way, the WC had no TP. What’s up with that?

This week began with a breakfast delivered to me that was totally inedible. It wasn’t just me, 4 of the other 6 diners at the table found at least part of their meal unsatisfactory. Bad restaurant experiences have increased at an alarming rate lately. First I thought it was just to me, but I’ve observed them happening to others. And then, the ultimate authority – the workplace breakroom – confirmed my fears that the only way to be totally satisfied may be to eat at home. Someone reported that half of their dining party never received their order. Last evening, at my customary tgif observance (not the restaurant, but thank g . . . . well, you know), as we left the order-at-the-counter-person, a previous diner came up to tell the order-taker not to bother bringing out the fries and other to-follow items, since they were done eating and leaving.  Earlier in the week, I had a nicely crisped chicken sandwich that was raw in the middle and burned French fries (how do you burn french fries?) I did have a very good chicken salad sandwich at favorite-bar-and-grill, but while we were eating there was a huge crash when a stack of plates near us hit the floor. (I hope it was no one’s meal). My husband told me his regular fast-food-breakfast-after-golf wasn’t what he ordered, but then he almost never gets what he orders. Sheesh!

Two shining experiences in the last week encourage me to keep trying, however. A shout-out to Tokyo Restaurant for an amazing dining experience, like always, and another to Chick-a-dee, whose atmosphere hasn’t changed in 20 years (or more?), but the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time – piping hot, light pancakes and sizzling bacon done to perfection.

Requiem for Krispie Kreme

Sometimes you take a photo and you don’t know how significant it will be. Such was the case on February 15th when a group of us attended a product demo for security cameras. Along with his presentation, Steve brought a box of Krispie Kreme doughnuts. Since we don’t have a Krispie Kreme up in our neck of the woods, I popped out the camera and took a picture. Doesn’t this just make your mouth water?
Krispy Kreme Dougnuts
Little did we know, that it was the last box of Krispie Kremes we’d see in Minnesota. On February 21st, Krispie Kreme ceased Minnesota sales. WCCO news story.

Krispie Kreme’s short tenure in Minnesota has been newsworthy, but sales have evidently been less than profitable. The first store opened in Maple Grove in 2002. They had to call the cops to control the traffic jam around the doughnut shop (now there’s an irony). At that time I lived in Rochester (about 75 miles south) and people coming through the Cities would stop in Maple Grove and pick up a box to impress their friends.

A couple years later, we got a Krispie Kreme in Rochester. It was pretty popular for a while, but closed up fairly quickly. The last time I was there, the empty store (without the signature “Hot” light) stood monument empty.

What’s this got to do with libraries? Well, other than the doughnuts were brought to a library, when I went to the Krispie Kreme website, I found out that Krispie Kreme solicits visitors to join its “Friends of Krispie Kreme” (just like library Friends groups). The site promises that Krispie Kreme will “regularly send you timely information about exciting new products, special offers, and local events.” What a neat idea, to sign up Friends on the website!

My food photos recognized

At last notoriety! For my great leadership and management? Naw! For my awe-inspiring musical performance? Naw! For my insightful blog posts? Naw . . . . for my pictures of food. The ones all my friends and colleagues make fun of.

Well, let me tell you . . . the photo I took of the artfully presented entrees at the Cheescake Factory when I was at PLA in Boston 2 years ago is part of the Schmap Boston Guide. They even asked my permission. So, I guess that proves it, huh? I am an officially recognized food photographer.

Watch out for me at PLA in Minneapolis next month ;^)

here’s my photo, in case you missed it
barb-camera 011

Can’t use American Express for Beebopareebop

updated July 30th added photos – thanks, Ruth

Just a few steps off the Lake Wobegon Trail is the Fisher’s Club A Fairly Good Place for Quite Some Time. If it sounds like something off the Prairie Home Companion, you’re almost right – Garrison Keillor is part owner – has been since 2005. However, Fisher’s Club has been there since 1932, when George “Showboat” Fisher opened it. Showboat, who loved hunting and fishing, had just retired from ten years of major league baseball, playing for the Washington Senators and the St. Louis Cardinals, and didn’t want to get tied down with a year-round job so he opened Fisher’s Club on the northeast shore of Middle Spunk Lake.

I had a wonderful evening there last week with a group of librarian friends. Driving through the small town of Avon to the outskirts, where you park on the grass surrounding the crushed rock parking lot, it felt like coming home to the heart of America. The Club sits back from a public swimming beach. The service was a little laid back, the un-conditioned air was Minnesota warm and humid. You can eat inside (why would you do that?) or on the porch. The food was good; I had the half order Fisher’s Famous Walleye Fillet – couldn’t imagine the full order.

And then the best part – Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie with a scoop of ice cream (for only 50 cents extra). I even hummed the song under my breath. Wished I had room for the Powdermilk Biscuits Strawberry Shortcake, which looked just as good.

So, if you’re driving up I-94 north of St Cloud, make the stop. Wear cool clothes and bring cash, Visa, or Mastercard. Just don’t bring American Express – they don’t take it.

Fisher's Club Avon Minnesota

Fisher's Club Avon Minnesota

National Hot Dog Month

How did I miss it? And it’s almost over! July is National Hot Dog Month, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. (librarians always cite the source of their information). While everyone else at the cookout oohs and ahs over the burgers and steaks and kabobs, just give me an all American hot dog, the more charcoaled the better. In fact, while the rest of my family is eagerly anticipating an August trip to Miller Park to see the Brewers, I’m going for the hot dogs.

After 2 days at a top notch WiLSWorld conference, talking about open source, research and development, net neutrality, and online communities, (see previous 6 posts) it will be good to think summer, cookouts, and hot dogs.

National Ice Cream Day – in 2 days

I’m posting this ahead of time, so that we can get ready. Sunday, July 15th is National Ice Cream Day – designated in 1984 as an annual event to be the third Sunday of July by President Ronald Reagan. (no theme intended, even though my previous post also referenced President Reagan).

Wouldn’t it be fun to have an ice cream social as a library event? Or at the very least, for virtual patrons, provide reference links to All those great ice cream recipes – just waiting to be made. Maybe I should head on over to my local big-box store (many to choose from) and pick up an ice cream maker this afternoon. Or then again, maybe I’ll just spend Sunday touring ice cream shops.

Anyway, have a happy Ice Cream Day!

Carambas, it’s good!

It’s an occupational hazard, or maybe just a wierd sort of hobby. Whenever I’m in any business, I look for customer service, especially as it parallels that in libraries. Tonight I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant, and saw a textbook illustrated right before my eyes!

  • When we walked in the place was full . . . people were enjoying themselves, kids were noticeably welcomed.
  • The staff, and especially the owner, were smiling and greeting everyone.
  • Service was prompt, the food arrived with a smile.
  • The product was attractive and fantastic as always.
  • Several times someone spoke to us, finding out if we needed anything.
  • We must have come right after a rush — suddenly a bunch of people left and there was a lull.
  • The staff, led by the owner, grabbed rags and sweepers and bustled around, tidying up and putting things in order.
  • The owner made a point to come over, sat down at an ajoining table, and chatted with us.
  • We complimented him on his growing business.
  • He said he’s had a number of invitations to move it elsewhere. But he likes the clientele and service he can provide right there, where his customers are, in the homey neighborhood that’s not known as a prime location or one of the better places in town.

We left, promising to return soon, as we always do. We got in our car which was parked in front of another food place on the strip mall. There was nobody in it, and the workers were lounging in the booths looking bored. Not too hard to figure out why the restaurant we had visited was getting all the business.