Agua Del Yum

5 rabanitos chicago pilsen alfonso sotelo fish tacos agua fresca arthur mullen mexican food  3rdarmI took a couple personal days for a staycation- the summer in Chicago goes fast, and if you don’t slow down and try to enjoy it, it’s gone.  For my mental health recovery after helping open two… maybe three restaurants? I’ve lost count.
5 rabanitos chicago pilsen alfonso sotelo fish tacos agua fresca arthur mullen mexican food  3rdarm

I must be all turned around. The first thing I did with my time off was finish the redesign of the 5 Rabanitos menu, social media and website. While not “relaxing”, the new food, layout and colors could probably be called, “refreshing.”

La Cumbia Illuminati

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Saturday July 16 – Our biggest night and we felt it… almost 300 covers! The kitchen stood strong and there were no long tickets, a testament to how badass our culinary team is. The FOH made it through with teamwork and communication, and we learned a lot of good things about service and how to make it better the next time we seat 4 tables in the PDR.

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The crowd was not as high energy, maybe because of Pitchfork music festival pulling away our rock n’ rollers. Great teamwork on both floors: as we started to cut towards the end of the night, everyone supported one another with closing duties.

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Mood Scale: A table of 5 guests were very inquisitive about the sourcing of our food. They were armed with many questions, to the point of almost being critical. We got to talk to them about the corn masa from Masienda, well as the tomatoes from Mighty Vine. When I was bringing these guests a couple extra tortillas to finish their taco platters, I also brought ramekin of pico de gallo. It was one thing to answer their questions but when they added some of those ripe tomatoes in our salsa to their last tacos, the flavor alone lifted their mood scale to a 9 or 10!

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Shout out: Thank you to Matt for all your table touches, and Nosheen who came over to help me reel in the awnings. Now that I am closing both restaurants, I see and appreciate our 900 team more than eva.

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Tom Skilling says… tropical heat creeping closer.

Woo Hah Marienkäfer

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July 13 – Good vibes in Cruz Blanca on this mid-summer night’s dinner service! We filled up by 6PM both on patio and in DR. Thunderstorms were on and off, and Manny was on top of drying the patio throughout. Towards the end of our dinner rush, a double rainbow appeared (check out our photo @cruzblancachi on instagram.)

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Mood Scale: Tonight we used the doppler radar to track the most intense band of thunderstorms. Two gentlemen had been enjoying the patio for an hour already, and just received their tacos, when we saw the imminent threat of thunderstorm. Manny and I moved these guests and another party inside to safety ahead of the deluge. These guys thanked us later and said we had made them feel well taken care of.

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Shoutout: Roxanna made us these super sharp black, white and red Cruz Blanca stickers, that look awesome on the new buzzers.

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Tom Skilling says… Thursday brings sun, clouds, wind, rain.

Móntame En La Tormenta

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Sunday, July 10 – Excellent Sunday with the team executing on all levels – this is how we want to end every week. Good job by Leslie, Maria and the HC seating many walk-in’s – and also knowing when we hit the limit on number of walk-in guests.

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Moment of Zen: Tonight we sealed the polished stone Onyx bar, waxed the hot line and pastry line, and wood-oiled the tables. The trifecta, mission accomplished.

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Tom Skilling says… resurging heat and humidity may trigger strong storms…

Smells Like Cumbia Spirit

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Big Tuesday to start back up after July 4th – business may have been dampened being the day after the holiday. Shoutout to Maria, Sarah and Lanie for doing such a great job with seating, meaning we never needed the PDR because it was so smooth.

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Mood Scale: Chad had 2 guests at bar seats 512 ask why all the habaneros they see in the USA are orange, but when they visit Mexico they will often see green habaneros. Chad had hazarded an (incorrect) guess that the orange habaneros are more fully ripened, and then got me involved for a second opinion. Last year on the staff trip to the Yucatan, I learned from David Sterling that one of the reasons we see variations such as really large avocados, or green habaneros, is that tens of thousands of years ago the climate was very different, meaning a much higher sea level, separating areas such as the Yucatan from mainland Mexico, and leading to variations of species specific to these tropical regions. These species are not as popular in the USA because they specifically adapted to the tropics: they do not grow well here. It was a lot of fun to be able to recall some of David Sterling’s wisdom and share it with these guests!

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Shout out: To our new barback Sam, who was quietly supporting both bars, making service run noticeably smoother, great job!

Return of the Cumbia

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June 28 and 29 – I opened a bottle of wine for 2 guests at table 43, their server was Carlean. The guests were both interested in how we cook with cactus. They are from a part of Guanajuato where the cactus is a dietary staple, all of it’s parts used in many dishes. In fact, these folks call themselves, “Panzas verdes,” or green bellies. Getting a chance to listen to guests’ stories like this are one of the ways I get to 10.

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Another amazing guest story, from a couple having dinner at the bar. I opened their bottle of Mexican wine and they told me about a restaurant in Mexico City that serves mini al pastor spits that actually sit on the tabletop.

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Da Real MVPs: BIG thank you to the Chicago Police (and Sarah, Chef, Deann, Lanie, Matt, Leslie and everyone involved) who solved the theft issue within our restaurant family tonight.

Marty’s Place North

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Smokey’s was not able to take us, so we headed to my favorite Wisconsin supper club ever instead, Marty’s Place North. This restaurant has been open for multiple generations and I have been going for the last 5+ years: I love this restaurant.

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I do not love this restaurant because it’s perfect: I love the food, the staff, the history and the consistency of the experience. We had an awesome relish tray (they make their own horseradish cheese and smoked liver spreads) and amazing entrees of fish and steak. For dessert (kind of important to me), I had my heart set on the Strawberry Schaum Torte.

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I ordered it when the steak was still on the table. The server returned minutes later to inform me that they were sold out due to the July 4th busy week, and waiting to set more meringue for the following day. I said it’s ok, how about vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and strawberries (love that Wisconsin dairy).

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Minutes later, the server returned to say they had no more strawberries. This was the point where a lesser restaurant would be out of options. “You can sit at the bar, but you can’t use DNA to bring dinosaurs back to life!” As in Jurassic Park, hospitality finds a way.

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The server returned with a complimentary sundae using the JUICE leftover from what strawberries they’d had, and it SATISFIED MY CRAVING. Technically perfect, no, but full of heart. Just imagine I’m gazing at my cane, with the tip containing a mosquito frozen in amber… HOSPITALITY FINDS A WAY.

Smokey’s

Raven and I were in the Northwoods of Wisconsin the past 2 nights we grilled brats 1 night (yes I was “cooking”) and the other night we went out to eat. I wanted to try a new restaurant called “Smokey’s” based on all these good reviews I’d read.

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We arrived around 4:30PM (hey, it’s northern Wisconsin) and the dining room was empty except for 2 parties. The host told us they were totally fully booked that night were not able to accommodate us. Then she said that we could sit at the bar, but that entrees were not available and we would have to order off their bar snacks menu.

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I let them know I work in the restaurant industry, and that if it would be possible for their kitchen, we would be happy to eat fast and “be out” by a ridiculously early time, say 5:45PM?

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I understand their reservation policy as a restaurant manager: they have prepped for a certain amount of guests and we should have made a reservation (I forget sometimes that reservations for 2 are available over the phone at some places in the world.) I also understand their bar policy is intended to build a separate bar business.

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What I don’t understand, is how they sent us back out the door before 5PM. So I said, “Let’s go somewhere that will serve us an entree.”

Danish Oil Cumbias

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playlist for the start of summah 2016-

1 SONORA — Sonora ft Chingo Bling – Return Of The Cumbia
2 bombombum — bombombum > pump up the jam-bomba estereo (guacharaca rmx)
3 No Macayo Music — Eminem – Shake That (Cumbia RMX)
4 ericalandia — Superstitious (Sir OJ + ericalandia cumbia edit)
5 Rebel Up! Soundclash — Inner Circle – Bad Boys cumbia (Rebel Up! Leblanc refix)
6 STEREO REVUELTA — ARE YA GONNA GO MY WAY (STEREO REVUELTA REMIX)
7 “MkC” — Nirvana – Smells Like Cumbia Spirit (“MkC” RMX)
8 Names You Can Trust — La Mecánica Popular – Móntame En La Tormenta
9 mares.playitas — discos patito – summer time
10 Le Cumbianche Disco — Humo en el agua – Sr. coconut ( Le Cumbianche Disco Remix )
11 afrokumbe — Lorde – Royals ( Afro Kumbé Remix )
12 Dj Mauro Navs — Don Omar Vs Ace Of Base – Bootleg – All That She Wants (Dj Navas Feat. D-Vine Dance)
13 hauyon — Sure shot a morirrrrr
14 Testspiel — LaBrassBanda feat. Busta Rhymes – “Woo Hah Marienkäfer”
15 Dj partypOOp AKA elralphD — 99 problems but el tao tao ain’t one
16 Arevik — Beyonce Naughty Girl (salsa)

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17 Benedetto — Benedetto – Her Neck, Her Back (Khia Moombahton Remix)
18 quantic — Reminisce Over You
19 Dj Neber — Pete Rock cumbia sounds of the street ( Dj Neber remix )
20 Chicha Libre — 03 Alone Again Or
21 Ricardo Calvario 1 — Cumbia pretty woman cover grupo ny enamorado 2014
22 _KayGee — Kaygee – Walk Through the Jungle
23 papiperez — Grupo Kual- (PapiPérez Power Rebajada edit) Cumbia del mar
24 outsider8301 — Cumbia woo yaaahh del monte
25 SpydaT.E.K-XTRA — Fat Joe – ATWU (SpydaT.E.K. & Quality Cumbia Remix)
26 Deluxmaniac — Hidden Dj – Bjork vs Puro Movimiento DJ
27 plomoazul — Summer jam – cumbia remix
28 DJ INKO REMIXES — Jimi Needles & Dj Inko – Purple Haze (Click Buy To D/L)
29 World Music Network — Salsoul Orchestra: Salsoul Hustle
30 Vlad — Various artists – Balkan Boombastic /// VP032/2012
31 Alexx Aguero — A LALA LALA LONG – Dj Alexx Agüero – BOB MARLEY (Cumbia Mix)
32 Capital Cities — Capital Cities Ft. Tupac Shakur – Breathe (Pink Floyd Cover)

The Block

lebron james finals block 3rdarm

Q. I’ve heard you say many times that you are in the moment or the importance of being in the moment. Is there ever a time where being in the moment is more important than in a winner-take-all game to define your season? And how did you learn how to actually succeed at being in the moment?

LEBRON JAMES: Well, I haven’t always been successful being in the moment. Some things you just can’t control, like I said. You can do everything you can. You can study. You can prepare. You can go out and play as great as you’ve played before and you still can come out on the short end of the stick.

It happened to me before against Boston. Me and Paul Pierce had a duel where I believe he had 50, I believe, and I had high 40s, gave everything I had, and we lost. So that doesn’t mean I wasn’t in the moment. That meant I was there. I was mentally sharp. I was in tune with the game plan. Just sometimes you’re not successful.

But for an opportunity for tomorrow, I mean, anybody that’s ever played the game of basketball or done anything at any level, to be able to have an opportunity to have one game for it all? I mean, you take it.

It’s an opportunity, and it’s going to be fun.

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“What pressure does LeBron James have in a Game 7? He doesn’t have to face me tonight.” Paul Pierce #TheTruth

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