Paleta Time


For the most part the classic Tuesday mellow followup to Memorial Day elevated by many guests celebrating. At one point we had three whole lobsters on the second floor.

Shoutout:  Caitlin the bar trainee was superb on the well / humans. Chad was pleased, and that’s all I need to know.


True Champion:  Eric again showed his strength as a trainer / teacher (perhaps emulating the example of his older brother, who is now running Formento’s) this time with Caesar, giving him very solid foundation on all points Ice Line.


SG’s: Krista W and friends received the limp duck joke quite well, though she was sadly sans-Jeff the working man’s hairdo. Sushi Macku, where Kevin Xavazong used to work, represented with a table of 4.

Tom Skilling’s weather: May’s closing day will be the seventh consecutive Wednesday to hit 70F.

Japanese Garden


Saturday at the restaurant started off with a bang and continued through at the highest level of volume throughout. We were short one bartender but had an excellent stage, and with Lanie staying through the first push, got off the ground and service was flying thereafter.

Shoutout:  Natalie and Leticia made the entire experience for a guest whose special diet means no sugar whatsoever: they crafted a special sugarless dessert (fresh fruit doesn’t count!) that was above and beyond and exemplifies the entire pastry station’s level of care and execution.


Second Pastry Shoutout: To Chef Kelly, already having a big year, for delivering Gretchen Schmaltz’s newborn daughter Ines!

Secret Sugarfree Dessert Tlayuda Recipe?

South Side Sightseeing


Higher than typical energy for a Sunday with so many guests in town for the National Restaurant Association show not only eager to dine at our restaurant, also up and eager to photograph the culinary goings-on at said dinner.  It was great to see the guests enthusiasm for the Fire line in particular where it felt as if there was always at least 1 shutterbug guest taking photos of the action.


Shoutout:  Big shoutout to the whole squad for making a 212 cover Sunday night feel smooth and easy like Sunday morning.


True Champion: Jose O. went beyond the call of duty, down 1 runner and training a new hire, not only running all hot food but taking the time to carry bustubs of dirty dishes down to the dish team, and helping the SA’s clear tables on the floor. Jose’s huge effort made a difference for so many of us on the squad.

Tom Skilling keeps saying it’s getting warmer… Prove it Tom!

Memorial Day Cookout in Budlong


Big Saturday that grew as the warm air finally started arriving late: the height of the dinner rush was just after 9:30PM and it had been cranking since 6PM. The kitchen got a huge assist from Chef Andres, who had to stop the line for about 15 minutes to get the full rail caught up. That being said, they performed admirably at peak output for the full three hours up to that point and after that 15 minute sort-out, were back on track to finish strong.

True Champion: Lil’ Lesly was on the register tonight and there were times, with so many large groups, she had a line snaked back towards the entrance. As a 34 year old restaurant pro, this would freak me out. As a 19 year old newbie, Lesly made a huge impression on me and the team with her poise, comfortably joking and laughing with guests, totally on point with money, and zero errors ringing. When it comes to true champions, size only matters in terms of spirit.


Mood Scale:  Big shout outs to Andrea and Borraz and Wink, for reaching out to guests during the brief time the kitchen went underwater and helping me ensure we acknowledged longer waits for food, and where appropriate made peace offerings.

Shoutout as well to Todd and Jacob reppin’ CB tonight at Ultra Fresh II!

Tom Skilling says… it’s heating up!



Canyonisms Cumbias


Here is a link to my cumbia playlist:

01 Veneno Digital Love -Agustin Sound System
02 Yair Martinez – Latinos
Ape Drums feat. Gappy Ranks – Baddest
Ayotzinapa43mex – Elton Man ft El Hijo de la Cumbia ( Riddim & Friends vol 1 )
Baja Frequencia – Que Calor (Official Music Video)
BIDI BIDI LEAN ON 94 BPM (SumoHair X ELDusty LeanOn Edit)
Biggie Vs Fito Olivares – KXZ CUMBIA BLEND
Bleepolar – Cumbia Wanna Party
Borchi – La Rasterinha Imperial (Original)
Busta Rhymes
BUSY JUDITH [Lucho Perez -vs- Busy Signal
Celso Piña Ft Control Machete – Version Smoke – Ego
Creída – El Hijo De La Cumbia rmx
Cumbia Universal – Mambe & Danochilango
Cumbia Up Your Yaz(oo)
Deela – 24K Cumbia [Skulltura Pt2]
Deela – Look Up In The Sky [Skulltura Pt2]
Deela – Yuh Nuh Blow [Skulltura Pt2]
Diplo Nicky da B – Express Yourself (Chong X Cumbia Riddim refix)
Duelo Sabanero – El Catorce X Erick Jaimez Ft Ato 05 (KUMBALE)
Heater (Alberto Pacheco – Cumbia Cienaguera)
I Will Survive in Mahalageasca
iLLBiLLY HiTEC ft. Mexican Soundsystem – Yo Soy Mexicano
It’s Goin’ Down (Celly Cel VS. Sonido Gallo Negro)
La Cumbia Del Borracho
La Yegros – Viene de mi (Cero39 Rmx)
Los Abuelos de la Nada – Mil Horas (Bruno Borlone Partybreak Remix)
Ludacris – Move Bitch (Bruno Borlone Remix)
Madeintyo – Uber Everywhere (DavidJ Cumbia Re-Work)
Maxx Gallo – Gallote (Call Me…)
Mos Def – Ms. Fat Booty (DavidJ Cumbia Mash)
No Me Quieres feat. Fabi Reyna
Oscar De Leon-Lloraras (PICNICTYME Cumbiaton Edit)
Rakim – I Know You Got Soul (Canyonazo Edit)
Ruff Likkle Cumbia-Brother Culture
Selva (Chong X Remix)
Started From The Cumbia Bottom (Sonido Mamalón Rmx)
SUPERSAN ft. Princesa – Musica Del Barrio
Surf tha cumbia
Walk The Nalguita Uptown

Thunderstorm Doom


Exciting second day of summer-like temps brought big names and energy to the restaurant, however an approaching line of thunderstorm doom (classic derecho pattern) may have dampened walk-in enthusiasm, especially after 8PM, meaning we did not quite hit 200 covers.


Shoutout:  Lanie and the entire bar team for an exciting summer cocktail change! Well executed and every guest I talked to tonight was loving the new drinks.

True Champion: Rocio our new host on her first full day training has already won her first TC award: for her energy in reuniting guests at the second floor bar before getting them seated for their reservation, for smiling and giving a welcoming vibe at the front door, and for being in love with the scallops and black cod she got to share with Shawneice at the end of her training shift. Awesome to have a new teammate so excited to be here and represent the squad!


Tom Skilling says… this warm breezy beauty is expected to chill by 20-30 degrees towards the end of Thursday.

One Way Out


First summer-like temps brought big energy to Tuesday night. We had way more than the usual number of guests check in early and have a cocktail upstairs before going to their tables: Wisconsin supper club style. Shoutout to Chad, Borraz and Oscar for working together to take care of these cocktailers and all seated guests on LB2. Another telltale sign of the momentum building towards summer: we had to prep more ceviche after 9PM because we had sold so much!


True Champion: Chef Andres leadership with the ceviche was amazing, meaning we did not need to 86 on the first summer temp day of 2017, earning Chef the true champion award to start the week.


Mood Scale:  We are focusing on the service standard of “empathy” this week. It was awesome to have new people like Naro, as well as a couple folks who have been on staff, such as Alejandro Bolanos, involve me in small touches at tables tonight. Day one, and the focus on “empathy” is already causing good things in the dining room.

Tom Skilling says… possible OVERNIGHT LOW of 65-70.

Extra Corny Appreciation


Sweet Sunday full of memorable experiences for all the mamas in the house. The staff had their hands full with some of the usual Sunday variables and fatigue as we staff up for the summer: all that being said, they came through and delivered great experiences across the board.


True Champion: David was SA for all of Lb1, with support from servers and runners, he was on top of all the details and making our guests smile and coming up with excellent ideas to make our restaurants better. One hundred percent pure David = one hundred percent True Champion.


Mood Scale:  Not to be extra corny (must be the masa!) but I think the X factor that powered our team through Mother’s Day at the end of our work week, was getting to play a positive role in the lives of the families who dined with us tonight. We are blessed with some of most informed and engaged guests in the restaurant business and this was an opportunity to see most of them at their very best.

Tom Skilling says… periods of cloud and sun, breezy and warm.



Big party AND big night combined with pre-Mother’s day and a beautiful Saturday for an excellent adventure on our side of 900.


Shoutout:  Nasty Nutter’s vegetarian Mextaplique has been a big hit of the menu change: shoutout!


True Champion: Nosheen had big energy on both floors AND kitchen of CB, and the wake of the afternoon anniversary party. Today she crushed all responsibilities and situations with professionalism, and always, defining herself as a true champion.


Mood Scale:  In our preshift, we had a great exercise: three servers demoed their spiel in front of the staff.  We gave them a precise 60 seconds to spiel first time guests in this demonstration. We learned great touches from all 3 servers that will be used to elevate all our guests experiences: from Emily, we learned to lead with enthusiasm and introduce the Baja California Norte cuisine through it’s influences, from Iggy we learned to speak of the progressive listing of the menu sections (lighter to heavier dishes by section) and from Brigitte we learned that the portioning is versatile to accommodate both the app / entrée format as well as sharing as a table.


Tom Skilling says… a honey of a Mother’s Day is on tap.

Nasty Nut


Huge congrats to the entire team at 900 not just for 1yr anniversary: today’s execution was huge, starting with the media at the brewery kitchen this morning (shoutout to Chef Roberto and KGray!) and followed by a seemingly endless amount of guests from lunch to dinner, and the service was smooth and guests loved their food all day, leading to the crazy sales numbers.  On the seafood side, LLL and chefs executed a tasting menu that counter-programmed the “lowest common denominator” factor (everyone wants to come out for Mexican food for just one day, not our usual “true believers”) leading to a huge sales number and the highest PPA I have seen.  A record day and hugely successful services on both ends of 900: not only did we survive year 1, we have leveled up.


True Champion:  The bar team in its entirety gets my Year 1 True Champion Award.  From Jeff’s cocktail list (and Lanie’s mezcals) that wowed me from the first, and continue to wow me with every new change, to the promotion of Shelly and Nosheen, to Chad’s ownership over prep, organization and strategy, and Brien’s promotion to training leader due to his unyielding standard for guest experience. This is more than just another bar staff, or top notch crew.  This is a team of true Champions.


Arthur Mullen’s Inspirational 5 de Mayo Quote of the Year from TOK, on their hit song, Chi-Chi Man (some of the lyrics may be slightly invented because Arthur doesn’t understand patois slang):  “My crew, my dawgs, get wood, get logs, blaze the fire make me bun them (bun them!!!!)”

Tom Skilling says… amazing weekend ahead high 50’s and sunny.