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

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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

Mala Vida Cumbiastyle

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Sunday, June 19 – Street Festival energy finally tapered on this Father’s Day Sunday. We saw the reservation book go up and down all day, and ended up with a more mellow number than the usual Sunday. The fact that this occurred on Father’s Day, however, let us be extra attentive to all our guests, especially families celebrating.

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Shout out: Lynnea who brought me an inspirational poem / thank you card today, it meant a lot.

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Tom Skilling says… in sync with summer’s official open, hot temps and stormy weather ahead!

Robot Del Rancho

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Saturday, June 18 – Randolph Street Fest continues, with today bringing us a few sun-touched guests who needed to be cut off in the first turn, and those “festival vibes” permeating through the shift. The servers and bartenders put on a brave face and offered our guests the best possible Lena experiences.

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Mood Scale: Huge kudos to Lanie and Leslie for the implementation of the Lena birthday card: not only is this a beautiful beginning to a celebratory meal at Lena, it also communicates to the entire staff, including support and other servers, that a celebration is happening, allowing us all to partake. Today and going forward, I see this having a big effect on our birthday guests moods. Excellent idea AND execution!

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Shout out: Allie, at table 46- awesome table with a lot of bottles of wine and big ticket items, the host pulled Leslie aside and gave Allie amazing compliments.

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MVP: Kelly, for her calming energy even when “festival guests” have partied too hard.

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Tom Skilling says… keep your father in the shade, sun burn threats this Sunday!

Crank that Cumbia

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Friday, June 17 – Friday with a very different feel than what we have become used to: the Randolph street festival mellowed out walk-in business allowing us to focus extra attention on the guests, and deliver our best Lena experiences.

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Mood Scale: Lynnea had a table of 5 at 36 who she felt needed a jolt of energy to pick up their mood scale. I am not usually one to have a back pocket joke on hand – but this week I have a really good one about a parrot and the origin of the phrase “saying uncle.” In this case, with these guests, it actually worked – I got them laughing and their mood number got a lift! Please do not ask me for repeat performance.

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Shout out: Francisco and Ronnie, for rocking the new polisher / stocker configuration, in a successful trial run!

Tudei

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Wednesday, June 15 – Big Wednesday, picked right up where last night left off, beginning with an 8-top in LB2 and many special guests. Tonight our (many unannounced) special guests pushed the reservation book a little more, and yet working as a team we were able to ensure no guest left behind.

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MVP: Mayra, runner for the cold side, for her knowledge, persistence, communication, and positive attitude. Mayra is real asset to the team!

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Tom Skilling says… heat and humidity to ease up, at least for now.

Cinco de Milkshake

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Tuesday, June 14 – Mood Scale: We had the unfortunate scenario of a guest with a disability needing to use the washroom after the elevator had shutdown. Todd immediately let us know and I met them at the elevator door (it had been working the first time this guest used the washroom). The guest and I walked over to the Grange Burger Bar, and kept up an ongoing conversation on the way there and back. We comped a round of drinks as they were too tired for desserts, as a way of apology. What could have been unpleasant and awkward was much ameliorated because we had a plan.

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Shout out: Bo Fowler, who remembered interviewing me 6 years ago! She said I was a young man, and now I am seasoned.

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Tom Skilling says… warmth and higher humidity help fuel periodic thunderstorm clusters over coming days, but interspersed…

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