Tag Archives: winter

Guadalupe “The Realest Eagle”

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Tom Skilling Forecast: Temps remain mild, moderate chance of snow.

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Service: In today’s staff meeting we went over the RW menu and how important it is to give our RW guests a great experience at Xoco. In the PM staff meeting, we went over the 7 dimensions of the Xoco experience with the team, for the benefit of Guadalupe, who was on her second training shift. Later, Guadalupe and I talked about where Xoco got it’s name from, and also quizzed her on the guacamole toppings (she got 5/7) and our allergy policy. Great teamwork today: with the slower pace, we went with a 6 person team in the PM (plus Guadalupe training, so 7 servers instead of 8.) MVP goes to Vanessa for doing an amazing job staying focused and training her sister.

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Mood Scale: We have a regular who orders for their office through email (we make an exception for this guest because they are a great regular and prefer email.) They gave us feedback on their big order from yesterday: “Arthur, Thanks again for all of your guys help with lunch yesterday. Everything was great, as always! Have a nice weekend!”

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Frankfurt

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Frankfurt is a big airport, important hub for Lufthansa, where I connected from Chicago to Portugal. Frankfurt is also something like the Philadelphia airport of Europe, well run but perhaps lacking in design for its size, leading to some WTF headscratchaz.
The upshot at Frankfurt: pretzels and hotdogs!

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The first WTF moment was in passport control, which began with 4 active agents and then arbitrarily dropped to 3, and then 2, creating an hour plus long bottleneck (but hey, could always be worse.) The second headscratcha, the one that spiritually tied Frankfurt to Philadelphia, utilized Philly’s signature move: the shuttle bus.

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It was already a cold gray afternoon when it started to rain, leading to a small delay at the gate. The airline reps finally began scanning tickets. To my surprise, instead of a sky bridge to the plane, we were herded downstairs to the subterranean basement, to board a shuttle bus. I was not very trusting of this: after all, I had bought a plane ticket to Portugal, not a bus ticket.

I grew concerned that I had F’ed up somehow (typical of me.) But the shuttle bus eventually got us rolling, under and around two terminals, and out onto the tarmac. We disembarked in the rain, choosing between stairs at the head and tail of the plane. Everyone climbed aboard.

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November Clouds

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Tom Skilling Forecast: Historic twelve inch snowfall sets Chicagoland’s all-time record for a single storm in November!

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Kitchen: Big news today… welcome Chef Julio De Leon to the Xoco family! We have been fortunate to have Chef Alonso leading us the past 2 years.  Chef Alonso made Xoco amazing beyond where I thought was possible… I will miss you very much chef, thank you for everything!

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Moment of Zen: Today I got handed a fortune cookie, which I saved until just now for my “end of the night snack.” The fortune inside reads, “You will reach high levels of intelligence.” !!! When???

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Faded

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I get my haircut at a Mexican American barbershop in my neighborhood. My hairdresser is a 50 year-old stylish woman.

roly poly cat 3rdarm arthur mullen barbershop straight line fade rip maine coon cat   She keeps her combs in a coffee mug shaped like a woman’s breast that says “Chupame.” When I keep my eyes open I find they inevitably wander towards the titty mug, so I mostly keep them closed.

I relax when my head gets touched especially when they straight razor the neck potbelly sandwich works wreck

I relax when my head gets touched especially when they straight razor the neck.  Three of us were getting haircuts although the barbershop was oddly muted except for an old school TV on low volume. Rachael Ray sounded comfortingly far away as she  apparently demonstrated temporary tattoos are the hip new Easter Egg decoration. 

roly poly cat 3rdarm arthur mullen barbershop straight line fade rip maine coon cat   Suddenly, terrifyingly, I felt the straight razor plow a row on the top of my head. I jerked opened my eyes and I saw it. My hairdresser had ripped me a line. She then took something like 17 cellphone pictures of it.

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February in Review

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

Despite what any objective observer would describe as plain awful weather (coldest Feb in Chi in recorded history, 14.6F average temperature, 3rdsnowiest Feb) we ended just $1300 short of February 2014 sales.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

This must have been due to the consistent, delicious pace of the kitchen, the friendly, engaged attention by the servers, the deliveries ordered on Xocotogo.com, and the amazing creativity of our chefs.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

If the February weather was the toughest of punches, we’re only down $1300.  

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

Xoco is still standing and we have all of that going for us AND some new tricks up our sleeve. 

xoco chicago february review 2015 arthur mullen noble square

I can’t wait to see what this team does with even a slight increase in temperature:  March, I’m looking at you.

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Goofy Green Sweater

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We are in the dog days of winter. It snowed again on Sunday and the temperature is in the single digits in Chicago.

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I watched my elderly neighbor sweep snow from the sidewalk. His 20 year old chihuahua Goofy emerged from the house, alive, and wearing a small green sweater.

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Year of Fundamentals Part 2

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I went to see Dr. When last week. The entire time I’m in his office I’m talking, and he is furiously writing prescriptions. I only see him once every 4 months, so Dr. When had a lot of prescritions to write, and I had a lot to say. I said happy new year, and explained my vision for 2015. I told him I was calling this the, “Year of Fundamentals.” Dr. When didn’t seem to interested, so I prodded him. “What will be your major focus this year doctor?”

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Dr. When said he would take note of the question and have an answer prepared for when we meet again in May. Dr. When handed me the prescriptions, and I started to talk about how I have been feeling depressed, a little down… The doctor was already up from his chair, and held open the door for me. Dr. When’s version of au revoir: “It’s winter, everybody’s feeling down.”

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Linus

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My Tom Skilling dreams started to come true during the latest big snow storm, Winter Storm Linus. I woke up wicked early on Sunday and took a video of my neighbors shoveling.

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Weather Nation, with 20K twitter followers, picked up my video. Later, the Weather Channel asked for permission to use the still from my instagram feed.

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Max’s Letter

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I got a letter (a real letter, written and delivered by hand) from Max Wolod, the manager who preceded me at Xoco. Max was my manager for most of the year that I was a Xoco server. He kept the standards high and earned my respect. When he decided to leave to open Parson’s (and create their famous Negroni slushy!) Max set me up for success in my first management job with excellent training and resources, and for 2 years has been just a phone call away whenever I need help.

I tried to read the letter when it first arrived, but I was too tired and it was too much. I had to ride in to work because it was the lunch rush at Xoco. I put the letter down. Etta screeched, “Are you going to finish reading that letter?! Are you crying?! You’re a baby!!!” I had already been on a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, the first work week of the new year, my ChowNow testimonial was up, we changed the menu… it wasn’t easy.

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Max (in part) wrote, “I want to thank you sincerely and without a hint of my normal trademark cynicism for always taking care of me and my family so generously at Xoco. I’m tremendously proud of what you do for Bayless and I hope you know how impressive and genuine your work really is. Sometimes it seems like you doubt yourself or your abilities, but dude, you are a bad-fuckin’-ass restaurant manager and hospitality pro, working for a badass company, doing creative and cool things.”

It’s hard for me to take a compliment, especially from someone I know and respect so highly. I don’t think Max knew this letter would arrive three days before I turned 32. This letter was a great gift and a benediction for 2015. Thank you Max!

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New Haven Green

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Under appreciated is what comes to mind when I see an average of just over three stars! New Haven residents may not realize how good they have it!

Not every city has an enchanting green space in the heart of downtown. In the warmer months, a bench on the New Haven green is best shared with fries and a milkshake from Shake Shack. There are Yale freshmen to watch in their awkward orientations.

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In the colder months there is a big glowing tree to brighten the days and nights of green-goers. Kids frolic in the snow. In all seasons the green affords a small dose of exercise- just the right amount- after a matineé or afternoon at the museum, before its time for dinner.

Count your blessings, New Haven! Your historic grand green is a beautiful thing.

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