|Come Celebrate With Us, Thursday, June 3rd at 5pm. |
Special Appearance by Steve Sharp
Everyone is welcome to come and help us celebrate. Thursday, June 3rd from 5pm until we run out of stories and memories.
We will be gathering at the bar to host a complimentary cocktail party for all of you, our closest friends! Customers, past and present employees, family and friends. Please join us to share memories, look over embarrassing pictures and just have fun.
Steve Sharp will be playing for the celebration. Stop in after work, we hope to see you there!
|Uptown's 25th Anniversary|
Chapter Four, Here's to the Presentby Ray
When I left off last week we had been
in our new building about 5 years. It was about this time we were
getting pretty settled in. I would always be looking for ways to
increase the the quality of our products and to lower costs. Most of
these things would include some form of us doing it ourselves. While
buying things like carpet machines, steam cleaners, and drain jetters
these tools would pay for themselves very quickly. Besides you know how
much us guys love our tools.
Deb, the "laundry lady"
We also installed a complete laundry. On
the food end we bought an industrial cryovac machine which would allow
us to cut and portion our steaks and seafood. A vacuum tumbler allows
us to "power marinate" our meats. All of these things gave us more
control over our product. We also purchased a large walkin freezer for
our basement which allowed us to even out our prep load from the busy months
to the slow months. For example, we could keep our staff busy in
November making crab rangoon and shrooms for December. This also allowed
us to buy large orders directly from a manufacturer, thus skipping the middleman.
One thing that happened that drastically effected our business a few years back was a
shift of sales regions by one of our nationwide food distributors. We had gotten to the point where we were buying 95% of our
food products from one distributor. Things were working well for both
of us for many years. Since they serviced all the downtown Chicago
restaurants, the selection of products for us was the same as it was for the high end establishments in the city. Then with their
infinite corporate wisdom, they decided to move all accounts west of I-39 (a mere .85 miles from us) to one of their downstate divisions. With that change we lost our access to many of the products that we would pull from the Chicago division. Even
after we stopped doing business with the company they would not alter
their boundaries. This move was terrible for our selection, quality and
Assortment of products from our Import House.
As in life, there is always a silver lining. We found that there was good side to this move. We located a wonderful distributor
that concentrated only on produce. We also started to order
directly from an import house in Chicago. As it
turns out, our pricing and selection has never been better. Also,
around the middle of the decade we started to see small wine
distributors forming and delivering to us down here in the boondocks.
Where we once had only the biggest 2 or 3 liquor distributors to order
wine from, we could now order wines from much smaller independent
Ray Bonneville with Bernie and Ray
In March of 2006 we had our first show at the "Playlist Theater". My
friends Bernie Victor and Tom Ptak had been urging me for sometime to
give this a try. We would go and see live music once or twice a month.
This usually involved the "3AM death ride" coming home from the shows.
Some of the acts that we would go to see were larger and way out of our league but
there were many that would have as few as 20 or 30 people. Pieta Brown was one of these. We followed many of her
performances in a 200 mile radius. Bernie and Tom would say to me "we
can do this" and "there has to be at least that many music lovers in
our area". I crunched some numbers and took the approach if we can just
break even on the entertainment that would be great. Ray Bonneville just
happened to be who I was listening to at the time. I looked on
his website and kind of got an idea of the type of venues he played and
when it looked like his tour would draw him near. It ended up being
pretty simple. I think the next 5 people on my list I was able to
get every single one of them. They were Pieta Brown, Tim Easton, Kelly
Pardekooper, Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez, and Griffin House.
Chuck Prophet with Ray, Tom, Bernie
about 5 years of shows under our belt now we have had a Slaid, a Ramsey
and a Gurf. It all culminated in our dream show this past February with
Chuck Prophet. I
love doing the shows and hope it is perceived as something we give back
to the Illinois Valley. I hope someone will pick it up when I have to
Over the years it has been interesting how
some of the numbers have changed for our segment of the business. In the
old days your labor costs would be 25% of total sales now it is getting
close to 50%. Food used to be 50% and now it is 30%. Liquor is still
about the same. We have gone from the "3 martini" lunch in the 80s, to the
"let's do lunch" lunch in the 90s to the "no-lunch" lunch of the 00s. It
seems like email and busy lifestyles have really put a dent in
full service lunch traffic nationwide. Lunch used to account for well
over one third of our sales and now it is less than a quarter.
In the old days people would dress up to go out to eat, now they dress
The Uptown Buzzards, 315 years of experience.
Getting through this recession, which I do not think is over, has been
very challenging. We were not hit nearly as hard as most restaurants
across the country. Even with the temptation (and a good excuse to) we
have not laid one person off or cut any benefits. Loyalty to my staff
is very important to me. This was done mainly through attrition and more
"do-it ourselves" changes as I mentioned previously.
Bus trip to Florid Inn for our Christmas Party.
Over the years our
infamous Christmas parties have been everywhere from the Curl Inn to
the Florid Inn (we even rented a bus that year), from Bogarts to Bartleys. We always kind of joke that
no place wants to have us back two years in a row. As you can see many
of these pictures are from our Christmas parties.
Banquet staff for a formal dinner.
I tried to estimate (that is the only thing I can do) how many people we
served in 25 years. If we count people that actually ate an entree,
sandwich or entree salad we guestimate some where around 2.3 million.
That does not
the people that have just had appetizers, dessert or drinks. So in actuality I
have to guess somewhere over 3 million.
Ray in chef's pants at our last Christmas Party
Some personal things......
If I could change one thing about myself it would
be, to be better with matching people faces to their names. It is just
something I have a very hard time with.
When you live this lifestyle
you just have to learn TGIM, "thank god it's Monday". What's in the
name of the day of the week anyway? One good point is that you don't have to
fight weekend crowds. Any restaurateur that tells you he doesn't do the
zigzag on the way home is a liar. I alter my route home every night
just to see what the competition is doing. Speaking of competition I
would have to say almost all of my competitors during the last 25 years have
been true professionals. I consider many of them friends. Besides that,
just ask my family how difficult it is to get me to eat here. It is the
most un-relaxing thing I can think of. I need places to go and be myself.
Ray, Ryan and Jimmy New Years Eve
People always ask me why our area has so many good restaurants.
People that travel say if you go anywhere in the Midwest to a community
our size there are no where near the good dining choices. I shudder to
think what life in the Illinois Valley would be like without a
Monari's, Garzanelli's, Verucchi's, Big House or Bartley's. (Sorry I can't
name all of you.) How much longer will I be doing this? I don't know. I
would like to start taking things easier. I have been working these
70-80 hours week since I was 18. That is a career in most circles. I
hope Ryan and Jimmy continue to develop and are ready to embark on
their own 25 year adventure.
I was at a seminar
this past week at the National Restaurant Show. The speaker was Bill
Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor. I can get pulled in by the motivational
speaker just like most people do. Something he said really struck me.
He was talking about hospitality. He said some thing to the effect that
it is invisible, it shows up as a feeling. Just like the first time you
feel love, you know it when you feel it. He went on to define the
difference between service and hospitality. Service is technical,
hospitality is personal. Service is a monologue, hospitality is a
dialogue. Service is executing, hospitality is embracing. Service is
systematic, hospitality is organic. Service is doing, hospitality is
being. Unfortunately you can't teach hospitality like you do other job
skills. Fortunately, you don't have to. It is an innate quality. I
really hope this is what you feel when you are a guest here. Thank you
for your patronage and the privileged to serve you over these 25 years.
25th Anniversary, Chapter One25th Anniversary, Chapter Two25th Anniversary, Chapter Three
If you have anything to add, comments, pictures or memories you
would like to
share please don't hesitate to contact me directly at email@example.com
|25th Anniversary, Uptown Christmas Parties|
Group photo at Canal Port, 2007
Group photo at the Curl Inn, 2005.
Rene, Karissa and Neleena take a ride at the Red Door 2002.
Ray and Betty at the Florid Inn
Trace singing with the band, and yes she can!
Sheila playing "chair guitar"
|25th Anniversary, Uptown on New Years Eve|
Ava helps with balloons!
New Years Eve before the mayhem!
New Years Eve during the mayhem.
Notice Jimmy holding the wall up while he takes a nap!
New Years Eve after the mayhem.
Or maybe the mayhem is just starting?
Bart and Ray on New Years Eve. No there is no "miracle birth" however, to the best of our recollection, there have been 28 babies born to active Uptown employees. Many of the girls worked right up to their due date.
Ray, Rita, Rene and Mike on New Years Eve.
|25th Anniversary, Playlist Theater Pictures|
Stage for the first show.
Current set up for shows. What a difference!
Jim Lannen's daughter Ava with Carrie Rodriegez.
Chip Taylor, Carrie and the gang.
Carrie, Tim Easton and another gang.
Rita with Dan Hicks and
The Hot Licks
|Class of 2010 by Kris
Each year we like to take a moment to salute our graduates. This year we have three college grads. Typically we have 3 or 4 high school students also, however, this year our high school staff members are all underclassmen. Just like the college sports teams, it's nice to hold on to a winning team for another year.
Let me introduce you to the "Class of 2010"Anna Marini
Anna started her employment here in March of 2006 as a bus girl during her high school years. After graduating from St. Bede Academy in 2008 she quickly rose to her current position of Hostess.
She continued her education at IVCC and has just graduated with an Associates in Art. Anna's immediate plans are somewhat unsure. She has applied
to Americorps and is currently an alternate in
the program. While awaiting the outcome of that, she has also applied to Warren Wilson College in North Carolina
to study Anthropology and Peace studies. Anna
is our resident humanitarian.
Many of you know Anna from working our Playlist Theater door. As she says "I look forward to all Uptown shows
because like Ray, those are my favorite artists too."
Anna's other interests include hiking and biking. Jenna Moore
Jenna has worked with us since May of 2002. She started her employment with us as a bus girl. We soon found that she was capable of much more and she moved to a Hostess position during her high school years.
After Graduating from LP High School in 2005 she worked full time and added both waitress and bartender to her list of jobs during her IVCC years. After graduating from IVCC in the summer of 2007 with an Associate of Science degree, she moved to Decatur to attend Millikin University.
Jenna has returned to work each summer and holiday season throughout this time. She has just graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. During her time at Millikin, she did Internships at DMH Sports Enhancement and St Mary's AthletiCare in Decatur, both during her senior year.
This fall she will be attending Eastern Illinois University as part of the Masters Degree Program for Kinesiology and Sports Studies with emphasis in exercise science. She has been granted a graduate assistantship with both the football and golf programs which will allow her to work one-on-one with the school athletes. Rene Anderes
Rene is, of course, Ray and Rita's daughter. She has grown up in this business as did her brothers and like
most of our college staff, Rene has returned to Uptown to work as a
hostess, server and bartender on all of her college breaks.
She graduated from Hall High School in 2002 and continued her education at Southern Illinois University. Graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Food and Nutrition with specialization in dietetics in 2006. Still not quite sure where she was headed in life she continued on with her education attending Hungtington College of Health Sciences receiving a diploma in Comprehensive Nutrition in 2008.
From 2009 to 2010 she participated in a Dietetics Internship at the Universisty
of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. After her graduatuation on June 11th, she will be eligable to sit for the national registered dietitian exam.
Rene will be working locally as she has accepted a postition at Illinois Valley Community Hospital as a Clinical Dietitian. On a side note, her father is hoping that after all of the money spent on her education she may offer some insite into a nutritional menu.
We wish all of our graduates the best of
luck in all of their future endeavors.
|Behind The Bar|
|Masciarelli Trebbiano d' Abruzzo
home to some of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. The
country contains more than 20 wine regions, dating back to before the 2nd century when Romans
started developing their own vineyards. Two thousand years later, the
country even out-produced France
in the amount of wine produced in a year, making over 6 billion liters.
The Italians love
their wine and they are good at making it. The geography has excellent
About 10 years ago, the Pinot Grigio grape
from Italy became very popular among the wine drinking world, including
all over the United States. Sales of this wine rose 40% in 2002. This
light, crisp white wine with the funny name seemed to be ordered more
and more. Once people knew how to pronounce it, they loved to sound
sophisticated and fashionable while dining out with friends. There was a
time on our glass list that
the most selling wine we had, even out-selling white zinfandel. There for a while, it
almost seemed unacceptable not to have a pinot grigio on your wine list.
This leads to what we feel is the problem with pinot grigio, it
is so mass produced that it is hard to find one of great quality. This
gives us reason to introduce another Italian light white varietal.
Trebbiano d'Abbruzzo is a white grape that is very similar to a pinot
grigio. (pronounced) "treb-ee-ano d' ah-brew-zoh", say it a few times so
you feel better when ordering next time you are in.
Masciarelli Trebbiano which is light to medium body and crisp, just like
that pinot grigio you can not seem to stop ordering.
|Roasted Lamb and Arugula Flat Bread Salad
Is it a salad or is it a sandwich? Actually it's the perfect combination of the crunchy flat bread to be eaten along with the tender arugula salad. Ad the tang of the feta cheese and olive tapenade with the roasted lamb and the combination is outstanding. Kudos to Chef Chris on this one!
|Flower Moon by Kris
months Full Moon is named after the abundant flowers in bloom
during this time of year. It was Thursday, May 27th at 5:07 pm. It is the second of three full moons during the Vernal Equinox. Some
Algonquin tribes knew
this full Moon as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
|Not Your "Everyday" Specials |
|Friday Nights, Seafood Mixed Grill
a 4 oz lobster tail with
drawn butter, 4 oz salmon filet with basil
cream and 4 oz whitefish parmesan with lemon caper
butter. All for only $19.75
Monday Nights, Steak Diane
Last, but definitely not least... Starting Monday, May 17th we will be serving Steak Diane for $13.75. This will be just like the Red Door Inn. With Victor's stamp of approval.
Sunday, All Day,
Sizzling Sunday Fajita and Margaritas
get a chicken
fajita for two with a 64 ounce pitcher of margaritas for only $20! Imagine this on a Sunday afternoon on the patio or at a sidewalk table
with the sunshine and a nice breeze! No, your not in Cabo, but it sure
feels like it!
|On Our Special |
Blackberry Point Oysters on the Half Shell
Blackened Duck Breast
Panini Sandwich with Mortadella, Provolone Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted Lamb and Arugula Flat Bread Salad
Jumbo Soft Shell Crabs
Lemon Sole Bonne Femme
Bowtie Pasta with Imported Italian Tuna and Capers
Three Way Filet
Fresh Broccoli with Tillamook Cheddar Cheese
|Win a Free Lunch|
Foodie Fight Free Lunch Contest
Each week in the newsletter we will ask 3 questions from the Foodie Fight cards. The first person to email us (see link below) the correct answers to all three questions will receive a complimentary free lunch. The winner has to have the correct answer for all three questions, no exceptions. The following week we will publish the correct answers and the winner from the previous week. So come on in and have a drink, study the cards, test each other and have fun. Good Luck!
1. What is the Spanish toast to health?
2. Who was the first president to hire a French chef for the White House?
3. How many large whole eggs yields 1 cup?
You must be the first person to respond with all three correct answers.
The response must go to the email address in the above link.
You must reply within 24 hours from the time the newsletter is published.
Participants are eligible to win a limit of 3 times a year.
Last Week questions and answers....
1. What herb has a
downy silvery-green leaf, a potent, earthy flavor, and is often used
with pork and in turkey stuffing. Sage
2. What stadium
food of today did Julius Caesar introduce to Rome in 48b.c.? Sausage
3. What neighborhood
restaurant chain, headquartered in Atlanta, has a 68 percent male
customer base? Hooters
Last weeks winner of the free lunch ... Chris Kieffer
|Playlist Theater |
Tickets on sale now. Upcoming Shows
Tickets on sale now
601 First St.
La Salle, Il 61301
Mon - Thur 11 am to 10pm - Fri & Sat 11 am to 11 pm
Sun Noon to 10 pm
You can read all of our past UPtown UPdates by clicking the link below.
UPtown UPdate Archives
|Uptown respects your privacy and will not sell or distribute your personal information.