So it’s been a few months since I’ve written a blog, interesting given that I’m a writer or more accurately, a storyteller. And when I think of what I do as storytelling I tell myself that I’ve been hard at work, because there are many ways to tell a story…
Background: After driving around the country for a few months, with my longtime friend Mike Munoz, I felt the need to do more than write about the human condition—I felt the need to be involved, as times have become such a sad state of affairs. There is great temptation at this very moment to delve into the woes of the world and our culture in particular, but I think at this juncture the readers of this humble (LOL) blogger would be better served by my restaurant tale “EASTSIDE CHIPPERY”.
As I traveled around this vast and beautiful country of ours I reached a point in my thoughts that I would take the first opportunity that presented itself to me as something to do in the most physical sense of being. However, the idea of a restaurant, anywhere, loomed large—given I’ve owned a few in the past in which I proved to have some prowess in the culinary arts. And philosophically I enjoy the idea of making something for people that they not only need, but also can elevate both body and soul—and even beyond that community can be built around.
How and why I found myself stranded in Washington DC is for another story, but suffice it to say that my road trip ended abruptly and I was on a plane headed for Los Angeles— my home in Downtown still occupied by tenants, my childhood home in Montebello calling to me to come take a rest. Well not a rest, the time had come to face many things, (mostly my own failings) and in the process of doing so I came to lease what was once a fast food restaurant (Taco Bell) on Beverly Blvd. in Montebello.
The concept was always to make some great fish n’ chips, burgers and high end coffee drinks, however as business plans tend to do this one evolved…Think European Café meets East LA. Along the way there was the obligatory partner who split with no notice and a variety of wacky events that included a blackout that lasted a day…Anyway, getting back into the world of real business has provided insight into the current state of American culture that no amount of intellectual examination could have.
Although there is too much to say with respect to all matters, which ensued subsequent to my takeover of the failed restaurant “Chela’s” and the process of transition to Eastside Chippery, I’d like to touch on a few almost absolutes:
The audacity of hope is meaningless when there is not a means to an end and or the lack of ability to achieve an end. Chela’s failed because it offered mediocre to bad food, gave small portions, and for good measure kept the shortest hours possible. I believed that great food, served in large portions, made available over the course of several more hours than not only Chela’s, but all of the neighboring restaurants established a solid means to an end.
There can be no success in a culture that does not value extremely hard work. And the hard work herein contemplated is both the hard work of developing a skill set and the implementation of the skills once acquired. So behind the Eastside Chippery brand I created a company called Mom’s Kitchen Café LLC, which translates in our kitchen to food made with love—from scratch, fresh, cooking for the pure enjoyment of feeding customers thought of as members of an extended family—NO SHORTCUTS!!! And anyone who really knows me, knows that when I say that, “I want things done right” I mean this to a degree very few people have ever contemplated!
Product, product, product, is the key to success. Years ago the rule was location, location, location, but that was in a time when people actually understood that building all of the fanciest buildings in the world, each in exactly the right spot, is meaningless if there is nothing worthwhile being made and sold within the soaring walls of these spectacular edifices…In Eastside Chippery terms: I try to spend as much time as possible developing new food experiences for our customers. I’ve dined at some of the best restaurants in the world and I can honestly say that our Four Alarm Chili, Deep Fried Hot Dog Montebello and Pulled Chicken Sandwich offer a combination of tastes that just didn’t exist prior…
Am I proud of what we’re doing at Eastside Chippery Montebello? Of course! But the purpose of this blog is, at least in my mind, much farther reaching. I chose to open an original restaurant concept in the depths of the worst economy in the history of our country, in a great little town long since forgotten, for a much greater reason than my own personal love of cooking for people. I wanted to make a statement that the renewal of American greatness will come when we as Americans stop looking to someone or something else to come to our rescue—American greatness comes from innovation, honesty, honor, integrity and a love of hard work found in the hearts of each of us as individuals!!!
Only the Lord knows whether or not all that is being done at Eastside Chippery by myself and a very dedicated group of people, whom I refer to as the Eastside village, will lead to a successful company being born and growing to a preeminent majority, but I can say with a completed heart that there is a little island called Eastside Chippery, in a nice little town called Montebello, where a group of real Americans got together and said “no” to the culture of mediocrity and entitlement—and said “yes” to daring to do something great, not for the money, but because it’s what Americans are supposed to be doing, getting together and doing great things!!!