The Devil in the Details

So, when you grow up in Chicago or have lived there for a while, there’s going to be a hot dog somewhere in your life’s tale of adventure. For Alan Katz, the hot dog has come to mean a path to success in an industry he loves and has been devoted to for over 40 years.

Alan’s route to success in the hot dog world is an interesting tale of an early passion for food that took him to the CIA, hotel kitchens, a small seafood chain and a first try at his own restaurant that didn’t quite make it. Working through these ups and downs prepared him for the leap of faith he took in a small (less than 400 square foot) hot dog stand called Devil Dawgs. His menu innovations and dedication to good service has helped him and his partners parlay this concept into a chain they hope will be swept up by a larger company.

Spiros Zakas, designer

Spiros was a very large influence in restaurant designs starting in the mid 70’s not only in Chicago with the work he did lettuce entertain you and others, but around the country as well. He had a sense of place and purpose in his restaurant designs that not only created a great experience for the guest, but also provided a practical approach to operations as well. Elements that all too often in a lot of restaurants I’ve seen and worked with don’t co-exist as well as they should. Too many designers today are more focused on form than function which may create a beautiful environment for the guest but presents inherent operating difficulties that get in the way of good service.

A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name

The prospect of being your own boss and owning your own business is a dream many people from all sort of backgrounds have. It’s one that can frighten you and those close to you, or it can empower you to succeed and those around you to pitch in where they can to first show their love and second to do what they can to help that dream become a reality. When the latter exists, nothing is impossible, or so it seems.

Pin Balls, Pizza, Pasta and Pie

When your young and need cash and you’re not disposed with a criminal mind, you get a job. And the easy job to get has always been in a restaurant. That’s what set Scott Foster off on a career path that’s taken him on a journey from the dish pit through an encounter with Oprah Winfrey’s only foray into the restaurant business to leading the Nova Group of 7 restaurants.

Panic Attack

Without getting too analytical, first thing to consider is the validity of the feeling. Is this joint I’ve spent nearly a year working on and have spent a lot of money to create (mostly not mine) in fact, wrong? If so, what is it that makes it so?  And then if it is wrong, how wrong is it and will I be able to fix it in time?