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  • Post #61 - July 6th, 2009, 1:59 pm
    Post #61 - July 6th, 2009, 1:59 pm Post #61 - July 6th, 2009, 1:59 pm
    Oh...I missed that last line in Robert's post comparing the 2! My bad, everyone. I was just looking for some expanding thoughts on Burt's in comparison to GL - didn't mean to be an inconvenience :P
    And, just to let you know, we had to postpone the trip to the end of August, which is the trip I'm asking about. And of course I'll post my thoughts on the places I'll be visiting :)
  • Post #62 - July 6th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    Post #62 - July 6th, 2009, 2:10 pm Post #62 - July 6th, 2009, 2:10 pm
    I'll chime in and say that Great Lake and Burt's are two different styles of pizza, worthy in their own rights and difficult to compare.
    -Mary
  • Post #63 - July 6th, 2009, 4:25 pm
    Post #63 - July 6th, 2009, 4:25 pm Post #63 - July 6th, 2009, 4:25 pm
    Have to second those comments above about being two totally different experiences.
    Burt's Place was very unique in both atmosphere and service. Honestly I know of no restaurant/pizzeria even remotely similar in NY or anywhere else. Even got to have a short conversation with Burt himself after we were finished. That alone was by far worth the visit.
    It is a place with it's own personality, and I only wish there were more like it. But I think one needs to have a open mind also when eating there, otherwise the style of the place may be interpreted differently then it is intended.
    Few examples. When plates were placed on the table I passed them down to my family. Yikes... I found out quickly that was a major offense when the waiter shot out... I don't know how you do it in NY but.... :lol: Also when we finished our first slice my wife got up to cut another. I knew instantly she was doomed as all eyes turned and I slid down the seat and pretended she was some unknown wacky New Yorker. Just joking, well maybe. :lol:
    The pizza itself. Very good ingredients and no doubt cooked with care. I enjoyed it very much but the truth is that style of pizza is not my preference which is no fault of the product. It's all subjective.

    On the other hand Great Lake was taking pizza to another level in my opinion. First it is more the style I like. Even though looking back it may be difficult to give it a label. Not quite New York or New Haven and certainly not Neapolitan. Can pizza have a sense of place? With all the local ingredients Nick Lessins uses I think it may.
    I was very impressed by the care taken in making these pizza's. Alan Richman claimed Nick Lessins was slow in making these pies. I disagree, as I seen it as paying great attention to each detail. Not much different then the kitchen brigades in the very best restaurants. I guess the bottom line is these pizzas are cooked with passion. It could be an lobster roll on the Maine coast, BBQ, Thomas Keller's oysters and pearls, or pizza. More often then not having passion for what your doing makes all the difference in the world.
  • Post #64 - July 6th, 2009, 4:49 pm
    Post #64 - July 6th, 2009, 4:49 pm Post #64 - July 6th, 2009, 4:49 pm
    Need to add one more thing. I can see myself walking into Great Lake and asking Nick Lessins to just cook whatever pizza he wanted as I'm enjoying myself and in no hurry. Same as I have done at the French Laundry, Manresa in Los Gatos and Komi in DC.
    I know with the stereotypes implanted in us regarding pizza that it is hard to imagine but I could see myself doing it for sure.

    On another note. The recent comments on Yelp since Richman's review are killing me. My wife has caught me yelling at the monitor more then a few times. :shock:
  • Post #65 - July 6th, 2009, 5:13 pm
    Post #65 - July 6th, 2009, 5:13 pm Post #65 - July 6th, 2009, 5:13 pm
    Yeah, don't trust Yelp reviews. One person gave GL 3 stars after saying that it was one of the best pizzas he's ever had, but saying that since the GQ nod it has gotten too busy. But really, what else would we expect? This place gets named "The Best Pizza in America" - just saying that statement is somewhat overwhelming. People are bound to go there looking for flaws.
  • Post #66 - July 6th, 2009, 5:47 pm
    Post #66 - July 6th, 2009, 5:47 pm Post #66 - July 6th, 2009, 5:47 pm
    To "pastry643." If Sunday is your best bet for pizza, Burt's is open, but Great Lake is closed. But, knowing Nick, he may "fine tune" Great Lake's business hours to include Sunday......some day......but unlikely.
  • Post #67 - July 6th, 2009, 7:07 pm
    Post #67 - July 6th, 2009, 7:07 pm Post #67 - July 6th, 2009, 7:07 pm
    Thanks, miesplz. Yeah, my schedule is pretty well set. Oh well, I've been looking forward to Burt's for a while. I'm sure GL will be around for a while :)
  • Post #68 - July 13th, 2009, 11:13 am
    Post #68 - July 13th, 2009, 11:13 am Post #68 - July 13th, 2009, 11:13 am
    pastry643 wrote:Yeah, don't trust Yelp reviews. One person gave GL 3 stars after saying that it was one of the best pizzas he's ever had, but saying that since the GQ nod it has gotten too busy. But really, what else would we expect? This place gets named "The Best Pizza in America" - just saying that statement is somewhat overwhelming. People are bound to go there looking for flaws.


    I'm "Brian" on the Yelp! page :)

    Lydia & Nick are great, I stop and say hi when I can but it's hard to get a pizza even though I live two doors down. Hopefully it'll die down after awhile.
  • Post #69 - July 13th, 2009, 12:00 pm
    Post #69 - July 13th, 2009, 12:00 pm Post #69 - July 13th, 2009, 12:00 pm
    Chitown B wrote:
    pastry643 wrote:Yeah, don't trust Yelp reviews. One person gave GL 3 stars after saying that it was one of the best pizzas he's ever had, but saying that since the GQ nod it has gotten too busy. But really, what else would we expect? This place gets named "The Best Pizza in America" - just saying that statement is somewhat overwhelming. People are bound to go there looking for flaws.


    I'm "Brian" on the Yelp! page :)

    Lydia & Nick are great, I stop and say hi when I can but it's hard to get a pizza even though I live two doors down. Hopefully it'll die down after awhile.

    If there is a Brian on that Yelp page he his hiding better then Jimmy Hoffa. :?:
    Living two doors down you could start a little side business shipping pizza's to guys like me in NY. :) I am so envious!
  • Post #70 - July 13th, 2009, 12:02 pm
    Post #70 - July 13th, 2009, 12:02 pm Post #70 - July 13th, 2009, 12:02 pm
    haha sorry, should be "Brian E" - no?

    http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid ... k__OMdI1mg

    I'd love to send you a pizza. But they don't really keep past a day as it is, let alone frozen :(

    You should visit!
  • Post #71 - July 13th, 2009, 12:42 pm
    Post #71 - July 13th, 2009, 12:42 pm Post #71 - July 13th, 2009, 12:42 pm
    Chitown B wrote:haha sorry, should be "Brian E" - no?

    http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid ... k__OMdI1mg

    I'd love to send you a pizza. But they don't really keep past a day as it is, let alone frozen :(

    You should visit!

    I did. See up thread, all 1600 miles. :lol:

    Great review Brian!
  • Post #72 - July 13th, 2009, 1:27 pm
    Post #72 - July 13th, 2009, 1:27 pm Post #72 - July 13th, 2009, 1:27 pm
    Thanks for the compliment Robert! I'll check out yours ASAP. I know mine's a very nega-review, but I just got fed up, haha.
  • Post #73 - July 13th, 2009, 8:55 pm
    Post #73 - July 13th, 2009, 8:55 pm Post #73 - July 13th, 2009, 8:55 pm
    robert40 wrote:Need to add one more thing. I can see myself walking into Great Lake and asking Nick Lessins to just cook whatever pizza he wanted as I'm enjoying myself and in no hurry. Same as I have done at the French Laundry, Manresa in Los Gatos and Komi in DC.
    I know with the stereotypes implanted in us regarding pizza that it is hard to imagine but I could see myself doing it for sure.

    On another note. The recent comments on Yelp since Richman's review are killing me. My wife has caught me yelling at the monitor more then a few times. :shock:

    Completely agree with you on the last point. I was going to stay out of it, but the idealist in me just couldn't let that happen, and I ended up slacking off at work today to vent. On another side note, I recognize you and your family as the ones who were first in line at GL and kept me and the girl waiting for our pizza. :P

    As for the pie, we adored it, and we're trying to plan out a second visit. We didn't at all mind the wait: we sat at the 2-top closest to the kitchen, so we had a great view of Nick's calm mastery over his creations. We also stopped at Jewel beforehand and grabbed us a six-pack of 312 for its session-like qualities, which kept us occupied.

    We had the pancetta and tropea onion, and it was by far the best pizza either of us had ever had. It reminded us of a breakfast food, almost like a quiche reimagined. What struck me as most unique about this pizza, though, was the bottom crust. Whereas at Coalfire or Stop 50 it has a gradient texture, a gooey center transitioning to a more rigid outer rim, GL's was consistent throughout. This allowed it to handle the toppings elegantly and made for a much more satisfying experience. I had to applaud it from an engineering standpoint.
  • Post #74 - July 13th, 2009, 9:42 pm
    Post #74 - July 13th, 2009, 9:42 pm Post #74 - July 13th, 2009, 9:42 pm
    geno55 wrote:
    robert40 wrote:Need to add one more thing. I can see myself walking into Great Lake and asking Nick Lessins to just cook whatever pizza he wanted as I'm enjoying myself and in no hurry. Same as I have done at the French Laundry, Manresa in Los Gatos and Komi in DC.
    I know with the stereotypes implanted in us regarding pizza that it is hard to imagine but I could see myself doing it for sure.

    On another note. The recent comments on Yelp since Richman's review are killing me. My wife has caught me yelling at the monitor more then a few times. :shock:

    Completely agree with you on the last point. I was going to stay out of it, but the idealist in me just couldn't let that happen, and I ended up slacking off at work today to vent. On another side note, I recognize you and your family as the ones who were first in line at GL and kept me and the girl waiting for our pizza. :P

    As for the pie, we adored it, and we're trying to plan out a second visit. We didn't at all mind the wait: we sat at the 2-top closest to the kitchen, so we had a great view of Nick's calm mastery over his creations. We also stopped at Jewel beforehand and grabbed us a six-pack of 312 for its session-like qualities, which kept us occupied.

    We had the pancetta and tropea onion, and it was by far the best pizza either of us had ever had. It reminded us of a breakfast food, almost like a quiche reimagined. What struck me as most unique about this pizza, though, was the bottom crust. Whereas at Coalfire or Stop 50 it has a gradient texture, a gooey center transitioning to a more rigid outer rim, GL's was consistent throughout. This allowed it to handle the toppings elegantly and made for a much more satisfying experience. I had to applaud it from an engineering standpoint.

    Yes I remember you also. Or at least with a little help from the bunch of photos I took. So sorry for the wait, but after such a drive I wasn't taking any chances. :lol: Actually we got there at 3:30pm and the other lady arrived shortly after us.
    I shared a slice with the couple from Boston and would have gladly done so with you guys also while you were waiting. I may have looked a bit road weary but I'm a friendly old guy at heart. :lol:
  • Post #75 - July 16th, 2009, 5:00 am
    Post #75 - July 16th, 2009, 5:00 am Post #75 - July 16th, 2009, 5:00 am
    Occasionally the gods smile.

    We decided to visit the Andersonville Farmer's Market last evening, so thought we'd give Great Lake a shot. I called but no answer, so we decided to walk by. We got there about 5:45 - 5:50 pm and, to our shock, there was one group of three seated inside, a group seated outside, and we passed a couple of people leaving as we walked in the door. That was it!

    We asked and were told we could sit down and order and we'd get our pizza shortly. We did. And we did (well, okay, we had to wait a short while--we got the pizza after 45 minutes). Lydia commented that they hadn't seen a day like this in a LONG time and they were, needless to say, grateful for the quiet. We got our pizza around 6:30 or so but as we left a bit after 7, the place was getting much busier.

    Once again, people's attitudes manage to astound us. A group of five ordered and was assembling. A pair of recon scouts for a group of six came in about fifteen minutes later and wanted to order for their group. They were informed that there was only one table large enough for a group that size--which was readily apparent had they bothered to look. They were also told that the group of five preceded them. They were given the option to order for takeout. With shock and amazement graven on their faces, they asked, "Do you mean, you won't take us [for sit-down]?"

    Hello? What about this situation do you not comprehend? Where do YOU think you're gonna sit?

    Not to mention the multiple groups of twos and threes who came in, looked around, and walked back out.

    The pizza, need I add, was all we expected. We're just incredibly grateful for our luck. (BTW, I think I posted this above, but if not: last time I spoke with Lydia she recommended, as makes sense, Wednesdays and Thursdays as the least crazy days.)
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #76 - July 16th, 2009, 5:51 am
    Post #76 - July 16th, 2009, 5:51 am Post #76 - July 16th, 2009, 5:51 am
    HI,

    Given the length of time it takes to get a pizza. Isn't it possible the five sitting might have had their pizzas eaten and left, by the time the six standing get their pizzas?

    Is there a park nearby you would recommend people go to? For those who may not consider eating off a trunk, this could be an option to take your pizza to dine.

    Maybe there is a friendly bar who gladly accept the Great Lake tableless. You can have a drink (or many drinks) while waiting, then pop over pick it up and eat at this same bar. People get their BBQ at Lem's and eat at the bar next door without anyone raising an eyebrow.

    Sometimes all people need are some options rather than having to go figure out for themselves, especially if they are not local.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #77 - July 16th, 2009, 6:02 am
    Post #77 - July 16th, 2009, 6:02 am Post #77 - July 16th, 2009, 6:02 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Given the length of time it takes to get a pizza. Isn't it possible the five sitting might have had their pizzas eaten and left, by the time the six standing get their pizzas?


    In this case, no. There simply weren't enough pizzas ordered in the interim to make it possible for the first group to have finished. And believe me, based entirely on our totally subjective view of the two scouts, this was not a group to wait happily.

    Cathy2 wrote:Is there a park nearby you would recommend people go to? For those who may not consider eating off a trunk, this could be an option to take your pizza to dine.


    A wise and thoughtful suggestion. And while there are places within walking distance, they are not parks but playgrounds (unless I'm blanking out on something significant). That's one of the biggest problems. I can still remember when GL was brand-new and had one table inside, period. Although still tiny (three tables, two for two and one for six plus a bit of outside seating), things have improved quite a bit. There are actually some nice wood public benches a few steps away, but little real alternative otherwise.

    Cathy2 wrote:Maybe there is a friendly bar who gladly accept the Great Lake tableless. You can have a drink (or many drinks) while waiting, then pop over pick it up and eat at this same bar. People get their BBQ at Lem's and eat at the bar next door without anyone raising an eyebrow.


    Again, a wise and thoughtful suggestion. I simply don't know the answer since we are fortunate enough to live close by and can take the pizzas home. The only bar that pops to mind is Simon's, down a couple blocks on Clark Street. (Or, maybe the Lovely Dining Companion and I could open our dining room... :shock: )

    Cathy2 wrote:Sometimes all people need are some options rather than having to go figure out for themselves, especially if they are not local.


    Right you are. But this is truly an example--for better or for worse (or, more likely, for both)--of a tiny neighborhood place doing the best it can. It's hard not to sympathize with their situation (in my opinion); the GQ review, while unquestionably a positive thing, is also a variant of the kiss of death. We're all just waiting for the interest to die down.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #78 - July 16th, 2009, 9:09 am
    Post #78 - July 16th, 2009, 9:09 am Post #78 - July 16th, 2009, 9:09 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Once again, people's attitudes manage to astound us. A group of five ordered and was assembling. A pair of recon scouts for a group of six came in about fifteen minutes later and wanted to order for their group. They were informed that there was only one table large enough for a group that size--which was readily apparent had they bothered to look. They were also told that the group of five preceded them. They were given the option to order for takeout. With shock and amazement graven on their faces, they asked, "Do you mean, you won't take us [for sit-down]?"


    Glad to hear that you got in.

    My biggest question is how these people can constantly complain about how busy it is when they are there for the same reason as anybody else, the article.

    When I went over the winter, there were no waits. Take out was easy. The pizza was still awesome.
  • Post #79 - July 16th, 2009, 9:15 am
    Post #79 - July 16th, 2009, 9:15 am Post #79 - July 16th, 2009, 9:15 am
    msmre wrote:
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Once again, people's attitudes manage to astound us. A group of five ordered and was assembling. A pair of recon scouts for a group of six came in about fifteen minutes later and wanted to order for their group. They were informed that there was only one table large enough for a group that size--which was readily apparent had they bothered to look. They were also told that the group of five preceded them. They were given the option to order for takeout. With shock and amazement graven on their faces, they asked, "Do you mean, you won't take us [for sit-down]?"


    Glad to hear that you got in.

    My biggest question is how these people can constantly complain about how busy it is when they are there for the same reason as anybody else, the article.

    When I went over the winter, there were no waits. Take out was easy. The pizza was still awesome.


    This is what I'm saying.

    "How dare this place be busy? We are the only ones that know about the article!! Serve us now!"

    That's about the gist of most peoples' attitudes.
  • Post #80 - July 16th, 2009, 9:42 am
    Post #80 - July 16th, 2009, 9:42 am Post #80 - July 16th, 2009, 9:42 am
    "It's all about ME!"

    I dislike the attitude's of those who cannot comprehend that popular places are...well...popular.

    Also, if you are generally nice and understanding, people tend to go out of their way to accomodate or provide suggestions. When you are a jerk, why help as much?

    I live in this neighborhood and intend to come by someday. Probably a spur of the moment outing...but will have a backup plan in mind just in case.
  • Post #81 - July 16th, 2009, 9:57 am
    Post #81 - July 16th, 2009, 9:57 am Post #81 - July 16th, 2009, 9:57 am
    jtobin625 wrote:"It's all about ME!"

    I dislike the attitude's of those who cannot comprehend that popular places are...well...popular.

    Also, if you are generally nice and understanding, people tend to go out of their way to accomodate or provide suggestions. When you are a jerk, why help as much?

    I live in this neighborhood and intend to come by someday. Probably a spur of the moment outing...but will have a backup plan in mind just in case.


    i dropped by La Tache last night to get a martini with some friends and GL wasn't that busy around 6PM. I actually walked in and Lydia and I chatted for a minute - she asked if I wanted a pizza and I said that I did but that my fiance had a rough long day at work and was just getting home at like 7. Wasn't really in the frame of mind to wait for food so we would drop by again soon.
  • Post #82 - July 16th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    Post #82 - July 16th, 2009, 1:46 pm Post #82 - July 16th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    geno55 wrote:We had the pancetta and tropea onion, and it was by far the best pizza either of us had ever had. It reminded us of a breakfast food, almost like a quiche reimagined.


    Interesting take. We ate here last week and found this pizza a little on the strange side. Not the best pizza I've ever had by a long shot, though still very good. Oddly, though, it was left unfinished. We couldn't quite figure out why, but the "quiche reimagined" idea hits at a little, it being both heavy and unfamiliar as pizza.

    We also had the #1, margherita or some such, topped with salami. This one was a little disappointing as well, in that the salami (good quality, sliced very thin) was laid atop the pizza, completely covering it, after it was removed from the oven. Much too high of a meat to pizza ratio.

    Which isn't to say that I don't think Great Lake makes good pizza. It's very good. But when you're vying for "best in the country status" and have this crazy hype, there's something of a different standard. The quality of the crust may indeed be the best I've had, really a terrific bread as the base. But both pizzas fell short in terms of total composition. On pizza alone, I've preferred pies at Spacca Napoli, Coalfire and Totonno's in NY.

    When you factor in comfort, I much preferred Spacca or Coalfire (no recent visits to compare though) to Great Lake. I wouldn't say the service was bad or unfriendly, but neither was it warm or welcoming. I kind of got the feeling that they were doing us a favor by serving us pizza, which is a little discomfiting.
  • Post #83 - July 16th, 2009, 2:05 pm
    Post #83 - July 16th, 2009, 2:05 pm Post #83 - July 16th, 2009, 2:05 pm
    Aaron Deacon wrote:I wouldn't say the service was bad or unfriendly, but neither was it warm or welcoming. I kind of got the feeling that they were doing us a favor by serving us pizza, which is a little discomfiting.


    I think that's a legitimate take on things lately. We live in the 'hood and are, if not exactly regulars, frequent visitors. I think the hordes have taken their toll. When you're a two-person shop--expanded to include a third person on most days now--handling the crowds (not to mention to sadly high quotient of bozos) has to take its toll. I didn't mention in my own post from this morning but things have clearly suffered a little in the warm, friendly receptivity department. Since we've been going almost since they opened, we know what life was like pre-GQ and we're willing to make allowances. For those who are new, I'll admit that what you say is occasionally accurate, too.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #84 - July 16th, 2009, 2:32 pm
    Post #84 - July 16th, 2009, 2:32 pm Post #84 - July 16th, 2009, 2:32 pm
    Gypsy Boy wrote:I think the hordes have taken their toll. When you're a two-person shop--expanded to include a third person on most days now--handling the crowds (not to mention to sadly high quotient of bozos) has to take its toll. I didn't mention in my own post from this morning but things have clearly suffered a little in the warm, friendly receptivity department.


    I think we've read similar accounts from many other places in town. Totally understandable. But it does make you appreciate it when you get a friendly reception by an owner/server/etc. in a similar circumstance (well, I'm not sure how similar one gets to "Best in the country" but you get the idea.)
  • Post #85 - July 16th, 2009, 3:09 pm
    Post #85 - July 16th, 2009, 3:09 pm Post #85 - July 16th, 2009, 3:09 pm
    Personally I found the owners and staff more then welcoming and friendly. But then I admit having worked in the restaurant industry I tend to show more interest and curiosity then the average customer. I think restaurant staff pick up on that and often become more engaging in conversation.

    And in my opinion truthfully I don't believe their business will ever return to the level it was when they started. Sure some of the demand may slow temporally. Only to be replaced by another article/press and more pubicity.
  • Post #86 - July 27th, 2009, 10:17 am
    Post #86 - July 27th, 2009, 10:17 am Post #86 - July 27th, 2009, 10:17 am
    I know this might be hard to answer and i'm sure it varies but in general how long should I expect to wait for a pizza if I show up at like 5:30-6pm on a Wednesday? Is it worth it or should I just go to Spacca Napoli or other place (suggestions). Thanks
  • Post #87 - July 27th, 2009, 10:58 am
    Post #87 - July 27th, 2009, 10:58 am Post #87 - July 27th, 2009, 10:58 am
    forzagto wrote:I know this might be hard to answer and i'm sure it varies but in general how long should I expect to wait for a pizza if I show up at like 5:30-6pm on a Wednesday? Is it worth it or should I just go to Spacca Napoli or other place (suggestions). Thanks


    My wife and I went there last Wednesday at about 6pm. The guy behind the counter (who was a classic "quiet talker") said that the wait for a pizza to eat in would be about 45 minutes.

    He took our number and indeed called us about 45 minutes later. We happen to be a few blocks away having a drink at In Fine Spirits at the time and told him that we'd take the pizza for carryout instead. He replied that the next pizza for carry out would be in about two hours. It didn't quite make sense to us that we could come to the restaurant and eat in right away, but would have to wait two hours for the carry out. I'm sure there's a logic to it, though. In any case, we opted to stay at In Fine Spirits and forgo the pizza.
  • Post #88 - July 27th, 2009, 2:42 pm
    Post #88 - July 27th, 2009, 2:42 pm Post #88 - July 27th, 2009, 2:42 pm
    We had a similar experience when we went on a Wednesday a couple weeks back - armed with a backup plan, we inquired as to wait times, and the wait for eating in was shorter than the wait for takeout. We opted to take out and had a couple daiquiris at Big Jones (which are $5 on Wednesdays, by the way, and really, really good). We were quoted about an hour for a table and an hour and a half for a pizza. We didn't mind the wait, opted for takeout, and waited just over an hour and a half for the pizza. However, I think that the 45 minutes you had to wait for a table was just that - the wait for the table, and then you'd have to order and wait the additional time for the pizza. Had you initially ordered for takeout, your pizza would have already been in line instead of being at the end.
  • Post #89 - July 27th, 2009, 9:58 pm
    Post #89 - July 27th, 2009, 9:58 pm Post #89 - July 27th, 2009, 9:58 pm
    I was introduced to Nick and Lydia, the owners, through a friend when they just opened and we love their pizza (I posted early on in this thread) in fact, I celebrated my birthday at GL back in May with 4 girlfriends. This was, I believe, the week before the big GQ explosion. Anyhow, here's my take on the levels of warmth/accommodation . . . they are quiet, kind and committed to their creation. Lydia goes to the Green City Market, they source the best ingredients, they have a local artist build their tables and outdoor area. When I see Lydia outside of Great Lake she is relaxed and upbeat. But even before the GQ factor kicked in, I have noticed in some subtle and other not so subtle ways that they are totally starting from square one and by that, I mean that neither of them have ever worked a day in their lives in a restaurant. When they are tired or overwhelmed or bored, they don't necessarily know that they need to put their game faces on.

    This doesn't mean they don't have the skills or the magic to make it happen (they obviously have both) but I feel they are suffering through the totally tedious (to them) nuts and bolts side of creating a wait list and quoting times for pies and peoples. They don't necessarily have that "front of the house" charm and grace thing going because, I am guessing (but do not know) that they thought they would be behind a counter, putting gorgeous pies into happy little boxes and sending them on their way. (That's how it was for the first few months they were open.) And being behind a counter is a totally different animal than standing on Balmoral taking the names of parties who want to get in before the next group does. I walk by a few nights a week, the anticipation and sometimes lack of patience is almost palpable.

    I walked by one night and a woman was near hysterical because she had been quoted a wait time of 1.5 hours so she sent all her girlfriends off to shop and then the table came open earlier than that, Lydia told her flatly, I can't seat your party until you are all here. I felt for both, I really did, well, maybe not so much the hollering suburban lady but I did respect her point. But I also felt for Lydia, who looked totally on shut-down mode. And tired of the masses. Which, I know, might strike some as odd when other restaurants in the hood are doing anything they can to get people in the door.

    My take is (I hope I am sort of on the right track with this) that they are in that awkward adolescent mode of a restaurant -- not always perfect or gracious, but hopefully getting through this rough patch will only help them grow and be better at what they do. In spite of the crazy crowds and the totally mind-boggling Post-It note ticketing system (I just want to jump over the counter and show them a newer, easier to read and track system) they still manage, for the most part, to create divine pies.

    bjt
    "eating is an agricultural act" wendell berry
  • Post #90 - July 27th, 2009, 10:22 pm
    Post #90 - July 27th, 2009, 10:22 pm Post #90 - July 27th, 2009, 10:22 pm
    bjt wrote:I felt for both, I really did, well, maybe not so much the hollering suburban lady but I did respect her point.

    Of course, we all know that urbanites never holler. :wink:

    I have a friend who opened a place in Arizona about a year ago and he's enjoying critical and financial success even beyond his most optimistic forecasts. He's certainly not naive and he spent a lot of time staging and cooking in some top kitchens before even sitting down to write his business plan. These days, even for him, some days are very rough. His success has actually made the entire endeavor more taxing. Since he's such a gracious host -- a point that has been mentioned in review after review -- he feels as if he's actually short-changing his customers by not being around. He's become incredibly reluctant to take any time off. Since it's a small operation, no one else can really do what he does. I know he loves what he does but even knowing full-well what he was getting into, he feels overwhelmed at times.

    So even in the best case, when you're wildly successful, it's a tough, grueling business. Those who can handle it gracefully have my unending admiration and respect. I know I couldn't do what they do.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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