Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So the Garden got off to a rocket ship start opening up for Bike Fest weekend! Although the weather was a bit stinky (and FrEeZiNg and rainy) the races continued on and all of us die-hards were out to show our support. I cannot imagine wearing this in 40 degree weather with wind & rain pelting your face....

Anyway, it was mere survival to say the least but it is always great to see the community support & have the Village finally bustling with people again. The winters get really loooooong around here. 
The following week we opened the Beer Garden officially. We are still working out some of the kinks but overall, not too shabby. I am very quickly remembering what it is like to basically open a "second" restaurant- staffing, training, manipulating, organizing, planning for weather... Life just got a bit more complicated. However, the grand opening went well and I am SUPER excited to have a whole season to enjoy it this year!

The inaugural lineup! 
Beer Flight
Charcuterie Board

We also accomplished the 1st stages of our personal garden at home! I was beginning to doubt whether it would happen or not but after a beautiful weathered weekend- success! It is so fun to work physically hard and see the fruits of your labor... the sunshine is an amazing added bonus! I am so happy in the sun!

We dug out some ugly bushes
Planted some peppers
Planted some tomatoes 
Banks, of course, supervised

Now I just hope it grows!
And the best part of the day was when I looked out after all that hard work and saw this.... 

my two tired buds finally able to relax

The ironic thing about life right now is that there are many areas that need a bit of 'watering.' The restaurant is running well but I always want it to run better. The busy season is coming up and I never quite feel like we are prepared. I wish there were more hours in the day. There are new staff coming in and I wish I had more hours to devote to them. 
My sub position at Headstart is very quickly coming to an end in a couple weeks and I have yet to feel that I really 'planted a seed' in those little kiddos. There are so many things I wish I could do with them. for them. around them. I have become quite attached and I just wish I could do more to encourage their growth in a positive direction.
The garden at home has become quite the project. And while I love bringing something to life, I only hope that I will not be enough to support it!
My marriage, my friends, my dog... all need attention that I am unable to give right now. I don't like that. So I have come to a point where I understand what needs 'watering' and I am determined to find the time. The 13 hour work days will need to end & my growth will need to come from a higher power.

Thank you Constant Gardener for allowing me to see areas of needed growth in my life. I am forever learning that no matter how dreary or sunny, You have a pretty good handle on things. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

for memory's sake

Well I definitely DO NOT like the sound of my own voice (who does?) but I figured this is something that we will definitely look back on and laugh about someday! A local journalism major wanted to do an article on Caleb and I highlighting the new restaurant venture in Indianapolis & had some questions about our journey thus far.... please excuse the squinty, awkward  pictures : ) ...

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Talk about a busy week in the restaurant life! I am SO HAPPY it is Sunday! When I sit down to reflect, I am not even sure I can put into words all that happened this week. I am not sure I fully understand what happened this week. And I am hoping that I know how to adequately handle all that happened this week.

The irony of the beer special this week...

I finished the 3rd week subbing for a maternity leave at Headstart. So, if all goes to plan- I am halfway done. I have mentioned before the joy that comes from working in a position outside of the restaurant, even if it is only 12-15 hours a week. It broadens my scoop of life & keeps things in perspective. We got 2 new kids in the classroom this week and while it was fun to meet a new family, the current children in the class have a hard time adjusting. I am learning that consistency & familiarity is very important to a child of toddler age so to throw multiple changes at them in one week is a little difficult. A few tantrums & unfortunate disciplinary actions later... I think we will be better adjusted next week! I love the patience I am learning from this position. And although I am not sure that I love "teaching" 1 & 2 year olds, I am learning what it means to be purposeful in my interactions with them. I am humbled by the realization of what little sponges they are! My favorite quote from the week is from a little 1 1/2 year old girl who speaks little English but whenever she gets overwhelmed or tired or thinks something is silly, she says, "Ay, ay, ay." I know it's way cuter in person than in print but certainly you can imagine her parents at home always looking at her and saying, "ay, ay, ay" and shaking their head. : )

We had a ground breaking week in the restaurant world. After over a year of persistence, proposals, & research, Caleb went before the town council for the 3rd time to request an enabling ordinance to serve liquor in the Town of Winona. What happens in a small town of less than 5,000 people (Winona Lake has 4,902) is that you have to propose your request to the town council & then they choose to set in it motion and vote whether or not to pass it. Gotta love the small town politics! We had teamed up with another reputable restaurant in the Village to spear head this proposal together. According to the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Co there are only two 3 way liquor licenses available for the town. We figured if we approached the council as a unified front and as responsible businesses in the area, we would have a good shot at securing the 2 licenses. Well I could drag this story on forever in terms of all the politics that were involved throughout the process... But let's just say it probably would have been easier to get 98 people to move to Winona! HOWEVER, on Tuesday evening, after an extremely up and down debate in the Winona Lake Town Hall (and some resistance from an observing community member)... it passed! We took the ordinance home with us that night after a unanimous vote from the council. Wow, for the first time EVER in the history of the town.... the ability to serve liquor is possible. And that is what I am still processing... We are really messing with the historical traditions of this town?!!! It made it the local newspaper the next day: Times Union.

Wednesday we received a rather large delivery....

15 kegs of beer!!!

Garden time is upon us! Every waking moment of every "free" second this week was spent organizing, training, stocking, & planning for the Garden to open on Saturday for the Fat & Skinny Tire Bike Festival. The tent was set up right outside the restaurant this year along the canal. Hundreds of people come to the Village for this weekend to race which equals hundreds of people around the Village on Saturday that are hungry & thirsty. We were prepared!

Friday, full color flyers went out to thousands of people through the Times Union announcing the official Grand Opening of the Garden Monday, May 16th. Crew Club begins & the mugs are ready!

38 members in our inaugural year!

And then, as if we didn't have enough press already this week... on Saturday, the Times Union released another article announcing our expansion to Indianapolis next summer....with Caleb & I smack dab on the front page... Whew! I'm a girl, from a small town, with a cute husband & a dog. Whose life am I living??

A few other side items in the Cerulean Life are:

- We purchased a smoker....we can now smoke stuff : )
- Select staff are attempting to brew our own beer & make our own cider
- A manager of 5 years put in his resignation
- Phone conferences with lawyers so that the lease for the Indy project will be finalized May 22
- Hops planted all around the Garden
- Angry neighbors protesting our events in the Garden (lucky for us, the police are on our side)
- Successful visit from excise (no fines this time!)

So as I sit here Sunday morning, I cannot begin to explain the thoughts that are in my head. I am SO thankful for the staff at our restaurant. None of this would be possible without the amazing people who work so hard, day in and day out. I am so humbled even writing this post... We work SO HARD every day & every night sometimes I wonder who long we can keep up this pace.... but, right now, I love the progression. I love the smile on people's faces. I love the fun. I love the exhaustion. I love that God has given us the tools to somehow pull all of this off??! Because I don't know where the strength comes from sometimes... My heart is full & thankful.

.....soooooo, cheers to yet ANOTHER unforgettable week in the restaurant life.... at least we are a few kegs lighter going into the next one!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Well this life will forever be an up & down ride so this post I will begin & end at part 2. The past 3 weeks have been emotional & physical & mental &.... continual. Sometimes life offers little interference & very few instances to stop & breathe... or write. To start, here are a few highlights in pictures:

Massive Pork Chop special- muy, muy bien!

An interview for the local newspaper regarding the Indy project

Line caught Cod special

Baby brother's birthday celebration @ the Museum of Science &  Industry

So, other than the brief day of fun....
The restaurant has been busy. Not nearly the mad Groupon rush we experienced a few weeks ago but the- finally its spring and the sun is out- buzz! Praise God for that! Party after party we are booking graduations & weddings & showers & corporate extravaganzas! In fact, this weekend is the "kick-off" to the summer here in Winona Lake, the Fat & Skinny Tire Fest!!! I LOVE this weekend! Over a thousand bikers generally come to the area to compete. There are tents set up & bands are in place. We cater the food in the tent and this year we are also serving beer from the Garden. Just another thing to contribute to the craziness but... I.LOVE.IT. This is when the magic happens in the Village & this is when nothing is better than living in the Village! I can't wait!

On top of all that, it is also Grace College Graduation this weekend & our local high school's prom. Oh boy! Lots of celebrating going to take place... The books are loaded & it's only Tuesday. I have already spent over an hour erasing & writing & re-writing the seating chart for Saturday. Although it may seem obsessive- every pencil mark, every seat, every specific place that each reservation is placed- matters. Each.detail.matters. Sometimes I cannot believe the attention to detail I have been forced upon over that past few years. Owning a business will do that to you. I will openly admit- I am obsessive compulsive. There, I said it! I would have laughed OUT LOUD at myself 5 years ago...

Before a shift begins I walk through the restaurant & check each table:

 Is it set correctly?
Is the napkin 1 in from the side plate?
Are the glasses polished?
 Is the candle centered?
That table needs moved 2 inches to the left.
Those place settings are not symmetrical.
Change the special card, it has a spot.

And the list goes on & on... However, the most humbling moment of the week occurred last Saturday  night. I was hosting the dinner shift & we were slammed. We were way past the preliminary checklist & every dining room was full with an hour wait up front. I was making a round to the kitchen to check on all the servers when BAM! I was on the floor! Yes, dining room full of customers, I hit a spot of water full speed... I went up, I went down... all the way down. In fact, a kind booth of women decided to elaborate on the situation & scream, "Honey, are you ok?!" Praise God I decided to wear pants that day. I had to get back up, put on my smile & continue the night. A few, "How is your knee?" & "Man your hip must be sore" 's later....I realized the irony of life's little ways of slowing you down. Ha. I now have 2 lovely & LARGE bruises to show for it! 

So this week I chose to approach life a little lighter & a little slower. The sun is out, people are happy, & there is not much to complain about. 

Welcome spring. I have been waiting for you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

roLLerCOasTErrrrr... part one

Well the current status is close to the bottom but working my way up! I've been in a bit of a sick daze this week with no sick days. But it's manageable. This is just when the really fun part of being a business owner kicks in, power through- no time for illness! Although I did manage to sneak out of the restaurant Tuesday night but still brought a load home that I continued working on until 10p. What are you gonna do?! 

I have begun my sub position for the maternity leave at Headstart in the 'baby' classroom. The kids range from 1 to almost 3 in this room. Very little! So far it has been quite enjoyable. I am there early in the morning and off in plenty of time to walk the dog, grab a snack, & head to the restaurant. Although I am not well versed in the toddler talk, I think that I am catching on. "No way!" & "Ahiwbing kjhdunono" are quite common.

My man left me this past week for a long weekend get-a-way in Portland to visit a friend. Nate used to be a co-owner in the restaurant with us & has always been a great pal. He moved a little over a year ago to give life a different view. After 3 1/2 days of manning the ship (shop?) here in Indiana I was ready for Caleb to come home... And after 3 1/2 days in the Northwest he had been to over 40 different eateries, bars, wineries, breweries, or coffeehouses. I was happy for him. However, I did learn that I would not be able to live my life the way I do without his assistance. House a mess, dog only got half the attention & as far as laundry or dishes are concerned- forget it! Funny how much of a team you become. I love that part. And here he is in all his glory!

Multnomah Falls
So, in his absence I also tried to get our garden started. Our transplants came in and we have what seems like 12 kinds of tomatoes and peppers.... oh dear. This could be a challenge! So, on Sunday I weeded & raked & tilled & top soiled..... AAAAND, it looked like I did nothing! 5 hours later with cramped hands and a numb back, I called it a day! Someday these little guys may get planted!

...after 4 hours...

Banks was clearly thrilled

Then although we greeted the week re-united it has been a rather unstable one. Garden, Garden, & more Garden planning to get into place. Oh, the details: wine ordering, beer ordering, stocking, sorting, organizing, calling, staffing, training, writing.... Wow, it opens in about 10 days!!! 

I'm tired just thinking about it... more updates later...