27 July 2007
I left the government in the summer of 1979 to go back to Bloomington, Indiana, and work with Jeff Danielson who had his coffeehouse and bakery, The Runcible Spoon, up and running, to create a restaurant concept and menu and then to set up the restaurant within the business.
Jeff ran the beverage and bakery end of the business and, together with his wife, the administration of the ordering and employee payroll, etc.
Once the basement of the building was renovated and the kitchen equipment was installed, the menu was conceptualized and firmed up, we opened first with breakfasts only.
We got our feet firmly on the ground with breakfasts which centered around three egg omelettes in the French style--Bon Femme [with fried potatoes, bacon, and onions], Edouard [toasted croutons, garlic, and cauliflowers], Ciboulette [chives], etc. Also my Runcible Egg Rounds--two round griddled eggs on open-faced, toasted English muffins with grilled Canadian bacon, topped with a rich Hollandaise made from scratch every morning, were very popular.
Lunches followed next and we served a variety of sandwiches including our very popular Stage Door Deli-style tuna sandwich, a homemade soup du jour, a fresh garden salad, and a feature quiche of the day--my quiches all had an added zip with the addition of my secret ingredient--some zesty Bulgarian feta cheese.
Lastly we started serving dinners featuring two different entrees every day accompanied by appropriate side dishes. My philosophy was that the sides had to be as interesting and excellent as the entrees.
The restaurant was in the basement of the coffeehouse and the first floor was the coffeehouse. The bakery was also on the first floor as was the coffee roaster and the "barista" station as it came to be known later when Starbucks [founded 1971 as a local Seattle coffee roaster and coffee retailer] came on the scene.
One of our "baristas" was a young German woman who was attending Indiana University whose English was a bit spotty and heavily accented. One day when Jeff was not around upstairs, she came bouncing downstairs and somewhat excitedly told me, "Ed! Ve have no apfel shoes!" I was taken aback by her concern, by the strange visions of apples wearing shoes in my head, and by my total ignorance of "apfel shoes," let alone that we should have them.
It took a minute or two of international communication for me to realize that we needed to get some apple juice right away!