Tom's New York Deli changes ownership

In early January, I published a blog entry noting that Tom Amyx, owner of Tom's New York Deli here in Richmond, wanted to give away his restaurant to someone who could carry it forward with a positive and exciting vision.  It turns out that my blog post generated quite a few inquiries to Tom about doing just that.  A local couple, Ron and Rachel Hughes, saw my post, talked to Tom about the possibilities, and are now taking over ownership of the Deli as of this week.

Earlier today, I sat down with Ron and Tom to ask about how giving away a whole restaurant works, plans for the future of the Deli, and what Tom will do with all of his spare time (and cheesy jokes) in life after small business ownership; here are some excerpts from the conversation:

I love this city!  Thanks to Tom, Ron, Rachel, and the entire staff of Tom's Deli for living out a great vision for small business and community building in Richmond, Indiana.

Would you like to own Tom's New York Deli?

Tom Amyx is giving away the business he spent the last 20 years of his life building.

This morning when I spoke with Tom, the owner of Tom's New York Deli here in Richmond, he talked of troubling health issues and financial factors in his decision, but he seemed as energetic and excited as ever.  He opened the restaurant in December of 1991 and it's been a fixture on Main Street in the downtown business district ever since.  Professionals, passers-through, families and sports teams alike frequent the establishment, which is known for its great sandwiches, corny jokes and extensive collection of local and national memorabilia.

But as he looks toward the next phase of his own life, instead of trying to sell the small restaurant to the highest bidder, or close it down altogether, he's ready to give it away to the person who would bring the best vision for its future.

Continue reading "Would you like to own Tom's New York Deli?"

Meat Twice a Week

Sesame BurgerTwo years ago about this time I blogged about my resolution to give up soft drinks, which I'm glad to say I've successfully continued for a second bonus year, despite it having no noticeable positive effect on my health while making me an outcast at all of those cola-centered social gatherings. And despite the bottles of Dr. Pepper that people sometimes leave sitting around me, sometimes even in my own fridge.  But I digress.

For now I'll skip over last year's resolution - which failed miserably - and bring you to my 2009 resolution, which is to eat less meat. Specifically, I'm trying to eat meat at no more than two meals per week. This is a revised plan of attack from past attempts to try an all-vegetarian diet, which I eventually decided wasn't tenable for me.

Without getting too far into the food ethics involved in meat-eating (which are nonetheless important and deserving of further treatment), I thought I'd note why I'm doing this, and how it's going so far: Continue reading "Meat Twice a Week"

Fireplaces, kitchen supplies and Indian food, oh my

What a pretty ceramic thing that is!This weekend I had the opportunity to sample three local/regional shopping destinations that were all new to me:

1) The Fireplace Shop at 1000 North F Street in Richmond is an amazing little brick complex that showcases all that can be done with wood and other heat sources. From traditional fireplaces to wood burning stoves to corn pellet stoves to crazy other conflagrant configurations, it was quite a wonderland of temperature control. With the added bits of atmosphere like lazy cats sprawled across warm surfaces, fireplace and chimney sweep nostalgia everywhere, and the hustle-bustle of workers in workshops catering to the demands of the cold season, it was a nice place just to be and observe. The store also adjoins a ceramic tile store (which sells the locally made Terra Green Ceramics line) and a brick/stone store, so you can knock out quite a bit of home improvement planning in one place. I can't imagine there's one of these in every community these days, and I'm certainly grateful to have one here. Continue reading "Fireplaces, kitchen supplies and Indian food, oh my"

Review: Galo's Italian Grill

Galo's Italian Grill in Richmond IndianaI don't usually go to restaurants the first day they're open. The last time I tried to do that it was based on bad information and the place was still preparing to open. The time before that we walked in and seated ourselves, only to realize that the *next* day was the official public open, and that we had just joined in a private friends and family only dining experience. Oops.

But, third time's a charm. Tonight's dining experience at Galo's Italian Grill here in Richmond was worth the potential for injury or embarrassment, and neither occurred. In fact, from start to finish, it was a pleasure all around.
Continue reading "Review: Galo's Italian Grill"

Local coffee shop Charlie's closes its doors

As they are seemingly wont to do, another locally owned coffee shop, Charlie's Coffee Bar and Gallery, has closed its doors. Sigh.

This is not an isolated incident. This is not a bump in the road on the way to a better Richmond. These things must not go unconsidered in the context of larger trends. This is about more than coffee shops, and an adequate response requires more than our sympathy and wistfulness.

Local coffee shop Sacred Grounds closing next week

070307_123636If you follow the news over at The Richmond Coffee Shop Times, you have probably heard by now that Sacred Grounds is closing at the end of next week. The Summersault staff had a last (or perhaps-second-to-last) hurrah lunch there today, and as the cashier was ringing up the bill I asked what they'd have to tack on to the total to keep the place open: only $20,000. Our credit card's credit limit wouldn't accomodate that, but if any of you have the means, it could be a great way to earn some travel rewards.

The story that's tempting to tell is that the introduction of a Starbucks into the market had a deleterious effect on sales at Sacred Grounds, and that the enterprising owners of the local shop just couldn't keep up with the big nasty national chain. It seems the reality might be more complicated than that, but that doesn't make it any less sad to see a space that promoted good food, live music, long conversations and local culture closing its doors.

And so we take note, keeping score in the comings and goings of these community spaces in our town, always working to make sure that there are more coming than going.

The Cheapest Pine Nuts In Town

IMG_2356.JPG Recently, the Summersault staff was eating together at the Golden Corral here in Richmond. They were out of the feed buckets that you just strap onto your head and tilt up, so we ended up having a conversation. We noted that they have pine nuts on their all-you-can-eat salad bar in large quantities.

Pine nuts are an essential ingredient in good pesto; my recipe is available to qualified persons on request. They are also excellent in salads, lightly toasted.

A to-go lunch buffet for one person at the Golden Corral costs $6.69 (no drink), and they give you a container that I estimate could hold around 3 to 5 pounds of pine nuts, depending on what kinds of spill-prevention mechanisms you're able to install on the fly (a small bread bag from your pocket should be fine). Pine nuts generally cost quite a bit at the grocery store or your local food cooperative, and even if you buy them in bulk or from discounted online dealers, they can cost as much as $11.99 per pound.

So, is it safe to say that the best deal on pine nuts in town, and perhaps globally, is to fill up your to-go container with them at the Golden Corral in Richmond Indiana? Beautiful.

Hats off to local restauranteurs

I was glad to see today's coverage of a local restaurant owner who has made an investment in this community.

[Paul] Brittenham opened the restaurant with his brother-in-law -- Lee Schwegman, thus the name -- in 1948 after surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor and five years in the army during World War II. He has kept the ham and eggs and coffee coming and the customers moving on ever since then. But Thursday was his last day behind the counter. Brittenham is hanging up his spatula and retiring at 89.

It's worth noting too that today is the 15th anniversary of the opening of Tom's New York Deli, a frequent Uptown lunch spot for some Summersault staff and a place we love to take visitors. Owner Tom Amyx and his staff have always treated us well since our early days of starting up our own business in the business district, and I'm so glad that they continue to survive in the face of chain restaurants and fast food.

Here's to local restauranteurs!