Thursday, March 31

March Employee of the Month

Place your votes! These are the top four most viewed posts for the month of March.*
The poll is to your right and will be open for one week. The winner will be receiving
a special prize (to be determined, but something superfab) from The Employee Lounge.
*The last week of the month will be rolled over to give new features some time
to generate their own following. No hard and fast rules in our informal polls.
Which means NO WHINING. We do what we want.

michael f.

Michael F. | Chef/Owner
Years of Industry Service: 23
Cooking was a means to an end for Chef Michael. "I couldn't support myself snowboarding," he said. So he became a dishwasher at a restaurant in Aspen. Then one day the grill cook didn't show up and he became the grill cook. He's been cooking ever since. Michael has opened many restaurants before, but with The Farmhouse, it's all on him. If the restaurant doesn't make money, he doesn't make money. He didn't know enough to be scared when he opened his own restaurant saying, "I love it, but would I do it again the same way? Never in a million years." Recently married to the lovely Vira, Michael says after their courthouse marriage, "I took her home and went back to work." Oh, the life of a restaurateur. Their official wedding, which Michael calls their real wedding, will be in Laos later this year. For now, they're just newlyweds who are so sweet with each other, you can't help but feel the love between them.

  Make KC Better » For the government to listen to what the public wants.  


Abra | Manager/Baker
Years of Industry Service: 5
Named for John Steinbeck's East of Eden character Abra Bacon, this uniquely named baker is one of two Abras in Kansas City. She only met her name doppelgänger once, years ago, but they have not kept in touch. I guess sharing a cool name doesn't always make you instant soulmates and friends for life. Aside from her few years in Louisville, Kentucky where she received her culinary school degree in baking and pastry art, Abra is a life-long Kansas Citian. "I've lived here my whole life but I haven't even touched the surface (of all there is to see and do in Kansas City)."

  Make KC Better » A rail car. Light Rail System. 

Wednesday, March 30

tony t.

Tony T. | Server
Years of Industry Service: 14
Smoking a cigarette and exuding a scruffy, charismatic sex appeal, Tony told us he escapes to bars and restaurants, "anywhere that serves Johnny Walker Black." The farm-to-table concept at The Farmhouse is a first for him, one that you could tell he appreciates and enjoys as he talked about our local farms. In the summer months, he likes to go to the lake and camp. When  it's colder, he just likes to hang out and stay at home. We were basking in Tony's laid back coolness. And how sweet he seemed. Then his girlfriend who also works in the service industry (Hamburger Mary's) drove up, looking all sexy herself in a little black dress and flowy wrap. Interview over. 

  Make KC Better » A good downtown dance club.  

jean pierre b.

Jean Pierre B. | Server
Years of Industry Service: 40
When asked about how long he's been in the industry, Jean Pierre said ohmygod, let out a laugh, then thought for a few moments before he answered, "Forty years. Since I was 15 and working in a charcuterie in Orleans (France)." Jean Pierre came to Kansas City by way of New York where he first worked with Le Fou Frog chef/proprietor Mano Rafael at L'Auberge du Midi and then at Casanis on First Avenue First Street. He has stayed here because this is where he met his wife. Jean Pierre likes to garden, has a koi pond and in his retirement, would like to split his time between Kansas City and France. The last time he visited his home country was in 2008. He goes as often as he can, but said, "Good Lord. We're only waiters."

  Make KC Better » Ameliorated Road System in Missouri.  

Tuesday, March 29

brenda n.

Brenda N. | Manager/Bartender
Years of Industry Service: 15ish
Brenda is one animated, vivacious personality. With her hands dancing, she talked about her double life in the service industry and as a massage therapist. They're different, but they both deal with people. So scheduling time off from both jobs at the same time is essential to keeping her sanity. As a downtown dweller, parking is the biggest obstacle for Brenda. She has to get up early every morning to move her car, like most urban dwellers in big cities. Aside from that, Brenda said, "I like everything else about this city. We've got great food and great art, great underground art, performance pieces. There are a lot of things people are missing out on, but I guess if everyone knew about it, it might not be so great anymore," she finished laughing.

  Make KC Better » Better parking for people who live downtown.  

brian j.

Brian K. J. | Vice President
Years of Industry Service: 5
Brian was one of the hammiest, funniest people we've had the pleasure of interviewing so far. Between the hysterical laughter, we found out he was once part of the local but now "exploding" band, The Beautiful Bodies. But he had to quit because their 200 days-out-of-the-year touring schedule got in the way of him paying his mortgage. "It sucks, but I have responsibilities. I have committed to this job. I have a house, a mortgage, and a girlfriend." Brian is also the Wine Chair for the March of Dimes Wine Fest on May 26th at Union Station. No matter how much he posed and joked around, you're looking at a grown-up, responsible adult here. 

  Make KC Better » Mass Transit, Skyscrapers and a Downtown Baseball Stadium.  

Monday, March 28

nicky l.

Nicky L. | Baker
Years of Industry Service: 3
Nicky used to be in the field of psychology. Then, she became a baker. Now she's back in school to become a respiratory therapist so the food industry is kind of a detour for her. Other than waking up early, she said, "I really enjoy the people and the creativity. It's a nice change from my last job." Although not super excited about being photographed and interviewed while covered in an entire's day of baking and a bit shy, Nicky was still sweet as can be and even offered us a free cupcake afterwards. Yes, please!

  Make KC Better » Cupcakes for everyone, it's a pick me up and
 a bright spot in their day....and mass transit.  

david a.

David A. | Assistant Manager/Head Line Cook
Years of Industry Service: 6
Before David came onto the food industry scene, he was a dog walker. The two careers aren't that different, he said. "Both need to be fed, both get cranky if you don't feed them in a timely fashion and you get dirty at both jobs." How's that for keeping things in perspective?! Now that chef/owner Todd Schulte has moved on to start Genessee Royale Bistro, day-to-day operations at Happy Gillis are virtually the same because their lean and effective crew have everything down. See Todd, they don't need you. In all seriousness, David said that Todd prepared them well and that's why the transition has been so incredibly smooth. Before he came to work at Happy Gillis, David was a customer and he is amazed how one little sandwich place has changed a neighborhood.

  Make KC Better » More focus on local grassroots businesses and fewer chains.  

Friday, March 25


The Newlyweds: David & Dana!
We caught David at the end of the day, right before the restaurant was closing. He was more than happy to answer our questions even as he was preparing for his WEDDING the next day. We are so stinkin' excited they shared that with us and wish them loads of future happiness. They got married today, Friday, March 25th and we feel privileged to be able to share that with you. Mrs. David, aka Dana, is a graphic designer so we love her even more. Congratulations to you both! Look for a full post about David soon.

orien b.

Orien B. | Server
Years of Industry Service: 27
Orien's start in the service industry began as a transition. Nearly three decades later, it's looking more like a career path but he'd rather be a musician, a photographer or both. We talked about the new performing arts center, his dazzling tie and one of the most memorable places he's ever lived: Port Townsend, Washington, a small town with a boat community, run by hippies and bikers. Having lived in many places (Hawaii, Oregon, Washington), he always finds something to like about where he lives. "I love the arts in Kansas City. I think KC has so much going for it." When asked what he does to escape at the end of the day, Orien responded, "Drink. Like everyone else."
We bow down to you, truth speaker.

  Make KC Better » Better public transportation.  

jim t.

Jim T. | Server
Years of Industry Service: 14
Recently engaged to super-cutie Mindy, Jim is staying mum about all things wedding for two weeks. So don't even ask, which we did and got nowhere. His favorite place to escape at the end of a long work day? His very own patio.

  Make KC Better » Turn Union Station into a casino and 
 use the revenue for public transportation / Light Rail.  

leslie n.

Leslie N. | Assistant Manager
Years of Industry Service: 14
Recently back to Kansas City after living in New York, Leslie is essential to making sure The Rieger runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis. And she does it looking absolutely gorgeous every day. Leslie has tried her hand at concert promotions, but "honestly, this (the service industry) is where I want to be." She used to be really, really shy, however, her daily interaction with people, with customers, has forced her out of her shell and taught her a lot about patience. 

  Make KC Better » Just one thing? Public Transportation.  

laura m.

Laura M. | Event Coordinator/Bartender
Years of Industry Service: 14
A Kansas Citian for nearly five years, Laura is no negative Nellie. "I think Kansas City is doing a lot of things really well. But the oceans and mountains around us, that would be great." Now that the weather is improving, she'll be playing tennis and golf and running instead of just drinking (hey, that's okay with us!). She also wants everyone to know that Tannin is open again (formerly JP Wine Bar). Thanks to Chef Brian, they now have a standout menu to pair with all that wine. 

  Make KC Better » Less urban sprawl so you don't have to drive everywhere.  

hilary s.

Hilary S. | Event Coordinator
Years of Industry Service: 9
Hilary has the perfect posture, like a little dancer gliding past you, graceful and serene. Asked about the best place she's ever worked, with no pause or reservation, replied, "The Rieger," her current place of employment. "There's so much passion here, everyone loves what they're doing." 

  Make KC Better » More Neighborhood Markets  

Thursday, March 24

barry t.

Barry T. | General Manager
Years of Industry Service: 12
Although quite serious in these shots, Barry was actually being very funny and gently razzing everyone in the business from the wine reps (knowing I am married to one) to the head chef sitting nearby. He has such passion in his voice when speaking about wine, food and the people he serves, you know he is truly an advocate of this business. Barry also raved about his two favorite places: Justus Drugstore and Grünauer, especially chef/owner Peter Grünauer, "he is the wizard of making people feel welcome and relaxed."

  Make KC Better » Improve public transportation /  

craig r.

Craig R. | Wine Rep
Pinnacle Imports
Years of Industry Service: 20.5
Craig, a Kansas City Art Institute graduate and sculptor, is now one very knowledgeable wine guy. He is passionate about grape juice and recently took a wine trip to Argentina where he gorged himself on beef. As a 15-year-old on a restricted license, his first job was delivering pizzas in Edwardsville. Considering his baby face now, we wonder how he got away with being an underage driver with A JOB. But life is about taking risks, right?  

  Make KC Better » Remove government corruption.  

josh k.

Josh K. | Server
Years of Industry Service: 7.5
Josh popped into work for a drink on his day off. He feels so at home there, he could be sitting in his own living room. As he joked with coworkers, you could feel the love and camaraderie. Recently he has started volunteering and giving back to the community through the Aids Service Foundation. For Josh, the service industry is a career path, "I think I'm a lot happier than all my friends sitting in their cubicles making $28,000 a year." We're not knocking the cubicle life for those who choose it, but the freedom and flexibility of the restaurant life is hard to beat.

  Make KC Better » Bicycle lanes everywhere!