Thursday, January 8, 2015

GOT THAT GET GIG! - Will Work for Food part II

First, a Glossary...

GET = Grey Eagle Taqueria
RAD = River Arts District
PMA = Positive Mental Attitude
TLA = Three-Letter Acronym

I am an adherent to certain principals and practices of thinking first described by Napoleon Hill, and later dubbed "Positive Mental Attitude."

One of the most fun and effective techniques of PMA is to "create a job."  I've done it dozens of times.  Thousands, if you count every time I've rustled-up some work as an artist and graphic designer, but beyond my core skills and interests in art, I enjoy creating jobs for myself in other areas.  Like booking bands, organizing shows and festivals, or writing about food!

It's true that at this early stage of my food writing career, I almost never get paid, but I'm working towards that goal!  In the meantime, I wanted to test myself, and see if I could create another job for myself within the food industry, at a restaurant that has great food, but also suffers from issues in the areas of image, branding, promotions, and the bottom line.

The test would be A) to create that job and B) to see if I could succeed in helping a restaurant do better. 

Y'know, like, can the famously harsh Food Critic put his money where his mouth is, and get paid to do it?

I had a few spots in mind to approach, then I randomly ate lunch at the GET, and I immediately knew, there was no question in my mind, that this was the place.

It seemed like most people I talk to don't even know that the GET exists, let alone that it's open six days a week, serving great food from noon to 8pm, and even later if there's a live show at The Grey Eagle.

So, I went home, typed up a proposal, and emailed it to Russel Keith, the manager of both the Grey Eagle and the GET, and the very next time I ran into him (at Clingman Cafe in the RAD) he said, "Yeah, I got that e-mail! Sounds great!  Let's talk in the new year!"

In my proposal, I offered to work for half my salary in the form of food. Russel liked that. I'm going to use some of my work credits to try everything on the menu, at least once so that I can speak about each and every muhfuckin' thing that I'll be promoting with some knowledge and authoritay. I've had the tacos, and they are fucking good.  But there are many things on the menu that I haven't tried, from salads to cheeseburgers, and I want to make sure I eat it all before I report to you... in excruciating detail...  about every single, savory bite.

Russel and I had a meeting to talk about stuff, and we have some really fun ideas for promotions and give-aways 'n' shit in the near future, so keep an eye out for contests and what-not coming up real soon.

The first part of my job -- the job I created for myself using PMA -- is to let as many people as possible know that the GET exists.  I'm doing that now!!!

Another facet of my my job is letting you guys know what's what over there at the GET, and I'm gonna start with some info about Benton Wade.

Maybe you didn't know -- I didn't know until recently -- that the head cook at the GET has a pedigree which includes praise-worthy local restaurants like Fig, Cucina24, and Rhubarb.

Benton's major influence is Latin Cuisine, and his Pork Pastoral is one of his signature dishes, prepared the traditional way, by using pineapple to break down the enzymes in the pork.  Even typing those words made my mouth water just now.  I'm not even bullshitting.  I've had it. It's really good.

I've met Benton twice now, and he seems nice. A man of few words. So far.

The jack-ass in the foreground is me.  The guy in the background is Benton. He seemed thrilled to be working together.
I'll try to get to know him a little bit better and give you more deets as I spend my lunch hours eating his food and promoting the fuck out of it to you guys!

Yay!  I'm gonna love my new job!

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Oh, it's tempting to make up a million fun categories and give out Stoobie Awards on Ashvegas forever, but ultimately, I decided to put a cap on it this year, eliminating such categories as Breakfast of the Year, Hot Dog of the Year, and Most Improved Venue of the Year.  That last one seems like a back-handed compliment anyways, but the list of superlatives in general was getting too long and daunting.  I hate being daunted at.

So I cut the fat and trimmed the gristle, but before doing that, I wrote some gobbledegook here and there on the above topics, most of it not worth publishing, but in the category of Least Annoying Music, I got pretty far, so I've finished it up, and posted it here on my blog, as an extra tid bit for you.

The nominees in the category of Least Annoying Music are...

ZAMBRA - Zomb's has been a fave of ours since we first arrived in Asheville and part of the reason for that is the atmosphere.  The lighting is perfect, the decor is inviting and just weird enough to be old-school Asheville style, and the music is ALWAYS not annoying.  Whatever they are playing, I hope they keep playing it.  It's un-obtrussive, mellow, jazzy, modern, and pleasant.  Every once in a great while I have noted to Dawn, "I like the music they're playing," but other than that it just kinda happens.  This one time, there was a little jazz trio playing live in there, and it might have been the best live music I've ever experienced during a dinner out, ever.  I hardly even noticed it!  Except to think to myself that I was totally not being annoyed by it.

NIGHTBELL - Nightbell is the one venue on this list that I actually know a little bit about the music, and who programs it.  César is in charge of the music at Nightbell, and personally, I love what he does.  It's definitely got that Euro-dancey-thing going on, but not in an obnoxious "thump thump thump" kind of way.  Plus the lighting is set to change with the music in some magical fashion that I don't quite understand, but I enjoy every much.

IMPERIAL LIFE - When they leave it up to the staff and not the DJ, the music at Imperial Life is great, and is often comprised of classic B-Sides by popular and lesser know Soul/R&B acts.  B-sides are key.  A-sides are for A-holes.  And people under thirty.  Commercials, cheesy movie soundtracks, and crappy FM radio have ruined just about every single A-side ever pressed for me, forever and ever.  I never ever ever want to hear some of the greatest songs ever written and recorded ever again.  And the bad ones?  Holy shit.  I actually got angry when the DJ played a Lionel Richie song at Imperial Life one time.  It's the staff that really seems to have a good thing going on there.  A pandora station, or a really good iShuffle or something. 

IZZY'S COFFEE DEN- Izzy's is the one and only place in Asheville where I regularly wonder to myself, in a good way, "What's this music?"  It's almost like listening to a really great college radio station when you're in there.  When I do recognize a tune or band I feel like I'm kinda cool, and hip, and not so old after all.  Of course, having all those feelings only proves that I'm actually not cool, or hip, and I really am old after all, but... whatever! I'm still cool enough to go into Izzy's and dig the tunes.  Jerk.

URBAN ORCHARD - Dawn and I have noted on more than one occasion that the music in Urban Orchard is not annoying.  It's usually some kind of indie rock type of stuff, and it's not too loud, or too whiny.  I'm not the world's hugest indie rock fan myself, so I never know any of the songs, which is one of the keys to un-annoying restaurant music.  For the most part, I don't wanna hear songs that I know.  Too distracting.  The otherwise excellent restaurant on Patton Ave known as Table nearly got a dang Peevey award for playing a CCR song during our elegant meal last July.  No, thank you, I don't want to Run Through The Jungle right now.  I'm eating.  Urb Orch scores high points for not annoying the crap out of us with their unfamiliar indie rock soundtrack.

And the winner isssss...

IZZY'S COFFEEEEE DENNNNNN!!!  This was a tough call, because I really fucking love what César is doing with the music / lights / ambiance of Nightbell, but when I thought hard about it, I realized that unlike any other place in Asheville,  I often feel like asking the staff at Izzy's what's playing.  It's that good.  I'll brave the cloud of cigarette smoke outside Izzy's door and risk encountering more clouds of pure BO on the inside, just because I know I'm going to get a really good cup of joe at a reasonable price, AND some sweet jams that'll make me feel like I'm listening to something fucking cool, hip, and different.  It's always at the right volume too, so thanks, Izzy's, here's your Stoobie Award:

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