On the Road

No Ho Hum Monday
As some of you know, my daughter Emma is now a college student in Milwaukee. In order to keep me happy, she has agreed to me visiting her on a weekly basis. This day has become what I call Monday with Emma Day.

Emma graduated from Appleton West and is currently a student at MSOE.

Emma graduated from Appleton West and is currently a student at MSOE.

The Journey and the Destination
I have often said “it’s not about the destination” but as I travel to and from Milwaukee each week, I realize that the reason we journey is indeed the destination. Some people are in a big hurry, others (like myself) are not. Some are distracted by phones and radios and children. Others hold tightly to the wheel at 10 and 2 and keep a steady gaze on the road ahead.  The one thing that they all have in common is they are headed somewhere! All on the same road going to different places. There are often detours, roads closed or delays, but ultimately, we all do get to our destinations…hopefully.

Emma an engineering student was impressed by the open bridge. We were delayed but not bothered...

Emma an engineering student was impressed by the open bridge. We were delayed but not bothered…

What is the Destination?
Emma and I keep our plans pretty loose. We do like to go eat and have enjoyed great lunches together at several Milwaukee gems including Beans and Barley,  The Noble and Horny Goat - Emma and I have always shared a love for good food and it’s been good fun to explore new places with her. She is always happy to take food back to the dorms with her since the food is as she describes it almost inedible.

Emma ordered the Surf and Turf on a recent visit to The Noble. Good food is always part of the destination!

Emma ordered the Surf and Turf on a recent visit to The Noble. Good food is always part of the destination!

Also part of the destination is just to spend time together. It doesn’t really matter what we do or where we go, it’s always a good place when we are there.

What About Us?
And it makes me think, that is true for all of us here at The Kangaroost and Kangaroostaurant.  We all have a destination that we hope to reach some day… not physical destinations –  but career destinations, family destinations, spiritual destinations, relationship destinations and many other places we journey to. We all have a deep sense of community and a passion for good food. Each day, we get up with the hope of doing a little better than the day before. We are people behind the wall, cooking food for people on the other side of the wall.

I recently found myself reliving and regretting the same day over and over for 3 sleepless nights. I made a decision in the kitchen that seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but afterward, I had hindsight to help me see what I should have done. Those are hard lessons for me. I’ve talked to many folks about what it’s like to work in a restaurant and all say the same thing, that 100% satisfaction is always what they aim for. We can serve 100 people who are extremely happy, but if one person’s experience is less than perfect, we will relive that over and over and do whatever it takes to ensure that not happening again. But it does for different reasons and again, we vow to never let that happen again. In our kitchen we have a slew of perfectionists.

Katie, Chef Lindsey and I are often the ruling majority of perfectionists in the kitchen.

Katie, Chef Lindsey and I are often the ruling majority of perfectionists in the kitchen.

We are a different kind of destination at The Kangaroost. One where your food is cooked to order when it’s ordered. One where we are more concerned with the experience you have here than we are about “table turns”. We invite you to stay and linger. Talk over coffee, have a cocktail crafted for you by our Barchitecht Alyssa.

Alyssa dreams in cocktails! We are lucky to have her here ~

Alyssa dreams in cocktails! We are lucky to have her here ~

Enjoy dessert…baked from scratch by Chef Adam.

Chef Adam created this decadent and rich chocolate cake for folks on Valentine's Day. So much chocolate and love

Chef Adam created this decadent and rich chocolate cake for folks on Valentine’s Day. So much chocolate and love

It doesn’t matter why you are here, it matters to us that you ARE here. It matters to us that you’ve chosen to spend your hard earned money with us. It matters to us that you have expectations, and it is always our goal for you to be completely fed and fulfilled when you leave here. If you aren’t, we want to know about it. We ask for feedback and with all sincerity invite you to share with us how your meal was. If you weren’t happy with every part of your experience, we ask you to tell us. This is how we learn. This is how we grow and this is how we can best achieve the goal of complete satisfaction, all of the time!

Jay has proven time and again, that customer service and satisfaction is his top priority and he will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Including this.

Jay has proven time and again, that customer service and satisfaction is his top priority and he will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Including this.

And, Riley will do the same.

And, Riley will do the same.

Once Emma asked me “why do you have to turn everything into a life lesson”. The answer to this is – I’m not sure, but I do. I am always searching for meaning or reasons that things happen the way they do.  I feel like every person that comes to eat here is coming for a reason. We honor that reason and hope you enjoy your time spent with us.

This baby, was grown with lots of Kangaroost food ~ we met him last week for the first time. His family has been eating at the Kangaroostaurant and Kangaroost since that first summer.

This baby, was grown with lots of Kangaroost food ~ we met him last week for the first time. His family has been eating at the Kangaroostaurant and Kangaroost since that first summer.

So to whatever destination your journey takes you today, may you enjoy that place while you are there.

Safe Travels!

Kelly

 

 

 

 

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Welcome New Year’s Eve

Ringing in the New

Join us on New Year’s Eve for a night of good food. We will be serving a 7 course meal specially prepared by Chef Adam Devens and out wonderful kitchen staff. There are vegetarian and vegan menus available as we want to create a night full of good food for all to enjoy. Because we make everything from scratch, many of the menu items can be modified to accommodate gluten free and other dietary restrictions. Call us at 920-830-1668.

New Year’s Eve 2013 Menu

 Amuse-bouche

Hand Sliced Grass -fed Tenderloin  on  a crisp Crostini spread with Goat Cheese and topped with Red Onion and Shallot Confit and Red Apple Balsamic Glaze.

Pickled Kohlrabi and Carrots wrapped in a thinly sliced Cucumber drizzled with Meyer Lemon Olive Oil. (Veg)

Salad

Fresh Mixed Greens tossed with Caesar Dressing and shredded Bellavitano Cheese and topped with a crispy soft-boiled Duck Egg.

Fresh Mixed Greens tossed with Sesame Balsamic, Roasted Cashews, and topped with curried Tofu and Pea Shoots. (Veg)

Cheese

Cinnamon Bellavitano cheese and Assorted Potters Crackers (Veg)

Soup

Butternut Squash Bisque with Winter Spiced Cream and Candied Pecans (Veg)

Sorbet

Pomegranate Champagne Mead

Risotto

Wild Mushroom and Tarragon Risotto with Black Truffle Olive Oil (Veg)

Entrée

Coffee rubbed, Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Herb Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

Garnished with a Chimichurri sauce.

Primavera – Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Grape Tomatoes, Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots and RP’s Linguini tossed with a light white wine and cream sauce. (Veg)

Sweets

Grasshopper Roll topped with Spiked Chocolate Sauce and Crème Anglaise.

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Re – Opening Day – December 11th, 2013

So Soon?

Just three weeks ago, we signed a lease and began preparing to open the doors at The Kangaroost. With a lot of hard work and creative preparations, we are preparing to reopen in our new location on Wednesday, December 11th. In true Kangaroostaurant style, we’ve done this turnaround quickly and will be continually working to make additional improvements as we go.

Riley, Emma and Meng working hard to pull up 20 years of red carpet.

Riley, Emma and Meng working hard to pull up 20 years of red carpet.

The concrete floors have been sanded (by Jay) and finished with a sort of shiny sealer to create a clean yet unpolished look.

The concrete floors have been sanded (by Jay) and finished with a sort of shiny sealer to create a clean yet unpolished look.

Where Do I Begin?

We’ve been asked by so many people what they can expect at The Kangaroost when we reopen. My best answer is a lot! From the décor to the menu,  things are different here. Old and new, fresh and familiar, local and seasonal are the best way to describe everything!

Chef Adam has worked with our kitchen staff to make our pickles in house. This is a new and much appreciated improvement to our menu!

Chef Adam has worked with our kitchen staff to make our pickles in house. This is a new and much appreciated improvement to our menu!

The dining room is a fresh mixture of natural elements. From the wood on the ceiling to the cement floors, we’ve used many of the elements already here, and updated them to a younger more current feel, while keeping the basic structure and form of this wonderful space.

The ceiling once cloudy and grey is now wrapped with this beautiful repurposed wood from Urban Evolutions in Appleton.

The ceiling once cloudy and grey is now wrapped with this beautiful repurposed wood from Urban Evolutions in Appleton.

A few special holiday decorations create natural beauty with a few touches of fun thrown in. Keep your eyes open for the birds!

A few special holiday decorations create natural beauty with a few touches of fun thrown in. Keep your eyes open for the birds!

Hand Crafted tables from Urban Evolutions adorned with candles designed by Lou Ann McCutcheon create a rustic elegance.

Hand Crafted tables from Urban Evolutions adorned with candles designed by Lou Ann McCutcheon create a rustic elegance.

More About the Food

Many of our menu items will be staying on the menu. Chef Adam and I have worked to put add a few more options for all – including more salads, sandwiches and entrees. Our menus can be found here. I am excited that Jay and I have dishes named after us on the breakfast menu.  ‘The Jay’  Monsieur and ‘The Kelly’  Madame are Chef Adam’s surprise to us on the new menu.

We will continue to focus on local and seasonal ingredients. Our menu includes many items from suppliers we’ve used since the beginning as well as a few new farmers including Keune Organic Meats. There will be a nightly steak feature on the dinner menu. Look for our Fox Cities Magazine Golden Fork Award winning Royale’ With Cheese on both the lunch and dinner menus.

The Royale with Cheese. Please note, fresh tomatoes are available seasonally only.

The Royale with Cheese. Please note, fresh tomatoes are available seasonally only.

Chef Adam's daughter Maddy on a recent visit to Keune Organic Meats.

Chef Adam’s daughter Maddy on a recent visit to Keune Organic Meats.

We were able to take a trip to Nami Moon Farms this fall and hang out with Chris, Maria and a bunch of turkeys.

We were able to take a trip to Nami Moon Farms this fall and hang out with Chris, Maria and a bunch of turkeys.

We look forward to continuing with  delicious Red Barn Family Farms milk and cheeses.

We look forward to continuing with delicious Red Barn Family Farms milk and cheeses.

And the wonderful eggs from Olden Produce!

And the wonderful eggs from Olden Produce!

Artist Daniel W. Green is working on a commissioned 4′ x 6′ piece of art for us – which will highlight all of the suppliers we use from within the great state of Wisconsin.  Here is what it looks like so far!

Each vendor will have a mini piece of art depicting the location of their farm.

Each vendor will have a mini piece of art depicting the location of their farm.

vendor map

We look forward to having this hanging at the Roost. It is scheduled to be finished in early January! What a great way to start the New Year ~

So Much to See and Savor

I could go on forever about the changes and excitement here. We are eagerly anticipating Wednesday. We look forward to seeing you during the hours below!

Monday – closed
Tuesday – 11am – 8pm
Wednesday – 11am – 8pm
Thursday – 11am – 8pm
Friday – 11am – 9pm
Saturday – 8am – 9pm
Sunday – 8am-9pm

We will be serving our full menu. We will also be offering a fantastic beer and wine menu.  To help our staff prepare and get ready for dinner service, we will be offering a smaller menu between 2pm and 4pm.

Where is The Kangaroost?

Our new location can be found at 3301 West Prospect Avenue – click here for a map. If you have any questions or would like to make reservation please call 920-830-1688.  We will have a banner our front for now, but there is a Vineyard sign – as well as a Living Faith Church sign. It’s a little confusing, but if you see all those signs, you are in the right place!!! There is a 4 way stop light at the entrance to our driveway. This makes it very handy to get in and out of and we are just minutes off of Highway 41.

Can’t wait to FEED you some GOOD Local FOOD and DRINK!

We have plenty of parking in the back of the building - so don't let the full parking lot .

We have plenty of parking in the back of the building – so don’t let the full parking lot .

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Community of Supporters

What IS that?

Over the past 3 weeks, this is a question I’ve found myself asking more and more. As we work to transform what was most recently a church into The Kangaroost. It’s been a continuous series of projects. Here is a photo of the dining area before all the fun began.

This photo shows the red carpet and white and white ceilings. We decided this was not the look we wanted.

This photo shows the red carpet and white and white ceilings. We decided this was not the look we wanted.

Who Knows What?

We knew there would be many challenges and questions along the way. I personally am not much of a style expert and Jay knew we’d need some help with the technical and mechanical issues we needed to take care of. So, we called in the experts.

Which Way Do We Go?

So, we signed the lease, and then asked ourselves, now what? I don’t know much about style, but I do know what I like when I see it. Every time I’ve visited Urban Evolutions Inc, I would leave thinking how stylish I thought the things they had were. So, I called them first. We are on a very tight budget and timeline, so I knew that would be an obstacle, but Robin from Urban Evolutions Inc. has been a huge help along the way of transforming this space full of red, white and fabricated stuff to a space with natural light and elements. Robin introduced us to Lou Ann McCutcheon of McCutcheon Design and the two of them brainstormed with us and we set out to change the look of this charming building, full of character. We wanted to show off some of it’s brilliance while downplaying the not so brilliant. They have both offered so many suggestions and support and advice along the way. It’s been invaluable to us as this is not our area of expertise.

Lou Ann from McCutcheon Design has helped us in so many ways. The chickens on the windows and the wood on the ceiling, were both her ideas and both are brilliant!

Lou Ann from McCutcheon Design has helped us in so many ways. The chickens on the windows and the wood on the ceiling, were both her ideas and both are brilliant!

Call In the Experts

Lou Ann and Robin have been fantastic in creating ideas and a plan, but next we needed help from those folks who knew how to get the job done.

We met Steve from Northstar Contracting a couple of years ago when we started down the road of looking for a brick and mortar restaurant. He has looked at several buildings with us and has been an asset in looking at properties with open eyes, as he will often see things we don’t. Northstar Contracting have been responsible for fine tuning the plumbing and electricity and most noticeably right now, painting the ceiling. This building has high ceilings covered with popcorn stuff popular in the 1980′s. So, Steve not only figured out a way to paint them, he took on the task himself. It’s a busy time for them right now, and knowing we are pushing to open sooner than later, he spent 2 days with us painting.

Steve from Northstar

Steve from Northstar covered in paint and thrilled to have his photo taken.

Once Steve finished painting the ceiling, we called on our friend Mark Apitz to help hang 360 square feet of wood on a ceiling 12 feet high. He showed up with a bunch of tools and an enthusiasm unlike you’ve ever seen. I’ve heard about people who own a lot of tools, but, I could not have imagined some of the things Mark showed up with. Saws, electric hammers, compressors – you name it, he brought it.  In a little over 2 days, Mark had the wood in place. He even used a homemade stain recipe to blend the edges of the cut wood with the rest of the reclaimed wood. This is truly a work of art. Be sure to notice some of the detail in the wood along with some of the markings.

Mark brought with him a world of knowledge and skills that we didn’t have as we worked to get things ready. We are grateful for all of his help and have named him project manager as he seems to be readily available with an answer or solution to whatever we need help with.

Our friend Mark Apitz carefully pieced together 360 square feet of reclaimed wood.

Our friend Mark Apitz carefully pieced together 360 square feet of reclaimed wood.

From the Bottom Up

Next up, the floor. Now, this is undoubtedly, the least glamorous of all the tasks. It’s dusty, smelly but incredibly necessary. Emma, Riley, Meng and Ross pulled approximately 1500 square feet of old red carpeting from the building. It seemed never ending at times involved removing baseboards, fixtures and whatever else stood in the way of it’s riddance.

floor

Not a fun job at all but you wouldn’t know it by their attitudes!

After a Sunday of putting a few finishing touches on the paint, it was time to bring in that thing.

painting on Sunday

What is THAT????

Jay sanding floor

I don’t know what this thing is called, but I do know what it does. Scrapes stuff off the floor. It had a very ominous warning sticker on it and made a lot of noise and dust, but at the end of the week, the floor was brighter and ready for a finishing coat. Jay and Mark were covered in dust. It was quite the experience ~ but, as is often the case with the process of change…it’s not all fun and games!

What’s Next?

This week, we’ll be putting the finish on the floor, adding a few finishing touches and bringing in the furnishings and fixtures. You can expect things to be simple and natural, with a few clever and kitschy items thrown in for Good Measure. Our friend Daniel Green is painting a large 6′x4′ painting that will hang in the space between the dining area and bar. This painting will indicate our suppliers and producers and show people just where their food is coming from.

This work in progress will have a spot for all of our suppliers!

This work in progress will have a spot for all of our suppliers!

Community Supported Restaurant

This brings me to my point in this blog post. We’ve been working hard and getting the things done that we need to open, but there is much to do. The structural things have been worked out, the design and décor is coming together, and now…the other stuff.  All of this has only been possible with the support of you – Our Community. We are very grateful and acknowledge the fact that we are doing things different, creating a place for folks to gather, have a meal and get to know one another. We’ve been able to make the many changes and adaptations we’ve made over the past few years thanks to the generosity of our CSR (Community Supported Restaurant) members. We have over 30 people who have purchased shares. Many of you are familiar with CSA Shares (community supported agriculture) but a Community Supported Restaurant is a relatively new idea in this area. A google search will provide several articles and links to other restaurants across the country taking this new approach to running a restaurant. The link below is an article from Travel and Leisure in 2012 that called Community Supported Restaurants the trend to watch.
http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-blog/carry-on/2012/10/9/trend-watch-community-supported-restaurants

Based on the premise of having a lot of folks invested in a restaurant’s success rather than enter into a very competitive business with a lot of debt and risk, CSR members purchase shares to restaurants.  These shares are redeemable in food and are much like a gift certificate ~ or in store credit redeemable over an extended period of time. The reason these models succeed is because of the support of members. Not only do they come in regularly to redeem their share, they bring their friends, they tell their family and most of all, they encourage us. They offer honest suggestions and feedback. They are invested. They have a reason to see they business succeed.

Another reason these restaurants are often more successful, is that the risk is shared by many, rather than a few. We have 4 investors in The Kangaroost who have loaned us the money to make some of the larger purchases and meet some of the larger expense needs to open in this space.

While doing all we can to save expense, and do the minimum needed to open, we’ve found ourselves in the position of opening without some key things. Call it a wish list, it’s really much more. It’s things like awnings (our awnings from the old location will not work in this space), a point of sale system to help better manage sales and transactions, a steam table for the kitchen to help keep soups and other things hot, a blender, and a few other things that while we can get by without them, will be needed sooner than later, to make us successful.

How Much Does a Share Cost?

We are currently offering two different share options.

  • $500 Share – Redeemable at The Kangaroost or Kangaroostaurant in $25/increments over the course of 2 years. Members are also the first to know what happening as well as often a part of special events. We have a Sunday Supper planned for members this winter so that the folks who support us in this way can get to know each other.
  • $1000 Share – Redeemable at The Kangaroost or Kangaroostaurant in $50 increments over the course of 2 years.

Is It Really That Simple

The answer to that is yes. And no. This is certainly a difficult business and their are innumerable obstacles to success and we appreciate that now more than ever. We do the hard part. We worry, work hard, get up early and go to bed late and do our very best to make every dollar count and every investment is taken seriously. So, is it simple for us? YES, because we LOVE what we do. All the hard work, all the fretting, all the frustration is gone when we receive emails and cards from guests who’ve eaten at the restaurant and enjoyed themselves so much that they took time to send us a card. When we see those familiar faces of friends and neighbors coming in and saying hello we forget about the struggles and get to stop for a minute and chat. We hug our customers, hold their children, support them in difficult times and they do the same for us. It’s what community is about. The little things that matter.

How Do You Purchase a Share?

If you are interested in becoming a shareholder, please let us know and we can answer any questions or concerns and get you the information you need to make a decision. You can reach us at 920-277-8173 or by email at emmar@thekangaroost.com or kellyjo@kangaroostaurant.com . Emma Reiser or I would be more than happy to tell you all about it.

Where We Left Off

So, we are getting closer to opening every day. Our hope is that by Saturday, December 7th , we will be serving up food for our soft opening and open officially to the public on December 9th. But, as you can see, we’ve made a LOT of progress, but still have much work to do.

We are about 1/2 way done with the transformation ~ thanks to all for your HARD WORK so far....

We are about 1/2 way done with the transformation ~ thanks to all for your HARD WORK so far….

See you soon at The Kangaroost – 3301 West Prospect Avenue – Appleton Wisconsin!

Gratefully,
Kelly

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Help Wanted

Many Possibilities

We are always looking for help around here.

We are happy to work with many students from the tech, including Meng, who is currently in his second year at the Fox Valley Tech.

We are happy to work with many students from the tech, including Meng, who is currently in his second year at the Fox Valley Tech.

Many opportunities including working on the Truck next spring!

Many opportunities including working on the Truck next spring!

Below are current employment opportunities at The Kangaroost. Please send your resume and cover letter to emmar@thekangaroost.com, or drop it off and fill out an application at our restaurant. Experience is required for all positions listed.

  • Part time AM prep cook
  • Part time PM line cook
  • Part time server, varying hours
  • Part time PM bartender
    • Exciting opportunity: depending on when this position is filled, our new bartender may be able to participate in a cocktail training by the folks from Bittercube!
We are looking forward to meeting and working with the folks from Bittercube ~ this is a great opportunity for someone looking to learn an in depth approach to cocktails.

We are looking forward to meeting and working with the folks from Bittercube ~ this is a great opportunity for someone looking to learn an in depth approach to cocktails.

There are many different opportunities and as many of you know things change quickly in this business. Even if you don’t see any current positions you are interested in, you are still welcome to submit your resume for us to keep on file. We are always interested in hearing from qualified, hard-working people who have a passion for local food.

Aside from a fast paced work environment where every day is different, we offer competitive wages, flexible work schedules, weekly yoga class, staff meal of the day, employee meal discounts and of course, the opportunity to be a part of a growing, fun business making a difference in the community ~!

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The Big Reveal

On the Front Door
Many of you have noticed this sign on our front door at the Kangaroost in Kaukauna.  We’ve made it Facebook official and are spreading the word. We are indeed moving ~ again. 20131102-181316.jpg Now, I am here to tell you that in February when we moved into the Plum Hill building, I was the one who kept saying “this is the last time we will ever have to move”, fully anticipating my retirement from the restaurant business in this spot.

Of the Times
As things often go, we could not have predicted the rapid increase in the catering side of what we do. While we knew of events that were happening during the summer, summer quickly let to Fall and we frequently found ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to close the restaurant in order to fulfill our catering commitments. Catering is SO MUCH FUN and we are VERY GOOD at it, so we definitely know that we needed to continue with that. savory cheesecake

Delicious meat and cheese display for a housewarming party!

Delicious meat and cheese display for a housewarming party!

Elegant buffet in a rustic setting ~ so many creative and personal styles of wedding service ~ all making this so much fun!

Elegant buffet in a rustic setting ~ so many creative and personal styles of wedding service ~ all making this so much fun!

With that in mind, we found that as the summer went on, the frustration and disappointment with having to close the restaurant frequently became a nuisance. We worked through it though, often using creative ways to do as much as possible with as little inconvenience to customers.

On the Other Hand
We found a shocking trend in restaurants. Folks are busy attending all the parties, celebrations and festivities of summer, they don’t eat out nearly as often. The Kangaroostaurant was always so much busier as the weather grew nicer, that it was a shock to us as newbies in the restaurant world. Fortunately we had the truck and catering which carried the restaurant through the summer. We had anticipated that to some degree, but certainly  not to the degree that it happened. Some things we learned over the past 6 months in our current location is that in order to make ends meet, or break even at the location we were in, we need to serve 120 guests each and every day that we are open. Now, that doesn’t seem like a huge number but when you consider a busy day at the Kaukauna location, meant serving 100 people. We rarely hit that mark, and often fell significantly short. We assume responsibility for much of it as, at times over the summer, we struggled with slow service, and less than stellar quality. We were spreading ourselves thin and were struggling to find enough help to cover all the hours we were open. When one or two aspects of any system are off balance, the whole thing starts to unravel. Fortunately, we were able to hire a few key people to help restore some balance and get us back on track with the quality and service we expect. As we went into fall, we were optimistic as we saw things begin to pick back up at the restaurant. But, while they were busier, it still was not enough. We had to make a decision, and make it while we still had a chance of recovering.

What is Your Location?
And, we were in the right place at the right time, when the property at 3301 West Prospect Avenue became available. Many of you are familiar with this building, it’s been many things over the years. Le Bon Appetit,  The Willows, The Vineyard and most recently a church, Living Faith. We toured the building on a Friday and could not wait to meet with the realtor on Monday to place an offer. The space offers many interesting architectural characteristics, a fantastic and convenient location just off of the highway and close to the Fox River Mall, (without actually being at the mall) a fun exterior with lots of space for us to plant a chef’s garden, host outdoor weddings in the courtyard, intimate wedding receptions and so much more. We are going to have a full bar at this facility and will be working with the folks at Bittercube to give us some training on setting up a classic bar menu using some awesome Wisconsin spirits.

emma r

But, for those of you who are concerned about what the space will be like, you can rest assured, we are working with the very best people we can think of – Urban Evolutions Inc. to help us with furnishings and décor that will create a relaxed, yet relevant atmosphere, using repurposed and refurbished and in some cases thrifted goods. We have spent time with them this past week and feel that we are well on our way to creating a space that is not only comfortable, but fun, and inviting, a place you will want to come and stay a while. Some of the furnishings will be familiar, like a table you may have eaten at while visiting your grandparents on the farm. And some may be even more familiar as we scour the thrift stores of the Fox Valley in search of chair and miscellaneous furnishings to fill in the gaps. We are super excited for you to see this space transform and look forward to sharing many photos and much of the experience of the next few weeks with you, as we remake this 80′s banquet and fine dining establishment into a relaxing and fun place to hang out.

We look forward to two of these tables down the middle of the dining room to form a 14 foot community table.

We look forward to two of these tables down the middle of the dining room to form a 14 foot community table.

These light fixtures found in the main dining area were part of the original Jewish Synagogue in Appleton. Two of these pieces of history hang in the dining area.

These light fixtures found in the main dining area were part of the original Jewish Synagogue in Appleton. Two of these pieces of history hang in the dining area.

HAVE NO FEAR
We are again embarking on the unknown. This time we have more knowledge under our belts, and in our brains than before. The last 9 months have been an intense learning experience for us. We know that there are many things we will be doing differently to ensure more consistent, high quality food and service every time you choose to dine with us. Emma Reiser and I had the opportunity to talk with Larry from Basil Café about the tablet based point of sale system they use. We enjoyed hearing his perspective and experiences with the system we will be using. It was great to not only get insight but to have another restaurateur share time from their busy day to exchange information. Working together as small business is an important part of success and we are deeply grateful for Larry’s generosity with his time and information.

Chef Adam and I are working together to create a new menu, expanding on variety and adding a few more vegetarian and lighter options. We will be keeping many of the favorites while expanding our dinner and entrée options.  There will be Hoppin’ Fast lunch menu for those of you looking for a quick service option. Delivery and carry out will also still be available. And of course, we will continue with our daily specials featuring local, fresh ingredients. Many of our staff will be following us on the move. They will be working the next couple of weeks to help us prepare to open and be involved in the changes every step of the way.

Menu Re Do...not an easy undertaking.

Menu Re Do…not an easy undertaking.

Staying on Track
So, as we continue down the path of restaurateurs, we have been so lucky and blessed to have gotten to know so many of you. Along with that, we’ve built friendships and relationships along the way and have gathered the support of many. We currently have 3o CSR Members as well as 4 folks who have come forward and put their trust in us by working out small loans with us to make this move happen. As we move into our new location, we are more aware of the need for a solid financial position and adequate cash flow to ensure success. Many of our CSR members have been with us from the beginning and we are eternally grateful for their continued support and encouragement. Without them, none of the growth we’ve managed to experience would have been possible. Example of that growth is the fact that we have increased our staff from Jay, myself, our children Emma and Loudon and two part time employees to a staff of 15. We have 5 employees who work 35+ hours weekly. We are creating jobs and working to build our local economy by supporting local farmers and producers. Last year we spent nearly $100,000.00 on local food from local farmers and producers. While we often feel down hearted, tired and wonder whether the long days and hard work are worth it, we see the folks who started as customers and are now friends and think…yes, it’s worth it. We see our employees going through life phases and transitions and celebrate with them at weddings and births and think, yes it’s worth it. It’s not an easy row to hoe but, we are grateful for every opportunity we have been given to be a part of this community and we look forward to continuing to grow, together with all of you!

Eric and Alex, working hard and prepping for the day ~ these two have been with us since the start of the Kangaroost.

Eric and Alex, working hard and prepping for the day ~ these two have been with us since the start of the Kangaroost.

We are happy to work with many students from the tech, including Meng, who is currently in his second year at the Fox Valley Tech.

We are happy to work with many students from the tech, including Meng, who is currently in his second year at the Fox Valley Tech.

Chris and Maria from Nami Moon Farms, spent a morning with us. We look forward to hosting many farmers in our new spot.

Chris and Maria from Nami Moon Farms, spent a morning with us. We look forward to hosting many farmers in our new spot.

While we have been lucky to have the support we have had along the way, we are once again offering the opportunity for you to become a part of our family business as we grow. In order to be in a sound financial position and procure all the necessary things we need to open, we are hoping to gather the support of 20 more Community Supported Restaurant members. Members purchase shares at either the $500 or $1000 level. These shares are redeemable on a monthly basis over a 2 year period in $25 or $50 increments, respectively. If this is something you would be interested in, please contact kellyjo@kangaroost.com or emmar@thekangaroost.com or by phone at 920-766-7662.

We recently able to cater a retirement party for a friend and CSR Member Rick. He made me promise to dance with him, which I did and enjoyed every minute of it!

We recently able to cater a retirement party for a friend and CSR Member Rick. He made me promise to dance with him, which I did and enjoyed every minute of it!

Hold on Tight
And enjoy the ride. We are about to have some fun, eat some more good food, get to know one another and continue on this path of good food, friendship and community. Thank you for your continued support, enthusiasm and patronage!

There are always reasons to celebrate around here!

There are always reasons to celebrate around here!

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Coming to Our Senses

After taking some time away to spend time in her new home with her new baby and hubby John, Lindsey is back in the K’Roo kitchen, doing one of the things she does best, making and creating delicious and creative takes on the traditional Sicilian fried rice ball. We are happy to have her back in the kitchen cooking, but more importantly, it’s been great to have her back – because, well, she’s a great person to be around and always gets me thinking about many things.

Good to see this smiling face on Tuesday morning.

Good to see this smiling face on Tuesday morning.

Talk it Up

A recent early morning discussion got us on the subject of those days when things don’t go so well and why that happens. Just like anything that requires concentration and focus, cooking and preparing food for people, things can go really well when you are on your game but, there are those days when, well, you miss the mark. It’s easy to talk about the good times, but it’s in when you are in the weeds (restaurant speak for struggling) it’s when you have a chance to learn and fix situations that might come up again.

A trip to any farm market is a quick awakening of the senses.

A trip to any farm market is a quick awakening of the senses.

Lindsey and I both agreed, that cooking and working in a restaurant is a matter of all your senses being on high alert and being able to use them to make fast decisions, quick adjustments and ultimately, serve up delicious and appealing food in a relatively short period of time, consistently.

Preparing side dishes for Thanksgiving means a lot of stuff happening at once!

Preparing side dishes for Thanksgiving means a lot of stuff happening at once!

The Eyes and Ears

So many things happen all at the same time in a restaurant kitchen. Everyone is focused on their particular task. Each individual task is part of a greater goal to be ready for the doors to open and guests to arrive. Being able to focus on one thing, while seeing the bigger picture is something that has taken some time and continues to be a learning curve for me. Each morning, we arrive at the kitchen around 6am. We begin prepping food for the truck and at the same time, we get ready for the doors to open at The Kangaroost. That means 5 people all cooking something different.

Some days in the kitchen remind me of this photo. It looks like chaos, but it's really a well choreographed dance.

Some days in the kitchen remind me of this photo. It looks like chaos, but it’s really a well choreographed dance.

It’s typically pretty quiet in the morning. Coffee is an important part of the senses waking up each morning. By 7am we are in full swing, cooking – and doing our thing. It often becomes a dance - well synchronized and smooth.

A great bonus of The Kangaroost is an endless supply of espresso.

A great bonus of The Kangaroost is an endless supply of espresso.

During our conversation about rough days, Lindsey and I talked about how anything that impairs our vision can become not only a distraction but, can throw a whole day off. Whether it’s sun in our eyes or a stray hair that flops out of our head bands or hats, anything that keeps a cook from seeing their surroundings, is well, nothing short of maddening. Quick adjustments often need to be made to make sure everyone can SEE what’s happening.

You will often hear the word “heard” in a kitchen. Often there is not time to offer long explanations or great detail, but, it’s always good to acknowledge that someone has given you information. So, people will say “heard”…”hot”….”coming around”…”behind” and a whole host of other words to let each other know the things they might not be able to see. All of that was new to me. And I thought it was silly at first but the longer I am in the kitchen and the more people I work with I realize how important it is not only for things to go well, but for safety and well being of everyone in the kitchen. Communication is key. Much of it is non verbal…but, there are times when “heard” is the most important word in the kitchen.

It Smells So Good in Here

These are words that are often heard by folks as they walk in the door. A common question is “what are you cooking that smells so good”.  It is not always an easy question to answer because at any given moment there can be a number of things cooking. Most often, it involves a quick glance in the oven or a peak at the stove to figure out what does smell so good.

Pasole is not only delicious and one of our favorite soups, it's fragrant and will have The Kangaroost smelling delicious is no time!

Pasole is not only delicious and one of our favorite soups, it’s fragrant and will have The Kangaroost smelling delicious is no time!

Having a keen sense of smell is something that has developed in me over the past couple of years. It’s funny how after cooking bacon for several times a week for 2 years, I can tell it is done by the smell. The same is true with roasting potatoes, meatloaf, beef and a few other dishes we prepare regularly. When I am focused, I am able to smell when things are ready. I hadn’t even thought of that until someone recently asked how I knew something was done and when I thought about it, the only answer I had was that I could smell it. Huh.

mmmm,,,,,bacon.

mmmm….bacon.

Mmmm….Tasty

Have you ever had a cold and had your sense of taste diminished? Well, for us, that can make for a difficult day. I remember early on, I was preparing soup and had a summer cold. I kept adding things because I couldn’t “taste” the seasonings. After a while, I realized, that I wasn’t going to be able to decide if it was where I wanted it, I was going to have to rely on those working with me to tell me what the soup needed or didn’t need. That’s hard for someone such as myself. Typically, when I begin a dish, I have a vision or a thought of how I want it to look and more importantly taste. Relying on others, to complete your vision, is a matter of trust. So, I have learned to rely on the folks I work with for their opinions and flavor palettes. I remember the first time Chef Mark said to me “is the flavor where you want it?” and I thought…”what does that mean?” But, now I understand.

berries

Being able to use a sense of taste to get your dish to the flavor you are looking for is a skill. Something that takes time and patience and even then, sometimes I get stumped. I know it needs “something” but don’t know what it is. And this is again a time when I call on the help of those around me. Cooking can be very humbling. I get pretty defensive of my dishes and it’s often hard to take criticism. But, in order to become better at what I want to do, I’ve had to learn to swallow my pride and remain open to all feedback. It’s fun to hear how fabulous something is, but when someone tastes something I’ve made and says “it’s okay” I shudder.

Butternut Squash Arancini ~ a very popular and incredibly delicious creation by Chef Lindsey.

Butternut Squash Arancini ~ a very popular and incredibly delicious creation by Chef Lindsey.

Kitchen Fingers

Yes, this is a real thing. The longer I work in the kitchen, the less feeling I have in my finger tips. Now, you might think that is bad, but when your day involves many hours of touching hot things you rely on those kitchen fingers to save that thing that’s about to burn on the stove when your fingers are your closest utensil!

There are so many hot things in the kitchen that it’s really quite funny. I recently learned that one it is a kitchen assumption that EVERYTHING is hot. So, after a while you learn to check every pan, plate, dish or utensil on the line before grabbing it. Generally speaking, after a few burns and dropped pans, you learn quickly to assume that what you are about to grab can burn you.

Sometimes, when you are really in the middle of a cooking fury, you don’t even realize you’ve burned yourself. It’s not until the next day when you have the blistered line on your forearm from touching the oven rack do you even realize you have a burn. They call these battle scars …. interesting term, but, for lack of anything better, that’s what they are. So far, while we’ve had some folks cut themselves and burn themselves worse than I would ever like to see, we’ve not had any serious injuries in our kitchens and for that we are very grateful. Our staff are careful, and most importantly, look out for each other. That’s important. While individual tasks are important, the most important thing is that we are all in this together. We have to look out for each other and know that while we may have things to do, so does everyone else and each person’s “thing to do” is as important as the others. Without consideration and respect for each other, a kitchen would be chaos and dangerous.

When you are lucky enough to have a line like this it requires us to work together ~ communicating and understanding each person's role in making things go right.

When you are lucky enough to have a line like this it requires us to work together ~ communicating and understanding each person’s role in making things go right.

Sixth Sense

Some folks may or may not know this, but I have been a part of a 12 Step group for nearly 12 years. I used to attend meetings regularly, but since the birth of the Kangaroostaurant, I often rely on the things I’ve heard to get me through. One of my favorites wisdoms is “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”. This is true in my life and in the restaurant. Sometimes, things come up and I don’t immediately know what to do. So, I wait. And I think. And often I sleep on it. And most times, the answer comes. Sometimes, we make decisions based on gut feelings or instinct. I’ve learned that if my instincts are telling me something, that means that something in me has sensed that there is something right or wrong and I need to act on it. This is often the case in the kitchen. I don’t always know which of my senses has been triggered, but, as long as I am tuned into them all, I can usually make a decision based on instinct. I think that instinct is the collective of all the other senses working together to bring me to an alert state where I am able to consider a lot of different things at once, and act. This is not to say that things don’t go wrong with that.

A very serious Mason on the truck for our first catered farm event. Some of the most intense times also turn out to be the most exhilerating.

A very serious Mason on the truck for our first catered farm event. Some of the most intense times also turn out to be the most exhilerating.

Sensory Deprivation

There are many times that I just don’t know what to do and when the answer doesn’t come. Sometimes, I can’t see the bigger picture. Other times, I can’t reach the top shelf. It’s at those times, I ask for help – in the form of a longer arm, or a wise friend. The thing that is heart warming and reassuring, is that most people are kind and want to help. We’ve found a great deal of support and help from folks in the community and our friends. Just when I think it’s time to throw in the towel or admit defeat, someone offers a solution or at least a band aid until the solution can be found.

Emma Reiser has helped us in ways she will never know...her heartfelt honesty and business integrity has been an example for Jay and I everyday!

Emma Reiser has helped us in ways she will never know…her heartfelt honesty and business integrity has been an example for Jay and I everyday!

The Heart and Soul

Knowing what is at the heart and soul of any adventure I take helps me to understand on a sensory level what is happening. My heart and soul are always on the chopping block – so to speak – in this job. This business is my love child. Something that came from a dream and a belief that I could do something different, follow my passion and feed people. I am deeply committed to creating a space and a business that is welcoming and inclusive. This means, that there is room for everyone, always. Some of the people we hire don’t have a lot of experience, but they have heart…and they are good souls. Some of the people who work with us, may not be the fastest or most creative, but they are kind and have tremendously positive attitudes. Working at the Kangaroostaurant and Kangaroost is much different than many restaurants. It’s hard work, there are numerous unknowns and constant change is the norm. It takes a commitment, not only to a job, but a passion for creating a space where folks can enjoy a fantastic meal in the company of friends and neighbors. Food for me is an expression of love. I have found, that the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more that holds true. Being able to prepare delicious food and serve it to people, is a way of creating love and sharing it with people. I know – that sounds sappy, but it’s TRUE. Cooking feeds my soul, and I am grateful for each day that I have the chance to continue feeding folks food created in a space where heart and soul are the key ingredients!

At a recent book launch for two local poets, Moises Barras and Cathryn Cofell, we had the pleasure of hearing music from Obvious Dog. This reminded me that what we are doing is about so much more than food. We are here to create a welcoming space for all to enjoy.

At a recent book launch for two local poets, Moises Barras and Cathryn Cofell, we had the pleasure of hearing music from Obvious Dog. This reminded me that what we are doing is about so much more than food. We are here to create a welcoming space for all to enjoy.

The Kangaroostaurant Rocks!

We hear this a lot. And well in all humility we do. But, while we do rock, we realize that we are not rock stars. We have so much to learn here.  Humility and teachability are a huge part of our success in this venture.  We have always tried our best to hire folks who know more than us and can teach us. Once we think we know everything and fail to acknowledge our weaknesses, we are in trouble. We have realized that experience and leadership in something every busy kitchen can’t be without. While we truly love to hire folks who are just starting out in the culinary world or perhaps have never worked in a restaurant, we have realized the need for an experienced chef to lead us into new and greater territory!

Welcome to Chef Adam Devens

Once we got word that Ben would be leaving us, Emma Reiser and I were chatting about where to look for a Chef. We had decided it was time to hire an experienced chef, but didn’t know where to start looking. While brainstorming, we through a few names around and one of them was Adam Devens. Adam was the Executive Chef at Bella Vita, and we had heard they were closing. I had met Adam a couple of times when he came to the window at the truck. We decided that it would be something we would look into, but had decided he would likely not be interested in coming to our little restaurant here in Kaukauna. Well, 30 minutes later, HE CALLED US. That is no joke! Sometimes, you just know things are supposed to happen a certain way.

Some of you met Chef Adam at the Tail Gate Event for the Fox Valley Humane Association,

Some of you met Chef Adam at the Tail Gate Event for the Fox Valley Humane Association,

We know that being successful requires a team of talented and hard working folks. Our kitchen is full of talent, passion and folks who love food. Chef Adam is a welcomed leader and mentor to us all as we continue to learn and grow and put delicious food on the plate’s of folks on the truck and at The Kangaroost! When Adam came in to talk with us about working with us, we talked for a long time about food. I learned that not only does Adam cook food, but he grows it. We’ve had the pleasure already of using some tomatoes and fresh mint from his garden at The Kangaroost.  During our conversation, I realized that Adam loved food, knew a lot about it and would be a great fit for us as he talked about his experience and knowledge of local food, farmers and farmer markets, seasonality and sustainability.  Chef Adam is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School and has worked in restaurants for the past 10 years, most recently at Bella Vita and previously at The Seasons. This past year, Chef Adam received a Bachelor Degree in Culinary Management. This experience, education and passion, were the sure indicators for me that Adam was the right person to lead us here in our kitchen!

So, welcome Chef Adam ~ We are happy to have you here and look forward to learning and growing together!

Now, time to get the coffee brewing and the soups stewing ~ it’s going to be another great day on the streets and at The Kangaroost.

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