Monday, September 21, 2009

Get Out! Mailbag September: Sweet Rolls and Greek Love

Dear Get Out!

Subject: Cardiac Surprise

Enjoy your columns. Maybe do one on hospital food? KMC is pretty good a for hospital.

Thanks for reading, Bruce,
I got a laugh out of the subject line of your email. I actually did
a "review" of KMC room service food on this blog that never actually ended up in the newspaper. I was snarky, but in retrospect the food wasn't so bad for hospital food. Hopefully, next visit will be on my own free will; no one really likes to visit the hospital, whether you're in for the croup or a friend or relative is shacked up there.

I have a friend who works the night shift doing prep for the KMC cafeteria and I keep telling him I'm going to come in and meet him for breakfast or lunch one of these crazy days so I can do a write-up. He says they try really hard to fight the popular notion that hospital cafeteria food is bland or generally inedible. I'm kinda hoping for possibly some Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam. We shall see.

Dear Get Out!

I often read your column. The one that appeared in the Sunday Spokesman-Review was very informative and included some surprises. I had no idea that Athol was so significant in the early 1900's.

However, I feel you might have been in error when you ended your article regarding what is in Athol today. There isn't much there...

There is one cafe that serves only breakfast and lunch (always busy, so the food must be good), Rib Ranch Restaurant with tavern attached, a small restaurant that burned down in Spring/Summer 2008, one more tavern, beauty salon, auto parts and repair, fire station, post office, elementary school, 'city center' with park, excellent veterinarian, Conoco with A&W inside, a small pizza joint with arcade, very small grocery store, small motel, Veteran's Lodge, 7th Day Adventist Church. There might be another tavern on Hwy 95, just north of the intersection of Hwy 95 and 54.

All of this totals about 2-3 'city' blocks, approximately 2 miles NW of Silverwood. The sign just west of town, near the veterinarian's office, shows Population: 676. Most of us with Athol mailing address live outside the 'city limits'.

Any other diners that you may have found are most likely part of Bayview.

Hi Julia,
Holy hemorrhoids, there's a lot of stuff around Athol, it's practically bulging out! I certainly didn't mean to imply there was a lot of action up there, but now that you pointed out all the businesses in town, I realize I might have been wrong. Heck, if there's a pizza place with video games, two and a half places to get sozzled and a place to get your hair did, what more would anyone need?

Also, I noticed you neglected to mention the Country Boy Cafe on your list. Don't freak me out, Julia - it's still there, right?

Dear Get Out!

I couldn't agree more about JB's. My wife and I have eaten there many times over the past decades and have enjoyed it very much, especially the breakfast buffet. We feel the staff deserves an award for being the most outgoing staff in the area. There's always a friendly face... Thanks for the great article.


Cheers Bill,
Certainly, JB's flies a little under the radar on the local restaurant scene, but those in the know (and there are quite a few judging from the constant crowds) realize that their breakfast bar is unique in this town. Many buffets serve rubbery, nasty eggs, bacon and French Toast but those cats manage to keep everything hot and fresh.

The waitresses there crack me up; they carry on like they're oblivious to the fact that there are customers sitting there who can hear everything. I've heard them yammering loudly and very candidly at each other about other employees, making fun of customers who've just left, getting in arguments with each other, complaining about this and that and just generally going off. It adds to the amusing "neighborhood coffee clutch in Aunt Franny's kitchen" vibe of the place.

Dearest Friend of The Olympia,

The story you wrote was amazing. We would LOVE to buy you lunch and a bottle of Ritcina. We'll Greek up your fries anytime and we are so glad you are back!! We love you!

Your Friends at The New Olympia

I love you too, Olympia!

There must be something about the Mediterranean that makes folks from there so very lovey. I'm thinking of The White House in Post Falls whose motto is "We love garlic! We love you!"
I did get some pretty steamed reactions to that review, and I have a sneaking suspicious that they might have been all from the same person, probably someone in cahoots with the old Olympia owners who I pretty much dissed. I actually had to delete about four of the comments - the sweetheart told me I must have been dropped on my head as a child among other things. I will be in soon for lunch and a bottle of Ritcina, even though I have no idea what that is (and I even tried Googling it). Can I have a few delicious slices of baklava instead?

Dear Get Out!

I would be interested in information about the old Fore n' Aft Lounge. Are any of the old employees or regulars still around? I worked there when Mike Caldero and Tiny Wilson were the owners. That was in the 80's and it was literally a "blast". Jackie, Cindy, Susanna, Colleen and myself, Carole, were bartenders. There many more, those are just the ones that come to mind right now. Chris & Cheryl Ruffner were "regulars" and Cheryl also worked at Henry's. My name then was Carole Meyer...but that has changed (only to protect the innocent!!).

Thanks, in the Boise area.

Sounds like good times Carole,

I remember the Fore n' Aft was on the same block as JC Penny, where the Resort Plaza shops now sit. I was actually way too young to have actually visited the place, but I know my mom hung out there. I will run the names you mentioned past her and see if she knows any of them. The chances are pretty good, since she knows basically everyone who lived in Cd'A back in the day. I worked at Henry's when I was a teenager and the name Cheryl sounds vaguely familar to me from that time. There certainly aren't very many places from back then that are still a going prospect - there's the Iron Horse, the Corner Bar (formerly the Regina), Chillers (formerly Beta's) and possibly the Sunset on Appleway.

Readers, anyone out there have any insight into Carole's Fore n' Aft memories?

Dear Get Out!

I just recently read your article on the Sunshine Inn located in Kellogg, Idaho and I find that you have overstepped your bounds a bit as a reporter. I feel that you used your status as a reporter to try and bring down a great business and humiliate the management team, employees, owners and this community because you can. You should be ashamed of yourself! No one likes to be humiliated and condemned before they have a chance to redeem themselves and you never gave anyone a chance too.

I have known the owners since they first came to this valley and your one time visit was unfortunately, not up to their standards. The current owners take extreme pride in this establishment and if you had done what another person would of done and contacted the management, you would have found that they would have taken great care of you and your guest immediately. They are proud to be a part of this community and have taken huge steps to help bring it out of the slump it has been in the past few years. As a member of many community volunteering events and organizations, we can count on the owners of the Sunshine Inn to help us out with donations, a place to hold meetings or events, and a business who cares about this town and what happens to it. More than I can say for most of the businesses in Spokane. Maybe you need to visit some of your own towns restaurants and then we can compare a few notes on our visits. And yes I can speak from experience, as I was a resident of your area (so is the management of the Sunshine Inn) and have had some of worst times in many businesses there. But I don't see anything about that in your articles. Or is this just an outlet for you to bring down the morale of a business who prides themselves in their history and how far they have come in the last 2 years?|

I would also like you to ask yourself that if everyone had an issue with how you do things in your business, would you like an opportunity to fix it first or have it splashed in an article in one of the biggest newspapers around? I stand behind the Sunshine Inn and hope that the people who read this article will realize that one persons experience isn't what happens every day in this business and we are entitled to have "a bad hair day" in any business. The Sunshine Inn is still a great place to let your hair down with some friendly members of the staff, hang with your buddies after work, or just to sit and relax in an atmosphere that holds a ton of history and can take you back to the days of long gone. So take it from a local when I tell you that this ONE TIME experience isn't the normal for the Sunshine Inn. But instead of taking the word of a disgruntled reporter or mine, visit them yourselves and see. You'll be happy you did!

Dear Michelle,

Thanks for your response, I like to receive feedback of all kinds. First, I'm not actually a reporter. A reporter cover news and states the facts. I'm an opinion columnist, and one of the things I express my opinion about is restaurants. I HAVE reviewed nearly 100 restaurants from my own town, which is Cd'A not Spokane by the way.

I'm sure the owners of the Sunshine are just fabulous and giving and everything you mentioned. I never said they weren't. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they've got some issues to resolve with their food. For the high price we were charged, I expect more than soggy cold fried shrimp, dried up clam chowder (never did get any even though I paid for it), a salad bar with no lettuce and gray canned vegetables. I only ever state the truth in my reviews, I would never make something up just to make some random restaurant owners I don't even know look bad. What would I have to gain from that?

On the other hand, as I stated in my review, the service was great, the decor was fun, the atmosphere was warm and the bar looked like a good time. Sadly, the food itself was severely lacking. Yes, I based my opinion on one visit, but how many others have had the same bad food experience and never returned? Who has the time or money to visit a place 3 or 4 times before formulating an opinion? You eat at a place once, it's not great, and you don't really have the urge to return right away. All I can recommend is to hire a new cook and hope for the best.

I'd like to give enough credit to my readers that they have the sense to know it's only an opinion based on one visit and they can (and hopefully will) visit the Sunshine and form opinions of their own and I hope they receive the same great service and enjoy the experience as much as I did, I just hope they have better luck than I did with the food itself.

Dear Get Out!

I want to apologize for the experience you had at the Sunshine Inn and offer you a full refund for your dinner bill. We have worked very hard to bring this Silver Valley piece of history back to life. It has been a huge undertaking and I appreciate your honesty in this review. It is unfortunate that your experience was horrible. As the owner, I was sick to read what happened. Since we opened, our food service has had excellent response from the customers and our manager Shari has developed a reputation in Kellogg that is well known for excellence.

I will bring this review to our employee meeting, and do our very best to see that this type of service and food never happens again. The customer is king in our business and we can only hope and strive to learn from this review and some day get another chance to have you walk away with a good dining experience.

Tim & Cheryl Moyer
Dear Tim & Cheryl,

First off, my experience was by no means horrible. I tried to put across in my review that we had a pretty good time overall, but that the food just wasn't quite up to par. That's the truth - the service from Sky was fantastic. She had a full house and a motel front desk to handle and she was working as hard as she could. She was very pleasant and apologetic and never let the chaos get to her. I'd never been to the old Sunshine Inn, so I'm not sure what's new and what's not, but the atmosphere and decor of the place was very fine. We didn't mind the party action coming from the bar at all - it just added to the fun. Everything was clean and neat and inviting. I hope that came across in what I wrote.

Every chef has a bad day, and my column is just the opinion of one person dropping in at a random time on a random day. A big reason I had ordered the seafood combo was for the clam chowder (one of my faves) so it was saddening when I only saw dried muck at the bottom of the soup pot and was told there was no more. This was on a Friday at about 5 p.m., so you'd think it would be well stocked at that point. I certainly don't want to nitpick and the review already described the situation pretty well but I will say that the canned vegetables were a bit of a shocker. I try to be honest as possible in my reviews in the hopes that if something is amiss, it will be taken as constructive criticism and improved upon. No need to refund anything, but I will look forward to my next visit - I'm sure my meal will be much more dynamic. In fact, when that happens, I will write an update about how much improved the food at the Sunshine Inn is!

Dear Get Out!

I read your article about the Sunshine Inn and I found it to be funny and very amusing. I spent my birthday there and had a Caesar salad late at night with no one in the restaurant but me but later danced the night away (it was on a Friday) with close friends that showed up to hear the band next door. The one good thing they had going when they first opened was that they had sweet rolls that my friend Terri was making every morning at her bakery which has now gone under for lack of customers. So the sweet rolls were not available at the Sunshine Inn, the last time I was in there.

Howdy Rebekah,
Mmm, homemade sweet rolls. That might have actually saved the day if they'd had them still when I visited the Sunshine Inn. Certainly they're a few notches higher on the yumminess scale than lukewarm deep-fried Salmon. Tell Terri she needs to fire up the oven and make some more of those to bring over here to Coeur d'Alene; I'm sure I can find a way to help her get rid of them. PS Keep on dancing!

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