The Plaza Lighting Ceremony

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As Thanksgiving approached this year, my girlfriend and I had several discussions about our traditions.  Her traditions included a big meal with turkey and all the fixings.  We made all those foods over the last few days.  We toted them up to my family’s house yesterday and had a great meal.  It wrapped up just in time to head home for my Thanksgiving tradition.

For a majority of the last twenty years my Thanksgiving nights have been spent watching Christmas lights with tens of thousands of friends and neighbors.  Thanksgiving night in Kansas City is when people gather to watch the Country Club Plaza turn into a beautiful, glowing, masterpiece.  With the flip of one switch, the twenty or so square blocks of The Plaza become illuminated.  The countries oldest automobile inspired shopping district becomes even more beautiful.  This tradition has been happening for at least twice as long as I have been alive and is one of the great things about Kansas City.

I will see the lights turn on thirty or so more times before they leave them off in January.  I live and work in the neighborhood.  In a few days it will just be the reason traffic drives me crazy.  I am certain that any number of censored rants will eventually include “those damn lights.”  For one night though it is magical.  Last night I took a camera with me to capture what makes it so magical.  Neither the camera nor my photo skills were strong enough to capture the sense of the moment.  I still thought I would share a little of my tradition with all of you.

(Click on any picture to see it in full size)

For weeks this is what the lights have looked like

Before the lights it is still very pretty

And then they flip the switch

It is very difficult to photograph fireworks

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Come back tomorrow for another installment of weird restaurant stories.  For some daytime pictures of The Plaza, check out my review of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair.  For some great aerial photographs of the lighting ceremony, check out the KCTV5 slideshow.

 

Recommended Reading 11/22

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Recommended Reading

I recently had my first real Christmas experience of the season.  I was driving to work and got stuck behind someone who obviously had no idea how to drive outside of the suburbs.  Parking was incredibly tough to find.  Once I was parked, a group of shoppers asked for directions to a jewelry store.  Then as I approached work I heard the familiar sounds of one of our local panhandlers poorly playing the only Christmas song she knows.  In the words of the song we will all be sick of soon, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Not so fast though.  We still have Thanksgiving to look forward to.  This week I wanted to bring you some stories that will make your turkey day more enjoyable or at least provide interesting conversation starters.  We all know you are tired of having the same conversations over football every year.  Here are a few topics that might delay the turkey nap a little longer.

We all know the drill of getting overly full on Thanksgiving.  CBS News published a great article on how to keep from blowing your diet on Thanksgiving.  They also have a great article on avoiding allergic reactions amongst your guests.  This is always good information to have because a memorable Thanksgiving is not worth sending someone to the emergency room.  For all other things Thanksgiving, Yahoo has you covered.

Pretty soon calories are going to be much more at the forefront of table conversation.  Starting next year restaurants with over 20 units will have to start disclosing calorie counts on their menus.  This should make for some very interesting conversations at tables.  MSNBC has already started talking to operators about how they will handle the transition.  It is time for us all to be planning ahead on this one.

One of the ways people will react is to start cooking at home.  My favorite source for delicious healthy recipes is Sit. Stay. Cook. I think she sums up the philosophy of the website well on the opening page. “It’s easy to make food taste great when you fry in oil, wrap it in bacon, or slather it in heavy cream. Try making healthy food taste delicious. That’s a real skill.”  Her recipes are ambitious, but her posts walk you through them in an easy to follow manner that will allow you to pull it off.

All this talk of turkey day may be a little outdated.  Some people avoid turkey on Thanksgiving.  My girlfriend informed me that I would not be one of them this year.  For those of you looking for something a little different, seafood is always an option. To find out what fish to seek out and what to avoid, there is no better source than Seafood Watch.  This is my first stop for all questions seafood.

Finally, lets get back to the real meaning of the holiday.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we have and giving back to others.  Last week I read a great story about a chain called Raising Cane’s that really integrates this into their business model.  The son of Beppo from Buca di Beppo fame has a new concept in Las Vegas.  They have made giving back an integral part of their marketing strategy and should be seen as an example for other companies to follow.

One thing that most of us can be grateful this year is having a job.  I will count Native Napkin over at Sorry, Not My Table as one of those.  For those of you who cannot be grateful for employment, he has some very humorous tips on finding a new job.  This post is potentially not safe for work.  It is still well worth a read.

Thanksgiving only comes once a year.  I hope you all are able to take the day off to enjoy with family and friends.  I will be wrapping up an early dinner to enjoy my favorite part of living in Kansas City.  Just a few blocks from where I live the Plaza Lighting Ceremony will occur.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the coolest Thanksgiving Day tradition in the country, here is a video of last year’s ceremony.  My restaurant is right in the middle on those lights and I will be enjoying the official start to the most lucrative time of the year.

Thank You!

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If they are looking for trophy ideas...

I wasn’t planning on writing today, but a huge thank you is in order to all of you.  Yesterday my post titled “Ten Reasons Serving Is Not Like Your Job” crushed my previous best day.  Huge props to Tony over at Tony’s Kansas City and Yellowcat at Do You Do That At Home for linking to it.  I would also like to thank all of those people who shared it on facebook.  I don’t want to sound too self-serving, but that is a post we all benefit from people reading.

That is not the only thanks to be dispensed today.  I was greeted with congratulations from my General Manager this morning.  I had to stop and ask why they were in order.  That is when I found out that I had won The Pitch’s 2010 Reader’s Choice for Best Server in KC.  I cannot even express how honored I am to win this award.  This might be the coolest thing I have ever won.  Yes, they did misspell my name, but I blame that on Charles Feruzza (intentional payback).  They could have looked it up in the article they wrote about me a few months ago, but it does nothing to diminish my excitement.

I really am honored and want to thank all of you who voted.  This really does make my day.  I also wanted to congratulate Tony for winning best blogger, Blanc Burgers and Bottles for best burger, and The Flea Market for best trivia.  All were reader’s choice winners.  As I forewarned in my initial post on the topic, the reader’s picks were pretty much dismissed and they chose whom they wanted to write about for their winners.  I think the reader’s choices are still a better measure and I count these guys as the real winners.

Now it is time to head back to work and start building for the repeat.

Best of KC 2010

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Every year the local alternative weekly rolls out their ballot for the “Best of Kansas City.”  They solicit a bunch of votes and then decide on their own who wins relegating the actual winner to a single line at the bottom.  Sounds like fun huh?  This year I decided to use this blog to publish my winners.  If you are not from KC, this might be kinda dull.  May I recommend one of the tabs above to find something interesting?  If you are from KC, you probably get a little intimidated by these polls.  For this reason I am publishing my complete ballot to help you fill in any holes you might have.  This is just my opinion, but it might inspire a few places to check out.

3) Best Media Personality- Tony from Tony’s KC

4) Best Politician- Bill Skaggs

5) Best Do-Gooder – Alonzo Washington

6) Best Blogger- Tony’s KC

7) Best Facebook Group- Tips on Improving your Tips

8) Best Place for a First Date- Blue Koi

9) Best Place for a Breakup- Buzzard’s Beach

10) Best Place to Meet Mr or Ms Right- Crossroads @ Grinders

11) Best Place to Meet Mr or Ms Right Now- Tomfooleries (or so I hear)

12) Best Place for a Night Out- Country Club Plaza

13) Best Day Trip- Columbia, MO

14) Best Grocery Store- McGonigles

15) Best College Athlete- Blain Gabbert

16) Best Professional Athlete- Tamba Hali (best tipper on the Chiefs)

17) Best Coach- Gary Pinkel

18) Best Sports Blogger- Nick Wright

19) Best Sexy Musician- Bob Walkenhorst (not based on personal opinion, but us grey haired guys gotta stick together)

20) Best Cover Band- T-Marv and Hammerdown (at my sister’s request)

21) Best Outdoor Festival- Plaza Art Fair

22) Best Public Art- Plaza Art Fair

23) Best Art Exhibit- Andy Warhol at Union Station

24) Best Artist- Matthew Crim

25) Best Actor- Brett Buffum

26) Best Actress- Jessalyn Kincaid

27) Best Theater Production- 1776

28) Best Homegrown Product- Boulevard Beer

29) Best New Restaurant- Westport Café (I defy you to name more than 5 that opened in the last year)

30) Best Brunch- M&S Grill (Walk in, sit down, and eat before you can make it to the front page of the waitlist anywhere else in town)

31) Best Burger- Blanc (for the last 15 year the Flea Market has gotten my vote, but gotta give it to Blanc)

32) Best Pizza- Northern Lights

33) Best Vegetarian Food- Eden’s Alley

34) Best Late Night Food- El Rancho

35) Best Place to Eat at the Bar- Westport Flea Market

36) Best Server- David Hayden (better to lack humility than play favorites)

37) Best Bartender- Penny Shultz (this is a no win for me too, but Penny trained me.)

38) Best New Bar- Grunhauer (also best place to discuss you fixed gear bike)

39) Best Smoking Patio- Kelly’s

40) Best Happy Hour- Blanc

41) Best Sports Bar- Chappels

42) Best Karaoke Bar- Westport Flea Market

43) Best Trivia Night- Westport Flea Market

44) Best Neighborhood Bar North- 54th Street on Englewood

45) Best Neighborhood Bar South- Coach’s

46) Best Neighborhood Bar East- 54th Street Independence

47) Best Neighborhood Bar West- Danny’s

48) What Did We Miss:

Category: Pompous Food Critic

Winner: Charles Ferruzza

Those are my picks.  You can complete your ballot by visiting the Best of KC Poll at the Pitch Website.  If any of my winners would like to receive a personally signed certificate signifying they won, you must be really desperate for things to hand on the wall.  I will still make you one though.  Visit again in October when I will share the link to who they decided should win.

Tomorrow I will get back to server related stuff.  I promise.  My 100th post week has been fun, but I want to get back to writing about serving and how to make more money at it.  Thank you for indulging me. This week.  Nest week we get down to business again.

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