FOODIE Rule #6 - "Thou shall commit random acts of foodie-ness, suddenly and with no thought of compensation or return, but simply out of the goodness of your Foodie heart. Thou shall take it upon yourself to help everyone you meet find good food, not in a boastful or proud way, but humbly. You do it because of the genuine joy you get out of connecting one human being with a food experience worthy of their time, money and tastebuds. And by helping others you will be creating better Foodie karma for the universe and yourself."
My latest realization about my Foodie quest came to me rather slowly. I had been actively reading and posting on Chowhound for a couple of years and I was really enjoying it. Some of the people I met online chatting about food, I actually ended up meeting in person. It was during one of these meetings, over dinner at Cafe Provence, that I asked this person: Why do you post on Chowhound? What do you get out of that experience?
This person thought for a moment and said: "Well, most of the people who post are people coming to town for a business trip or on vacation and they just want to know where the best places to eat are based on the area of town they will be staying or because of the event that is bringing them to town. I love racking my brain trying to come up with the very best restaurant recommendation based on their circumstances. I love helping people find good food in KC."
"Like Kansas City Good Food Ambassadors", I thought later, driving home from that dinner meeting. I was also struck by how much time this person is on Chowhound and how many people they have helped with their advice and postings . . .the only thing they want is to live their life and help people find good food. Not for the money, power and glory . . .not to make a name for themselves, but strictly to be of service to others.
I wish I were that good of a person. I am going to try to be that person. . . .hence Foodie Rule #6.
I was not looking for an opportunity to put Rule #6 to the test, but it found me. I read The Pitch every week for: 1) Charles' column, watching with interest as he morphs into Kansas City's future food historian, 2) to see what restaurants are advertising, 3) to read about Foodie events going on in KC that weekend and 4) to study the help wanted ads to see who is getting ready to open their doors and approximately when.
I was reading the paper a couple of weeks ago when I came across a letter to the Editor by Allen Kleinbeck called "Ex-Chubby's Chaser".
Here is part of the letter he wrote: "Actually, my friend Ed and I gave up on Chubby's a couple of months ago. After the founding family left, the food went steadily downhill, especially the eggs, which they quite simply don't know how to cook. We'd order an omelet or basted eggs (actually, they're steamed on the grill), and invariably, the whites wouldn't be set. The last time we were there, Ed ordered two basted eggs, took a look at them and asked that they be returned to the kitchen. When they came back, they were fried brown. The two of us were also "fried" and never went back. We do miss the wait staff."
I agree with him. Chubby's has really gone downhill over the last 15 years or so I've been in KC. It is sad, because when I moved to Kansas City in 1991 right after college, Chubby's was a great late night place to sop up some alcohol. It was the place to go for biscuits and gravy with a side order of local color. It was an icon. It isn't anymore. I knew it had hit rock bottom when my Dad who is a diner lover told me he no longer wanted to go to Chubby's for breakfast. What? Really!
So, I didn't think much about that letter until I received an email from one of the daughter's of the family that used to own Chubby's. I had emailed Michelle Inzenga who was at the Italian Festival last year selling her Dream Cookies, to ask her about where to get some more. They were the best traditional Italian cookies I have ever had.
She wrote me a nice email back about how she was doing her cookie thing out of her family restaurant called Arnone's Hot Spot Cafe in the West Bottoms.
This is part of her email response to me: "I am actually at the restaurant Arnone's Hot Spot Cafe in the West Bottoms. We did a change up in January and my uncle owns the other restaurant in the East Bottoms. My Mom and I own this one at 1230 Woodwether Rd. We are open Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 7:00 a.m. until 1 p.m. We offer a wide variety of foods from breakfast to lunch and we have awesome breakfast & lunch specials! We are the former owners and workers from the old Chubby's."
All weekend, I thought to myself: "That guy who wrote to The Pitch needs to know that the people he misses from Chubby's have opened a new place in the West Bottoms." So, I got out my old Pitch and looked for the guys name who wrote the letter. Then I Googled him and found an email address (I know pretty "stalker-like" behavior . . .but I was on a mission.) and sent him the following email.
I saw your letter to the Editor in The Pitch over the weekend,
and it struck a cord with me, as I agree with you about Chubby's.
It is sad when a landmark place changes hands and the food,
service and atmosphere goes downhill.
However, I recently heard that there is a restaurant in the
West Bottoms open for breakfast and lunch that is owned
and managed by the family that owned Chubby's. It's called
Arnone's Hot Spot Café. I've been emailing with one of the
owners, Michelle Inzenga, and it is she and her mother that
had Chubby's that are now running this place. Apparently,
they also have an uncle who has a similar place in the East
Bottoms called Tony's.
I am a local KC Foodie, and all weekend I thought about your
letter and I thought if there was a way to contact you with
this tidbit, I would try. I hope you don't find this email too
forward, I am just a foodie trying to help. :)"
Within a day I received his response:
"Hello. No, your email wasn't too forward at all. As
a matter of fact, since I eat breakfast out every
single day I'll head for the Bottoms and check out the
diners that you mentioned.
We went to Chubby's for years and really liked the
family that owned it and considered them to be friends
of a sort. We also loved the ladies on the wait staff
who are a terrific bunch of women and who are missed
by yours truly. Then the family left and, well, you
know the rest.
Thanks again for writing.
That was soooo much fun. It was exciting to think I connected these two people who needed to be reconnected. I helped someone find good food. I have not actually been to Arnone's Hot Spot Cafe, but I plan to go. Because after reading this article in the KC Star last week called: "Chubby's back with Family." it is clear I need to go see Michelle, get some cookies, and figure out this "family" tree.
Perhaps my new friend, Allen, will now have two potential places to go for a Chubby's style breakfast. The old Chubby's now under the original owners management, and Arnone's Hot Spot Cafe in the West Bottoms.
Anything for good food, anything. JV