My first job (besides delivering the Peoria Journal Star, a few babysitting gigs, and a brief foray into corn detasseling) was at the old Miller’s Cliftwood restaurant in Morton. I was 15 years old, washing dishes in the backroom. I couldn’t drive yet, so most nights my mom would pick me up when I got off work. It was usually after midnight, so she’d have to crawl out of bed to do so. (She also drove me around on Sunday mornings delivering newspapers—when the paper was so thick I couldn’t fit very many into my carrier bag!)
Later, I worked at Subway (as a “sandwich artist”) and at the River Station as a banquet waiter. I learned a lot from these jobs—not only about the restaurant business, but about people in general. Working in a restaurant is good for that. You see people at their best, and sometimes at their worst.
When I sat down with restaurateur Troy Ummel for my article in this issue, we got to talking. Turns out, one of his first jobs was also at the Cliftwood! We missed each other by a few years, but remember many of the same people. I also went to high school with Ummel’s kitchen manager, Jake Stratton, so we had a lot to talk about.
In any case, our team is excited to introduce our very first food issue—something we hope will become an annual tradition. We’ve covered a lot of territory, but of course there is so much more… which we look forward to highlighting in a future issue. (As always, send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org!) We’re also hard at work on 40 Leaders Under Forty (in November) and the Women of Influence Forum (in December), with some exciting announcements coming soon. Finally, we continue to build our online local ticketing portal 309Tix—and hope to partner with your organization in the months to come!
Now, back to food. Special thanks to all the restaurants who supported this issue—and cheers to restaurant workers everywhere! It’s a tough and often thankless gig—this I know from personal experience. So make sure to tip your bartenders and servers well. —Jonathan Wright, Editor-In-Chief