Monthly Archives: October 2007

Communal Tables at Einstein Bagels in Downtown Naperville Create Great Memories

As we are almost into week five of my wife’s project at Disney with two weeks to go, I’ve acquired a special nickname from my boys… Mr. Momdad.  It’s been an interesting journey and despite the occaisional bout with fatigue, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

One of my favorite frequent rituals with the boys is to head down to Einstein Bagels on Jackson Avenue on either Saturday or Sunday morning for some bagels.  While most kids dream of doughnuts, mine clammor for the chewy and shiny shellacked faux doughnut-like bread inner tubes.  My New York side of the family cringe in blasphemous disgust at Einstein’s creative variety of what they consider “gummy bagels” but my boys and I love them.  Not to call her out or anything, but I’ll let you in on a little secret between you and me… my wife loves them too.  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

My little guy is our epicurean minimalist in his regular order of a schmear-free plain bagel, not cut, not toasted.  On this particular visit, he became preoccupied as the gigantic bagel dangled from his little fingers.  For all the parents out there, I think you know what happens next.  The spongy bagel lept to freedom from his distracted clutch and seemingly in slow motion plunged in a downward-spiral to the ground-level graveyard of fallen bagels.  Futile recovery efforts were quickly abandoned as more than five seconds flashed before our eyes before we discovered the final resting place of the rolling baked good.   

Given the fact I had used a credit card, had no cash and was staring at a long morning bagel line, I decided to throw myself at the mercy of the cashier and plead a persuasively compelling case of hardship and despair on behalf of my pint-size client.  I argued he had yet to reach the adequate developmental capacity to differentiate a firmly clutched bagel from a dangling bagel and pointed to his hysterical crying to show my client’s genuine remorse.  With all credit to Einstein’s great customer service, the cashier secured a fresh new bagel to replace the fallen without hesitation.  Catstrophe averted.

As for my oldest, he’s a sun-dried tomato, cut but not toasted, cream cheese schmear guy with a side mountain of blueberry muffin.  He can always be counted on to secure his bread wheel but sharing is another matter all together.  Nonetheless, he always stands at the ready to assist the rest of us in random product sampling… purely for quality control of course. 

For me, it is perhaps the most blasphemously blasphemous examples of bagel exploitation… the roasted red pepper, tomato and pesto bagel and a large cup of my morning Diet Cokefee. 

On this particular morning, as we often do, we took a seat at one of the large communal tables which may comfortably seat a family of quintuplets, but for the rest of us typically means sharing with others.  Shortly thereafter, two families with children arrived and the two wives asked if it was okay to sit with us as their husbands braved the long line to hunt for spongy faux dougnut-like bread.  We were, of course, more than happy for them to join us as they were just in time for the little guy’s bagel juggling act.  Within a matter of moments, I realized that I had fully made the transition to Mr. Momdad as I became engulfed in a conversation of secret obsessions with our kid’s puffy banana-flavored rice finger snacks, growth phases, the unique personalities of our children and defensive parental strategies.  By the time the husbands arrived, we were all old friends already and my little bagel juggler had already completed his big finish. 

I now have much greater respect the my wife’s close network of momfriends and can easily see how addictive it is to get together to laugh and commiserate.  Thank you Einsteins Bagels for providing a source for so many fun family memories… especially for your most recent support in the epic saga of Mr. Momdad.  See you soon.  SM 

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Essential Leadership Philosophy for Naperville’s Future

Based upon numerous conversations and four years of analysis regarding the state of leadership philosophy and practice in Naperville, I have some thoughts to share.  In many ways, I’ve gathered that while Naperville has become a big worldly city, it still has a strong undercurrent of insular small town politics, which is both good and bad. 

As we say in the South you don’t want to “give away the farm” but at the same time you want to avoid excessive inward-thought which creates barriers to new thinking and acceptance of new types of leaders.  Inward-thought can also impair growth and prosperity as those who tightly clutch the reigns might ignore regional, national and even global opportunity.  Social and political “silos” will stifle progress and prosperity.   

Naperville is far from the same place it was 25 years ago and many would agree much of the change has been for the better.  There has been a migratory socio-cultural urban shift which continues to evolve.  In response to the “New Naperville” the past and present leadership of Naperville needs to find ways to leverage it’s new demographic and fresh leaders who have arrived in town. 

Even more, it’s important that we not think of Naperville as a singular town anymore; rather, we must embrace the social evolution and continuing expansion of the dizzying geographic patchwork which Naperville has become.  One major example would be the City Council.  Though Naperville is now viewed as North and South with multiple townships spanning county and city lines, the City Council still consists of “at-large” members meaning there is no ward system or method for achieving balanced geographic representation.  Even more, an at-large City Council creates an environment for political insularity.  Imagine what might happen if the United States Senate consisted of 100 at-large seats which were decided by popular vote in a national election.  Good luck Rhode Island!

It’s wonderful to take great pride in Naperville’s past and to celebrate local families spanning mutliple generations.  At the same time, the next great chapter in Naperville’s history, if it is to be written, must include a new cast of community and business leaders with fresh new perspective, progressive-mindedness and global perspective.

What will fuse it all together?  It is my deepest hope and dream that collaborative arts and imagination will become a more dominant force within our community.  “Two” will always make the road shorter.

Let’s not become so insular that we exclude fresh passion, vision and talent from the next volume of Naperville’s history.  SM 

My Vote for Best Sushi in Naperville – Kiku

Last week I had the rare opportunity to have the house all to myself for the first time since my youngest son was born.  Though I had to return to work after two weeks in Disney, the boys stayed behind for a third week.  Needless to say, the moment I arrived home from the airport I stood there in the foyer looking around and contemplating the burning question only the father of young children can ask in this rarest of moments… “what do I do now???”.

I didn’t take long to remember that I could go anywhere I wanted, stay as long as I wanted and, most importantly, choose where to take in dinner while basking in the temporary tranquility of my retro pseudo-bachelor life.  For me, there is only type of food that I cannot force my children or wife to go near…. sushi. 

While there are plenty of good spots for sushi in Naperville, my personal favorite is Kiku over on Aurora Avenue deceptively tucked away in the Menards shopping center.  Regardless of your preference, one item you must order is the aptly named Dynamite Rolls which consist of a combination of lobster tempura and crab in an amazing sauce.  Also be sure to try the Kiku Rainbow roll which puts a great spin on the traditional rainbow roll.  Another regular selection for me isthe spicy tuna rolls which are rich and delicious. 

Over my rare week of freedom, I dropped by Kiku not once, but twice to grab some of my favorite sushi.  It certainly did not disappoint in terms of food.  The restaurant itself, which combines hibachi grills and a sushi bar, is in the process of expanding into the space next door as well.  Having had the unfortunate experience to eat at the tired hibatchi chain, Benihanas, while in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, the chefs at Kiku can perform circles around the chain chefs.  True talent indeed.  The best part about carry-out is I can sit their and enjoy the performance without running the risk of having my eyebrows grazed by the theatrical flames leaping from the grill.  

My only complaint about Kiku is I find the hospitality to be consistenly lacking.  A friendly suggestion to the management, if someone is sitting alone at the bar waiting for take-out long before the dinner crowd hits and you walk by five times looking as though you are trying to find something to do, go ahead and stop for a moment to say hello.  Patrons like it when you acknowledge their presence with a little special treatment.  Other than that, keep up the good workSM

Kiku Japanese Steakhouse, www.mykiku.com, 2764 Aurora Avenue, Naperville – 630-305-3355

Trading the World of Naperville for the World of Disney

Dear Naperville,

I carry with me a burden of guilt upon my shoulders that needs to be released.  You know that I care deeply about you and that I’m fully committed to building a bright and prosperous future with you.  With that said, there is something my family and I need to confess and I hope you can find it in your heart to respond with forgiveness rather than jealousy.  I’m not sure exactly how to say this, so I’ll come right out and say that we have been unfaithful this fall.  There has been another “World” in our life, but it’s just a brief fling… nowhere near as much fun as the Last Fling. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that we’ve spent quite a bit of time at a non-Naperville food-oriented festival.  Yes, it’s true, we’ve eaten ribs somewhere other than Gemato’s or Ribfest, but please trust me when I say, they were nowhere near as good.  There have been many strolls along a different kind of “walk”… a Boardwalk.  We’ve spent quite a bit of time on Main Street, but this one has a big castle sitting in the middle of the street. 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Over the past month, we’ve spent more time living in the World of Disney rather than the world of Naperville.  My wife is managing a client project at EPCOT which has required her to be there for the full run of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, which translates into seven weeks.  To keep the family togther, I returned last Sunday from a two week visit and the boys just returned from a full three weeks at Walt Disney World. 

Given this up-close and personal Disney experience, I must conclude that our Naperville is a place Walt Disney himself would have appreciated.  For anyone who has read the Walt Disney’s biographies or has followed the story behind Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s history know that Walt envisioned an idyllic reflection of midwestern life as is evidenced on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.  Disney’s vision for Walt Disney World also included an in-depth exploration of what the community of the future might look like. 

Though I’ve visited Walt Disney World many times over my lifetime, this particular extended visit allowed me to take a much closer look in pondering this great vision of Americana.  My conclusion fills me with even greater enthsusiasm for Naperville in the fact that while Walt Disney World tells these stories through technology and exceptional facades, our community brings it all to life… past, present and future.  Though I love the Walt Disney World experience, it’s good to be back home. 

The World Through the Eyes of Naperville Filmmaker Mike Krumlauf

Being involved in filmmaking myself, you can only imagine how excited I was to recently discover the work of Naperville’s own Mike Krumlauf.  Once you view the sample of Mike’s talents below, you might be surprised to learn that he is only a Junior at Naperville North High School.

Based on his online presence on www.youtube.com and  www.youaretv.com, it’s clear to see that he is serious about his artistic talent and already making a name for himself. 

I caught up with Mike recently via email and learned that he has been shooting video since the age of nine, which is a milestone he says changed his life forever.  His passion resides in the realm of cinematography and music video.  Though he’s in high school today, Mike already has his sights set on making a living with his art. 

Like many of us who have grown up with a strong artistic orientation, I related to Mike’s candid remarks about how filmmaking opened up a welcome place for him in this world to express his thoughts, perspectives and ideas. 

I encourage you to check out Mike’s work and keep an eye out for him as he continues to emerge in this new media world.  SM 

       

Where Did the World of Naperville Go?

A Daunting Tale of Two Weeks Without Internet Access

First of all, an open message to Naperville that it is good to be home after being out of town for almost three weeks.  With my wife managing a special project down at EPCOT in Walt Disney World for an extended duration, I’ve spent the last two weeks with the boys at my second favorite place in the world (second only to Naperville of course).  I will have much more to write about our experiences in the near future.

Though the boys and I had a terrific time, the most harrowing aspect of our visit was the fact our condo had no internet access and given my parental duties and my wife’s schedule, there was not a single chance to get out to grab a wi-fi connection at a Starbucks or elsewhere.  Thus, as you may have noticed, the World of Naperville has been in radio silence.  I can’t remember the last time I was offline for this amount of time. 

The good news is I’m back and have allot to talk about in the coming week.  Stay tuned!

SM