My Evolution to Revolution (Grill)Written by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A woman wearing a black apron greeted us, “Sir do you have a reservation?”. I am almost giggled instantly feeling like she was putting me on, “No” I responded. “The dining room is booked full for the night, but you are welcome to sit at the bar, if you find an open place.” the hostess answered with a smile. She must’ve seen the complete look of confusion on my face, there was no way I was hiding it. As my eyes panned from left to right, really looking at the establishment for the first time, my mind finally connected her words and my sight, the place was packed. The doors we’d just walked through had to be a magical gateway to another city or time. This restaurant couldn’t be in Toledo, could it? This was my personal eatery evolution and first trip to Revolution Grill.
I was raised only a mile and half away from where I sat. My parents both worked growing up, my father a welder and my mom was a secretary in a Doctor’s office. It was a very typical blue collar, middle class upbringing. My family took a vacation a year, we alway’s had a pool and we went out to eat once a week.
Going out to eat was and still is my dad’s favorite way to spend his very hard earned money. When I was younger, I think my dad chose our regular luxury for two reasons, it gave me a mom a break for making our 4 O’clock supper and my dad is an eater. The Baumhowers weren’t adventurous while picking our culinary locations, we weren’t exactly foodies. We went to three places, The Elbo Room, Adams Place and on occasion Ahmed’s Steak House (only the small original one near K-Mart, never the other, never).
It was an A.D.D. choice when I turned the minivan’s wheel into Revolution’s parking lot on Monroe Street. It wasn’t until after the hostess’ words had connected that I realized of what I was wearing; a red hoodie, a Bluth Frozen Banana stand t-shirt, my nicest jeans and Nikes. This would have never been allowed when I was a child, I visualize my mother shaking her head while reading this and mentally apologizing “He wasn’t raised like that. He should be in a collared shirt and wearing his finest corduroy pants”. No one said anything about my attire except my conscience.
After a minute, we found a spot for two at the bar, directly in front of the open kitchen. It felt like an upgrade to a dinner and a show. Our server came over and handed us two tablets, comparable to iPads, that had leather covers. I felt my head shake in disbelief as I opened my device and found out, it was a menu. My mind nearly exploded. As I sat there mere feet from the Bier Stube, and what was once my mom’s favorite Food Town; the thought of my Dad being handed an iPad to order his food made me laugh out loud. To see him swipe right on a screen looking for the steak, would make me almost pee myself.
There were very specific reasons for the restaurants we frequented in my youth. The Elbo Room had spaghetti, my sister and I’s favorite. Adam’s Place had the best ribs in town, my mom’s favorite. Ahmed’s still has the best steak in Toledo, and was my dad’s favorite. However to be fair, my dad always ordered the steak no matter where we went. I’ve later realized that steak, the largest cut offered on the menu, was the way my father rewarded himself. He worked overtime in very hot or very cold warehouses to support his family. Some men buy a new car every year, others own a boat, my dad invested in beef, one of his true loves.
It’s been 20 years since I’ve left that house on Harschel Drive. I have picked up the ritual of taking my family out to eat on a near weekly basis. My kids are the ones with tablets, iPods and phones in their hands, I’d been lucky to get a pack of four crayons and the backside of the paper menu to entertain myself.
I remember my father’s wallet coming out when the bill arrived, his paycheck cashed and waiting to be removed, the obnoxious public discussion between my parents of how much is 15% and if our waiter deserved 20%. It was painful to watch that man count his money, saying goodbye. There was always a moment where he had an awkward look on his face, but every time he accepted the amount, made amends, smiled and told the server “it was all set”. My father has always secretly been a great tipper.
Two decades later, my family’s restaurant bill including my four children is always half of what my parents used to pay. We normally choose restaurants where children eat for free and have numerous TVs. My children have never ordered steak.
The Revolution Grill is the perfect glimpse of greatness this city could aspire to be. They are doing something new, from the way the food is presented to types of the tastes they offer. The price is reasonable for the amazing atmosphere and beer selection. It carries on Toledo’s tradition of having television in every restaurant, it has one. For the 90 minutes I sat there, I felt I was in a different city. It’s not as if I have never been in a higher-classed and evolved eatery, I have. They have just never been in my neighborhood.
I ordered the steak. Evolution is a slow process.