A Conversion – Inside and Out!
This week, I’d like to share with you a restaurant review that I did for the Catholic Review, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s paper, for Catholic news and culture. It’s about a local restaurant that was featured on the Food Network’s hit show, “Restaurant Impossible,” with master chef, Robert Irvine. I love this show because it reflects the pain but also the power of “conversion” by showing to the failing restaurant owners the “sins” in the restaurant industry, while giving them hope through a transformation process. You can see the food and Faith analogy very clearly. Enjoy this faithful foodie adventure and culinary confession.
Conversion – in Faith or in the food business – transforms us inside and out. That’s what Zandi’s Grill in Millersville, MD, experienced. Located near my new assignment, but obscured in the back of a business plaza, Zandi’s once-failing restaurant received an extreme makeover by Food Network’s muscled, meaningfully meal-minded superstar-chef, Robert Irvine, in his hit show “Restaurant Impossible.” He transformed the restaurant and its owners, with just $10,000 and 48 hours. It’s rather dramatic seeing how the change of heart is often more difficult than physical changes of the space. But both are needed in a true conversion.
Zandi’s has about 15 tabletops and a bar area that seats about 12 people. Bright colors, modern fixtures, and a signature eye-catching wall design create a whimsical place for breakfast or lunch – the only meals served there. The layout restricts groups or large families, but it’s ideal for singles or couples.
Steadfast time slots for breakfast and lunch restricts the menu choices. Brunch is not an option, and this presented challenges in evaluating their food. I was just too late to get an omelet! Disappointing – especially since an omelet, featured on the show, is easy to make (but also easy to mess up). The polite waitress apologetically explained how the kitchen was too busy, even though the restaurant was only half-filled when I arrived.
The dishes I ordered were well-prepared and flavorful, even if the signature burger (bacon and blue cheese with a fried egg) was overcooked, not medium-rare as I requested. Hand-cut fries, a flavored aioli, creamy crab cake appetizers seared on a griddle, and the tilapia sliders were tasty and appropriately priced. However, it took 30 minutes to arrive! The milkshake, also featured on the show, was typical but a sweet ending.
My biggest concern was the slow service. While the solo waitress and one of the owners were polite and friendly, they seemed frazzled and unprepared – not an uncommon experience according to online reviews. It is obvious that they need more staff – especially since the Food Network show gave them much-needed exposure and a boost for success, i.e., busyness! The show revealed how the owners lacked passion in their approach before the renovation. My experience at Zandi’s indicated an ongoing need for conversion in this area. But it’s understandable, since a conversion of heart and a change of old ways don’t happen in just 48 hours, but a lifetime.
I enjoyed visiting Zandi’s, especially since I’m a fan of Chef Irvine’s show. I wish them well. But this experience reminded me that conversion doesn’t come instantly. Like this restaurant, our Faith communities need to be ready to serve the hungry crowds. If we aren’t ready, they will go elsewhere. And, if our churches aren’t packed on Sundays – like a good restaurant – then perhaps we may need ongoing conversion ourselves: a transformation inside and out. And Zandi’s proves it is possible.
Check out this video of a parish in North Carolina – where my friend is the pastor, and check out how a transformed church has resulted in a vibrant and packed church every Sunday! Click Here.
|Let us pray: Father in Heaven, help us to experience a conversion of our life both inside and out – which affects not only our physical changes, but also the interior transformation of heart and mind. May all of those who seek to improve experience the grace of someone who is willing to intervene and point to the One who can give us a New Way, New Hope, and New Life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
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Posted in Faithful Foodie | 4 Comments
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