Running the Bases with Small Businesses

Augies Pizza - Pizza, Dinning & Baseball

February 07, 2022 Randy Rohde Season 2 Episode 11
Running the Bases with Small Businesses
Augies Pizza - Pizza, Dinning & Baseball
Show Notes Transcript

Running the Bases today with Danny Jenks, Executive Chef, and Owner of Augie’s Pizza. The classically trained executive chef shares his experiences of growing up in the restaurant business,  what it was like going out on his own, attending Culinary School at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park New York,  Working his way up through the restaurant business, and finally coming home taking ownership of the restaurant his immigrant Grandfather started over 50 years ago and making it his own.

Danny also shares his experiences working for 4 years as a batboy for the Cleveland Indians.  What it was like to be a part of the team, and how his family has had the unique honor of cooking for the Visiting Teams for over 20 years.  

It’s a show that had our Host Randy salivating - just imagining what it was like being in the locker room after the 2017 World Series Game  - celebrating with the Chicago Cubs.

It’s a great show as we learn about Family, Tradition, Going out on your own - and in this show some really fun baseball.

To learn more about Danny and Augies Pizza visit: www.Augiescatering.com

Best Sauce in Cleveland!


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Randy:

I'm Randy Rohde and I'm fascinated with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Plus I love baseball. Every show I sit down with a small business owner and we discuss they're running the basis of entrepreneurship. We throw the ball around on strategy management, execution and innovation, plus a little fun baseball tart. Hey, thanks for joining us today. Settle in, grab your cracker jacks and you know what they say? And it's a great day for a ball came. And let me tell you, I'm super excited for today's show because we're going to be talking about two of my favorite things, good food and baseball. So it can't get better than that. , this is Randy Rohde and you've got running the basis with small business. And our guest today is a third generation restaurant owner. The grandson of Italian immigrants who came to America, opened a pizza shop about 60 years ago, or so with hopes of leaving a restaurant legacy for their children. He literally grew up in the kitchen. His parents kept his plate plan right next to the restaurant kitchen while they worked growing up in the family business, he easily could have stayed, but. Branched out on his own attending the prestigious culinary Institute of America in Hyde park, New York and working his way up the ranks of restaurants eventually becoming the executive chef of a 400 seat upscale restaurant, just outside of Cleveland. The love of family and tradition brought him back into the family business, where today he has taken ownership of one of the original restaurants. His grandfather opened many, many years ago, and he is now making it his own. So please welcome. When we've got executive chef restaurant, owner winner of the best sauce of Cleveland pizza fest . Sports lover and all around. Good guy. The owner of one of my personal favorite restaurants here locally. Augie's pizza, Danny Jenks, Danny. Welcome to the show.

Danny:

I give an intro. It's weird when you sit down and here I'm like, wow. All right, man. That's pretty exciting. All right. It's a good day. All right. I love it. This guy is

Randy:

cool. Absolutely, man. So there's so much great material here. Again, the research team has done a great job pulling this stuff together, and I do have to tell you, I, I love I just love your restaurant and for our listeners, Danny and I were just talking about this before we hit the recording. But about not quite two years ago. , but in 20, , for several years, my office, our original office in studios was right behind Danny's restaurant Augie's and I don't know, I've eaten over there. I used to try to like, I'm going to eat over there every week, you know, at least once, , love, love the ribs. I'd see Danny all the time. And, , but he never shared, I don't think this story that I'm going to ask you about. And so this is pretty exciting and we're getting, Danny has got some incredible background. And so we'll tap into this as well, but let's start with this question. You're ready. Yes, sir. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not going to ask you for the secret sauce, but where were you directly? After the seventh game of the 2016 world series. And for those folks, that's the Cubs and Indians world series game seven was right here in Cleveland. And where were you?

Danny:

Well, I was actually on my couch in tears, but before that we actually catered the food for the Cubs pregame and the Cubs post-game meal after. So, my parents, we did it, we did the post-game meal, we, or the pregame meal, we dropped it off. It was a pretty light meal, nothing too crazy. It was a pretty big game for everybody. So we dropped it off and then dropped that off. And then later we came back and brought the post-game meal, you know, a couple, you know, usually we bring in about the fifth inning and we dropped it off and I went home and my parents were at the game and brothers at the game. I said, Nope, I want to I want to sit on the couch and be by myself and thank God I did because it was a miserable evening, but it was pretty crazy. It was fun, but pretty experience, pretty crazy to know that, you know, we fed the team before the game and after the game also.

Randy:

Fabulous. And so you say pretty miserable. I am a lifelong Cubs fan, so it's all in perspective, right? Yeah, I

Danny:

saw, I know. And I remember talking about with Randy when, you know, talking baseball and he'd come with his cops. I'm like, oh man, like, come on, Randy. I'm not in like gym, but it's all right. And we've we've moved on.

Randy:

So that is incredible. So how long have your family, you and your family been doing, I guess this connection or association with with the Indians or now the guardians, how long have you guys been doing the catering with those

Danny:

cases for about almost 20 years now. So almost since the since they've been at Jacob's field they kind of changed some of the parameters of how the food went. So in the beginning, early in the. Two thousands when they first started doing it, we would bring meals, mainly post-game meals we would do. So it would be, you know, pork chops, steaks chicken. It would be a whole kind of variety of food you know, for them after the game. So it was kind of cool. We always did that. And then it kind of progressed into some teams, wanted other stuff and different stuff. You know, so it's kinda different. It was kinda cool to see the different food, different ways that they wanted to do it and different things they were eating. So, yeah, it was pretty cool.

Randy:

You did post game for both the Indians at the time, as well as the opponent, mainly the

Danny:

opponent. So mainly mainly opponents Mr. With the Indian side. I'm usually two chefs on staff, a bigger kitchen, I'm a little more capabilities to do more. And then for the visiting teams, it's a minimal, it's like a cafeteria kitchen. So they would bring in from all tons of outside restaurants and, you know, certain teams like different food and different restaurants that they've had in the past or different teams, like certain budgets. So what's nice being a pizza shop and having some culinary background we're able to do kind of anything. So it kind of helped guide days. They wanted pizza and ribs. They had pizza and ribs on Saturday afternoon, other days they wanted steak and lobster. And, you know, we were able to pull some of that stuff off too. So it was kind of fun to, you know, do the different stuff. And it's, it sounds very glorious, but we literally package everything up. We drive underneath the stadium, a couple of guys come down with a golf cart and shoot it straight to the locker room, you know? So it's not like where a few times I've had the opportunity. To cook breakfast and cook omelets in the locker room. So you're standing there with a guy in his underwear, eating an omelet, you know, throwing eggs and bacon in there and you know, it's going to crazy and you're like, oh, and then like, you look at them and you know, when you see them face to face, like you don't recognize them. And you're like, oh my God, that was Derek Jeter. Or that was whoever like, whoa, this is, this is pretty cool. So, you know, you're, I'm in the moment, I'm the chef moment. So I'm not worried about who the player is. They're like, oh my God, that guy just when the Cy young, last year. Yeah, it's pretty

Randy:

funny. Pretty cool. 20 plus years. And how did that come about? I mean, do you know the

Danny:

story? Yeah, absolutely. So it kind of goes back to the original Cleveland Indians clubhouse manager at the old municipal stadium was a gentleman named side by neck. He did it for, I think he retired almost at 50 years working for the Cleveland Indians. So he was a dear family friend of ours. He went to our church and he also ate a lot of our pizza. So all through the years, whenever he'd come in and my dad would always be like, Hey, you ever need any employees? You ever need any help? You're my boys, you know, we're always looking at work. And my older brother, Willie started it when he was 16. So he worked in the locker room and then we just kind of started talking and. My brother Willie's now actually the head visitor's clubhouse manager. So he's done it for him. He hit his 25th year this year, so he's done it. So we've always had a kind of an inside track, but we've also provided great food and great service. So it kind of help, you know, and these guys know their food. You can't just give them whatever you want. They know the quality. So they don't like it. They're going to tell you they don't care. So

Randy:

these guys are like traveling all over the century, right.

Danny:

So they know food and now that, you know, food and wine and, you know, stuff like that, they know quality. They know you think they're just some baseball players, someone eat some hot dogs. No, these guys are, they, they want, they know it and they get it and they love it. So it's kind of cool to you know, have that experience and to know that, you know, these guys enjoy your food and like, Hey man, can we get those steaks from Augie's? Or Hey, even like on like rain delays, my brother will call us like, Hey, we need 30 pizzas right now. What do you mean? You need 30 beat? Like, it's a rain delay pizza you want to do. And I'm like, all right, I'll do it. Come on. Let's go. So, yeah, pretty cool. Pretty fun. So kind of going back with you know, kind of going back from the original guy and kind of having a little insight tracking. Yeah, I've heard pretty fun. Pretty exciting. . Randy: How amazing. And so, listen, Jessie, even in like the last three minutes that you've been talking, I'm like, well, what does your brother do? What is that chat? But just so fascinating, I think, and just the experience, I'm sure of what you've been able to do and who you've met and all of that. And we're going to tap into some of your early days at the at the stadium as well. But I do want to get into a little bit more of the background stuff with you. So your grandfather. Augie. Yep. Right. How do you pronounce this? I've got his name when it's like this, a great Italian name. I don't know how to pronounce it. I don't even want to butcher it McKown deal. McKown

Randy:

it sounds like it's my grandma's. Yeah, I'm looking at it on Pinto. I gotta know what the hell it is. That's funny. That's great. So you got Auggie deal. McKown what a great name? Grandfather came to me. Achieved the great classic American dream, right. Starts his own business. But even had a great storied life, even before he did the restaurant, he emigrated from this great mountainous area in Italy. And then he found himself in the us army as a mountain paratrooper in world war two. That is incredible. Did he tell you

Danny:

share some? No. So I'll get passed away before I was even born. So he had lung cancer early you know, it's kinda, kinda kind of crazy. And then his wife married, my grandmother, mama D. We called her Nani. She, you know, she, I mean, she worked to the pizza shop literally until the day I drove her to work the day before she passed away, she was 73 and she worked at pasta station. She had her own thing, so kind of cool, but. I never got to hear any stories from him, but we've, we've found pictures of him in the white snow suits. So they would pair true Ben and they would ski and they would, you know, kind of spy and, you know, he had that great Italian accent, you know, he was so it was really cool. Yeah. The I think it's the seventh mountain division, I think it was called, but it was for a really cool, yeah. So pretty fun to see the pictures of that and the stories.

Randy:

So here's this guy Augie, you know, love him. He comes over here, serves his country. And then I dunno, in 56, 57, 19 56 57 is start the first Augie's pizza. And it really was then a family affair. So your, your mother where they had three kids, I think of your grandparents at three. Yes. All daughters. Daughters. So your mother, her sisters grew up in the restaurant and then you guys came along and what you've got one,

Danny:

two brothers. I have an older brother, Willie and a younger brother,

Randy:

Joey? Yes. Okay. So, and you all grow up in the restaurant and all of your cousins, everybody was like,

Danny:

oh, this is what we did. This is what we knew. And we all kind of, you know, what was cool is too, even in the business, Like we didn't like our parents ever like forced us, like, as we got older, I went and worked for my parents competition because I knew I wanted to be a chef and learned some Italian food and let some other stuff. So I went to a restaurant called Kerry. Serena was in north Royalton, which is my parents got married there. I mean, that's how far back, but we knew the chefs there. We knew the family and I wanted to learn more than just pizza. You know, so I did that and I basically didn't even work in the pizza shops. Most of my life, my older brother Willy did my younger brother, Joey did. And then I kinda wanted to do more of the fine dining, more of the chefs driven stuff, which is just kind of crazy. And then to come back, you know, 20 some years later and do you know? So it's a pretty crazy how things, but my parents never forced us. They were, Hey, do what makes you happy? Do what you want to do. We get the pizza shops will always be here and if you need something, you know, kind of do it. And we kind of work, you know, we kind of all used our special kind of talents if you will, and kind of helped each other out. So yeah, it was pretty cool, pretty, pretty different, pretty different. So how

Randy:

fun, so I'm sure they're growing up and, you know, as we did the lead in, you know, you had your playpen literally in the kitchen there. So growing up, when did they begin to. Danny, can you take this case of water over to, you know,

Danny:

as soon as we could walk, you know what I mean? It was, I mean, it was, we were always there and my parents were always there. So, you know, it just kind of became normal to us. We just, you know, if we were younger, we were sitting there folding boxes, or we would sit in the dining room and play and color and kind of talk with everybody. And then we would start, as we got older, we would just start making pizzas and working in the kitchen and just kind of be in there. And it was just, it was just fun. I mean, it was just kind of cool growing up in that, you know, and most people think we're not because my parents worked every day. I mean, there was no days off. There was no holidays. No, I mean, we did, but we was just so stressful. And so, but we enjoyed it. That's what we were used to. Yeah, you get around the family dinner table with other family members that all own pizza shops. So all the Debbie's my moms two other sisters, both had pizza shops. So Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with the family, we'd all just sit there and talk about, you know, the crazy things that happened and what we messed up and, you know, it was just fun. So he was pretty cool to grow up in that atmosphere and kind of, kind of live that life. It's what we're all around. Beverly like

Randy:

crazy stories of customers. Kevin, I had this guy

Danny:

at one tops of the other and we're just laughing and that's what makes it great though. That's what you're used to, you know, for us, it's, you know, it's, it's a day to day moment, you know, always looking for something different. It happens. There's nothing. No two days are ever the same. Ah, I love that.

Randy:

Do you do you recall the, what was your very first, you talked about your Nana, who did the pasta station. D did you have, do you recall your very first, like Danny, you. The box folder guy or whatever your job was.

Danny:

It was, it was so every day that it didn't, there was never really, you know, I mean, we've always there was never that aha moment, like there was never that, like, you know, it was always just kind of, it was just natural. It was just, you know, all the day, you know, rolling the meatballs or making the, you know, making the sauce or rolling the dough or just eating and kind of hanging out and, you know, hanging out,

Randy:

always enjoy the food side. I mean, or, or was there a point that you kind of took to the food? Like, you know, I kind of really like this stuff, you know, I L I like cooking,

Danny:

fortunately for me it was, I mean, I was in the sixth grade and cooked pancakes for my sixth grade class. And from then on, I haven't looked back since, I mean, it's the only literally, I mean, that's, if I could go back to my first I was 12 years old washing dishes for our churches caterer, and I was 12 and just slide dishes. I mean, they'd do big banquet, a hundred person weddings, and I'd be the kid. And I loved it. Like, it was just great, you know, so I've always, I've always taken a liking to kitchens. I've always. Kind of just worked in the kitchens and in those situations. And I just love it and I just kind of find a liking to it, unfortunate for me, and I've stuck with it and I've enjoyed it. You know, that's the hard part you don't know, you know, but I, I, I love it. It's fun. So you didn't make, then you

Randy:

found your place. I was just having this conversation yesterday, as a matter of fact with my son and we're just talking about, and he's got so many different things in here he's almost 16 and is, you know, between things that he has to do at school and stuff that were like, Hey, you have to do those kinds of things. And then the things that he wants to do, and he's like, I'm trying to find the balance. I'm like, you know, what should I pursue in life? And the things that I should do. And my advice to him yesterday was like, , just figuring. And decide on the things that's worth doing for you, , and then focus on those things. Just always ask what is worth doing, , and do the things then that are worth doing for you. And for you, you found like, Hey, sixth grade cooking, man, this was worth

Danny:

doing. Yeah. And it, you know, for me, like I struggled heavily in school. So reading spelling, math was my, my whole life was, I was always in all the basic math classes, all the basic reading I'd read a book would even know what the hell I'd read the book about, you know, like I'd read and be like, wait, that guy died. Like, wait, what? Hold on. You know, so for me, like I struggled in all of those, but whenever I was in a kitchen or with food, I just excelled and it just kind of, you know, so for me, I kinda, you know, stuck with it and I can, and I enjoyed it. I found that kind of tick in your brain that kind of motivates you to want to do more. And it was. Yeah, kind of the craziness of the kitchen, the add Brainware guess what? I can have 12 things going on and that's comfortable to me doing one thing and just sitting down and reading a book, guess what? My brain doesn't. It just, it took me forever to learn that and I struggled my whole life. So, you know, with anything with school and with all of that stuff. So even, you know, going into culinary school was tough because it was college. It wasn't, you know, you couldn't give your teachers autographs to pass tests and subjects, and that's a whole nother situation, but, you know, I mean, it was, it was different, but you know, I kind of, I learned the hard way and I figured it out and kinda, you know, luckily came out on top. So I'm pretty cool.

Randy:

Yeah. So let's, so you bring up the culinary Institute, so let's kind of head in that direction a minute here. So at some point, I don't know whether. I dunno. When did you go? Right after high school? I don't know how that works, I guess, but at some point he said, Hey, I'm wanting to really get serious about this. So you went to the culinary Institute, by the way, I have a little paranthetically statement here. Tell him that the pictures of the campus look incredible right there on the river and the Hudson valley. I'm like, Hey, okay. Absolutely. Sounds fun. Gorgeous. Yeah. So what was your experience

Danny:

like there? It was really cool. So I was I was fresh out of high school, so I learned real quick when I got there that there were guys that guys and girls that had 10 years of culinary experience and wanted to just accelerate or wanted to do something different or be more well-rounded and learn stuff. Me. I was a. 18 year old kid will look for that college experience and definitely didn't get it there. You know, it was, it was such a different world because there was, you know, minimal, you know, it was a very small school. But what was cool about it was, it was 100% culinary. So everybody there, we all shared the same goal. We all wanted to be chefs or pastry chefs. So we all had one common bond. So you had kids from all over the world, all over the United States there mentioning how beautiful it is. You are literally on the banks of the Hudson river. You're in Hyde park, New York, gorgeous. My parents would literally just drive up in the fall just to take the drive, come up, eat lunch at one of the restaurants, bring me a case of Dortmunder gold beer, you know, 20 years ago. And the funny, and we laugh about that because that was when great lakes was first starting out. And I had chef instructors, they would go to the world, beer cup. One of my guys was like, Hey, you're from Cleveland. They go, yeah, man. He's like, you don't think about Dortmunder Goldberg. Oh yeah. X great lakes. Yeah. There, you know, he's like, Hey. If your parents ever come in town, or you ever come up, can you bring me, can you go, heck yeah, man. You know, I'm bringing my chef instructors cases at Dortmunder gold, but that, you know, that was a big deal 20 years ago when they won the gold medal. And it was really cool. It was kind of fun to be a part of that, but yeah, the views are beautiful and you know, but it's just definitely a different, you know, college experience. There were no fraternities, right. It was like a 70, 30 guy to girl ratio. So like, I mean, it was such a different, but you had guys that were in the business, you had guys and girls that were young. You know, so we, we all kind of just kind of would sit in our dorm room, sharpen our knives. Watch the food network and drink some beer and kind of hang out like it was, it was kind of cool. So, you know,

Randy:

I was just going to ask us anything kind of like, , there's so many different movies or TV shows that are out there now and you see all of the stuff. And so, you know, it is, it wasn't light. You see kind of in those mediums now. I mean, is it tough? Was it really heavy, competitive and cutthroat sometimes, or not

Danny:

as much as used to be. So, you know, CIA used to have a reputation of being, you know, you'd go in there and if your chef coat wasn't ironed in press, they'd cut your buttons off, or they would kick you out of class. You know, things, you know, I was there back when I was there, it was starting, it was loosening up a little bit. The, the kind of different. You know, people they have in there just kind of the, the, the chef instructors quality was funny. I mean, these guys were master chefs. There's only so many master chefs in the world, in the class. It's like a, it's like a week long test you have to take. I mean, it's, it's absolutely insane. So, you know, they had the most master Chester, so the quality of everything was always accelerated and just like anything else and just like any other school, it's what you put into it. If you studied and read and did the tests and practice and stuff. Yeah. You would do great, but just like any other college or thing you would, you know, you have to put it, you know, you gotta, you know, get in or put in, you know, take what you put in with ya, or however you want to.

Randy:

Thank you.

Danny:

Sorry. That was the hardest thing I'm had to say all day, you know, but I mean, that's kind of how it is though, you know, you kind of, you know, work towards that and kind of see it and then you kind of learn and then you're like, okay, well, I really want to learn about, you know, the Asian cuisine. I really want to learn more about this. And you know, the wines class is something they always talk about. It's a three week class where you. Taste wine. I mean, it is, you know, you're there at nine in the morning and you're tasting hundreds of wines over the week, the three week course. So just cool. And you kind of like, all right, it's wine and we're getting drunk. It's noon on a Wednesday, you know, but then like you have those moments where you're, you're drinking the wine and tasting it and you're going, oh my God, I actually do taste the lemon or the butter or the, and you're going, okay, this is cool. I get this, you know, You're just tasting the different stuff and then you'd go study for three, four hours, get a bottle of wine. And, you know, it's kind of crazy to sit. I'm going, I'm 20 years old and I'm hammered it noon at school. This is great. You know, so, you know, but it was, but it was hard though, that wines class, I mean, they, you know, it is, it was intense of all the things you look back on and it was all studying and memorization. And I just remember, you know, digging through that, but it was cool. You learned a lot. And I was like, okay, cool. I'll you know, wow.

Randy:

What a fun experience you're there? What a couple of years, how long? Yeah,

Danny:

it's a two-year program, but it's two full years. Your summer break is three weeks. Christmas, you got a week and then Easter, you didn't even get anything. So it is

Randy:

just an ongoing, you're like you're in it. You're there cook it, man. Yeah. All right. So you, two years go by, you get your whatever degree certificate. I don't know. What do they call it term, but you come back to Cleveland. Maybe, what do you like give you your chef's hat, right? Yeah. Yeah. So you come back to Cleveland, you got your chapter to get your skills, you get your Toke. Is that what they call it? It's the tote. Yeah, that's the hat. Cool. You don't go to go work in the family. You come back and you work at some of these great places. One that you mentioned there in little Italy, and then you also w w were the executive chef at the blue canyon restaurant as well. So some really some very nice, fine dining experiences. What was that like working your way up, kind of the restaurant food chain of you would? Yes,

Danny:

for me, it was awesome. I enjoyed every second of it for me. I like being. You know, it's kinda cool. Cause I graduated from CIA and you think I'm the CIA graduate? I am

Randy:

going to come to Cleveland.

Danny:

Yeah, no, definitely not. And some guys do that and they don't, you know, and some guys work, some guys can do it. Me, you know, I'm, I'm a workhorse, I'm a grinder. So I'd rather, you know, so I took a job at Mitchell's fish market. They were just opening it up. And you know, I'm thinking I'm this big, big shot, you know, you know, do the interview, do it. And the guy's like, all right, awesome. You're going to be the head oyster shucker and I'm like, wait, what? I'm like, hang on a second wasters. And I'm shucking hundreds of oysters a day. You know, but it was cool because we had a little like, kind of, it was like a four seat kind of raw bar. So I'd have guys come in town and they'd sit and that'd be shucking oysters for them talking and just meeting, you know, meeting connections, meeting people. And I enjoyed that part of it. I was like, you know what, Hey, I'm, you know, and it was called there's that CIA grad he's shucking oysters. I've been in this business well, I'm working next to that guy, taking his job and, you know, I worked and that's kind of how I've always put my head down, shut my mouth and just kind of work and enjoy the moment and kind of keep growing with that and kind of work my way up and just you get more out of it that way. And for me, I like getting it out of it. I like getting the full experience of it and you kind of learn and see and pick up some things along the way. Now I was w I was watching those saute Cokes. I was watching the girl cooks. I knew what they were doing. I knew what they weren't doing. And I knew what I had to do to get to the next spot and get, essentially get their position. So, it was kind of fun. I mean, I enjoyed that. I kind of build, ya kind of builds a little more well rounded. You get to see a little bit of everything and kind of learn. And you know, plus as you work your way up, the ranks, people appreciate that. They go, Hey, wait, that was the guy that was a little pantry cook a year ago. Now he's the sous chef for now. He's the head girl cook. So you kind of, you know, work your way up and it just kind of grows with your staff.

Randy:

That's incredible. I know you're a family man now, but back then, Yeah, I love Anthony Bordain was his books, loved his TV shows at Gavin's amazing. I think and some of the stories

Danny:

unbelievable. They were true. I mean, a lot of them, you hear them and see them. That's what I was wondering. And so

Randy:

for you kind of going through the process, was it similar experiences?

Danny:

Yeah. I mean, the craziness of the kitchens are just unbelievable and, you know, to do the amount of food that I've seen in these kitchens and that I've done and that other chefs in town that I've talked to have done, you gotta be nuts to do this. You gotta be crazy. It's, you know, some, one of the most thankless jobs, it's not one of the highest paying jobs, but you do it, you love it, you enjoy it. And you enjoy your, your comradery. Of the kitchen staffs and to, you know, pull out a thousand covers on new year's Eve and the blood, sweat, and tears. It's a real thing. It's cool. And I think that that's part of it that I enjoy to kind of, you know, you're a team and it's a, you know, you have your good teams and you gotta be able to, as a manager, as an owner, you gotta be able to put the people in the right positions, but you also gotta have fun. You gotta enjoy, this is work. We're not doing brain surgery. We're not doing, you know, you gotta, it's gotta, it's gotta, you've gotta laugh. You gotta goof around. You gotta, you know, it's stressful enough, you know, and it's, you got to enjoy it. And once you find enough guys and girls that enjoy it and do. It's okay. You don't think about that stuff, but yes, the craziness of the kitchens, it's a real thing. It is characters, characters. The guys that we laugh at, that we talk about and you're like, oh, remember when this guy did this and it's a real thing, you know, when you laugh, you look back on and you know, you have those memories, you have those moments with other chefs and other guys that used to work with her and moved on to do bigger, better things. And you still text each other, you still call each other. Oh man. Remember that time we did this or out, you know? So it's, it's a lot of fun. It's, it's a pretty cool experience. So

Randy:

is it a tight community like locally? So I'm sure you've worked in a few different restaurants yourself. Now you have your own as well, but is the community kind of tight, you know, amongst chefs. And so do you, you know, you're saying, Hey, text people, but I mean, do you guys like, Hey, let's, you know, at one in the morning, There is a place we go and we hang out, you know, chefs from around the city or wherever.

Danny:

Yeah. Actually you know, it kind of, yes, it does. It's kind of cool to see, you know, a lot of it's hard because we, we look at each other as competition, especially, you know, you kind of, Hey, that's my competition and that's this, or we're doing, I want to be better than this guy, or I want to work for this guy. I work against this guy. And then, you know, as you kind of look and grow, especially me growing in the business, you kind of look and see that, Hey, we're all fighting for the same thing. We all, you know, there's enough to go around. You know, kind of funny, I get a lot of landscapers that come into Augie's coming to the restaurant, right? They come in for lunch. You know, they come in and get the pizza slices and I was in there tons of it. And there's a line out my door with landscapers on you know, Wednesday afternoon in the summer. I've been in that long. Thank you. Thanks for waiting. And you know, I was talking up with these guys and I go, Hey, I'm like, do you guys ever get in like fights or like turf wars with, you know, another landscaping company that's come out, you know, that took your into like, dude, we don't even have time. Like we're so busy. We can, and it's, you know, kind of thought about that. Like, we don't have time, like we're not, you know, like there's enough to go around and then you start talking to other restaurant tours and other chefs and other, even pizza places that I talked to that, you know, you talk to these guys and they're like, dude, it's you know, like a new guy just opened up and were like, he's texting me going, Hey, you still I'm like, dude, I'm jamming. He's like, dude, I'm back to, Hey, what can we do? Or who do you get this from? Or, you know, so it's took me a while to kind of learn that because I was so used to that competition of it. And then once you start kind of hanging out with some of the chefs and we used to do a lot of. Chef benefits and dinners and stuff for the community. And it would all be a bunch of chefs. And next thing, you know, we're all got a cooler, a beer under our thing and Hey, where's the after party. And next thing, you got 20 chefs downtown at one of the restaurants. And, you know, we're all just BS in and we all live the same life we all do, and we all want it. We all want to be great, but there is enough to go around. So you kind of that took me a while to learn that and kind of, kind of grow as a chef and, you know, you always wanted to be better, but then you're like, man, why don't we help each other out? And we do that. So yes, if you go there and you find the right night or the right chefs in town or whoever, you know, it's pretty cool to kind of, you know, Chuck things up. And, you know, I see a bunch of guys in town here in sugar and they come in and be like, Hey, don't you own that restaurant? Or, Hey dude. Yeah, man, what's up, you know, so it's kind of cool to just kind of talk and have that relationships because there's going to be a day where your cooler goes down and you need to borrow some, Hey, you got a case of flour I can get or getting sugar, you know? So it's kind of cool to have those experiences and kind of work with those guys. I enjoy it. I think the, the people aspect of it and knowing what these guys and the other chefs. People have been through, I've been through the same thing. So you kind of makes you relax a little bit and kind of enjoy, you know, being a part of it. So, yes. Yeah. That's

Randy:

great. So let's flash forward here a little bit then. So your CIA worked your way up through 2015 comes around and whatever the opportunity is, I think it was your uncle's store or restaurant that had been running. He probably decided, Hey, I want to retire. You raised your hand young, Danny,

Danny:

Danny don't feel that young anymore. It was like a lifetime ago.

Randy:

Young Danny says, Hey, I'm in,

Danny:

Kind of. Yeah. So it was kind of a, so I was, I was at blue canyon for nine. So it was kind of at the tail end, kind of reached my peak. Somebody nuts. So young tanning, no, not yet tired crabby, Danny, but that's almost every day now. You know, but it was kind of, you know, I was kind of at that like stepping stone, like, Hey, I've reached every milestone here. I could. You know, things that I didn't even think were even imaginable that I was able to do and accomplish there. And I was like, all right, what's next? So started doing some research, look into some other restaurants in town, some other chefs, okay. Who can I go work for? What can I go do? And I was like, I want to do something. I wanna do something on my own. I want to own something. You know, I want to, you know, I've made enough people money and I've seen them grow. I want to do something for myself. So kind of thought of some different ideas. And, you know, I didn't really wanna just go open up a new restaurant and, you know, kind of new the pizza business and kind of wanted to do something for my family. My uncle was ready to retire. He did it for almost 30 years and did an amazing job. And it was awesome. And you had that reputation here in south Russell. And I was like, you know, what, what are the opportunities? I start talking to my dad and he thought I was Nazi. He's like, oh, you don't want to do this. You're a chef, go do this. My mom's basically crying. Cause she was like, oh my God, you know, someone could take over the business and you know, kind of worked out for everybody

Randy:

and your dad and your mom, mom's still here. Did

Danny:

their own, their own shop. Exactly. Yes. So, you know, but I knew the south Russell one had some potential. I knew the area. I knew that it needed help. It needed, you know, my uncle was burnt out. He was done and kind of running it through the ringer and it was like, all right, what, what are my options here? And you know, took a gamble, took a risk and that's what made it fun. You know, he took over a pizza shop that was not updated, not done anything to it for 30 years, literally. I mean, it was still had the same church pews that my dad and uncle stole out of a dumpster of a church. So those were the boots. Those were the seats that they stole, you know, like from a church, some of that counts, but yeah, you know, but that's the reality of it. Those were the same shirt. Those were the same boots that were in there for 30 years and, you know, so to kind of see it kind of grow and have those opportunities. So, yes,

Randy:

I have to ask the question because this is kind of crazy. I think, so here you were this executive chef. I mean, you're doing all kinds of I'm sure. Kind of experiments with food at this very nice upscale restaurant, blue canyon. I mean, it's a fabulous place. I've eaten there a few times as well. Great food. I probably have eaten there when you were cooking there. Didn't know it at the time, but thank you for a great meal. Now people may think, but now he's like at a pizza shop.

Danny:

Exactly.

Randy:

So I am kind of curious. So you made that transition, you, you grab your own shop, Augies pizza. You're used to doing all different kinds of foods in your other restaurant experiences. And I can't remember back then if the Augie's only did pizza or other kinds of menu items, but did you make some initial, like translates, like, Hey, we're expanding the menu, you know, as soon as you came in, did you kind of do some things like that?

Danny:

It was definitely a very prideful chef moment. You know, I kind of, once I made the announcement, I was leaving blue canyon and, you know, start talking like, what are you going to do? I'm like, oh, where are you going? I'm like, I'm going to go take over to my parents' pizza shop. And I'm like, wait, what? They're like Jannie. Then I started having doubts myself, is I, these great chefs, right? People told me, Danny, you're serious. I like, Hey, so give me time. Let me, you know, I got a plan and this is something that, you know, Hey, go more to take care of my family, give my parents, I'm giving my parents a break, you know, switch some things up a little bit. And then once I kind of started to get into it and I kind of knew what I wanted to do, but I didn't realize, I mean, I had, I mean, I had, I was going to my parents, my brother, my uncle to show me how to make pizza. I don't remember ever made dough in 20 years. I haven't made, you know, I'm like, what do you mean? This is how you do so for me, you know, it was a very, you know, it was a very, it was an awesome moment because I kinda, you know, swallowed my pride as a chef and kind of learned in it. But then, but then I also started to enjoy it more in the, the freedom of it and the fun part of it. Going to work and making dough and then seeing it, and then watching it grow for me, the best part even to this day is that you know, had we updated the dining room, we put about 30 seats in there. And it was cool because we had the seats and then I had nice China, nice napkins. And we still did pizza. We did ribs, we did the wings, but then I started doing some salmon and some lobster. And then I started talking to my customers more and they were like, whoa, you went to CIA. Did we see you at blue canyon? Did it, you know? And then like, so then like, Hey, what are we going to do to get this? Or what are we going to do to get that? You know, next thing you know, it was just kind of like, Hey, I'll shoot her a text message. Like, Hey, who wants 200 tonight? And next thing you know, 10 people respond back with 10 people. Now, my dining room was filled. I'm selling to, and I'm selling lobster. And then you have like a customer come in to get a pizza sitting next to a guy eating lobster, Thermidor. Hi, thank you. I got to get that what's going on. This is Auggie's, you know, so it was kind of that surprise kind of secret that I kind of started building my own following and kind of doing my own thing with, you know, still doing great pizza and still doing the carry out soon, the things that were fun, but then still being able to get a little taste of, you know, cooking with some food and doing some different stuff that I enjoyed doing that kind of kept me moving, kept me ticking. So yeah, that's been the fun experience for me to kind of see it kind of see it that way, you know, kind of, kind of do it from my own way and do it how I want it to do and kind of see it come, come full circle. So yeah, pretty exciting to

Randy:

be. I would imagine just a real humbling experience on many different right here you are the CIA guy, you've been executive chef and you're coming back to your family. Like how do you make that pizza? I'm sure that that in itself was humbling and as well, the telling your chef friends, I'm going to go have a pizza shop now. So you know, an incredible thing, but was there anything that really truly kind of surprised. Though coming back to your roots, if you would, as a restaurant owner, I'm rejoining kind of the family business. I mean, anything that, like, I'll say pleasantly surprised. He, I don't know, maybe it was good or bad, but did anything get like, wow, I wasn't expecting this. This is kinda interesting

Danny:

for the first, almost that whole year, the first year of getting into the pizza shop, that that whole experience was very humbling, but, but I enjoyed the humbling part of it. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed you know, kind of being with my family, being, you know, talking to my dad, talking to my mom, you know, sharing those stories, sharing those memories. And that kinda kind of fueled me kind of was like, okay, this is cool. We can do something here. You know, but it was just a different experience. It was, but it was the same concepts instead of ordering lobster, scallops and tuna. You know, over a million dollars worth at blue canyon. Now I'm ordering flour, cheese, you know, different stuff like that. So you put it still, still the same concept. It's still, you're just doing, you know, sitting on a big volume scale, but just different quality different, but you're still doing the same concept. So the F you know, it all still kind of works together. So it's still kind of goes hand in hand. So once you start learning and kind of seeing that you kind of grow from that, and then you see the interactions with your customers, you know, blue canyon, we had an open kitchen, it was awesome. I had chefs, you know, working next to me, but then I'd also have 10, 12 people sitting on the chef's counter. So I've made more friends and connections at that chefs counter, but they would see me cook and talk and kind of do that. Well here, I don't have a big chefs counter, but I have a counter that I get to see Randy, you know, pick up his ribs and, you know, but, but I have those interactions with my customers and being able to buy, you know, Randy has ribs for Christmas, or, you know, buy someone. You know, a pizza, you know, buy them a drink on the birthday area, be able to have, to be able to make those decisions and have total control was pretty fun instead of having to go to three bosses, Hey, can I buy my grandma beer on her birthday here? You know? So it was kind of fun to be able to experience that and kind of see that and kind of learn and grow. And I just enjoyed the process, you know, you kind of see it and do it and, and watch it grow and watch it, see, you know, start being like, okay, wow, this is where we're getting something here. This is fun. And just enjoying it, you know,

Randy:

I'm sure you probably have hundreds of crazy customers like me that come in and think and think that I have the privilege of, I walk in and I say, Hey, Danny, how are you? I'm just

Danny:

talking. But that's every day though, that's been, and that's what I enjoy though. I love meeting families, meeting, you know, watching the kids grow up and seeing the kids that used to come to my uncles. Now they're bringing their great grandkids. They're like, I mean, that's cool. Like that's, that's pretty fun to experience that. And you know, to learn the customers, you know, you know, Randy would call his order and it'd be Randy ribs. And we'd just write that on the ticket. No garlic bread, extra coastline. And it was done. Hey Randy, what's I mean, he would just call, Hey Randy, hang up the phone and walk over in a blizzard. I always remember that, like Randy it's, it's 12 degrees outside and he's come walking in. Like, don't just try. He was like, all right, man, the ribs are that good. You're walking here in a blizzard. I appreciate that. So pretty awesome.

Randy:

Oh, good stuff. All right. Well usually it's, sometimes I ask the guests, Hey, do you like baseball? I already know the story for you. And so, but it is that change the gears a little bit and talk about a baseball. I know you're passionate about baseball is. Well, probably even more than I am actually through your experiences, which is amazing. So we're going to talk a little bit about this. You even kind of defined yourself as a retired major

Danny:

league bat boy. Absolutely. Yes I do. And it's great. And I know, so

Randy:

it literally it, so I've got it. I've got to ask you so you can share with the listeners, give us your experience as a major league bat. Boy, you were

Danny:

a bat boy. Absolutely. For, so I was a ball boy first, so. It's gifted the

Randy:

distinction with that because I really didn't. I, and when was that Friday, I was sitting down with our researcher who does this. And she's like, did you know, there's a big difference between the ball boy and the bat boy. And I just thought they were kind of the same. No,

Danny:

it's, it's so pretty crazy. So when you first start off, you basically start with the ball boy, because it's the worst job. It never has any weight. How could this be the worst job you're in a major league uniform you're sitting out in the left or right field line. How is this the worst job? Well, you sit on a stool for basically three and a half hours, you know, so let's, you know, let's start there. But usually when, yeah, so usually when you're 16, that's usually the first job. This is, who's going to see, you know, you kind of sit out there. But you're sitting there, live on the field in the game and you know, if a ball comes, you gotta diff you, if that balls fair, you gotta get the heck out of the way. I'm sure you've seen on TVs. Either the ball boys have caught the ball in the wrong, you know, when the player should have caught it now you just cost them an out or, you know, your trip over the stool. So, yeah, you're in the game. You're alive, you're there and it's, you know, it's a long day, but you start, you know, basically when it's a, excuse me, it's a you know, a seven o'clock game. We're in high school. We're getting there, like, you know, right after school, about three o'clock you're getting the locker room ready. So you're doing the laundry, you're cleaning stuff. You're getting the food ready. You're getting the Gatorade ready. You're filling sunflower seeds, bubblegum. We had to take the bubble gum out of the wrapper. I mean, for some guys or like, it would come, like the double bubble would come and it would be like in a pack and you'd have to, literally the bazooka, Joe would be like five pieces. You'd have to take it. You keep it in the wrapper, but you had to break it out of the five-piece bag. Like really? This is what I'm doing right now. But yeah, it is what it is. You got to look back at that. You're like, wow, this is insane. But then yeah, you would sit on the field and excuse me, you would sit out there. And a watch, you know, you'd watch the game and sit there. But on those days, think about the sun was days. It's 30 degrees out there. I got two coats on long Johns, a bag of sunflower seeds, and I'm going, okay, this is gonna be a long day, you know? And then the game ends and you got to clean everything up. Nope. Not many people realize you got 40 guys in there. They worked 10 articles of clothing. We have to wash dry and sort all over there. You know, I mean, it's so, you know, people don't think of that part of it where you get the guys

Randy:

as well, they like cleaned up all of the trash

Danny:

and everything else. And the ground strew did the dugout. So they cleaned the dug out. We put the locker room, you got guys eat. So you're doing dishes, you're cleaning meals. You're setting up the lunch, setting up the dinner, you know, they'd, they'd have batting practice. You'd clean up after that. You'd wash their clothes. After that, you know, clean their shoes, Polish their shoes. I mean, you know, and then you do day to day stuff. You'd be like a guy would be like, Hey man, can you run and get me, you know, a pack of gum from here? Or, Hey, can you run to Duncan and get me like, wait, what? Like, you know, we've had guys that wife's were coming in and it was their birthday. We had to send the guy to SAS sex. If they Ave to go buy her a new pair of shoes. Cause he forgot. Like he's literally given a 16 year old kid, his debit card in his pen to go buy a pair of shoes. I'm like, this is insane. You know, it was just, it was kind of the, kind of the way the world worked kind of the way that,

, Randy:

it was a grunt job, right? You're doing all this stuff. But on the other side of that, like every job has got its upside. I mean, you're meeting like world class.

Danny:

Absolutely the best of the best a hundred percent. And like I said, like the ball boy wasn't that, but for me, the bat boy was the pinnacle. Like you are the bad boy, like, and I took pride in it. I enjoyed it. So what was cool was like during a game, what kind of tempo you would sit when the visiting team. What's up too bad. You'd sit right by like the dugout suites Jacobs field or progressive field, or, and you would sit there and like, if, you know, once a player hit, you'd have to run out, grab his bat and make sure, you know, nothing's going on up there, you get as bad, put it, and then you'd have to put it in his slot, in the dugout, you know, every number 23 I'd have always patched together, all that. You know, and then you'd kind of watch and just kind of see what was going on. And then during the when they were out on the field, you'd kind of see if they have anything on the dugout and then you guys would, Hey man, can you run up and give me my batting gloves or, Hey, I lost this or can you run up until you'd kind of, you know, whatever they needed, they're doing a lot of interactions. You're just to them. It's, you know, what was cool for me? Was it like, I liked baseball, but I didn't love it. Like, I wasn't like. For me, it worked out well because I wasn't starstruck. Okay. What's up man. Like I talked to them, like they were normal guys and he'd have some kids walk in there for a job to go hi, Mr. Ripkin, like, dude, get the guy, his shoes, man. We got to go like, you know, so like you kind of, you know, you kind of learned from that. So for me, like that was cool. And I think that's why I kind of enjoyed it more is because I just didn't like, I wasn't starstruck. Like I didn't like, it was, it was fun. It was cool and like exciting, but it. You know, I, I was able to kind of still manage and cause I still want to be a chef. You know, I'm sitting there, like I was the kid in the locker room, reading cookbooks in bone Appetit, magazine, like, and other guys are like, what the heck is this kid doing? And then you get the one guy and be like, Hey man, I was just in town. You want to go to restaurants in town? Or, you know, I'm like not recommending restaurants and chefs in town and kind of cool stuff like that. So for me it was kinda different. You, it was fun and I always wore the opposing uniform. So it was kinda fun. Everybody thought I was like a Yankees fan or I just thought I was with the Tampa bay devil railing. I asked you that. So

Randy:

were you, I mean, you were an Indian's employee, right. But did you change back and forth or you always the opposing teams,

Danny:

always the opposing team. So they kind of switch it up. So they always the Indians have like their own staff and their own crew. And same with the visiting clubhouse guys. We all. We were all around that side and we all kind of did it there. So I always was opposing you know, it was clubs every week, every game you got, another team came in every three days. So like, if you didn't like this team or didn't like, those guys got some of the new teams coming in and, you know, you kind of just picked and choose your battles. And you kind of saw, you know, the different teams and how different teams carried themselves. You know, how long did you do the job? Basically all through. So basically through high school. So basically four years basically I graduated in 2001, so. 98 99, 2000 thousand one. Great year. Huge, great, phenomenal. Absolutely. Yeah. I didn't get to crowds. Yeah. It was fun. It was folded. They were all sellouts, you know, so like my friends would come down to the games and see me, your eyes, you know, had some teachers and some people, you know, wave to them, throw them a baseball up and like, oh man. You know, like, you know, it was, it was cool. You know, it was, but we worked. I mean, that was the thing that people don't understand is that back then, I mean, I was working if it was a 10 game home stand, I was working 10 games and in high school, like go, you know, so obviously my grades suffered and you know, but it was kind of one of those things that you kind of, you know, you did it and you enjoyed it and it was kinda cool, but it was work. And then it started then. Lauren that, okay, Hey, you can do this. And then once I got to be the bat boy, like that was cool. Like to me, that was, I took a lot of pride in it. Like I said it and kinda enjoyed it. And you kinda, you look back on it like, oh my God, these guys are in the hall of fame now. Like you're just hanging out with Cal Ripkin and Derek Jeter. Like it was like, like it was nothing, you know,

Randy:

w was there in that stint, was there a team that you liked working with more than others? And then was there a team when you say like, oh, my cash here comes, you know, Baltimore?

Danny:

No, I mean, it was, it was kinda different. It wasn't so much the teams. We, you know, we saw the D we saw the central division teams a lot. So Minnesota twins, Detroit tigers, Kansas city Royals. So we saw them, you know, 10, 12 games a year. So you kind of got a liking to those guys. For us, the Minnesota twins were always awesome. Like, those were always cool. And this'll guys LaTroy Hawkins. And Eddie Gordato is one of the relievers. Like I still keep in contact with them. Like they still talk to me. So I'll talk to my brother. Like she ain't mad. Your crazy brother is still there with the sideburns. And like, yeah, he's always he doing, oh man. You know, it's not like you have those interactions with those guys that you yeah. And with those teams were kind of lower payroll teams. So they were kind of younger guys. They didn't have that star street, or they were just kind of everyday guys grown. You'd have your one or two guys that were the stars, but they weren't over the top. You know, you didn't have to roll out the red car. You know, they were, they were pretty cool, pretty more, a little more chill and more comfortable. You know, but like the one thing is too, like the Yankees, like the Yankee way is the Yankee way. And these guys came in, every guy's in a suit and tie, every guy has clean shaved. So like, I always remember Jason Giambi. He was with Oakland athletics and he had the long hair, the beard he'd bring his guitar. He'd come in like this dudes a bad-ass if I can say that, you know, but he was the pinnacle he was, and then gets traded to the Yankees. And I see him walk in, clean, shave at suit and tie and we all just throw what's up G and he's like, what's up? Got, you know, he was just so cool, but it was just like, oh my gosh, she was a hundred percent, but those guys, but you're on the Yankees and that's and like, and it was cool, but all those guys were top-notch. I mean, they were, you know, I mean, and nine times out of 10, all the guys were great. Like you had. What am I probably crazy experiences that, excuse me, if you know me, I always had crazy sideburns. I don't know. I've always had sideburns. It's been a thing for me. I don't know. I don't know I've had them through high school, but at one point you know, I was probably like, you know, it's probably 2000. I had these big pork chop looking sideburns. I just never shaved them. I didn't care. And Brady Anderson was with the. I was with Baltimore, aerials, and he was great. It was one of his pinnacle years. You know, so he came, he was like, man, what the heck is what? But those sideburns man, he's like, after the game, let me trim those up for you. Make them look where I'm like, cool, dude. Let's just so he, Brady Anderson literally shaved my sideburns, you know? So, you know, so it was one of those weird things. Ever guys are making fun of me. I'm like, Hey man, he put a sweet angle on it. You know, it's just one of those weird things that like you, what are you going to do? He gave me a bad actually. And it said to Danny, keep the burns tight Brady Anderson, you know, so, and then, but the funny part is the next day he accused me of stealing one of his bats. I'm like, dude, you gave me a bat. Why would I steal one of your bats? Like I didn't, you know, so it's kind of funny. Like you just kinda like, wait man, don't be a jerk. Like I'm not gonna steal your bat. So. So

Randy:

crazy. So I and I think I've asked you this once before at your, at your restaurant, but I can only imagine, do you have just like boxes of memorabilia kinds of

Danny:

stuff? Yes and no. So I was not the memorabilia guy. I mean, there were guys that would bend over backwards and do this and do that for me. Like, I don't know. I just, you know, I have a couple of cool things, you know, but I don't, I wasn't, that threw me that didn't make me tick now looking back 20 years later, you know, I mean, yeah, sure. Do I have a Jeter baseball somewhere? I mean, somewhere in that crazy, like I have a director somewhere you know, I have I did get a GQ magazine that had. Jeter a rod and no more Garcia power on it. I got that signed by them. I used to have a chef chef's coat that I would keep in the locker room and I'd have all my favorite players signed my chef's coat. So that was cool. Like I said again, I still have it. Yeah. I can't read any of the signatures. I gotta look, look back and see it, but I had all the good guys and I got guys that like I liked that were cool. You know, so for me, like that's what I liked like that, that was cool. So yeah, I got, I mean, I, at one point I think I was using bats as firewood, like game used bats. Like we would get some of them, we would raffle off some of the cracked bats. So, and a lot of them were no named guys that you'd never heard of or like, we knew a wood guy that would kind of reseal them up and like, I would literally go to the batting cages and swim. So, and so's MLB bat just for fun, you know, like we have them in, like, I just, yeah. I mean, I got some cool things, but to me like that, wasn't part of it. And plus like back then you know, eBay was just getting hot. So it's crazy as that sounds, people were Hawking autographs and there were a couple of guys on places. Get all the autographs and sit. So then it's a bad luck. It's a bad look for me. Bad luck for my, and my brother for my boss. So like for me, like, I didn't, like, I don't know. I just didn't, I wasn't into that. You know, it just didn't do it for me. So it was kind of cool to have the only got a McGuire. I got a Cal Ripkin, like, honestly, I don't even know where they're at my parent's house somewhere. Like, isn't that crazy? Like that's how much they don't even in my house. What am I doing? Stare to baseball that has an autograph on it. Like, to me, it just didn't, you know, like I was more exposed. I enjoyed more the personal experiences. I enjoyed more. With the guy's insurance stories and kind of just having those memories and just kind of being in the moment, like, for me, like, that was cool for me. Like that was, you know, that's what made it fun. So yeah. Pretty

Randy:

crazy what an experience. So here's the question that I'm going to give you for the seventh? Well, your seventh and eighth stretch was so unique because we've never had anybody that's been associated to the extent that you are with baseball. So, but here's the question anyway, that's kind of relative to you. So today there is an age requirement for those positions back point, boy, do you know what the age is?

Danny:

I don't, I'm going to guess. I mean, back when it was 16, when it was for us and it was only guy, they never had any girls and I know. To certain female, Bob would just go, which is great. So now

Randy:

it's 14. Okay. All right. But do you know why that they made an age restriction? So before you jumped in, no, actually at the time, even when you were there, then you could be much younger actually, but do you know why they,

Danny:

no, this is great. No, I love this.

Randy:

So I'll give you a little history. So evidently back in 2002, when dusty baker was the giants manager, he had a very young son was three years old, was a bad boy. And evidently at a game there actually, it was during one of the world series games with the giants. The Kenny Lofton just banged out a triple going around the bases and JT snow was coming home. And then bell was running full speed behind him. And then the young baker bad boy. Ran out onto the field to go clear the bat as well. And almost got plowed over by the guys. And one of the one of the guys, actually, it was JT, snow came in and grabbed him by his jacket and hold him up and took him out of the way before he got plowed by bell running in. But and it was after that game, the very next season, they decided like, oh, we need to put some parameters around that. We can't have the full three five-year-old guys

Danny:

out here. Well, that's how it was too. A lot of guys would bring their families in town and like, I'd be the bat boy. And then be like, Hey, so-and-so, son's doing it. But it's like, the thing is, they'd be the bad boy, but they would do it. But isolated do all the work. Like I was still getting the Gatorade, still doing the cooler. They would just sit. I'm like, come on, man. You're taking all the good stuff, but what you can do, are you gonna tell some baseball players, kid, they can't do it now. So it was kind of fun, but yeah, I could see that. I mean it's and it's your live baseball? I mean, this is, and stuff happens, stuff happens and it happens fast and you're, you know, it's split decisions and especially, you know, sitting out there a ball comes screaming at you. You ever get punked by, oh God, I made a living doing that. So here's where a real quick I so we used to do a thing called the bucket. So if you've ever been there for batting practice so basically the bat boy and the ball boy would go out basically right behind second base, right? Where the grass meets the dirt, if you will. And they put a big NetApp and then the players would hit the balls. And then the ones that didn't hit, they went out of the went into the outfield, the relief pitchers of the pitchers would throw them into me. Well, once the baseball players learned that, nah, Danny can't really catch a baseball very well. They decided to start throwing some heaters at me and you know, like in me, like I knew I'm horrible baseball and I. To me, like, I was more of like a thing. Like I was like, okay, like, I'm going to try to catch this ball. I mean, like I had a huge mail. I went and bought the biggest first baseman's Mitt just to cover a little bit of ground. And like, these guys would smoke these balls into me. And like, I mean like the one day, like the guys like, Hey, come on, crouch down and me throw you. I'm like, this is going to be like, he smoked me with that. And like, I'm watching this ball spin and curve and it plunked me. And like the one day I came in there, I had welts like all over my body. Like, and like, then I was like, busting my chops. Like, man, you suck, man. You can't, what are you yelling at? My boss, I kid a guy out there that knows how to catch a baseball. And you know, so then the next day I came out there and full catcher's gear. I go, come on, guys, let's go. I ain't playing today. Let's go. And you know, they loved it. They laughed because you know, everyone else was so, you know, worried about me. I, I knew I was bad at baseball. Like we used to have to warm up. If we were a ball, boy, you would warm up the right fielder. So. Well, that happened like three times for me, because once the guy, like I missed three balls and they sailed into the stands and I'm like, I couldn't even throw the ball to get it to him. Then like a bullpen catcher would come out and play catch with them, you know? But it's just funny. I'm like, man, like, man, that guy's horrible. Yes. I ain't gonna tell me, I know I'm bad at this. So

Randy:

yeah, I kind of like baseball it's okay. And I can't really catch her do anything.

Danny:

Exactly. And I love it and I'm going to enjoy every second of this cause. Yeah, but it was cool though. Like for me, that, that's what I enjoyed.

Randy:

So fun. All right. Well, there we go. Well, thanks for for joining us and let's get back into it. All right. So let's talk today. Which is Augie's restaurant. You've get this well, I do want to mention, so over the last, I don't know how long this is. You've been kind of doing a remodel project. It's. A few

Danny:

months, it's almost probably from one part to the next basically been almost a year. So to get the whole thing done, we had a three month closure for the true, we had to redo the kitchen with the full expansion. So yeah, I mean, we were shut down for three months, but we started doing pieces and parts and thought we'd open up the kitchen and then reopened the dining room and then everything just kinda just let's do it all in one shot. Yeah.

Randy:

Because I remember even before I moved offices that you, I think we even talked about. Yeah. I think we're going to expand, we're going to take the space next door and we're going to do this great, you know, knock the wall out and do all of those fun stuff. I'm like, wow. , I know this thing has been going on for awhile. So not only do you have the challenge of obviously expanding your restaurant. You have the pandemic, you know, happening. I don't know whether that was good or bad, right. Because you know, pandemic and restaurants, I mean, it's been incredible. Can you walk through the, some of the challenges that you've had with ed? So you had the challenge of , well, we're expanding plus the pandemic. How did you kind of deal with

Danny:

that? Yeah, it was, it was different. It was, it wasn't good or bad. It was different. It was a different kind of realm of business. So, you know, when the first pandemic happened, we didn't know what was going to happen. We shutting on March 16th, I think it was, they shut dining room down and we're like, okay, you know, let's see what happens. And then, you know, carry out, stayed busy for us in the pizza business. That was the one thing of being a pizza shop, carry out, kind of lend itself into its own kind of realm. It kind of did its own thing. So for us, people knew, you know, there's a lot of restaurants trying to do takeout, but they didn't have the right to go containers. They didn't have. So for us, you know what that pizza is going to be like. Hot cold. And you know what, it's going to be least, you know, what you were getting. So for us business wise, we stayed, okay. But we lost all dining and we lost all caterings. We do a lot of catering. So the big parties, the graduation parties, the first communions, we lost a huge chunk of that, but carry out kind of stayed steady. So from a business standpoint, it was okay. But then the challenges happened where from a staffing issue, all of a sudden so-and-so has got COVID or this happens. So what do we do? Do we shut down? Do we, you know, so you kind of were faced with more challenges from, you know, then it was like, Hey, grandma's at home. So-and-so can't work till the pandemic's over. So then, like I lost all my, most of my staff. You know, which was tricky, which was, you didn't know what to do. And there was no right answers or like, okay, Hey, you know, so we tried looking at that and then all of a sudden things started to turn into now you can't get product. Now the chicken wing facility is shut down. So now we're getting chicken wings. We couldn't get ribs. We had to wait a week to get flour, to get. So like the challenges that were basic, everyday stuff, all kind of factored into it. So it made it challenging on all different levels, but enough to survive and keep going through it. You know? Hey, I mean, there were days I was literally the only person working. Like I was the only one there I'm like, okay, I ain't gonna shut down. What am I going to do? So, Hey, it's going to be an hour. I'm the only one here. We're doing pizza and salad tonight. Sorry. Cool, Danny, we just want to see you be safe, you know, so like it was cool, you know, but then you also saw you know, from the community, like I really, you know, being in chagrin falls, south Russell, this area, this community is amazing. So for me, you kind of learn. People were calling me, Danny, you all right? You guys good? You need anything? We hear all these restaurants closing, you know, w what can we do for you? Or do you need I'm like, no, thank you. Just order a pizza and come say hi. I just want to see you and make sure you guys are all right. So it was kind of cool to see the outreach and that everyone might come a little pizza shop. Like when people care about me, like people want to, you know, but like, it was fun to see that, and it was kind of cool to see everybody and you just to keep everybody safe and trying to do what we had. We had the proper parameters up. And, but it was hard. It was different. It kinda, you know, for me being a people person, I had nobody in my dining room for almost a year. So like, it's been a year, it's been almost over a year now. And I'm like, oh my God, I just miss seeing people and talking to my customers and sitting there, BSN, laughing, you know, having a beer with them and kind of, you know, sharing stories. So it's kind of weird to take that away completely. And then almost not have it come back. So pretty interesting.

Randy:

And you were kind of laughing a little bit and telling the story about the landscapers, you know, right. Doing the thing. Lining up for lunch, really? You guys, did, you do a lot of business that way, you know, guys coming in for a lunch, you know, buying a couple of slices and heading out the door, you got a great deal going on with that. So I'm sure that that changed a little bit as well. But the issue around the the dining room. in my mind, I'm just kind of thinking like, well, you know, you got some, maybe some benefit or some positive things, because as you're decide, you're moving forward with the expansion during the time when, you know, the dining room was limited to anyway there probably then didn't, I mean, you are going to have some struggles with that to begin with. Absolutely. , if there wasn't a pandemic going on, like, okay, we're going to make this transition. How do we do this? Dining room is closed to Kendall. Made it a little bit easier for you.

Danny:

Yeah. Kind of. That's where we contact some of the pressure off it, it kind of, we were able to kind of move and kind of go, okay, let's wait on this. Let's get the kitchen rebuild. Yeah, but then the supply chain head then, you know, lumber tripled in price and you couldn't get like, what you mean? You can't get dry wall. What do you mean you can't get like, are you so then you're like, okay. , luckily we were late enough in the game or the gr the price of lumber finally went back down to not even a normal level, but better than it was at one point. So, you know, it's kind of just pick and choose our battles. And we kind of knew we still had the carry out and we stayed open. You know, we kept the kitchen open as long as we could just to keep business phone and keep it going was once you close, you know, and then we didn't expect to be closer to three months, that's for sure. But, , we were glad we did it. Right. And I think that's part of the process too. And our world and our pizza world it's survive to get through today. Let's do this. And then all of a sudden you're like, okay, but we should have probably put in the right electrical. We should probably set it. Now we're doing this to do this, to get through today and you're going, okay, this was dumb. So

Randy:

yeah, well, so I'm really looking forward to the new space. So tell us, you know, I, I was in there a few weeks ago and you know, you're still not quite opened up fully in the new space, but tell us about the new space. What, what are you guys doing with the new space?

Danny:

Yeah, it's very exciting and exciting for me. I mean, it's been fun to kind of watch it grow. Kind of learn and do it and kind of learn some of the construction aspects and the how the world works. I make pizzas in order flour and dough and tomatoes. You know, now I'm on the phone with guys trying to get lumber here and get you know, trying to hunt down this floor. I couldn't find her this little lights. I mean, it's been, it's been a lesson, you know, but I enjoyed every second, just like everything else, you know, every day, every day was a problem. Every day I was putting out a forest fire, but just like in the kitchen, you, you survived, you move on. What's the next problem let's go. You know, so for us, the new space has been really cool. So we've basically doubled our dining rooms. We'll have about 60 seats. The big part for me is two things. One we put, we've always had a full liquor license but I just never had the room and capability to do alcohol. So we've always done great beer, great wine. But now we've kind of done a minimum. Kind of a bar. So we've specialized, I'm an avid bourbon drinker and collector. So I've been chasing and hunting some bourbons down and deprived of a, I've got a nice list. So I've been looking for bourbons and got some cool ones and just a fun conversation piece I'm gonna talk about. And you know, as we grow and talk to more people like, oh man, you got this bottle. I found this one. Have you ever had this? So kind of something cool that I've always enjoyed and I've done for a while. You know, so that's been fun. So we have, we don't have a nice bourbons group, little small six person kind of bar. But for me, the fun part's been, I put a big giant chef's table down the middle of my restaurant. So, it's got about, you'll have about 12 seats. It's a big wood custom made farmhouse big table. So it's right down the middle. There's a big fireplace with some beautiful black stone. You know, so it's kind of cool. So that's, that's the showpiece, that's the, you know, my that's a part of me. I don't all these restaurants. We've always had chef tables. I love having that, you know, center stage and you know, we do a lot of fun stuff. Yeah, that's what makes it cool. It's just be able to see that stuff and kind of do that and have people feel special and want to come in and be like, Hey, we want the chef's table, or we want this and kind of just give it a little more, something different than a little pizza shop. You know, we've always been a great little pizza shop, but now we're still going to be a great little pizza shop, but now we're just going to elevate things a little bit. And with the menu, we didn't take anything off. Everyone always thought, Hey, you can change this at Danny's bistro and get rid of the pizza. Heck no, like pizzas. What's great. That's what keeps people coming in. And that's what it keeps it going. But for me then, yes, we did put, you know, a short robot. So book on the menu, you've expanded. Absolutely. We've expanded the menu to what we think is capable. We put in a bigger kitchen for this reason. So yeah, we put a steak on the menu. We got salmon. We've got. Tuna tartare, you know, some different kind of fun stuff. That's still manageable, but it's not over the top. I'm not trying to reinvent the, the chef wheel. You know, I did that. I'd done it now. I want something that I know people are going to order and want to get. And you know, it's funny having families come in there and so kids can still get pizza and chicken fingers and mom and dad can get a good bourbon and a piece of veal, you know, Hey, life is good. So, you know, that's kind of the, kind of the concept kind of what we look for. Gotcha.

Randy:

The classic Augie's, , great ribs, great chicken wings, great pizza. And that's what makes it fun.

Danny:

Yes. So, and that's what makes it fun. That's what makes it fun for me is to kind of hit it on all aspects of kind of enjoying seeing people enjoy the different stuff and love. When people come in, just get a pizza and a salad and a beer and be happy, then you get the guy that wants, you know, 200 tar tar and a lobster, and you're going, this is cool. Like, this is fun.

Randy:

So. When this show airs, I think you should be fully open by that point is what

Danny:

I'm expecting. Absolutely. Yeah. So we're kind of in between, you know, staffing just like anywhere else and just like any restaurant it's tough. It's, it's hard to find people, let alone good people let alone people who are serving experience, bartending, experienced, cooks, you know? So we're kind of balancing that right now. I'm kind of the server, the cook and the bartender right now. But guess what? It's, you know, I have this beautiful dining room we haven't officially opened yet, but we're, we're close. And I got people knocking on my door to come in and I basically tell them, Hey, here's the deal? I'm your server, I'm your cook and your bartender. So if you're going to yell at me about my service, get the heck out of here and they let you know, and that's fun. But most of my customers, they know me. I know them. So, you know, I'd rather have them come in and experience it and see it and do it. To you know, kick them out the door and be like, Nope, we're not open. Cause they don't have a wine rack here yet. Or you're going to eat on a different plate than the plate I'd really want you to eat on. So yeah, pretty crazy. So we're, we're close. We're very close in our fleet. Get things rolling here pretty soon. Oh,

Randy:

sorry. Exciting. All right. So Danny, here we are. We're down to the bottom of the nights here. This is where I get to ask you. What kind of advice do you have for rookies in the game? You know, these people who, because many of our listeners are small business owners are thinking about starting out in small business. What kind of guidance can you give them based on your experiences that you have? I mean, years of experience of being an owner and operating businesses.

Danny:

Yeah. You know, looking at hearing the word rookie and thinking like, I still think I am the rookie. I still look at it, you know, and that's how I am. I kind of have that, you know, put your head down mentality. For me, you know, Looking back, you know, for me, it was always my personal experiences, interactions with my staff. You know, for me, I always greeted my staff. You'd come into work, you know, blue kin and I had 20 employees. So I'd come in and say, Hey, what's up, Jim? How are you today? How's your dog. What's going on? Talk to me about this. Hey, then here, here's the prep list. Here's what we're going. So for, for me, it was communicating and on a personal level with my staff and those guys in just kind of having that relationship with them and not just being their boss or not saying like, Hey man, we're about to get our butts kicked, get your butt cook and let's go. He goes, Hey man, what's going on today? Let's talk for five minutes. Or, you know, having those lines of communication and just kind of, you know, taking each day as it comes, you know, every, every day is going to be different. Every day is going to, you're going to, you know, handle the problems. Don't worry about one problems. You're about to have three more in about five minutes, you know, and that's how it is. It's okay. What are we going to? All right, Hey, the sinks flooded or this guy called up, okay, what are you gonna do? Figure it out. , so for me, you know, I still look at myself as a rookie in the game. I still look at myself as, you know, most people would just work, you know, put your head down. I worked the guy next to you. I mean, for me, it's, you're gonna, you know, you can talk about it. You can have all the fancy stuff, but at the end day, you know, with your, especially with your staff, I think that's part of the biggest part is that, you know, to work with them and show them and teach them there's kids that want to learn and want to grow. And if I can show them how to use that knife better, or just a, Hey man, do it this way, this way, it would be a lot easier. Even if I was loading up a dish rack the other day for a kid, you know, he didn't know how to put dishes in a dish rack. Well, I never, she never learned, so I'm like, dude, I'm gonna make this way easy for you. We're going to put them in this way. He was like, oh my God, you just saved Mo he saved time, saved me time, you know? So it's kind of, you know, being, being hands-on and being on with, you know, especially with your staff. I think that's the biggest thing right now. And, you know, kids can go make a lot more money working in a lot of other places in town, you know, they can afford to pay them 15, 20 bucks an hour. But, you know, sometimes I had experience in that growth that they can learn at other places. And, you know, you kind of learn with that and kind of grow with that. So that's kind of, kind of my advice there.

Randy:

Good, good stuff. All right. Well, Absolutely looking forward to getting in and getting into the new space. And I found we have another passion in common of bourbon. So I'm

Danny:

well,

Randy:

I've got one under the counter.

Danny:

Oh, today's a half day for me. So that's one thing about being the boss. I get to make those decisions.

Randy:

Well, I'm excited to see what you get on the menu. Cause I'll bring in my buddies. We w w w we generally kind of get together a couple of times a month and hit some new bourbons be yeah. Well, listen, thanks so much for being on the show today. I appreciate it. It's been great to chat again with you, catch up and hear all the great stories and wish you just really the best success in the

Danny:

new space. Well, I appreciate it. This has been fun. Yeah. It's fun to talk about stuff. And it's fun to have a guy that, you know, came in and got ribs from me and then be able to sit and talk. And then I just really, because of him that day, when we started talking about baseball, the one day Randy, you lit up late, I'm like, this is cool. And then to sit here and like, when he sent me the initial. This is so cool. This is a perfect match, like, you know, and you know, it's pretty cool. So it's been fun to kind of talk about it and, you know, see the growth of the restaurant. Be able to spear with great people in the community like yourself and you know, a lot of fun. So as you can tell from, , from talking with you, I definitely enjoy

Randy:

it. So, yeah. Good. Good. All right. Well folks, that's the ballgame. Thanks for joining us today. And if you liked our show, please tell your friends subscribe and review. And as we like to say, we'll see around the ballpark. Running the basis with small businesses is brought to you by 38 digital marketer, a digital marketing agency, committed to client growth with lead generation higher conversions and increased sales connect with us today 38digitalmarket.com