Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today's fortune: March 24, 2011

Today's fortune: Linger over dinner discussions this week for needed advice.

Jamie and I made the drive to Leavenworth, Kansas, this evening, not to visit relatives in the clink, but to stop by Leavenworth's newest restaurant, Cafe Chilingo, which is owned and operated by my friend Elena.

Cafe Chilingo is a classy little gourmet hot dog and chili restaurant. They serve the chili over spaghetti, and it's fantastic. But the real stars are the hot dogs. Jamie dined on a Grunge Dog, a meatless frank wrapped in a piece of veggie bacon (yes, there is a vegetarian version of bacon), then smothered in cream cheese, sauteed onions, green peppers and hot sauce. I had the same thing except with an angus beef dog and no bacon. And, well, I'll never ever want to eat a hot dog without cream cheese on it again.

Unless it's the Mac & Cheese dog, which is smothered in rich, cheddary macaroni. Delicious.

During our meal, the proprietor sat down with us and helped fulfill today's fortune. We lingered over a terrific discussion, which focused on the joys, difficulties and hard work of starting a small business.

Although myths run amok and even the experts seem to disagree on the specifics, it seems that as many as 60 percent of new restaurants fail within a few years of the grand opening (even though common legend says nine out of 10 restaurants close within 12 months).

But Elena has a terrific concept and the food to back it up. And I'll tell you this much: I've never met a person with more confidence.

Jamie and I both picked Elena's brain about how she had the courage to open up a restaurant in this economy. She gave us some profound nuggets of wisdom, which were especially helpful for Jamie, who has an entrepreneurial streak unlike any I've ever seen. "It's good that you have ideas for starting businesses," Elena told her. "You know, if you think about it, everything in this restaurant started out as somebody's idea. This chair, for example. Many centuries ago, somebody had the idea that it would be more comfortable to sit on something besides a rock, so they invented a chair."

Funny story about Elena. I first met her last year when we both worked temporary jobs for the U.S. Census Bureau. During a night shift one evening, Elena started telling me stories about her life. Each of the stories had perfectly-placed punchlines, and eventually I realized she was delivering a well-rehearsed (and hilarious) stand-up routine.

Today's fortune says the dinner conversation would bring "needed advice." I didn't know what advice I needed going in. But I sure did discover some useful information and a foolproof mathematical formula:

Hot dog + cream cheese = YUM

Jamie and I also discovered that it's good to support your friends. Especially when those friends serve the best damn hot dogs in the Kansas City area. Yep. I said it.

Oh, and one more thing: the first three people to leave a comment on this post get a coupon for a free dog at Cafe Chilingo.


  1. aww look at my little Star! I'll have to go pay her a visit.

  2. I just read the free coupon thing...SCORE!!! now do I get 2?

  3. I'm gonna have to try this place.

  4. This article is a piece of Really!!!

  5. Elena & I have been friends for 19 years, we share many good memories, I live about 5 hours from her now, & CANT wait to visit her & her accomplishments. If her cafe has ANY reflection of her, then I have no doubt it will be THE STAR of the city. Thanx for providing this link.

  6. purchased off groupon a certificate for this cafe to our suprise they were gone on vacation! then we finally make it since there only open till 2:30. we hade to order off a diffrent menu because we purchashed off groupon that totally sucked because we didnt get to order what we wanted!!!! the tea was okay but not great! the slaw was good but could of been colder! ALSO THE FRITO PIE TOTALLY SUCKED! WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY !!!!! the dogs i threw up hard avacados not fresh horrible. buyer beware no gourmet dog i have ever seen looks like a walmart dog!!!!!!!!