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Episode 18: Italian Charm with Key West’s Newest Restaurant, Lola’s Bistro

November 21, 2019

We are having a conversation between Mark Baratto and Chef Richard. 

MARK:           This is the Backyards of Key West podcast; my name is Mark Baratto and we are with Chef Richard. Chef Richard, welcome to the show.  Let me paint the picture for the people on the listening end here. We are right at 728 Simonton and you walk on the street and it looks to be like this was an old cottage. Right? You walk up to the stoop from the outside and it looks like a cottage and you walk inside and you have 9-10 tables and reminds me of going and growing up in New York City and going off the beaten path and finding these little tiny cute restaurants with some old grandmother, not that you’re an old grandmother, but some old grandmother would be in there cooking. It’s like a bring your own wine and then I’m making a Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli) and then she’d be cooking whatever she would want to cook that day and then that’s how it was. So, you walk in, it’s like the kitchen is right there next to where people will be sitting so you really smelling the flavors and then here, I see Chef Richard. He’s here and what were you cooking? Short ribs? 

RICHARD:    Braising short ribs for tonight.

MARK:           He was braising short ribs so he was searing these beautiful pieces of meat, there’s spices everywhere, the smell is like electrifying and some guy comes walking in and it’s like, “yeah, I need a reservation for tonight for 8 people” and he’s like, sorry booked out tonight. I don’t know if there will be availability for tomorrow, 8 people’s a lot. He’s like, “we drink a lot.” And he’s like, “well you bring your own booze so you better bring a lot of wine then.” Tell me chef, how long have you been in Key West?

RICHARD:    Since July actually. We started the project and renovating the building in July and we finished October 20th

MARK:           So, oh you are new to Key West and you just moved here as well. 

RICHARD:    Oh yeah, I just moved here and opening a business here. 

MARK:           Wow.

RICHARD:    But I’ve been a frequent visitor for many, many years. Four to five times a year for four to five days at a time and it was something I always had in the back of my head that I would like to try a business here. 

MARK:           Were you always a chef? Where did you come from? 

RICHARD:    I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Started out my first job was a busboy and I was hooked from then. I was kind of a natural at it and became a dishwasher when I was in high school and a line cook when I was in college. Then I decided to go to culinary school and that’s what I did.

MARK:           In Philadelphia, you worked in different restaurants there? 

RICHARD:    I worked at different restaurants and then I was trained by an Italian chef in a very demanding fashion and some French chefs I worked under were very demanding from Europe. They don’t have a high tolerance for inefficiency or Americans! Especially people go to culinary schools they do an apprenticeship in Europe and it’s a lot different, it’s more of a work-related training and it’s a lot tougher and they expect you not to make mistakes. So, they create an atmosphere where at least many many years ago and I don’t know how it is today, but I still think it’s the same and they create an atmosphere where you better learn as fast as you can, quick cause we are not taking our time. 

MARK:           Because I’m sure there’s a line of other apprentices way behind you.            

RICHARD:    And they see a new, and apprenticeship in Europe is a three-year thing and each year you’re supposed to progress to a certain level and at the end of your three years, you’re ready to go out in the field. If you’re not trained well, it’s a reflection on them because somebody says, “Where did you do your apprenticeship?” and you’re inefficient.

MARK:           Right, you’re like at Jacques and Jacques is going to be mad.  

RICHARD:    And he’s gonna say, “Hey, you trained under him? Why are you so incompetent!” 

MARK:           Exactly.

RICHARD:    So, it’s a combination of dread and excitement when you’re an apprentice. You want to learn but you don’t want to mess up, and you want to do your best but it puts pressure, but pressure is the restaurant business. If you can’t handle pressure then you shouldn’t even be in it. 

MARK:           But it’s also good because it’s accelerated learning because you’re not strolling around, you’re like I’m making food, I could be burning myself, I could be getting my ears burned from the head chef because he’s yelling at me, it’s a very difficult business.  That I think and all the listeners know, if you’ve ever peaked in the back or seen any of those shows or movies, I’m assuming most of that stuff is real because when you have ten people that all put in orders at the exact same time and you have to get all that food out at the same time and it’s all gotta be the right temperature and not be cold and all these different things…

RICHARD:    It’s pressure on everybody. It’s pressure on the front of the house and the back of the house. From the dishwasher to the hostess, when its busy people want what they want and they are not interested in how much pressure you’re dealing with, they just want a good meal or a good drink and they expect it to be delivered to them. It sounds easy but…

MARK:           It doesn’t sound easy.

RICHARD:    But when you have to coordinate everything, it’s quite a feat. And when people do it right, they should be commended because it’s not an easy thing. 

MARK:           Of course. When you were in Philadelphia, did you ever have your own restaurant? Or, is this one first? 

RICHARD:    I had a restaurant, yes in Bucks County Pennsylvania. 

MARK:           Nice.

RICHARD:    It was a BYOB (bring your own beverage) and I kind of, well liquor licenses were so high and you know, if your restaurant isn’t big enough with enough seats it’s different from Florida if you have 150 seats you could get a liquor license fairly easy. But in Pennsylvania it could be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars for a restaurant to get a liquor license. 

MARK:           Yeah and that’s probably just beer and wine and then you have to get the full liquor license.  

RICHARD:    Well Pennsylvania doesn’t have a beer and wine; they just do full liquor licenses. It’s kind of, well the state of Pennsylvania runs all the liquor and it’s not like (here), they control the licensing and everything. They own them and you could buy them but the state has a big influx in your business because they regulate everything. You have to buy all your liquor from the state of Florida, excuse me state of Pennsylvania. 

MARK:           Wow! Well it’s not like down here. But it’s still difficult… a challenge. This is my ignorance talking because I’ve never owned a restaurant and I’ve never been a chef in a restaurant, but I’ve eaten in restaurants and I’ve got that going for me, but from what I’ve heard from other people that own restaurants and they are like, you make a little money in the food and you make most of your money on the booze. So how do you navigate? And, is that even true? 

RICHARD:    Well, your margins on your liquor help you a lot. It all depends on what type of restaurant you have; you know? I’ve had a restaurant that had a full liquor license and it’s a profitable thing. Especially if you have a full bar and if you just have a beer and wine license it’s still very profitable. But if you’re a good chef and you price your product right then it’s incorrect to assume that if you only sell food you can’t make it because that means you’re not structuring your menu or your pricing properly. Which is fairly prevalent in a restaurant business. I use the example in any profession, there’s people who are really good in it and there’s people who are in the middle, and then there’s people at the bottom. They are all chefs or they’re all doctors or all lawyers or plumbers or electricians but there is a level of professionalism and expertise that people assume and between education and training and some people really know what they’re doing and other people don’t. They are the ones I think and it’s easy for them to say, oh if you don’t have liquor you don’t make money. Because, they don’t know how to make… 

MARK:           Right, so they use that as their crutch.

RICHARD:    Yeah. It’s a good compensator and it puts you over the top and you are always going to make money when you sell alcohol. That’s a fact. But at this point in my life I just want to concentrate on the food. I don’t want to be a bar owner or you know, and I like cocktails but I don’t really want to…

MARK:           I saw that glass of wine and I was like wow; he’s toying with the things but the wine actually went into the …. 

RICHARD:    I took a couple sips of the red wine and I deglazed the pan, short ribs with it, so…

MARK:           It was more for the food than it was for you.

RICHARD:    I was just sampling, that’s all. 

MARK:           Besides wanting the liquor license and we are not going to harp on this anymore, because I love the fact that you’re taking it and about the caliber of the food, the quality of the food. Why that direction down here in Florida because you want to continue to increase the quality of the food you produce? 

RICHARD:    I just like to concentrate on my field of expertise which is food. It’s a lifetime of appreciation of all different type of cuisines and I focus primarily on Mediterranean, Italian, French, Spanish influence there. But I love all kinds of food and at this point, I just want to focus on a high-quality product, simple ingredients, and I don’t want to say upscale because it’s not an upscale restaurant but the level of food. 

MARK:           The quality is upscale. 

RICHARD:    It’s an upscale quality, but it’s an unpretentious environment. I think to me that’s what I’m shooting for here. That’s why it’s small, I don’t want to have 100 seats or 150-200 seats and deal with that. I liked the idea that the intimacy with the customer and it’s basically a restaurant for foodies. If you’re a foodie you’re gonna love it. If you’re looking for a quick bite just to get in and out, it’s not going to be for you. And I mean, it’s okay because there’s all different types of restaurants for all different types of dining. I want somebody to have a great experience food-wise, be happy with their wine or whatever they are bringing to enjoy and equals a really good experience because everybody seems to be taking to it. 

MARK:           I love that you’re tailoring the type of clientele based on what you’re having. So, if you’re having the high-end quality food and you’re not having it in a bar and you’re not pumping out a tuna sandwiches over here, then you are calling to that kind of customer that makes you happy as a chef to see in here.

RICHARD:    It’s definitely a niche market. Locals who live here know the restaurants in Key West, I think. They all have their favorite little spots, but I want to be one of the new favorite little spots. I think that with the amount of seating I have, it’s a good fit. I don’t need to do 100 dinners; I don’t need to do 75 dinners every day. If I do 25 dinners and they are perfect then that’s what I’m shooting for. If I do 35 and they are perfect, that’s okay. But no more than 40 people a night to me is the most impact I can make individually as a chef from scratch cooking, from the time they walk in and nothing is made and it’s assembled and turned out right in front of them. I think that’s a niche that I am going for. 

MARK:           For sure. And I’m witnessing it here, you are preparing meals for dinner time at 1 o’clock. 

RICHARD:    Well, some of the long cooking ones yeah. I’m going to do my pastry after we wrap up this interview. I’m going to make tiramisu, a chocolate ganache, a carrot cake and prep for some souffles. 

MARK:           You’re making those, too. 

RICHARD:    Oh, I make all the pastry, yeah.

MARK:           So, you’re a chef and a baker. 

RICHARD:    Well, all classically trained chefs have some background in pastry and baking it’s not their forte but over the years, some chefs put more into it and some don’t want to be bothered with it. It’s that whole different vibe if you’re a pastry chef baker, it’s a different and more patient artistic you know? I’m not really an artistic pastry chef at all, I just try to bring the same way I approach my food is just really good basic quality ingredients in a classic dessert. 

MARK:           That’s great. Tell me about the menu. Is it a fixed menu and then a percentage of it is new every day? How does that work? 

RICHARD:    Well, the goal was to have a verbal menu which is what we’re doing where a lot of people think we only have 1-2 things a night and people misconstrue the idea. It’s basically 8-10 things every night and they change. Certain things since I’ve opened have been so popular and people have been talking about it that I don’t want to take it off because they are coming in specifically for that. I try to do 4 appetizers and 4-5 entrees. I try to do 1-2 pastas, 1 red meat, 2 shellfish, and 2 fresh fish. Then the appetizers, you’ve seen the short ribs, today. I’m going to make a mushroom ravioli and I’m going to have whole roasted artichokes, and shrimp and scallops. I try to work it in where the next day I may do a porterhouse and veal medallions. Or the next day after that, it keeps me interested where I’m not making the same thing over and over and over.

MARK:           So, you may use some of the same ingredients just make different dishes out of them. You’ll buy a specific amount of shrimp and then you’ll use it for today and then tomorrow, or however long you can. It’s not like… 

RICHARD:    And the sauces will change. You might have a shellfish like a shrimp dish today which would be with fresh plumb tomatoes and fresh ground peppers. But tomorrow it might grill them and top it on top of a piece of fish with a totally different sauce. And sauces are the key. 

MARK:           Of course. That French Italian background.

RICHARD:    It’s like a saucier is my forte, making things – a shrimp is a shrimp is a shrimp – but it’s what you and like you could grill a shrimp and have it seasoned with fresh lemon and it’s an amazing dish. Then you could make an entirely different sauce the next day and you know still have the shrimp. I do that with a lot of things whether it’s a ribeye steak or a porterhouse or a veal chop, lamb racks. It just keeps me interested and keeps it fresh so when people come in if they come in once a week they are not looking at the same menu they looked at a week before, or if they come in twice a week, which amazingly some people are already coming in once or twice a week so, they are liking the vibe that they can get something that’s different the night they come in from the previous night. 

MARK:           What people need to realize about sauces is that as a person who likes to cook at home, I’m Italian and I have my family’s recipes and I cook at home, for the home cooker a lot of times it’s like, oh different seasoning. Because we are not trained in the sauces which is the really hard part to make those flavors come out, so I’m glad you mentioned that because you can take 10 shrimp and make 10 different meals out of it just with the changing of those sauces. 

RICHARD:    There’s different stocks and I use all and make all my own stocks and stuff, so that’s the basis of my food is my stocks and the secondary sauces I make from the stocks and you know, it’s also a long career and exposure to all different types of things that you can come up with a specific style. Stylistically I’m a very simplistic chef. I just start with really good ingredients and really fresh product and it’s hard to mess it up. If you overcook something but I mean, at this point if I’m overcooking stuff then I should retire. 

MARK:           Pack it in. When you’re coming up with the next day’s menu, is that in the morning or is it the night before?  

RICHARD:    I’ll call some of my purveyors and see what fish are available. Like tonight I have a Branzino which is a Mediterranean seabass. I have yellowtail snapper. I have jumbo sea scallops, tomorrow I have Chilean seabass coming in and I think I’m having some Wahoo coming in tomorrow, so I don’t get huge amounts. I’ll get 6-7 pounds of one thing and sell it out and so I’m constantly getting in a new delivery on a regular basis. Now that’s fresh because I have limited space. I have limited storage. The restaurant is 685 square feet and it’s not a big place. I have no freezers, so everything is – well – I have 1 refrigerator, but by the end of the night there’s nothing in the refrigerator so it’s kinda like, well it’s more effort on my part every day to coordinate this stuff, but it’s like coming to my house for dinner. That’s what I like about it. 

MARK:           I can tell that you’re happy about doing it your way like that. 

RICHARD:    There’s so many big restaurants and there’s a lot of great restaurants that are big but before I owned my own places, I worked as an executive chef and I always thought the weak link in it at 250-300 seat restaurant no matter how high quality you were, it’s hard to do and hard to have the impact because there’s always weak links in the kitchen because you may have 4-5 really good guys working and then 2-3 guys that are mediocre. So, whatever they are making it’s hard, and the consistency to have really quality at a high volume is very difficult to do. Anybody that does that, a restaurant that can do that really good high-quality consistency is to be applauded. It’s very difficult and people don’t realize how difficult it is to coordinate 6-7 people that are working and turning out food simultaneously. 

MARK:           Oh, I bet. You guys open at 7pm and when is your first reservation? At 7?

RICHARD:    No, we open at 6. We open at 6 and usually, tonight we have about 14-18 people come in and then we try to spread it out every half hour. So, people at 6 and I allow at least an hour and half, I don’t want to rush people. I don’t think this is the type of place you come in and want to be in and out in 45 minutes. 

MARK:           The atmosphere is so homey that you just want to… 

RICHARD:    And that’s what I’m going for. I don’t want, well that’s why I do the reservation, people said I’m small and everybody recommended that I just let people wait and I don’t want people waiting out on the sidewalk. 

MARK:           Then your last reservation? 

RICHARD:    It’s whenever they came in, I took a reservation at 10 o’clock last night. Which is okay by me, I am a night owl by nature, and …

MARK:           Like most chefs, you’re used to working at night.

RICHARD:    And anybody who wants to come out at 10 o’clock, I love ‘em because that to me is when you should be eating at 9:30 or 10! But that’s how I grew up, we ate late and we had… well it’s fun to have it spread out. It makes me feel like you have a little slice of and I don’t want to say the European way of approaching dining. You don’t have to be here at exactly that time, you come in, maybe you’ll just get a couple of dishes, maybe not get a big formal dinner but you may get 3-4 apps, some bread, have some wine, relax, talk, you know. 

MARK:           Well, if we were in Italy it would be like that, and then 2 hours later then you’d start ordering your main food because you have like lunch and dinner – it’s like “linner” and they blend into one except it starts at like 7 and then it ends at midnight. 

RICHARD:    And to me, I have a blast when I look out and I see people that are done and they are just talking and having a good time and that’s the environment you want. It’s not a place where you come, you sit, you eat. 

MARK:           It’s not a machine, you’re not making a machine here, you’re making like…

RICHARD:    It’s the whole thing. It can get a little loud.

MARK:           Like Uncle Richard’s kitchen over here. It is, it’s like they are coming over for Thanksgiving. 

RICHARD:    You know, if you get a full crowd in here it can be a little loud. And some people have said to me, oh you know you need to address the noise issue and I’m going to, but part of the dynamic of a small place is the action. But it tends to be a little loud.

MARK:           I remember going to my grandmother’s house and let me tell you, it was loud from the minute we all got there until the minute we left, but that’s because we were all loud and we had that going on, too. I’m looking at the kitchen here, do you have any sous chefs? Is it just you? 

RICHARD:    It’s just me and that’s the other reason it’s small because I make literally everything. 

MARK:           You’re cooking everything and then there’s a server. A couple of servers and that’s it. 

RICHARD:    Server and one dishwasher. 

MARK:           Wow. So, one server and one dishwasher because in all honesty you have a good server and in a really big restaurant this is the section they’d have anyway. 

RICHARD:    Well, I don’t know if they would have 9 tables but they have a really good server and a really busy place you’d have at least a 4-table station. 

MARK:           You still have one server though? 

RICHARD:    Well, I do a lot of service because if a dinner is ready and somebody is sitting here, I bring it right out. 

MARK:           You bring it right out. 

RICHARD:    I don’t need to have everybody standing in the back waiting for the food to come out because I could walk 2 feet and deliver an appetizer so if the server is talking and taking an order, I’m delivering the food. 

MARK:           But it seems like you would like to do that, too. Meet the customer. 

RICHARD:    Yeah, because that’s why it’s open. That’s why it’s to create a place where people are just like – this is gonna be their place. And that’s what I’m gunnin’ for. 

MARK:           I can feel it. Some of my favorite memories of all the restaurants I’ve ever been to have been those little spots exactly like this in New York where you’re on your way to walk to one place and you round the corner and then there’s this little light shimmering and you walk up the stoop and it’s something about this size, and you just fall in love with the atmosphere. 

RICHARD:    And you know the people. I have only been open 3 weeks but we’ve had repeat diners, some here 3-4 times in 3 weeks. I feel like I’ve known them for years. I’ve talked with them because as the night slows down and everybody is finishing their wine, you strike up a conversation, you talk and talk about the food, you talk about where they are from or from here originally or wherever they’re at. 

MARK:           How are you doing that while you have stuff cooking? I’m sure that’s all these decades of years of experience, right? 

RICHARD:    Well, I got ADHD and I’m a hyper person. 

MARK:           You’ve got your leg working the pot at you’re talking!

RICHARD:    I’m controlling myself as I speak deliberately slowing myself down. I’m sure you noticed that. 

MARK:           You’ve been great.

RICHARD:    But I think it only benefits you if you’re hyper and you work in a restaurant. It helps you deal and it’s easy for me to hyper focus and I could be cooking 5 different things and delivering an appetizer and know exactly what’s ready. So, it’s kinda fun that way and it’s at least at this point in my life, it’s a personal challenge to see how much I can do. It’s almost like an athletic event.

MARK:           But you put in the reps, people gotta understand here, it’s not like you’re 1‑year out of culinary school and you’re coming to do this, you’ve put in the reps from washing dishes all the way up and put in the reps as an owner. So, you do have that that makes it a little bit easier where you don’t have your watch with the timer that beeps saying the pasta is ready, something in the back of your mind is like, it’s ready and you just know because of all that time. 

RICHARD:    It’s funny about the experience, when I graduated from cooking school, I went for a job interview with a very famous restauranteur and he said to me, “Do you really love being a chef? Or, do you like making money in restaurants?” and I said, “I think I love being a chef.” And he said, “That’s too bad. That should be your second choice, he said if you go into the restaurant business it should be business is your first thing.” I didn’t understand it at 22 (years old). And he said I’ll give you a recommendation and he said, “if you want to make money in the food business” and I’ll never forget this cause it crushed my bubble, he said, “Get a franchise.” He said, “I’ve made a million dollars a year and I knew nothing, I never set foot in it.” And he bought fast food places. He said, “I hired a G.M., I invested the money and I did incredibly well.” He said, “but if you love what you do, then you’ll be successful but you should think about a franchise.” He kept telling me that and I always remember that as I got older and I opened my first restaurant and it would be frustrating and stressing over the quality and this, and I was thinking, wow I guess when you have a franchise everything is laid out for you, you just hit the button and everything is done and it’s just high volume. But it wasn’t me. I wanted to make an impact on a customer and I wanted to put my soul on the plate. My name on the plate. And I think I’ve never lost that and if I could go back, I’d probably still do the same thing. 

MARK:           I mean, having an answer to me, that’s the worst advice someone could give because that’s like saying you want to be a musician? No, no forget that, just do jingles because you can make more money. 

RICHARD:    Well, he was a real practical guy. Very successful and you know…

MARK:           But if you want to be in business and make money there’s other ways even besides restaurant business that are a lot easier because even that is a difficult thing to take up. 

RICHARD:    Well, he said “if you’re going to be in the restaurant business, if you choose that as your field he said, considering franchising.” That’s what he meant. 

MARK:           Slinging burgers and cookin’ up fries. 

RICHARD:    It was an interesting conversation and he was very very very very successful and I was a kid. He took the time to talk to me and I walked out and he said, “I know it’s a hard thing I’m telling you, he said but you’ll probably be okay.” 

MARK:           At least you knew right away and you’re like okay, listen, I want to do things that I love more than and I’ll take making a little bit less money but do something that makes me happy. 

RICHARD:    I knew when I left the office that he wasn’t ever going to be a customer of mine. Because he didn’t care about food that much.

MARK:           Exactly, and he’s like, why am I going to come in here and wait, it’s too loud! You guys opened in July…

RICHARD:    No, we opened October 20th.  We moved here in July.

MARK:           Wow, so you just opened. 

RICHARD:    Yup, three weeks! 

MARK:           You opened the doors the first day, did you do any marketing or what did you do to get the word out? 

RICHARD:    I didn’t do anything. I thought it was small enough and word of mouth is all you need. 

MARK:           Well, how did you spread it? Someone you had to tell. 

RICHARD:    Well, we’ve been here and met a lot of really interesting and incredible people here since we moved here that we told what we were doing. They were very supportive and anything – and offered help – amazing. You don’t see or meet people like that where I grew up. 

MARK:           Me either, no it’s exceptional. 

RICHARD:    Here, everybody was in my corner and everybody was supportive, everybody was whatever you – didn’t want anything – just wanted me to – and they have been living here for years and they’ve told their friends. It was a little bit of a pre-buzz and then once I opened, they all came out and support. Once they were here and had the food, then they’ve told their friends and you know, the first week it was – well we did fairly well. The second week was – Fantasy Fest – so that was very interesting for me, I’ve never been here for Fantasy Fest. 

MARK:           It was my first Fantasy Fest, too. 

RICHARD:    Everybody and I’ve seen the parades but we were kind of slow that week because it was, but you know we had some locals coming in and they were seeking refuge, and they had a blast. They were here on a Saturday night and they loved the fact that they could just rest here for 2 hours and have wine and it was very quiet.

MARK:           And then now the food week. 

RICHARD:    Then after that it’s just been sold out every night. It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t thank everybody enough who has been here and nothing but kind words for us and it’s amazing. It’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had either as an executive chef or as an owner. The last couple of weeks here has been amazing. 

MARK:           Yeah, the people will pull together for each other here big time and that’s one of the reasons why my family and I moved here, for sure. 

RICHARD:    That’s why I moved here. 

MARK:           The people here are just amazing, so. 

RICHARD:    It’s a sense of, nobody is looking for anything, you know? They are just looking to be who they are and be a good person and help people and genuine. They are genuine and you could spot somebody that’s not genuine. 

MARK:           Of course, our BS detectors are on high-alert nowadays and it’s easy when you’re like, what do they want? But on the same token, when you’ve had 30 years of people always wanting something, then there’s a little bit of that. 

RICHARD:    Create cynicism. 

MARK:           Exactly, but you can tell with the people here that they really do care. Which I love a lot. 

RICHARD:    I’d say in the last 5 months that I’ve been here, I have more friends that I would call a friend than I’ve had for the last 20 years of people. You know, you meet a lot of people, a lot of acquaintances, a lot of people you know. 

MARK:           Especially in the restaurant business because they all want to be your friend. 

RICHARD:    But say somebody you can count on, you call ‘em up for help, that’s pretty – and I have called in help here when I first, well the first couple of weeks and they’ve been there for me. That’s amazing, you know? Whether I needed help in the dish pit or I needed help on the dining room, or any, you know people have been there. And it’s amazing. 

MARK:           That’s great. I know that you’re busy, we are going to be wrapping up here in a second. Where could people find more about you, the website, social media.  

RICHARD:    On social media – Facebook – Instagram – my wife handles all that stuff.

MARK:           I know, I was chatting with her and how we got this intro. 

RICHARD:    I am technological failure. 

MARK:           You’re a food genius, but you leave tech to your wife. 

RICHARD:    I can cook but I can’t do much else. 

MARK:           Well, here’s the thing, you can learn tech with Google and YouTube but you cannot learn cooking with Google and YouTube. 

RICHARD:    My daughter guides me through things if I have problems with technical things. 

MARK:           Well, I’ll put all that stuff in the notes so when people want to find you, they will be able to see you all there. The last parting question, who’s Lola? 

RICHARD:    Lola is my daughter. That’s, well it’s named for our daughter who doesn’t really care that the restaurant is named after her. We thought it was kinda cool, she was like “meh.”

MARK:           Does she live here, too?       

RICHARD:    Yeah, she lives here. She is 13 and she…

MARK:           Well, that’s why she doesn’t care. She’s got other things. But when she’s 16 and she comes walking in with her friends who are like, “oh my God, this is the famous Lola’s.” She’ll be like, “yeah, now I like it.” 

RICHARD:    She’s got her name on the front window and she’s like, oh I don’t care. But that’s cool. 

MARK:           Yeah, it’s good. 

RICHARD:    She likes to eat though. 

MARK:           And I’m sure she loves your cooking.

RICHARD:    Yeah, she does. 

MARK:           But I’m sure she’s also like, “but Dad, I come in the restaurant and this is like what I eat at home anyways.” So, she’s used to this amazing cuisine.

RICHARD:    She doesn’t know what all the hub-hub is about, she just says I’ll have some shrimp, I’ll have some chicken, I’ll have some pasta. 

MARK:           She’s like, Dad pasta with butter. And you’re like, I can make that at home I don’t make that here. Well listen chef, it was great to talk to you. I think there’s a lot of nuggets that people can learn about you and this business. We’re here to support locals and if you’re down here, you gotta check this place out. I’m definitely going to make a reservation for whenever there’s availability. My wife and I are just going to adore this place. If you’re coming into town, and you are looking for this amazing type of food because you don’t have this kind of restaurant where you live, please make reservations. Look in the show notes and you’ll find out ways to do that and again, we appreciate you, thank you again chef. 

RICHARD:    Thank you. 

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One comment on “Episode 18: Italian Charm with Key West’s Newest Restaurant, Lola’s Bistro