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The Dish Cafe

Al Parker - June 28th, 2007
For many workers in the restaurant business, long, hard hours are part of the game., Patty Hickman and Randy Waclawski, who have more than three decades of restaurant experience between them, decided that if they were to work that hard, they might as well own a place., So, earlier this year they bought one of Traverse City’s most popular downtown eateries, the Dish Café., “We don’t mind hard work, ” said Hickman, smiling as she wiped down a table. “We’ll work 70 hours a week for ourselves.”, Hickman and Waclawski are the third owners of the Dish, which was launched about a decade ago by restaurant veterans Trish and Jeff Wiltse. They ran the place for a few years before selling to Ted Manseau., “We’re all friends, so we were very familiar with the Dish, ” said Hickman, a 29-year-old Midland native whose first job at 14 was waiting tables in a hometown eatery. She later attended the culinary program at Northwestern Michigan College and worked as a chef at Hattie’s in Suttons Bay., That’s where she met Waclawski, a 36-year-old Kalkaska High School grad, who had worked at several area restaurants and ran a Mackinac Island bar for years before working at Hattie’s., “I’ve worked all over and I’ve seen the best, ” said Waclawski. “We want the Dish Café to be among the best. The food at the Dish has always been good and we’ll maintain that.”, RE-DOING THE DISH, After closing on the Dish deal, the two immediately started spiffing up the place, including new carpeting, a refurbished front, a bright new coat of paint and some kitchen changes that will streamline food prep and service., There’s wi-fi service and seating for 45 inside, with five sidewalk tables for those who prefer al fresco dining., “We want to provide a nice atmosphere for everyone – the business guy, the high school kid, the mom with kids, ” said Hickman. “We’ll also focus on speed. We want people to feel that it won’t take long to get their meal.”, Helping Hickman and Waclawski prepare and deliver that food quickly is their staff of six. “We have some really good people working with us, ” said Hickman., WRAP ARTISTS, Dish Café regulars will be glad to see that Hickman and Waclawski are making very few changes to the eatery’s menu, which features some of the tastiest wrap sandwiches in town. They include:, • The Shrimpy - shrimp, guacamole, crushed blue corn chips and a lime dill ranch dressing., • Cherry Daze – chicken, havarti cheese, red onion, dried cherries, artichokes and a fat-free cherry vinaigrette., • The Chubby – smoked turkey, ham, havarti cheese, tomatoes, red onion, artichokes and a lime dill ranch dressing., • The Sassy – chicken, parmesan cheese, croutons and Caesar dressing., • The Southwestern – chicken, guacamole, homemade salsa and a Mexican cottage cheese dip., • For vegetarians there’s the Grumpy (kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, artichokes, red onion, roasted pepper hummus and a lemon parsley vinaigrette) and the Pudgie (cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, roasted peppers, marinated broccoli, croutons and a lime dill ranch.), Salad lovers will find almost a dozen different choices, ranging from a classic Caesar or simple tossed salad to the Pesto Tuna Dish Bistro (pesto tuna, tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichokes, red onion, roasted peppers, havarti cheese and sweet basil vinaigrette) and the fruit-filled Dish Bistro (green apples, mandarin oranges, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and orange ginger vinaigrette)., On a quest for a quesadilla? There are seven tasty versions on the Dish menu, including some unusual combos like chicken and broccoli or shrimp and spinach. All come with scallion cream cheese and a side of flavorful salsa that is made fresh at the Dish., SOUP BAR, One of the Dish’s most popular features has been its selection of homemade, serve-yourself soups. You can get those tasty soups by the cup, bowl, quart or endless bowl, a bargain at only $6.60 for all you can eat., Of course, there are several hefty sandwich selections – three vegetarian and several meat choices, plus an assortment of filling paninis which are served on grilled focaccia bread., A full assortment of fruity, fresh and healthy smoothies is also available., Hickman and Waclawski plan some changes that should improve service and enhance the menu. “We’ll be starting an express line at one end of the counter, ” explained Hickman. “People in a hurry will be able to choose from some pre-wrapped wraps, grab some chips and a drink.”, “We’ll also be adding some new breads and cheeses, along with more fresh vegetables, ” added Waclawski. “But our goal is always to offer a quick lunch that’s fresh and healthy.”, The Dish Café, at 108 S. Union St. is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Call (231) 932-2233 or fax, (231) 932-2385.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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