What do you when a couple met over their love of food, worked in the food business and decided to open a restaurant? You have Obsessed Kitchen and Bar. Yours truly is a MASSIVE fan of this place, its vibe and most importantly, their Brussel Sprouts.
Say hello to your next neighborhood food obsession.
Who: Trish and Daniel Vogel
Where: Obsessed Kitchen and Bar
800 South Oak Park Avenue
Oak Park, IL
Phone: : (708) 613-5044
Tell me about you two, how you’ve come to love food and ultimately decide to open a restaurant.
We both come from families that loved good food. Trish grew up in Florida with parents that loved to cook and entertain. She has a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Cal Poly Pomona and spent five years working at the Four Season in Newport Beach where she gained an incredible foundation/knowledge of fine service, food and beverage. For the past 16 years, Tricia has been with Blue Plate Catering as a Sales Director. In fact, that’s where Tricia and I met.
I’m a Korean born, adopted farm boy from Iowa, growing up with a farm to table focus. Went to a small culinary school in South Pasadena. Worked for some great chefs, in great restaurants, in really cool places. Food is this great connector, it brings people together, think of any event in your history, and food has always been there. I love how food makes you feel, something that is really good or even something that isn’t, it makes you feel things. I love how it connects people, I love how it becomes a great debate:
Who has the best burger?
Best tacos in the city?
Best Korean BBQ?
It’s one of the few times that we can agree to disagree with civility. By the way, we have the best burger!!!!
We opened Food Obsession six years ago, it’s our premier catering company, but we always had in mind a restaurant, but it had to be the right location and the right time. We had two or three different locations that we went back to over the past six years, but none of them were the right fit for us. When this space became available we loved the size and especially the location. Our kids go to school down the street at Ascension. This neighborhood is really special, it is our little corner in the world!
How do you decide which foods and pairings to put on the menu?
We change our menu every 10 to 12 weeks, always looking at seasonality and what is the best product we can get. We spend a lot of time just playing around, some of it ends up on the menu. The rule is if I would order it, it can end up on the menu.
As for the wine and beer that goes on our menus, there’s a lot of tasting that’s involved - it’s a tough gig but someone’s got to do it.:) When we opened, we formed a “beer tasting advisory board” AKA, our friends. We tasted 75 beers to figure out what goes on the list. We did the same with our wine list. Our objective is always to find great tasting wines that won’t break the bank. There’s so much good product out there, it allows us to continually to play around with our menus.
Why did you choose to open your business in Oak Park?
Oak Park is where we live, where our kids are growing up, a family yet urban type of city.
Oak Park is a unique place, with it being so close to the city, but still a small community, we wanted to bring our style of restaurant to the community.
What has been the biggest downside?
The biggest challenge to opening a new restaurant is (1) what you think you know versus what you actually know. (2) staffing is always a challenge, finding and retaining good people is always tough. (3) the unknown day to day business is difficult.
What advice would you give someone who wants to open a small business / restaurant in Oak Park?
I would say don’t listen to the noise, I always hear how difficult the Village is, but we’ve always had nothing but good experiences when dealing with them. Understand what you’re getting into, what you think you know versus what you learn is unbelievable. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Also, be ready for a down turn in business after your honeymoon period is over and what you have to do to drive business. The “if you build it, they will come” only works for a while.
What are we known for?
Definitely our Brussel sprouts and our Gluten Free Bread Pudding. I would also say our Burger and Fries. We keep changing the menu to reflect the season.