Uncle responded to customer feedback before it opened -- that's using the old noodle!
If somebody asked you what restaurateurs do for a living, you'd probably say "feed people." And you'd be right. Sort of. What they really do is please people, because if people aren't happy, sooner or later they won't show up to be fed. This is why restaurants, new ones in particular, tinker so much with menus. They're trying to find out just what people want when they walk through their door -- as opposed to their competitor's
Tommy Lee during a rare quiet moment at Uncle.
Usually this learning process happens over time, as kitchens analyze what does and doesn't sell. (The evolution of Madison Street into TAG Burger Bar, which I reviewed last month, is a perfect example.) But at Uncle, the hip noodle shop in Highland, customer feedback came loud, clear and early.
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So early, in fact, the restaurant hadn't even opened.
"In the middle of construction, customers would keep stopping by to check out what kind of place was opening," recalls chef/owner Tommy Lee. "When I told them a noodle bar, they would ask if I was doing ramen."
The crazy thing is, he wasn't. "I never planned on doing ramen because I'd read about it enough and knew how difficult it was," he says. But when the restaurant opened last August, Lee had ramen on the menu.
Smart man, because the heaping bowls of tangled, brothy noodles seem to be just what the neighborhood wanted. Find out if they're for you, too, when my review is posted here tomorrow.