If you don’t know who Gina Morss is then you either don’t have a TV, don’t watch the local news or you just moved here. Gina Morss started her journalism career at WEEK TV news in 1995 and has worn about every hat there you could imagine. She started as a general assignment reporter and later moved on to co-anchoring News 25 Today with Garry Moore from 2002 to 2005 and then switched to the nightside to co-anchor the evening news with Tom McIntyre.
In addition to writing, producing and delivering the news on-air, Gina’s also hosted special projects such as: Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, The St. Jude Telethon, Peoria’s Race for the Cure, and Docs on Call.
In 2011, she left WEEK for a three year stint as the Komen Memorial Affiliate Director of Development. She returned to WEEK last January and is once again co-anchoring News 25 Today with Garry Moore and Maddie Heidenreich. Gina also produces the noon show occasionally and fills in at the weather maps when Maddie Heidenreich is off.
Gina’s married and has four children. As if balancing a multi-faceted journalism career and raising a family wasn’t enough, this year she started teaching at Bradley. The class she teaches is Com 215 Basic Reporting. She’s invited me to be a guest lecturer to her students about how I kind of crashed sideways in to the world of journalism and I’ll definitely put up a blog when that happens! In the meantime I invited Gina to have lunch and be a guest on MBIP and she graciously accepted. So, it’s off to lunch we go...to the MBIP Mobile!
Here we are zooming up Knoxville towards Junction City, the place where today’s MBIP luncheon takes place. Zoom, zoom...and well, zoom.
Drive-by shot of the legendary Junction City water tower that’s stood tall in the parking lot here for decades.
And here’s the spot that Gina chose for today’s lunch, Cyd’s Gourmet Kitchen.
It’s really nice out and people are eating at the tables lined up against the outer wall of Cyd’s. I think I spy a familiar face over there...
And yes, that face in the center is definitely familiar, it’s Abby Gettys! I don’t personally know Abby, but I recognized her from the blog she does with her husband Randon, Class Without Cash and from her posts at the Whiskey City Blog. She was lunching with Julie on the left and Katelyn on the right. In addition to blogging and writing, Abby’s the owner of Abigail Lauren Design and you can check that out by clicking right here. Great to meet all three of these pretty women!
As usual, I’m about 37 minutes early, so let’s take a look around Cyd’s until Gina shows up for lunch.
The high tin ceilings with bare bulbs hanging down over random sturdy wooden tables give the place an urban, industrial vibe as you walk in the door.
As you walk in, there’s a bakery section off to the left.
Lots of chocolatey goodness to be had here!
Free sample alert!
The glass display cases up front house everything from savory entrees and side dishes to...
Rows of sweet, homemade treats.
As I was roaming around I ran into yet another familiar face, Brian who used to work at Fox Pub and is now punching the clock at Cyd’s. Nice to see him again and catch up!
There’s a wine rack up in the front here...
And soda, water and a good selection of bottled beer in this cooler in the back. Sadly, I have to go to work later, so I’ll probably just be having iced tea for my luncheon beverage.
Cyd’s son-in-law is Keith Cotton, who’s a wonderful photographer here in town and some of his photos hang on the walls in Cyd's. Keith and I keep meaning to have lunch here and get a behind the scenes tour from Cyd and that will happen in the next month or two, so stay tuned for that!
Food Network chef and host, Alton Brown recently took a whirlwind trip of restaurants around the country and Cyd’s made his top ten list of his favorite eateries he visited during that tour. Pretty impressive!
Here’s a little nook where you can sit and sip coffee or tea, it’s kind of fancy over here, so you should probably extend your pinky in an upwards fashion as you sip from your cup.
Suddenly...crackers! (Yeah, I know I did this yesterday, but I’m never a stranger about running something right into the ground!)
Hey, look who just walked in the door, the MBIP Luncheon guest star herself, Gina Morss! We chatted for a bit at the front door and got over that weird, nervous feeling when you meet someone for the first time and went off to get some lunch and chat further.
You order up here at the cash register at the end of this counter.
Menu’s hang overhead and at the back wall.
And there’s also print menu’s over here and here’s Gina perusing one and choosing what she’s going to order for lunch.
We both decided and placed our order with Kelli who rang us up while flashing us a nice smile!
There’s long rustic wooden communal tables up near the front windows, but those are too clunky for just two people to sit at.
The dining room was pretty crowded, so we decided to go outside and sit at a table out there.
Gina had the cranberry chicken salad on a bed of greens with a poppyseed dressing. It looks colorful, crunchy and delicious!
I got the grilled veggie burger and had it topped with cheddar cheese and bacon. Yeah, I eat veggie burgers with bacon, don’t judge and leave me alone! The sandwich came with sweet potato fries.
Wow, this is one great veggie burger and you’d almost swear that it’s real meat...oh, wait, maybe that was the bacon...never mind!
Gina and I had a really nice lunch and we really had a nice and lively hour plus conversation about college, work, journalism, writing for print as opposed to the internet and of course living in Peoria. Thanks to Gina for meeting for lunch and being a fun dining companion and to everyone at Cyd’s for great hospitality and a wonderful and tasty lunch!
Thoughts For Food
I asked Gina to give her thoughts on local dining in and around Peoria and here’s the questions and Gina’s answers.
Favorite Pizza in Peoria: I love St. Louis style pizza, so I have to go with Agatucci's.
Recommendation for my Saturday Night Meal: Po Boys...a little bit of N'awlins right here in the River City!
Best local ice cream and favorite flavor: Spotted Cow...it's all good, but late at night, chocolate is my favorite flavor.
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? Paparazzi with my parents and grandparents. I still remember my first meal there as an 11-year-old. It has been a favorite spot for family celebrations over the years. I know I can still enjoy a great meal there now, but I wish I could recapture those moments of laughter, wine and great food with the family I have lost. I guess I'm feeling a little melancholy since losing my father this summer.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: Texas Roadhouse for the rolls and cinnamon honey-butter alone!
Best little out of the way joint I know is: Club 41 in St. Augustine. It is just getting ready to reopen after closing a couple of years ago. I have eaten great steaks there over the years and they have awesome onion rings, which is what the restaurant was always known for back in the day.
Some place that has really good pub grub is: Kelleher's or Donnelly's...it's a toss up. Oh, I also love the pretzels at Kenny's Westside Pub!
My favorite spot for breakfast is: Louie's Sterling Family Restaurant...it's as much about the staff as it is the food. We never use a menu. Our waitress Barb knows our orders by heart after all the years of coming there on Sunday mornings after church. I will be so sad when she retires.
My go to place for lunch is: Pottstown Meat & Deli...the turkey gobbler sandwich is the bomb! I also love the salads and desserts at Cyd's.
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): I would gather my closest family and friends (starting with my husband), because the company is as important as the menu, and head to Seven on Prospect for an Appletini cocktail, followed by a Southwestern Salad from One World, Chicken Marsala with a Limoncello shot at Connected and chocolate mousse with glass of Merlot at Paparazzi. Salut!