One great aspect of doing the MBIP blog is all the cool people I get to meet in and around Peoria. One of the more interesting and unique people I’ve me in my travels is Erik Reader. Erik and his wife Danielle moved to Pekin from Dallas five years ago. In that time Erik has been involved with his own Real Estate Development Company, Start Up Peoria, Bike Peoria, Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation, Pekin Main Street and The Whiskey City Collaborative just to name a few. I feel Erik’s a kindred spirit because like me, I don’t think he can stop being busy and doing projects even if he wants to! And he has a new online publication that he’s just launched and I was anxious to hear about it and so we decided to have lunch and it was then I realized that we haven’t had lunch on the blog since August of 2013! Time to catch up with Erik and hear about this new project of his!
Off we go into the wild blue yonder!
We decided to have lunch at the Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe here in the Contemporary Arts Center on Water Street.
And here we are at Rhythm Kitchen which is located on the ground level of the building. In addition to great food and atmosphere, they have live music every Friday and Saturday with no cover charge!
Here’s the main dining room...
This is the bar, normally I’d sit here, but since I’m meeting Erik I got a table opposite the bar...
And this is Julie who will be our pretty waitress for the day with a huge glass of ice tea. As always, I’m early, so let’s take a look around in here until Erik gets shows up.
As I said, there’s live music every Friday and Saturday, but if you can’t wait for the weekend you can make your own music on this piano up in the front of the dining room.
One thing I love about The Rhythm Kitchen is there’s local art everywhere, from this bench up front...
To art hanging on the walls in both rooms of the restaurant...
To art painted right on the walls. There’s plenty of interesting paintings and drawings to gaze at in here.
This wall is dedicated to photos of the Rhythm Kitchen’s owner, Shelley Lenzini’s family. I love looking at all these old black and white photos.
Julie told me that Shelley is currently in Florida, but here’s a photo I found of her on their website. Nice boots!
Even the chandeliers in here are a work of art!
Here’s a shot from the back of the dining room.
This is the entrance to the room where the music happens on the weekends.
I love the dark bohemian atmosphere in here...
Plus it’s really sparkly!
Meanwhile, back at the table, Erik’s shown up and here we are engaging in some dueling photography! As I told you in the introduction to this post, Erik’s really been involved in a ton of community projects since moving here and he’s just launched a new one. It’s an online publication called PEN and the focus of PEN is to spotlight and form a community of entrepreneurs and businesses in and around the Peoria area.
I asked Erik if he could explain his vision for PEN and here’s the idea in Erik’s own words:
“I've been working on different projects for the past 5 years here and found there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. In a weird way, I've taken it upon myself to tell that story through an online medium. This time it's more serious than others as I'm doing this full-time and looking forward to seeing what will come out of it. I created Prairie Entrepreneurship Notes [PEN] to serve as a resource for startup or small businesses, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in seeing a different side of the business scene around Central Illinois. I'll be covering Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, Decatur and western Illinois. It's me doing the leg work right now from photography, writing, web design and even advertising sales. From time to time I bug a local editor friend of mine to look over my work and even my wife when she's willing. It's by no means an easy task, however, since launching the site on January 15th it's been oddly fulfilling.
I've worked several jobs in several industries in my career and PEN is a reflection of that. I'm looking to feature all sides of area businesses. Artisans, chefs, musicians, farmers, white collar, blue collar and all the various people that make up our communities.
This is a bit different than things I've done in the past. It's not my journey but others. I want the site to be used in a different way than how most traditional media is consumed. There are features like a local marketplace, a business directory, job board, and commercial real estate listings. It may seem like a lot on the surface, but it's mutually supportive by its nature and it wouldn't matter if you own a business and need to find a service to help you or if you want to buy a local product or service.”
And now it’s time for lunch!
Erik got a bowl of the tomato basil soup and I got the meatloaf sandwich. The meatloaf sandwich is a signature lunch item at Rhythm Kitchen and it’s two slabs of meatloaf on toasted and buttered multi-grain bread. It’s slathered with homemade ketchup and it’s comfort food that is satisfying and delicious. Be forewarned though, if you eat the whole sandwich an afternoon nap is inevitable!
After we finished lunch I went back to the kitchen to meet the man responsible for our tasty lunchtime treats...
Jason Zack! Jason has been the head chef here at Rhythm Kitchen for the last five years. I caught him making up a fresh batch of hummus, which made me think of my friend Parvona! (Inside joke alert!) Thanks to Jason for cooking up a wonderful lunch, to Julie for serving it up and it was great to chat and catch up with Erik. I wish him the best of luck for his new online publication, PEN! We’ll see you all tomorrow!