My recent review of Red Trolley -- the Highland neighborhood ice cream shop turned hot dog parlor, breakfast bar and coffee shop -- was a strange one. The ice cream (the stuff the shop was founded on) is excellent almost across the board, and while I wasn't crazy about all of the hot dogs being offered there (and was even less thrilled with some of the condiments), the thing I found most interesting about Red Trolley was that it's a work in progress--an ever-evolving example of one restaurant trying very deliberately to be all things to every single person who steps inside.
And owner Patrick Shaw isn't about to give up his quest for improvement. He dropped me an e-mail yesterday detailing his (and that of his wife and partner, Julie) reaction to the review. "We liked [it] almost completely," he wrote. "Even the parts where we said 'ouch.'" And then he offered explanations and solutions for everything about their operation that I'd found less than ideal. Excerpts from the e-mail:
We do want you to know the reason you did not like our root beer float (beyond not liking our vanilla) is because it most assuredly was flat. We have had some issues with communication. We are going to fix it. I am hoping that you will give them another shot sometime -- your description of what a root beer float should taste like and what images it conjures was exactly what we were going for with our floats.
Onto hot dogs - Continental Sausage makes some really good hot dogs These are the same dogs that Biker Jim is using. It's just that when you slap a really good dog in a cold wheat bun it's going to taste like crap. In light of that we are putting together a good protocol for serving a proper hot dog (with a white bun option) on a steamed bun and we have added five new toppings to the bar. I'm not sure we will ever get it to taste like poverty, though.
The mustard was not only sticky but the options are kinda weak so we are bringing in some much better mustard and ketchup choices.
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Lastly, thanks for the write-up. We really want to create an environment that people enjoy. Good food is obviously a big part of that. If you have any suggestions, we hope you know we appreciate them greatly and can use all the help offered from as openly direct, insightful and critical a person as you.
Seriously, thanks for the help. We will keep improving.
Shaw and his crew have their work cut out for them. But I gotta say, if there was ever a ice-cream-slingin', breakfast-cereal-makin' hot dog pusher that I thought had it in him to tackle all those things at once, it's Shaw. The man is like that Energizer Bunny when it comes to tinkering with his shop -- he never seems to run out of energy.
Or ideas about how to make his restaurant better.