Joey’s Diner

If only I had listened to my brother.

Instead of Joey’s Brickhouse, the name of our first restaurant should have been Joey’s Diner. I would have avoided the restaurant’s biggest flaw: identity.

My food is De-Constructed American. My brother likes to call it American Yum. It’s his way of being Dr. Seussy (AKA Dorky).

I’ve always wanted a diner – as a guiding idea – not just for the identity, but for the menu. Check it out…

Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. Tomato Soup with Challah Grilled Cheese. Skirt Steak with a Twice-Baked Potato. Cheesy Noodles. Israeli Couscous Succotash. Jambalaya. Fried Green Tomatoes. Gumbo. Fruity Pebbles Crusted French Toast. Pecan Pie.

My favorite TV Show is “Happy Days.” Not only because they hung out at a perfectly named restaurant, Arnold’s Diner. But for the most important lesson of all: Jumping The Shark.

In the 5th season, the writers of “Happy Days” put Fonzie in swim trunks and a leather jacket. On waterskis, they literally had Fonzie jump over a shark.

It’s a lesson in trying too hard. We tried too hard with Joey’s Brickhouse.

Since we had “brick” in the name, people were constantly asking if we were a pizza joint. In the beginning, we refused to make pizzas, which confused people. Eventually, we agreed to make pizzas, which also confused people.

We didn’t do brunch. Then we did Thelonious Brunch, live jazz and eggs. This sounded like a good idea, but never caught on.

So my brother came up with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink concept…for $15. We got a write-up in Time Out Chicago. Overnight, brunch was packed.

Wanting to take it even further, my brother filled the bathrooms with toys from Uncle Fun. He might as well have put me in swim trunks and a leather jacket. We went from packed to beyond packed. It was fun being busy. But it was no fun at all watching the shark eat all of our profits.

To quote Fonzie, “Heyyyyy!”

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0 Responses to Joey’s Diner

  1. Gregor says:

    Next time, listen to your older brother. Up You Nose with a Rubber Hose!

  2. Tim Post, Chicago says:

    I loved the brunch at Joey’s Brickhouse. The toys were just one more thing that made it so incredibly over-the-top, which suited the neighborhood. We miss you guys. You had a way of bringing the neighborhood together. And it wasn’t just the cheesy noodles, which I lived for and saved me from many a hangover. Merry Christmas. I think I speak for a lot of the people who loved eating at Joey’s Brickhouse when I say I don’t care what you and your brother name your next restaurant as long as it’s in Chicago!

  3. Bethany says:

    My Christmas wish is to have you guys back on the radio. My husband and I used to come in for brunch on Sunday, Greg would seat us while he was writing the opening for his show. We used to spend the afternoon doing chores around the house and listening to you guys on the radio. I loved the way you broke things down. With the election on the way, it sure would be helpful to have you guys on the air. You had a way of switching gears from deadly serious to utterly ridiculous which brought things down to Earth. Merry Christmas. Oh, and I loved “Happy Days!” May we have more in 2012…

  4. Ron says:

    The menu you described sounds like a hit waiting to happen. But you know the most important lesson, besides trying too hard. The 3 biggest indicators of a successful restaurant: location, location, having a brother like Greg!

    Looking forward to seeing what The Brothers Morelli have in store for us in 2012.

  5. Arlene Bell, MN says:

    What’s your secret for Fried Green Tomatoes. I never can get them to turn out quite as good as I’d like. Any tips, Chef?

  6. Alyse says:

    Joey’s Diner — Scottsdale! ☀

  7. jojo says:

    Google search “standard breading procedure” and make sure to use Panko Japanese bread crumbs.

    Also, put the finished breaded FGT in the freezer they cook better this way :love:

  8. Emily says:

    Maybe it wasn’t the perfect recipe for longevity, but Joey’s Brickhouse was one of the reasons I stayed in Chicago as long as I did. Sure, the food was great, and the brunch made for an epic weekend recovery – but it was just always fun!

    My fondest memories in Chicago were grabbing a big table with a bunch of friends, ordering all of the sides and too many 24 oz long islands :)

    I could have stayed in that place forever, but I look forward to your next adventure!

  9. dan says:

    I follow you guys from Boston. Your bro belongs on NPR listen to the car show in the morning they are funny and give real hints on cars. I could care less about car talk. Can’t even change my oil. But I listen to them because they are original and funny. You guys area can’t miss.

  10. Gregor says:

    Thanks, Dan. I’m determined to get back on the air in 2012. Even if it means podcasting. But I really want to land a 5-day-a-week show, 3-hours-a-day. Of all the things I have done in my life, hosting a radio show seemed to bring everything together. It was the happiest I’ve ever been, even when we were taking heat, especially when we were taking heat. Nice to know there’s someone rooting for us in Boston!

  11. Walnut says:

    I would go to Joey’s Diner. I would have a booth next to the kitchen. I would listen to Greg on the radio like I did every week from my box. I would like to see what Joey would look like in swim trunks and a leather jacket on a motorcycle. Strike that. That is a visual that would be stuck with me forever.

  12. dean says:

    i am still waiting for oy radio to resurface how about WGN?

  13. BF says:

    We learn from our efforts if we accept the victories, learn from the defeats and move on. The problem with the Brickhouse was location, location, location. Dependent on the theaters, lacking parking and not a good neighborhood. Great food and a nice buildout is not enough unless you have a following. Time to move on.

  14. Gregor says:

    I like the way you’re thinking, Dean.

  15. Gregor says:

    I agree with everything you’re saying. But I disagree witht the order. We moved on right away to stay buoyant. It’s too easy to sink and get morose when something ends and you’re not ready for it to end, as it’s happening. But later, when you ready for things to be over, like now, a year and 3-months later, it’s healthy to look back and take the meaningful lesson from the failure. That’s how you learn. That’s how you stop yourself from repeating the same damn thing, over and over. For Joey to look back, using “Happy Days” to laugh about what went wrong suggests he’s in a good place. It’s also funny, which is the most imporant thing.

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