This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Chef Keith Kreuser of Dollop Diner. Dollop features locally sourced, classic American fare, roasted coffee and espresso drinks as well as cocktails and beer. For homemade donuts and more, a little dollop will do ya in Andersonville at 5060 N. Clark.
“Do as much research as you possibly can. Staging with other successful restaurateurs, getting into the kitchen or front of house is something that a lot of successful people do.”
– Chef Keith Kreuser
Listen to Episode 55!
Here are some references from episode 55 you may want to check out:
- Growing up in Evanston, Chef Keith frequently visited north side neighborhoods, including Andersonville. He also fell in love with food and music, which he has dabbled with throughout his life. As he grew older he started working at Chicago restaurants as a manager and a chef.
- Along the way he met Dan Weiss. They met at a recording studio and worked on and off recording music together for several years. About 20 years after their meeting, they were developing an idea for a restaurant they could work on together; Dollop Diner is a combination of Weiss’s coffee expertise and Chef Keith’s love for food.
- They moved into Andersonville because Weiss believed it was the best deal and the best location (the corner of Clark and Carmen is quite lovely if you haven’t been). So, Dollop Diner opened in Andersonville in 2017. Keith and his staff are proud to be a part of Andersonville’s growing south end.
- Opening the diner was a process. Chef Keith had several different food concepts – they settled on American, obviously – and envisioned table service because of the small size of the space. When the diner first opened, they had counter service; however, with some helpful community feedback they decided to switch over to table service a few months after opening.
- In the past few years the Dollop menu has evolved and expanded a great deal. Everything on the menu is locally sourced, so it is all prepared fresh. With limited storage space offering more options was difficult but Chef Keith has managed to make it work by offering favorites like the Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, and a variety of donuts. He is also hoping to expand dinner options (right now there are only two – seared salmon and steak frites) and add a few more handmade cocktails to the menu.
- Currently, the Diner’s cocktail menu consists of a seasonal draft Manhattan, Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas for brunch, and a Sideways Elevator-a mix of cold brew concentrate, Vergnano Amaro, and a sweet vermouth.
- Recently Dollop released their first espresso roast: Dream Team Espresso! A mix of Guatemalan and Colombian coffee beans, “Dream Team offers a balanced melody of toasted almond, Braeburn apple, and caramel flavors.” The community has responded to their new beans positively; people are excited to see what they come up with next!
- If you have ever been to the Dollop Diner, you’ll know that the eclectic combination of the light wooden furniture, patterned cement tiling, and menu graphics provides a distinct, Art Deco feel throughout the space. All of the furniture (chairs, barstools, etc.) come from local companies! (Graphics by Kevne Briet; building and physical design by Paul Isen)
- You may also know that Dollop often features humorous little chalkboard doodles. This job has been passed from one staff member to another – usually the person with a steady hand, quality penmanship, and good sense of humor. The current chalkboard artist is barista Gabby Thom. Stop by and see her creations today!
- Because he is raising his family in Evanston, Keith loves working in Andersonville. It is close by so he can bring his family into the restaurant, but he can also be at work right away in case something goes wrong.
- Chef Keith also has a rich musical past. He formed a hip hop group that toured extensively. It is through this experience that he realized he did not like touring, but music is still a part of his life; he has a recording studio in his basement and records with Dan sometimes.
- If he could give any advice to young entrepreneurs, he would recommend doing research before starting your venture. Connecting with people that have had success in your field can lead to new ideas and great connections. He also recommends trusting your senses – listening to your gut can save you trouble in the long run.
- If Chef Keith could swap with any Andersonville business for a day, he would choose Bar Roma (5101 N Clark). He loves cooking Italian food and wholeheartedly enjoys the welcoming, homey feeling their team has cultivated.