About redonionrestaurants

My wife Cindy and I own and operate the Red Onion Restaurants in the midwest.

Three ROC Managers

My previous blog introduced many of the long-time members of the Red Onion to you, and due to its great success, we’ve got more for you this time!

I’ve really just scratched the surface introducing you to my team. But I couldn’t go without subjecting you to the entertaining stories of our three ROC managers. Ted, Jeremy & Jody are part of the team that makes the ROC world go ’round. Enjoy!

Three ROC Managers

Season of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a busy time in our family that includes lots of planning and preparation. Approximately 30 people will be descending on the Blum house on Thursday for our annual Thanksgiving dinner with my wife’s extended family. This year will be a little different, though. My mother-in-law, Jerry Reppond, known by all far and wide as Granny, passed away in October of this year, and she will be greatly missed. She was the matriarch of our family, and Thanksgiving was HER holiday. We have always had a large group with lots of family as well as many guests. The dinner rotates to different brother’s & sister’s houses each year.

Granny & family, Thanksgiving 2010

We’ll all miss Granny this year, but the tradition will continue at our house. My sister-in-law Jane Southwick has promised to make Granny’s famous cranberry salad (which is the only reason I keep going to these crazy big Thanksgivings), so here’s the recipe:

Granny’s Famous Cranberry Salad

1 Pkg. Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries
*1 Cup Miniature Marshmellows (as desired)
*1 Cup Red seedless grapes cut in half
* 1/2 Cup Pecans – chopped
1 – 8 0z. carton Cool Whip
3 Cups Sugar

Grind cranberries and add sugar, let stand overnight in the fridge.
Add other ingredients about 1 hour or so before serving.
* Just an estimate. Add what seems good to you!

Enjoy Thanksgiving this year; the Christmas holiday is fast approaching! My wife, Cindy, has already decorated our restaurants with the festive Christmas cheer that she does every year! Although 2011 has been one of the most difficult years I’ve ever experienced, I know we can keep pushing forward and counting every blessing (even the small ones) as we finish out this year. This Thanksgiving don’t forget that our Lord Jesus Christ will continually give us strength to rebuild and move forward. Happy Thanksgiving!

Oktoberfest 2011

Joplin’s 1st Annual Oktoberfest is happening this Saturday, October 22, 2011 in downtown Joplin, MO on Main Street. Red Onion Cafe will be there with our own version of “street food:” ROC Cheeseburgers, our BBQ Texas Chicken Sandwich, the famous Smoked Chicken Dip, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars and Sweet Tea. This is a family event, so bring the kids, too!

I’ve always been enthralled by the temporary food venders that set up at fairs, carnivals, races or any outdoor gathering. I spent my formative years in the 70’s in Detroit, and every summer they hosted an “Ethnic Festival” down on the waterfront. I can still remember the great smells and selections of different foods, all manner of traditions and multiple countries represented.

The family favorite at this festival were the Greek selections. We always headed straight for the vendor with grilled steak-stuffed pita bread with cucumber sauce & sliced tomatoes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! And it didn’t take long to find their stand – follow the smell of grilled steak cooking on the outdoor grill. My mom used to make these gyros during the off-season of the ethnic festivals, and her’s were just as good. Maybe that’s the taste I remember…?

I guess my fascination for the vending aspect of the restaurant business started those many years ago at the Detroit waterfront. It has made me wonder why we love dining al fresco so much. Perhaps its the smell of the food on an outdoor grill, the smoke, the colorful displays. Whatever the reason, it is an experience that every man, woman and child should have at least once in their lives.

Red Onion Cafe will be doing some of their own street vending on Saturday to support our great downtown area, to offer a great time outside and to indulge me in that childhood memory of vending! Hope to see you there – we serve from 11 am to 8 pm. (Sorry…no stuffed pita this time…)

Dave’s Top 5 Favorites

I’m a foodie. There, I said it. Every place I visit, every town I’ve ever lived in, one of my favorite things to do is discover new and exciting places to eat where I can order something unique that I’ve never tried before. Over the years, I’ve tried to take these experiences and incorporate them into my restaurants so I can share them with you. This week I’m going to give a glimpse back at my Top 5 Favorites and show how I’m sharing them with you today.

1. The BEST Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I was in Flagstaff, AZ in 1982, and I happened into a local restaurant that served a grilled cheese sandwich like I had never heard of before. It was served on sourdough bread with not just cheese but smokey bacon & sliced tomato. Everything is better with bacon, right? With that sandwich as my inspiration, we have offered our version at Red Onion Cafe since we opened in 1995. Currently it is not listed on our ROC menu, but you can order it there as well as at Red Onion Espressoria. I would stack our Grilled Cheese Sandwich up against any other.

2. The Chimichanga

Does anyone remember Raphael’s here in Joplin? On Labor Day 1983, Raphael’s opened on Range Line Road and introduced the Joplin metro area to a new Mexican taste – the chimichanga. Aside from it being a fun word to say (chi-mi-chang-a…), it has no comparison in taste. A burrito that has been deep-fried – come on, now, what could be more delicious?! I had never had a chimi until I moved to Joplin to become the Kitchen Manager at Raphael’s, but it became a quick favorite for me and for Raphael’s fans.

3. Italian Fried Chicken

Italian Fried Chicken first came on the scene at Travetti’s in Joplin on our Sunday Brunch buffet. It was so popular, we added it to our menu soon after. It was then brought back at Bella Pepper’s Italian Kitchen, 2004-2010 (RIP Bella Pepper’s). With it being such a popular menu item at both restaurants, Red Onion Cafe will soon offer our “Taste of Bella’s” menu, which features some of Bella Pepper’s most popular selections. We will have the Italian Fried Chicken with grilled new potatoes and green beans. And, of course, it will be offered with our Italian salad and famous Sweet Italian Vinaigrette dressing.

4. Chopped BBQ Beef Sandwich

Cedar Hill, TX, circa 1979, every gas station in rural Texas seemed to have a smoker out front and served excellent BBQ beef – my first encounter with this. You would order a sandwich of chopped BBQ beef, and they would ask if you wanted pickle relish, hot peppers or hot sauce. “Yes to all,” was the answer!

5. Baked Brie with Lemon Roasted Garlic 

This is the best hors d’oeuvre I have ever prepared, smelled, tasted, served, you name it. We serve this occasionally with Red Onion’s “Custom Catering.” It’s fairly simple to prepare – pan roast whole garlic cloves in chicken stock and lemon, cut off the Brie rind and arrange on a rimmed bowl or plate. Pour the hot garlic/stock over the Brie and heat in the oven until slightly melted. It is best served with baguette and grapes, and it will be the highlight of the party!

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

September 23, 2011 – the first day of fall. There are so many delicious foods that come to mind as the fall weather arrives. And one of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin. I’ve asked our newest team member, Chef Jason Wike, to give us a demonstration of how to make his Pumpkin Creme Brûlée. We’re serving it right now at Red Onion Espressoria, and this is a MUST TRY. Please click on the link below for Jason’s demonstration, and I’ve included the recipe below. Let me know how yours turns out!


Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, no convection


1 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

5 large egg yolks

6 TBS Sugar

1 TBS Ground Nutmeg

1/2 cup Pumpkin puree

2 oz. Orange-flavored syrup

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Add the vanilla extract into the heavy whipping cream, and bring to a boil. Then, cool for 20 minutes and stir. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and nutmeg. Wisk together until a ribbon occurs. Add in pumpkin puree, orange-flavored syrup and cinnamon. Wisk these ingredients together thoroughly. Next, slowly add in your vanilla & whipping cream combination, stirring as you add. Pour your batter into a measuring cup to allow easy pouring into your brûlée cups. Fill the brûlée cups 3/4 to almost full. Place in baking dish and add water until it is 1/2 up the sides of the brûlée cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, no convection. The outside should be firm and the inside shaky when done. Coat the top of the dessert with sugar, make sure to get the sugar all the way to the sides. Shake off the excess sugar, then carefully caramelize the sugar with a propane torch. Enjoy!