Wednesday Apr 29 2009
Local restaurant's hit sauces, dressings now for sale
By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
Diana Burke’s husband, Shawn, used to joke that he married her for potato salad. Burke, owner of the Simple Pleasures Restaurant and catering business at 648 Fifth St., said the potato salad at the restaurant is from a family recipe, and has long been a favorite with regulars. The dressing for the potato salad is one of five products launching today under the label Mom Likes Me Best! which Burke said will allow the signature Simple Pleasures taste to be had in your own home. “Our potato salad is very unique,” Burke said. “It has that full-bodied flavor.” The new product line is designed to honor Burke’s mother, Doris Flocchini. Flocchini came to Lincoln at age 18 during World War II from the Midwest to find a job, Burke said. She didn’t have any friends in Lincoln, but succeeded in getting a job at the cannery. The cannery burned to the ground before she could start, so she got a job at a grocery store and bakery, then opened her own bakery with her husband and finally started Sandwich Alley in 1979, which now works under the name Simple Pleasures. “She is an incredible woman,” Burke said. “This is just a privilege.” The Mom Likes Me Best! line is composed of five products in 12oz jars ranging from $5-$7 – potato salad dressing, a chipotle version of it, barbecue sauce, cinnamon apple dessert sauce and a sweet shallot vinaigrette. The labels have a vintage look, and each has a vintage picture of Flocchini, who Burke said even spent time as a calendar girl for the Air Force. The name Mom Likes Me Best! came as a play on sibling rivalry, Burke said. “The vinaigrette is great as a salad dressing or a meat marinade,” Burke said. “I know the potato salad dressing will be a hit, but I really think people are going to like the chipotle version a lot. It’s great as a dipping sauce.” Burke’s partnered with one of her sisters, Coleen Coffey, to launch the product line, which has been a longtime dream. “I’m excited about all of it,” Flocchini said. “I probably would have gone on like I started. Diana moves ahead. I was happy to stay in one spot.” Flocchini said she is pleased with where the business has gone, and as she looks across at the empty building that used to house Beermann’s, she said she’s happy that Simple Pleasures has been able to remain in business. “We still have some of the customers we started out with,” Flocchini said. One of those customers is Gail Salazar, who moved to Lincoln with her family and ate at simple pleasures on the day it opened. “It’s never, in 30 years, lost its quality,” Salazar said. “That says volumes about them.” Salazar said she used to go into the restaurant every day and have a cup of coffee with the other regulars. “It’s just a big family,” Salazar said. “Doris just made me feel like part of her family. She spoiled my kids tremendously.” Salazar doesn’t have a favorite dish – she said she loves everything, especially the potato salad. “It’s a difficult time economically to pull this off, but I think it’s a little glimmer of hope,” Burke said. “There are good things going on. It’s just the right time to do this.” The Mom Likes Me Best! products will be on sale at Simple Pleasures, as well as online at www.cateringbysimplepleasures.com, and they can be delivered anywhere, Burke said. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.