Column: Jasper's Slaw Shack redemption

Editor's note: The following humor column is satirical fiction. Radoslaw Ziegelgruber and the Slaw Shack? They're not real.


JASPER – Jasper diners now have new reason to celebrate and salivate while brandishing their plastic forks and tucking in their paper napkins: Slaw Shack is coming.

This basically unheard of West Coast vegetarian-based restaurant chain fills a gap identified by the results of an online survey conducted by the Jasper Chamber of Commerce to help shopping center owners determine what types of eateries could be a good fit for their properties, in particular bringing teeth to the long dormant Dust Bowl Development LLC properties at the corner of Sagebrush and Tumbleweed.

Popular eateries scoring highest on the survey aren’t surprising: Starbucks, Olive Garden and KFC. However, new to the list was New York-based Momofuku Ko, which not only offers dinner menus at $195 per person but promises a minimum two-hour wait before your food is served. (This reporter can’t help but note that a two-hour holding pattern for food in Jasper would likely culminate into something akin to a Donner Party restaurant booth incident.)

When asked about the prospect of bringing their restaurants to Jasper, all four company spokespersons rolled their eyes (literally, their eyeballs popped from their sockets and rolled across their desks). That’s when local entrepreneur Radoslaw Ziegelgruber knew it was Slaw Shack’s time.

“What most people don’t know about surveys like the chambers’ is that it’s what the people don’t ask for is what they really want. Sure, give us a survey and we will shoot for the stars with our foolhardy wishes. But you bring an Olive Garden to town and I’d say that, within two weeks, folks will whine about the prices and hanker for Fazoli’s breadsticks again,” he says.

Radoslaw credits the upcoming Jasper Slaw Shack to what he calls his “epiphany.”

“I was eating at a local restaurant and noticed that nowhere on the sides section of their menu was there a choice of slaw,” he recalls. “I mean, seriously — no slaw? Shocker!!! Bombshell!!!”

This budding restauranteur admits that he first looked into a KFC franchise (since they do offer slaw) but balked based on decades-old personal experiences.

“The old KFC in Jasper closed because people kept confusing it with the K of C,” he says. “KFC management got tired of people showing up for either a wedding reception or bingo. The restaurant business climate in Jasper is dog eat dog. There is no room for the slightest margin of error.”

Radoslaw admits he was also intrigued by the prospect of opening a Momofuku Ko in Jasper but he didn’t follow through after friends kept mispronouncing the name to disastrous effect. “Try saying that name and you’ll likely get your mouth washed out with soap,” he says. “Name aside, I still think a noon-time urchin buffet could work here.”

Radoslaw considers Slaw Shack a shoo-in because of its simplicity: “You can’t get simpler than Slaw Shack,” he says.

Its menu is the epitome of simplicity.

This reporter was honored with a sneak peek of the one-sided, one-paged paper menu with the catchy Slaw Shack tag-line: It’s all slaw — and soft on the jaw.

Meal No. 1: Slaw (your choice: vinegar based or cream based. We’re all about choices here.)

Meal No. 2: Slaw and More (slaw).

Meal No. 3: The Slaw-which (with white or wheat or a slice of each for something a little different.)

Meal No. 4: The Slaw Ball (served ice-cream scoop style! The kids* love it!) Full disclosure: This reporter did notice a legal disclaimer at the bottom of the menu in fine print: “By kids, we mean baby goats.”

Specialty Drink: The Slawshie (brace yourself for brain freeze!)

The menu also advertises a Tuesday night “Old Ninety-Sixer” challenge.

Radoslaw explains: “That’s my idea. Corporate doesn’t know. Fifteen minutes to eat 96 ounces of slaw. It gets messy, sure. We’ve been testing it. What the slaw novice likely doesn’t know is slaw looks the same coming out as it does going in. We should rename it the Slaw Toss. Should be a big hit with the YouTube crowd. Just for trying, we’ll give participants a free T-shirt that says, I fought the slaw and the slaw won! They’ll likely need a new shirt anyway.”

Radoslaw shows me the actual business prospectus from Slaw Shack Corporate.

Adios avocado! states the cover. It’s the dawning of the age of cabbage!

“You know how it has been avocado this and avocado that everywhere you look? Well, now it’s slaw’s turn to shine,” Radoslaw says.

The glossy center spread includes an apparently doctored photo of a head of cabbage with a broad smile. “Isn’t that the happiest cabbage you’ve ever seen? He’s cage-free,” says Radoslaw. “Slaw Shack only partners with farms that practice humane cabbage harvesting.”

This reporter notes aloud to the amazing Radoslaw Ziegelgruber: “I find it interesting that the first name of the nation’s newest Slaw Shack franchise owner actually has the word slaw in it.”

“Huh?” Radoslaw replies. “I don’t see it.” He pauses to spell the name in his mind. “Oh wait, it does. Slaw is in my name. It’s not even scrambled. It’s right there at the end. What are you, a word wizard or something? It’s obviously meant to be. That, my friend, is what we in this business call slawsome!

Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz will attend Slaw Shack’s ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 10. No word yet if he will take the “Old Ninety-Sixer” Challenge.

Scott Saalman’s latest column collection, Mr. Serious, is available at Finishing Touches and Mad Batter bakery in Jasper. Or you can contact him thru Facebook. The cost is $10.

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