Interview with Bob Wandel
“Kent exposed me to the wonders of the culinary arts. My hot dog and baked bean days were over,” Bob told me, referring to Chef Kent Rigsby, owner of Rigsby’s in the Short North’s Carriage Place. Before it was Rigsby’s, it was a bar of a “less than elegant reputation,” Bob euphemized. Kent Rigsby came from the west coast and landed at Lindey’s in German Village where he developed his creative craft.
The concept of the restaurant was of three parts: an open kitchen, a small bar, and formal dining. The bar was separated from dining by a curved wall representing an Italian piazza. The floor was tile to continue the Italian concept, but carpet was used beneath the tables to control the acoustics.
“We had such a wonderful relationship. His first son and my first grandson were born within days of each other during the construction,” Bob mentioned as Scott Geither walked through the hall.
“Hey! How’re you doing?” Scott asked Bob casually.
“Good. And yourself?”
“I’m all right,” Scott replied.
“Well, wish you were better,” Bob joked. “So, what else? Ask me your questions.”
“How did we give the client what he wanted?” I asked him.
Bob told me that Kent was always really interested in the arts and it was important to him to incorporate it into his restaurant. From the furniture selection to the ambiance and the staff, it was all deliberately selected to complement the food and to satisfy the patron’s palate. It was mindful.
“He hired the most phenomenal staff,” Bob said. He told me a story of one man who was living in the US illegally. “One day the FBI came. He hid in the basement, but they found him. Kent did what he could, but it was out of his hands.” Because the basement was lifted from renovating the building, it was a multipurpose room. The staff used it as their personal dressing room quarters and it was also the storage room for the food and wine. “There are so many stories about how all of those interacted,” he joked. “Don’t write that. Too personal?”
1985 Pop Culture Facts
Firstly, I want to thank you for being a friend. Secondly, I want to tell you that The Golden Girls premiered this year. So did Macgyver, Vh1, and Back to the Future. The world decided start the hunt to find Carmen Sandiego, but every time she got within reach, she was gone soon after. The first Blockbuster opened up. You could head up to the neighborhood bar and grill to watch Michael Jordan play his first season (named rookie of the year), but you weren’t allowed to smoke while you were there because the ban on smoking in restaurants surfaced. Compact Discs were released and known to be “the sound of the future.” Nintendo released Duckhunt. Who else hated that dog? Why does he have to laugh? Speaking of a laugh, Howard Stern’s radio show began this year. Tommy Hilfiger launched his men’s clothing brand. Also, the Titanic was found. Finally. If the Heart of the Ocean was a real thing, I’d like to find it and sing “I’ve been saving all my love for you” because Whitney Houston released her self-titled, debut album but also because I’m saving my love for the Heart of the Ocean.