may the food be with you—tom smith—march 2020
This month in Frankly Green Bay I'm steering my Make Green Bay Weird column in a different direction. For this month, I'm donning the hat of Restaurant Critic. Now don't worry this won't be a regular thing, I saw what happened to Homer Simpson when he became one of those and I have no need to see the owners of Jakes' Pizza, Lorelei Inn, Glass Nickel, Taco, Burrito, Mexico, Al's Hamburger Shop, and T. Bacon's BBQ among others plotting to kill me.
The food joint I'm writing about just opened at the beginning of February and it's called “Cheesesteak Rebellion” and it's located at 1301 S. Broadway, located in the building that, for many years, was The Camelot (this building has also hosted Basil's on Broadway, Ape Hangers, Get Pickled, and most recently the Darjune Café). They feature authentic cheesesteaks, butter burgers, and homemade soups.
Green Bay, in my opinion, has been lacking a great local sandwich shop since the late great Zeppelin's Sub Sandwich Shop closed. Boy did I love Zeppelin's in college and so miss the “Keith's Special.” They also have a theme going on at Cheesesteak Rebellion of man's greatest accomplishment/contribution to pop culture and that theme is Star Wars (no this is NOT a Ronald Reagan themed food joint).
I sat down with owners Jolinda Gorzelanczyk and Jason Burkard at Cheesesteak Rebellion to discuss their new business venture.
Can I get a history of both of your job experiences in the service in industry?
Jolinda: Café Expresso (one of the greatest restaurants in the history of Green Bay according to me, Tom Smith), White Dog Black Cat Café, Cleveland Family Restaurant in Cleveland Wisconsin, also some places on the East coast.
Jason: The Union Hotel, The Swan Club, Splinters (which turned into Legends). Sidekicks, the Green Bay Distillery and White Dog Black Cat Café.
Why did you two want to own a restaurant?
Jolinda: The chance to work for yourself and the challenge of taking a chance (Jason echoed these sentiments).
What inspired you two to create the concept of Cheesesteak Rebellion?
Both Jolinda and Jason in unison answer the love of Star Wars and no good Cheesesteak places in Green Bay.
Jolinda added that Green Bay needed a grown up hang out, no kid's menus, or high chains to be found at the Cheesesteak Rebellion. What is the mission or goal of Cheesesteak Rebellion?
Jolinda: To provide Green Bay a comfortable place to get a drink and a sandwich. Kind of like Cheers and see all our friends.
How did you two come up with your recipes?
Jolinda The Teriyaki Cheesesteak had been in my head forever and influenced by my time on the East coast.
Jason: Research and food that intrigues you.
The Fried Pickle is courtesy of Chef Al at the defunct Regatta 220. The burgers are meant to be reminiscent of the Sheboygan area (Burgers are Ribeye). Cheesesteak Rebellion also gets their buns for the Cheesesteak sandwich's and the burgers from the Amaroso Bakery in Philadelphia.
Now to address the Bantha in the room. In regards to the sci-fi motif of Cheesesteak Rebellion what steps have you done to make sure you don't have any entanglements with the Empire and by Empire I mean Disney?
Jolinda: We don't advertise or use any Disney keywords or art. The Star Wars themed art in here is all original.
Jolinda: People walk in and expect the place look like the Cantina in Mos Eisley, but it doesn't.
Jason: I still check the mail box everyday just in case.
For each of you, which are your favorite Star Wars movies?
Jolinda: Empire Strikes Back and Rogue One.
Jason: Same. Got to love a couple who have the same favorite two Star Wars movies.
For each of you, which are your favorite Star Wars movies?
Jason: Han Solo.
If one actor from the Star Wars universe would come into Cheesesteak Rebellion who would you hope it would be?
Jolinda and Jason” Harrison Ford!
Who, I heard, has eaten in Green Bay at the Republic Chophouse. When Harrison was a student at Ripon College he used to shop at the Oshkosh location of The Exclusive Co. Mr. G the owner of The Exclusive Co. once told us this at a manager's meeting. Mr. G also mentioned that Harrison was a jerk.
Jolinda and Jason also both mention Billy Dee Williams would be their second choice.
How do and did you approach hiring your staff? Do they have to have very high readings of foodservice Midichlorians?
Jolinda: Yes on the foodservice, Midichlorians and previous food service experience. One employee who hadn't worked in food service received a baptism under fire and did a great job.
Once you have survived the hard beginning years of a new restaurant do you have any long range goals? Perhaps a spinoff Taco restaurant with a Battlestar Galactica theme?
Jolinda and Jason both answer no to any spinoffs or even other locations. They want to keep it as it is, no expansion plans, and they hope someday to pass Cheesesteak Rebellion to Jolinda's son Owen. Yes Owen was named after Uncle Own and he does work at Cheesesteak Rebellion.
What menu items are you most proud of?
Jolinda: The Teriyaki Cheesesteak
(which I had and it was delicious and out of this world yummy).
Jason: The Rebel Whiz.
If you both were to pick a Star Wars character to be the Patron Saint of Restaurants who would it be?
Jolinda: Maz Kanata, this choice was echoed by Jason.
If you have delivery drivers how many parsecs would your delivery area be?
Can people call in orders to go?
Jolinda: Eventually yes.
Tell me about the outpouring of love from your customers so far?
Jolinda: Unbelievable. The key word is how humbled we have been by how kind and wonderful our friends and new patrons have been.
I could see how touched both Jolinda and Jason have been by the outpouring of support and it gave me a warm feeling about Green Bay. Any upcoming promotions or events coming up you want to mention?
Jolinda: Coming in the future some Cheesesteak Specials, a huge May the 4th celebration, summertime will bring outdoor seating and outdoor bar. Jolinda and Jason also told me their plans for April 1st and let me tell you, their plan is brilliant for All Fools Day.
As soon as this interview concluded I devoured the Teriyanki Cheesesteak (I hadn't eaten much that day and it was like some kind of force put the food in my mouth (also might have been my hands shoving it in my mouth). This sandwich as I said before was great and I will be eating it again and in not too distant of the future in a restaurant in galaxy not far from my work. The steak fries also were great and so filling I left a few behind. The customer service I received throughout my dining experience was most excellent! I can't wait to try some of the other items on the menu such as The Pepper Cheesesteak, Veggie Cheesesteak, The Falcon, The Jim and The Rebel Whiz. They also have a Friday Fish Fry that I really want to try out and at the risk of being expelled from Wisconsin I confess I have never been to a fish fry in my life. Those who tip back a drink of alcohol, don't worry, they serve beer and liquor at Cheesesteak Rebellion. Green Bay has been begging for a food joint like this and I'm so glad to see Green Bay embracing it like Baby Yoda.
I give Cheesesteak Rebellion a Timebomb rating of 13 out of 13.
May the Food be with you.
Their hours of operation are Monday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They purposely are open on Monday's so those who work in the service industry can dine there on the traditional day off for those in the service industry. Wednesday through Sunday they are open 11a.m. to 10 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays.