A downtown favorite returns to the kitchen to collaborate on a restaurant concept for the Resonance program.
The Impressions sandwich
Take 2 might be the only restaurant I’ve seen where customers smile when they see the line is to the door.
For some, it’s a sign the food must be as good as it ever was under the guidance of general manager Tom Butcher, former owner of the much-beloved restaurant Impressions. Others understand that a busy restaurant means jobs, productivity and new life for the women in the Resonance program.
This is a feel-good restaurant to the highest degree. Much of the staff includes formerly incarcerated women transitioning to life beyond bars. This is a restaurant full of happy people — people happy to have jobs and people happy to have their prime-rib sandwiches back.
I stopped for an early lunch at Take 2: A Resonance Café a few weeks ago and was surprised to already see a decent-sized line at 11 a.m. But, the line moves quickly, with customers grabbing a tray and giving their order directly to Butcher. Many regular customers asked him how he was doing or remarked what a great concept Resonance had created with the restaurant.
We ordered a few things, but the must-have was the sliced-to-order prime-rib sandwich ($6.25 for a half; $9.75 for a whole). It’s served with rich au jus and a dill pickle spear.
Sandwiches are served on a choice of bread: light rye, dark rye, sourdough, wheat or French. The crusty French bread is especially great with the prime rib.
Another terrific sandwich is the club ($5.35 for half; $8.75 for a whole), which isn’t a neat little stack of finger sandwiches. This hot club is packed with house-made roast beef and turkey, plus bacon, mayo, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. Sourdough is best for this one, and it is even better with a little dip into the side of au jus.
Butcher’s spicy turkey chili ($4 a cup; $7.50 a bowl) is a customer favorite year-round, and I was glad to see it on Take 2’s menu. Beans and corn make this a filling chili, which Butcher tops with chopped onions and grated cheese.
It’s not easy to find a great Reuben ($5.35 for half; $8.75 for a whole), but if that’s what you’re looking for, Take 2 is the right place. Corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese are piled high. Thousand Island dressing and horseradish are offered on the side.
The day I visited, many customers were ordering baked potatoes, which looked tempting. These filling spuds were stuffed with all the toppings. The chili potato ($7.95) looked especially good.
Take 2’s cold sandwiches, including chicken salad, tuna and avocado, are nice for the summer months, though for me it’s hard to pass up prime rib whatever the season.
Some fans of Impressions wondered if Butcher would bring his pie recipes to Take 2, and he did not disappoint. Generous servings of homemade chocolate almond, peanut butter, coconut cream and banana cream are $4.95 a slice.
Butcher has been in the restaurant business since 1964, starting as a dishwasher. In 1978, he opened Impressions, a cedar lodge-like building at East 15th Street and South Lewis Avenue, where he stayed for 21 years. Butcher later moved downtown, where Impressions was a popular lunch-hour destination for 10 years. Butcher closed the restaurant five years ago after health problems and the sale of the building.
So, although the name “Take 2” refers to the women in Resonance who have been given a second chance at life, it applies to Butcher, too.
He collaborated with Resonance board members about the restaurant concept. He has given his recipes, his time and his expertise to help mentor and guide the Take 2 staff, many of whom had no restaurant experience.
Butcher says he has always tried to help others with problems or obstacles. He loves watching these second chances unfold at Take 2. Some of the women who work at Take 2 live above the restaurant in apartments for women in the Resonance program.
“I haven’t made one pie yet,” Butcher says. “One of the girls upstairs took it over. The fact that she’s doing it and took it out of my hands is what this is about. This isn’t about me.”
309 S. Main St. | 918-861-4555
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday