After President Obama finished his dinner and left Corner Kitchen on the night of April 24, 2010, Genevieve Scully turned to her dad and said, “That was my first President!” Well it was our first President too.
How did it feel to have the President show up at your restaurant?
Kevin – It was exhilarating and surreal.
Joe – It felt like Christmas wrapped in an Easter basket
What did the President and the First Lady eat?
Kevin – The President and First Lady both had Corn and Crab Chowder. They split a Baby Arugula Salad. She had Fried Oysters and Lobster Tacos. He had East Coast Mahi. They finished their meal with a Peanut Butter souffle.
Joe – President Obama’s entrée: Macadmia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi on Coconut Rice with Sesame Snow Peas, Grilled Pineapple Relish and Miso Beurre Blanc – click here for recipe
What was your experience while in your restaurant waiting to speak to the President?
Kevin – We had a full restaurant as well as several Secret Service agents in the building. There were also some White House staff as well as the White House photographer, Pete Souza. While we were waiting to meet the President and First Lady, I spent a few minutes with Mr. Souza. I am a photo junkie and talked with him a bit about his cameras and his career (he was also the official White House photographer for President Reagan). I also talked with some guests about how their dinner had gone. My cousin and some other family were there that night as well, and they hung around until the President left.
Joe – After running the gauntlet of the Secret Service and having to prove that I was indeed the owner of the restaurant, I was admitted. The entire “Advance Team” was seated at the bar. Anyone who knows me well knows that when I’m nervous I become funny “or at least I think I’m funny” so I held court and entertained the advance team from behind the bar while my children were being entertained by Secret Service man who we knew as “Jim”. Who knows what his real name is.
What do you think was the total effect of the President being there?
Kevin – It was a moment in time for Asheville that was pivotal. The effects of the recession were still prevalent throughout the country. Asheville was on the national radar, and the President’s visit added to that. I think his visit was one of several things that helped the city avoid some of the worst of the recession by bringing visitors to town. For Corner Kitchen, the visit had a pretty profound effect. Guests came in every day asking about the President’s visit and wanting to sit in the chairs or at the table they used. Even now, almost six years later, guests still ask about the visit.
Joe – To boil it down to simple math, we experienced a 20% bump in business for the next year, based solely on what I like to call “ the Obama effect.”
What do you remember the Obama’s saying to you?
Kevin – When we walked into the room, my wife told the President that she had sent a note to the White House inviting him to the restaurant when they were in town. She then said that our daughter, Lauren, had invited Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. President Obama turned to Amy and said, in a self-deprecating voice, ”And you got me.” He and the First Lady were charming and genuine.
Joe – When I burst into the room, talking, of course, Mrs. Obama stopped me in mid-sentence. She simply didn’t know who I was and what, in God’s name, I was doing in her dining area. So, I slowed down a bit, and introduced myself, my family, Kevin and his family. After a few moments, President Obama jumped up and said, “Let’s make a picture.”