Shogun, Part One

Shogun, Part One

By Mike Leifheit

By Mike Leifheit

Restaurant Critic

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Dining Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants.” These reviews are also available on his website: and featured on the Chris Bowman Show, WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

On a Monday, after the money and the checks, I walk across the street to take one of my little breaks. Izzy is alone at the Artery. We are talking, and Karen Elyea’s name comes up; I’m not even sure why. I decide to call Karen on my cell phone, but a voice answers and says she is not there. The voice is that of a young woman. It has an interesting timbre. For some strange reason, I banter with her and she banters back. I learn her name is Sara.

When I hang up, Izzy says, “Is that Sara who is playing at the Rockview (2002 Broadway) on Saturday night?” I reply I don’t know and say the magic word “Minglewood” into my cell phone again. “Are you Sara who is playing in a band at the Rockview on Saturday?” I ask. The voice on the other end says “yes.” “When are you playing?” I ask. She replies that they are doing an opening set at 10:30. When I get off the phone, Izzy fills me in. “She moved here from Woodstock with her mom. I met her mom first, then I met her. She’s sung here; she has the voice of an angel.”

A little later, I take my motorbike out for a spin. Somehow, it just winds up at Minglewood. James is there and another person I kind of recognize but can’t place for sure. A fellow. That happens a lot. I have known so many people in the 20 or so years I have been in downtown. Of course, Karen is there and the beautiful young woman, Sara. I sit alone with Karen in the back room. I sense an article coming on, and I want to get some info on the young woman and her band. Karen tells me that Sara is the secretary for NORML (the organization dedicated to the reform of marijuana laws). She also has several other jobs, and she sings and plays in a band.

Then everyone comes in, and the conversation becomes more general. I am sitting there in thought. Somehow, we get on the restaurant track (they are talking about sushi, and about how they think the sushi at Shogun is the best) and I have one of my flashes of brilliance. I tell Sara that I will take her for sushi, and then I will do a column about her band and the Rockview and tie it all together with the article about the restaurant. She agrees and asks if it is all right for her to bring her girlfriend. I, of course, say yes, and we make plans for Thursday night at Shogun at 8:30. I ask Karen if she can go with us, but she has other commitments. I invite those present to come back to the Irish Rose for a snack, climb on the Goldwing and ride slowly back to the Irish Rose.

I haven’t been to the Rockview for a long time. I think the last time I was there, I was with Jimmy Hughes. I used to deliver to the Rockview Tavern and the Rockview Pharmacy next door—10 oz. Diet Rite in returnable bottles. They used to have good sandwiches. The butchers from the Logli store across the street used to go there after work.

Right across the street was the original Logli supermarket, where the Blackhawk Athletic Club is today. Eddie Harzlak was the manager. John Rudolph was the assistant manager. He was from Korea and had opened up what I believe was the first karate studio in the city. One day, John said he wanted to show me something, and he reached out to touch my nose. While I blinked, he kicked me in the chest. I never saw his foot move. Years later, when he had the Parkit Market on Kishwaukee Street, he caught a young man stealing. He pointed at a spot on the floor and told the young guy to stand there until the police arrived. The young man made a motion like he was going to flee. “Don’t —- me off!” said John. I looked at the young fellow. “Don’t —- him off,” I advised.

John worked hard. He brought his whole family from Korea. I remember putting coolers in a store on Seventh Street for another member of his family. He was always starting something new. He was very industrious. It is one of those he brought over from Korea, his brother, who opened the Shogun.

Back at the Rose, I am doing the little table handshake thing when Karen walks up and hands me my jacket. I had ridden home without it. She said she hadn’t noticed that I left without my jacket, but Kim Wheeler was riding by and had called on her cell phone to say that she had seen me on my motorcycle without a jacket. It was beautiful out. We sit and have the new salmon appetizer. (Commercial Break)

The next day, after the market in Chicago, I am driving down Route 2, returning from dropping fish off at Irish Rose North when my cell phone rings. It is Sara inquiring whether we are still on for Thursday. I say we are, and we recommit to the time. I tell her that I knew she worked at Minglewood on Thursday and had intended to call her then to coordinate, but now I don’t have to.

Tune in next week for our trip to Shogun, when you will learn what a vegan eats at a sushi restaurant as well as accompany me on a live visit to see Sara, Pete and Janet at the Rockview. That’s if I get my butt off this computer and get over there.

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