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Joe's Neighborhood

A tale of two brothers


joes1Drama is in our blood. We love the show. Unfortunately, when we look in the mirror at our own lives, we don’t see that we are playing the lead. So we buy People magazine or watch the Kardashians or eavesdrop on Honey Boo Boo, because we are fairly certain that Kate’s baby bump is infinitely more thrilling than the life and death struggle in our daily lives. It’s a shame. We sell ourselves short. Come on. We are so the stars opening in the Civic Center’s Broadway Series.

Here’s a story. Once upon a time there were two brothers right here in Des Moines. Born toward the tail end of a large Catholic family. Blue-collar upbringing. Both somewhat lost in the shuffle of all those kids. The older one drops out of high school. And both struggle along in all sorts of jobs. Eventually they end up together opening a restaurant. The restaurant takes off like a bang. They are a team that works. And they know how to bring quality and ease to the restaurant experience. They are so good, they are courted by Principal to open up in its new high-rise. They are a success by any measure.

So, of course, they break up.

Why? Because any good story demands a bit of tension, right? Who wants to read about Cain and Abel, if Cain doesn’t veer a little south of accepted morality? In any case, that’s how life really goes. In our story, two more times the brothers come together. And, yes, two more times they break up. One of those times, they don’t talk for five years. I’m not kidding. We could call these the dark years if you’d like.

What is going on here? Why can’t our two leading brothers embrace their joint success?

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joes2“We get upset about stupid stuff,” says the eldest of the two brothers, with a small smile. Quiet, soft-spoken, Steve Logsdon is open-faced and welcoming, with a twinkle in his eyes. He leans slightly inwards as he talks, making you feel as if you are at that point in the sleepover when confidences are shared.

And then there is younger brother, Joe Logsdon. Joe is constantly moving, smiling, greeting, talking, shaking-and-baking. A sense of whirlwind accompanies him even when he’s off-scene. He’s the party you don’t want to miss. Wrapped in sincerity.

Joe claims that his relationship with Steve in the past was “like being in a rock band.”

“I’m much faster with my mouth, he’s much bigger, and we both wanted to be our own boss,” Joe says.

So, there’s the cast of characters. Two brothers, seemingly in endless tension with each other. First pulling one way and then the other way. History certainly shows they can’t exist together.

Hah, and now the plot twist — they can only exist together. Yup, you heard me correctly. In our story, these two guys are joined at the hip even though they run two totally separate restaurants in two different parts of town. Let’s just pan over their restaurants that sit a river apart in the Roosevelt area and East Village, respectively.

Joe’s restaurant, La Mie, serves breakfast and lunch. Open kitchen at the center. Exposed ceilings. Simple building materials with eloquent lines. Pride in the quality of food. Pastry and bread to die for. Right?

Steve’s restaurant, Lucca, serves lunch and dinner. Open kitchen in the center. Exposed ceilings. Simple building materials with eloquent lines. Pride in the quality of all his dishes. Mushroom risotto to die for. Are you seeing what’s happening here? Are these two peas in a pod?

You want more? Joe recently opened a second restaurant in the exact location of Steve’s restaurant from years ago in the East Village. Steve’s old building. Coincidence? There is no such thing as coincidence in a story.

Listen to their separate conversations at different times and places:

“Honestly, Joe and I are the perfect match. I love doing the back part of the business, and he loves doing the front part of the business,” says Steve.

“The reality is we are both simple guys… People want us to be more than we are,” says Joe shaking his head. “Listen, Steve and I both come back to the same place, sincere integrity to do it right.”

“We are all about consistency in each of our restaurants,” according to Steve. “Yes, Joe and I made a good team, but now, not sharing a restaurant, we are very close to each other.”

“Steve is sincere,” says Joe.

“Joe’s more of a family guy,” says Steve.

“We need each other to make this work,” says Joe.

“I enjoy Joe; he’s my favorite,” says Steve.

joes3OK. Did you hear that whisper? Is that brotherly love? Our two leading men are merely an old married couple. They’ve bumped and bruised each other over the years, but they can’t imagine a life without the other. They just need to have their own bedrooms. Simple.

You think I’m making up this story of brotherly love? Maybe. But, check out the Downtown Farmer’s Market some Saturday. Here’s what you’ll see — side by side.

Lucca and La Mie. La Mie and Lucca. A tale of two brothers. CV

Joe Weeg spent 31 years bumping around this town as a prosecutor for the Polk County Attorney’s Office. Now retired, he writes about the frequently overlooked people, places and events in Des Moines on his blog: www.joesneighborhood.com.

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