Obsessed Kitchen and Bar is the newest venture of co-owners Dan and Tricia Vogel, but it’s not their first business in Oak Park. Before opening Obsessed at 800 S. Oak Park Avenue, the Vogels ran (and still run) a catering company, Food Obsession, for four years on South Boulevard. I sat down with Dan Vogel to discuss this new opening and life as a chef and owner.
Although Vogel now wears many hats within the businesses, he says, “My first love has always been cooking on the line. When the ticket printer just keeps printing and printing and printing and you just have to cook. We call it controlled chaos. […] For me, that’s the part that is the most fun. The cooking, the coming out and talking to guests.”
If you have dined at Obsessed Kitchen and Bar since its opening March 23, 2017, you will know that Vogel does circulate through the house, greeting guests. The night I was there, he came to make sure I was pleased with my burger (and I was).
One strategy Vogel uses is to hire great people who bring skills he may not have himself. He says, “The important thing is to know what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at. […] We try to surround ourselves with guys and gals that are smart and willing to put their input in.” He laughs that his middle-school-aged son is also helping him create good posts on Instagram.
Vogel’s advice for would-be business owners in Oak Park is to be proactive in forging a relationship with the Village. “Open the line of communication,” Vogel says, “Introduce yourself and really explain to them what you’re trying to do. When we opened up Food Obsession, we had them inspect us twice before we even started anything because I wanted to know what we needed to do first. When it came time for the inspection, we were able to walk through and say: You said you wanted this done? We did it.” Knowing the Village’s expectations beforehand helped the inspections go smoothly.
I asked Vogel about next projects. He does have some plans, he says, but for Obsessed Kitchen and Bar Vogel says, “We’re not trying to be anything more than a neighborhood restaurant and bar that focuses on family—and when we say neighborhood, we mean Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest, Berwyn, and whoever else wants to be in the neighborhood.” Some of his staff and many of his customers live in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the restaurant.
Up and coming? Brunch! Vogel plans to start offering brunch after Fourth of July. No eggs and bacon, he says, but avocado toast, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros. “I call it Brunch Food that I’d Like to Eat,” says Vogel.
You might see him washing dishes, doing payroll, cooking, or feeding his two children a snack. No matter what he’s up to, Dan Vogel will give you a hearty hello and serve you food so fresh and tasty that you might even become obsessed with it.