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updated: 5/10/2014 4:55 PM

Geneva impresses U.K. visitor

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  • The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.

      The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.

      The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.

      The Geneva Police Department's new Jeep has its steering wheel on the right side.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer


When I was sitting in Caribou on Third Street in Geneva, having a business meeting with a gentleman from the United Kingdom, he paused twice when something caught his eye.

"I wonder if they got a deal from a dealership in the U.K. on that car," he said, looking at the Geneva police vehicle with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, European-style.

"What do they use those for here?" he asked. "I never see those when I am in the States."

Hoping it wasn't a tall tale, I said the vehicle allowed police to more easily mark tires on cars that were in parking spots past the allotted time. Leaning out the right side means the driver never leaves his car to mark tires.

Later in the week, just to be sure, I had Geneva Police Cmdr. Eric Passarelli confirm my answer. He said the Jeep Wrangler was purchased in Galena.

"In the past, we have actually utilized vehicles that had steering wheels on both sides," Passarelli said. "However, we have settled on right-hand steering."

My visitor from the U.K. had another interesting comment that should make Genevans and other locals smile. This fellow was in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco during a 10-day visit, and he said that his lunch at Chianti Ristorante in Geneva "was one of the highlights" of his stay.

Take that, big-city restaurants.

A 'Wild' 30th: My wife and I chose Wildwood Restaurant in Dodson Place on Geneva's Third Street to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary last weekend and it was a good choice because of this:

I had the evening's special -- pistachio-crusted halibut on a bed of avocado mashed potatoes. That's not something I'll likely get at home, and it was delightful.

A Toda Madre surprise: Readers may think I have been to nearly every restaurant in the Fox Valley by now and tried every dish. Not so. In fact, the only time I have eaten food from Bien Trucha, Geneva's wildly popular Mexican restaurant, was at the Flavor Fare during Festival of the Vine a few years ago. And it was excellent.

But I haven't had a chance to wait in line at the restaurant, which has had all sorts of publicity about being one of the best restaurants in the state outside of Chicago.

So it came as a surprise when I heard that A Toda Madre, located next to Bien Trucha at 416 W. State St., is moving to Glen Ellyn this summer.

Not surprised that they are moving, but because I thought that spot was just an overflow area for Bien Trucha. I remember when it was set up as a kitchen area for Bien Trucha, and didn't know it had become its own place under the A Tode Madre name.

Cautiously optimistic: There is no doubt St. Charles doesn't have many options to fall back on, other than agreeing to a 50-50 tax revenue split with Charlestowne Mall developers after the site opens as The Quad in 2015.

Any other option includes the reality that we don't want the place to continue to be a super expensive walking track for folks my age.

But we have to restrain ourselves from getting too giddy over the photos and plan layouts that Krausz Cos. has shown in pitching its makeover.

Yes, it looks great and it is easy to get excited when comparing it to its current state. But this isn't a "build it and they will come" type of proposition. This is more along the lines of, let's make it attractive and get some stores in here -- and hope we do the right things to convince area consumers to become interested again and give this place another shot.

As we've learned with the initial Charlestowne Mall project, as well as the First Street project, you can't count on drawings, rhetoric and high hopes to make something successful.

You need a good economy to ride along with good marketing, owner commitment, good stores and restaurants and good/safe parking lots. Get all of that and sustain it, and the final part of the puzzle -- loyal consumers -- falls into place naturally.

Ode to asparagus: There was a time, as a stupid kid, I wouldn't touch asparagus if it were the last food item on earth.

Now, I consider it one of the great foods that not enough people are eating.

Why bring this up? Kane County Farmer newspaper reminds us that May is Asparagus Month. It's also egg, hamburger, salad and strawberry month, but the point is I have grown fond of asparagus.

And apparently, that is a good thing. The stuff contains plenty of important vitamins, but more importantly no fat or cholesterol, while being low in sodium.

Super food, anyone?

For the moms: We've all heard interesting things about mothers through the years. You know, the ones about no matter how old a mother is, she is always watching for signs of improvement in her middle-aged children.

I prefer Mark Twain's observation that, "My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."

I fall right into that category, and suspect a lot of other men, and of course some women, do as well.

And while it certainly causes one to chuckle, you have to hope that Roseanne Barr doesn't have it totally correct when saying, "As a housewife, I feel that if the kids are still alive when my husband gets home from work, then hey, I've done my job."

Truth is, mothers have done that job and taken on far more over many decades.

It has a lot to do with why Sunday is so important for us to tell our moms we love them. Here's to hoping all of the moms out there have a great Mother's Day.

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