River City Six – Timothy Siragusa
Meet Timothy Siragusa, manager of Acadian Grille Dundee (acadiangrille.com).
Tell us a little about your business.
We are a locally-owned scratch kitchen specializing in Cajun dishes such as red beans and rice with andouille sausage, gumbo, and fried catfish. We have a full-service bar featuring wine, local beers, and classic cocktails. Sister to the original Acadian Grille location in Miracle Hills, our Dundee location serves up almost all of the same favorites but also has an industrial smoker that allows us to make delicious brisket and prime rib options. We’re excited to have an in-house band every Thursday and Saturday evening and our happy hour is 3–6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
How did you get started in the business?
I started out washing dishes in the Jesuit kitchen at Creighton Prep as part of my work study. This was the summer after 8th grade. One day, the DJ broke in on 1290 KOIL to announce John Lennon had been shot. I remember having my arms in a big tub of pots when that happened.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Making the leap from server to manager. I credit Ron Samuelson and the Halbert brothers for mentoring me through that change while working under them at Mode De Vie.
Tell us a little about your family.
I am the oldest of five kids. I live with my brother and his partner in the St. Thomas More neighborhood. The rest of us are all within a 10-minute drive of each other’s houses. I’m the cool uncle who shows up with pizzas on Monday night and watches old episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 with the kids.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
In 2017-18, I spent three months living in Brooklyn and performing at a theater in the East Village. I worked with some people I’ve known for a very long time. I got reviewed in the New Yorker and the New York Times. It was the peak of my life as an artist. The hard lesson I learned was that I could move to New York and be a working actor but I would still have to tend bar and wait tables regardless of what level in the acting game I was at. When I came home, I was ready to shift my focus. There’s a lot of crossover between making theater and running a restaurant.
If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be?
Vera Mercer calls me a chameleon. I’m not one to argue with Vera, so I’ll go with that.
What local nonprofit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
I’m a member of Friends of The Public Library. I believe a healthy library system is the backbone of a democratic society as it serves everyone regardless of race, class, income, or nationality. In addition, The Union for Contemporary Art is an ambitious young nonprofit led by the luminous Brigitte McQueen Shew and dedicated to creating positive social change in their North Omaha neighborhood. For many years I was also a teaching artist with Arts In Motion, teaching social skills to fifth graders through ballroom dance. Their work is small scale, understated, and vastly important.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
Recently, I enjoyed The Woman From The Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara about the life of Milicent Patrick, a multihyphenate artist in midcentury Hollywood. At present, I’m reading Kurt Anderson’s Fantasyland, How America Went Haywire.
What is your favorite TV show?
The Boys, The Good Place, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.