Jun 242009
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Front cover of the recently-acquired Lyle DeMoss cookbook.
Front cover of the recently-acquired Lyle DeMoss cookbook.

When I get a chance, I’ll reproduce some of the biographical information about the late Mr. DeMoss, a venerable Omaha broadcaster. Perhaps in the meantime, someone reading this can explain the Hinky Dinky connection.

  5 Responses to “Anyone besides my dad remember this guy?”

  1. Make that a “chili recipe”

  2. Lyle is the father of my Uncle Bob DeMoss, who I have known since I was a small boy. I only met Lyle twice and his personality matches the picture on his cook book.

    I am making one of his chili receipts, from a autographed original copy of his cookbook, as I enter this comment. Very tasty.

  3. Great stories…but a beer keg holds a bit under 16 gallons.

  4. Not only do I remember Lyle DeMoss, a number of my friends worked for him. At one point in Lyle’s career (when he wasn’t hawking Chef Boyardee on the TV, if I recall the correct brand) he owned a small pizza joint (again, memory is week on names) in what I think is called Westbrook Plaza… ie: the mall at 114th and Pacific. The restaurant was called Lyle’s Kitchen and sold edible pizza and lousy pasta. A couple of my friends (Sam Clark, childhood buddy — until he discovered William F. Buckley Jr. and conservatism in 7th grade, and LD McKinnon, who was my debate partner years later at Westside) got jobs there while we were in junior high at what used to be Valley View Junior High (a mile further south on 114th) — mostly because we hung out there so much that it seemed reasonable to get employment to help pay for all the fries and cokes we ate.

    Lyle was too cheap to pay a decent wage, so his waiter/busboys were jr. high kids, his chefs were high school kids, his manager a college kid from UNO. We used to go there after school, play the juke box, order only fries and a coke (so not to spoil our dinners) — and then, according to Lyle, use so much catsup on the fries that there was no profit for him.

    Lyle’s greater problem, though, was his employees… He wasn’t there most of the day, and the college kid was too busy stealing from the register to bother with much management. His most-often complaint was of “scarfing”, which we thought was a word he had made up, but turns out to mean stealing food and eating it as fast as possible [ala John Belushi sucking down a square of green jello in ‘Animal House’]. My peak recollection was the day the beer truck accidentally dropped off one too many kegs… Lyle had expanded the restaurant into an adjacent storage space and had put in a bar., called, naturally, The Hole In The Wall. It was mostly for his Wednesday night crowd of square-dancers, who would show up from their dancin’ in full square regalia, hungry and thirsty. Anyway, one day an extra keg was left, unaccounted for… The chefs quickly realized the error and hooked up the keg, planning on getting drunk and then unhooking it before Lyle appeared. What they did not know, at that point, was that one cannot unhook a keg, once tapped, until it is empty. When they realized their error they sent out the word and every kid who was ‘in’ came by to help — by drinking what they could, and carrying the rest out to the storm drain in whatever skillets and pots we could manage. Fifty gallons is one hell of a lot of beer, but we managed to get the keg emptied (mostly into the storm drain — probably a lot of drunk rats that evening) before Lyle showed up, but the rest of the evening was a hilarious disaster because the staff was drunk out of their minds.

    Naturally, it was Wednesday. The square-dancers were there in get-ups that would make any Mexican fiesta-planner envious. The cooks were roaring drunk, making mistakes left and right. Tossed salads literally were tossed. At one point one of the chefs absent-mindedly set down his pen on another chefs pizza, unrealized. It went into the oven, then to the table, before the first chef realized where his pen was. Lyle was notified, and he ran over to the table where the pizza had just been served, announced that the diners had just ordered the 10,000th pizza from the restaurant, and that it was free… and then, with a touch ot perfect showmanship, reached down into the pizza, pulled out the pen, and said, “And, you get a free pen, too!”

    Peter B. Newman

  5. For awhile on Radio WOW (590 then), DeMoss had a live radio show from various Hinky Dinky Stores around Omaha. He was known on this show as the “Hinky Dinky Grocery Boy”. He would plug the store he was in, plug products and interview customers as they happen to walk by. In particular, he was a mainstay at store openings. I do recall that we had some old home movies of DeMoss doing his show at the Grand Opening of Store #12, 18th and Chicago Streets. That store was demolished when I-680 was built in the 1960s.

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