Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Mary Joseph’s Series of Fortunate Events

June 27, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Ask Mary Joseph, owner of Tasty Pizza (formerly Tasty Pastry), how she wound up running a restaurant in Omaha, and be prepared for a story of fortunate coincidences. She has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Born in Jamaica and raised in Costa Rica, Joseph attended college in Massachusetts to study pre-med and international relations before moving back to Costa Rica to finish her degree. After a chance conversation struck up with a fellow passenger on a plane trip in 1997, she would eventually marry that fellow passenger—a man who just so happened to be from Omaha.

After moving to Nebraska, she attended a neighborhood party and met Dario Schicke and his wife Amy. The two women became friends. In a conversation about hobbies, Joseph mentioned she liked to bake and eventually baked a chocolate cake for the Schickes. When Dario later opened his restaurant—Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee—he asked Joseph to bring in her chocolate cakes for his customers.

Thus began her foray into cooking and baking as an occupation. “Dario was a huge inspiration—both him and his wife, Amy,” Joseph says.

Tasty Pizza, located at 5423 Leavenworth St., has been open for “about four years off and on,” Joseph says. It didn’t take her long to realize a pastry shop just wasn’t her cup of tea. “I knew the very first day,” she says, explaining that soup was quickly brought into the mix because being open lunch hours meant customers typically wanted lunch. “Soup was a hit,” she says, “but cooking good soup isn’t just about following recipes. It’s about food technology.” Soup proved too frantic a menu item to feature, with intricate preparation and last-minute adjustments making things stressful.

Not afraid of trying new things, Joseph and her staff played around with a few different ideas for a new focus. Once pizza appeared on the menu, Joseph was sold on the idea.

She liked the predictability and organization of running a pizza line. Patrons enjoyed the ability to customize their toppings or choose from artisanal pizzas that the staff created. Hence, Tasty Pastry evolved into Tasty Pizza.

Joseph attributes some of her success to other local restaurants near her that are willing to work as a community and share knowledge and advice. She also cites her staff as helpful and inspirational. “I’m lucky, I have to say,” she admits.

“I love to cook,” Joseph says, adding “I love Omaha.” Tasty Pizza, which she opened as something to do while her kids were at school, continues to thrive. She won’t predict what the future will hold, as she prefers to live in the moment.

Joseph is doing what she loves (in a place she loves) while enjoying the reciprocal love her customers give Tasty Pizza. It’s a story many years—and twists of fate—in the making.

Visit tastypizzaomaha.com for more information.

This article appears in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

When Life Gives You Lemons, They Might Actually Be Oranges

August 23, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This past summer, the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery hosted an artistic and cultural exchange with Sophia Wanamaker Gallery in San Jose, Costa Rica. Elisa Morera, a Costa Rican artist who splits time between Omaha and her native country, extended the invitation that became the exchange. The five traveling artists were Lori Elliott-Bartle, Cheri Ginsburg, Judith Anthony Johnston, Katrina Methot-Swanson, and Linda Hatfield.

Linda-Hatfield2The artists spent the first week visiting studios and setting up for their gallery opening in San Jose—resulting in an impressive turnout. The second week of the trip, the artists scattered throughout the country: A few stayed with San Jose locals, one traveled up to the east coast and rented a cottage, and the rest familiarized themselves with Costa Rica by taking a week-long tour around the country.

So, what happens when five artists venture to Costa Rica and separate for a week? Hatfield found a vibrant culture, a newfound love for ox carts, and a plate of oranges that stole the show—literally.

She says discussion of the exchange began a few years ago: “I had never even really thought seriously about going to Costa Rica. It was all sort of out of the blue, so I had no expectations.” But the most memorable part of the trip for Hatfield, an illustrator whose style tends toward the cartoony and colorful, was handmade, intricately painted ox carts: “When I first saw them, it felt like I had painted them myself.”

Linda-Hatfield3Hatfield proceeded to visit the longest-running ox cart shop in Sarchi, where the artists use waterpower rather than electricity to run their machines. “We ate lunch there, and I skipped and took the tour again, because it was so amazing,” says Hatfield. In an attempt to preserve her Costa Rican memories, Hatfield recorded her day-to-day activities in a doodle book. “I draw instead of write, so it’s all pictures,” explains Hatfield. “It’s almost better than writing.”

As the Costa Rican exchange came to a close, the artists convened at the family-owned Toledo Coffee Plantation for lunch. “The best photo—we all agreed out of everybody’s photos—was a picture someone took of a plate of oranges, which they call limons,” claims Hatfield. “I think four of us have already done an art piece based on the photo. So that plate of oranges will be prominent, I’m suspecting, at this show.”

The show (located at Hot Shops Art Center and open from Sept. 2-25) features 30 pieces from each artist. “They decided this over a lot of wine, in Costa Rica, on a mountaintop, by a pool,” laughs Hatfield, “So, that’s how that came to be!” The show includes a video to give guests a detailed overview of the whole experience.

Besides the plate of oranges (or lemons), Hatfield found a great deal to inspire her 30 pieces. “Every minute of it was just a learning experience, and that’s why the show is going to be so fun,” says Hatfield, “because all of us have a different take-away and different view, and really different
artistic styles.” Encounter

Visit hotshopsartcenter.com for more information.Linda-Hatfield1