Citizen Public House
Bernie Kantak needs a nap. But he’s probably not going to get one any time soon. As executive chef and partner at Citizen Public House and The Gladly, Kantak is beyond busy.
He gets it, though. He expects insane hours. He understands the ins and outs of permitting and inspections. After all, this isn’t his first rodeo. Kantak wowed Scottsdale diners for years at Kaz Bar and Cowboy Ciao, where he coined the much-loved, social-media savvy Original Chopped Salad. That’s right, the salad has its own Facebook fan page with more than 2,000 likes.
Being a culinary veteran, Kantak is a pro at handling the unexpected. While renovating in preparation for the opening of The Gladly, his plumber informed him of an obscure code that doesn’t allow for a wood-burning grill under the same hood as other cooking surfaces and frying equipment.
“I really wanted that wood-burning grill. I’m a little upset I don’t have it,” he says. “It was my baby. I had to say, ‘bye-bye.’ ”
He doesn’t lose sleep over things like these, though. He saves sleepless nights for making sure he runs a tight ship and that everyone—customers and staff—are happy.
“If somebody’s not happy, it’s almost like a personal attack. You put your heart and soul into something. You work insane hours,” he says. “You put so much of yourself into something. Like, I literally lose sleep over it.”
And with his schedule, Kantak doesn’t have much sleep to lose. He doesn’t begrudge the long work hours and short nights, though, because he truly appreciates and enjoys the people with whom he works.
If he could only sneak in a nap. Just a short one.
“My mind is going so fast thinking of about a billion different things,” he says.
Those billion things keep him going. Even with a few hours sleep each night, Kantak says he doesn’t rely on caffeine to give him a boost. His to-do list is the source of his energy.
“I think it’s just knowing that I have a boatload of stuff to do. I don’t even set an alarm. I set it and I wake up five minutes before it goes off. Everyday,” Kantak says. “Even if I get that rare opportunity to sleep in, I can’t sleep in. I just spring out of bed in the morning.”
Citizen Public House
7111 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale
2201 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix