"The truth is I absolutely love the people that I work with, I know almost everybody that walks through this door," said Capon. "I mean, people don't just come to Lure for a great meal; they come to Lure for a great time. Obviously the food has to exceed their expectations every time they come. They love to see me. I'm not a chef that really sticks in the kitchen too much; the chef used to be a back-of-the-house job, and now I think it's kind of evolved to front-of-the-house, back-of-the-house.
"I love shaking hands, I love greeting people -- 'Hey, how's everything doing?' I want to interact with the people. I used to hate working back there and not know what was going on in the front. If somebody's unhappy with a dish, or somebody's thrilled with a dish, I want to be there either way. And I think they come back; and a lot of times people come in, they meet me, and next thing they bring their friends in, they meet me, and then those friends bring their friends, and it's just been a constantly evolving progression. We're lucky because we're actually very busy and it's a tough time out there. ... I've been here for 10 years, but every night is new. It really turns into a party every night. It's like my own little dinner party."
Capon's devotion to his staff, and his restaurant, has not always worked to the advantage of his personal life, he said. One episode stuck out.
"I remember in 2001, during New Year's Eve -- let's just say I was dating the wrong person at the time -- but I found it more important to be in the kitchen at 12 o'clock, when the clock struck, to have champagne and a couple beers with my guys, because to me it was the right place to be at the right time. And somebody else wasn't thrilled that I wasn't there at 12 o'clock to kiss them. You know, in hindsight I made the right move because I'm done with that particular person, but I think for me it just says who I am, and priorities I guess -- where I want to be at the time.
"It's tough ... I mean the restaurant business is tough you know, whether it's Valentine's Day or whether it's New Year's Eve, or you know, Thanksgiving is the one holiday that I refuse to work. Every year my boss tries to get me to open the restaurant up, 'Oh, come on, we'll be busy, it's Thanksgiving.' But no. It's a family holiday, my staff gets off, everybody leaves the day before with some turkey and some homemade cranberry sauce, and I'm going home to my sister's house in Jersey cooking for 60 people. That to me is what Thanksgiving is all about. I'm sure one day it will eventually happen that I'll have to work, but we'll see, we'll deal with that when that comes."
Next to Super Bowl Sunday, which Capon celebrates each year with "nine of my closest buddies," Thanksgiving stands out as a culinary landmark on Capon's calendar. It's a family affair, with Capon's two older sisters and his brother pitching in. And by the numbers, it rivals the historic feast.
"Our annual Thanksgiving party is up to about 75 people, which is really not normal," the chef said. "This past year at my sister's, we deep-fried seven turkeys, and 1,500 pieces of my famous chicken lollipops. We actually had seven deep-fryers lined up on the driveway when people showed up. The big deep-fryer kit that you get at Home Depot; last year we had three, this year we were up to seven."
Although he looks trim enough in his chef's whites, Capon freely admits to a gluttonous disposition.