Walking into The Uptown in downtown Stanton, something is clearly missing. More specifically, someone.
With Rosaline “Roz” Lamson’s sudden death last month, speculation grew on whether Adam Staib would close the doors of their restaurant. Instead, he’s doing the opposite and pouring his heart and soul into building it even bigger — in honor of his wife.
“It’s her legacy,” said Staib, choking back tears. “No, we’re not closing. We’re going to showcase a legend.”
Staib readily admits he’s heartbroken and angry that his partner of 44 years was taken so quickly from him. But just the mention of their love story immediately changes the tone of his voice and brings a smile to his lips.
“We were opposites,” he said proudly. “I could never have done any of this without her. She brought so much out in me.”
The “Roz and Adam” love story began in the 1970s when she was working at the Villa Inn. She fell in love with the restaurant business and him as well. Their idea was unlike anything in Norfolk. They wanted to prepare meals from organic, locally sourced ingredients.
“I knew how to make it successful. She was the face of it. No one could resist her,” Staib said with a sheepish grin.
Together they opened The Uptown Restaurant in Norfolk in September 1981. Staib said his wife enhanced downtown Norfolk’s appreciation of fine wines, music, and art, including the artwork of John Lennon, and Claude Monet.
Staib said her Normandy Tomato Bisque was world famous with the recipe desired by more than he can name.
In 2001, the pair moved The Uptown to Stanton, where they continued providing fine dining and unique dishes.
Working exhausting hours, Staib said The Uptown may be as busy now as it’s ever been. For him, it’s a much-needed distraction.
Another way to deal with his grief, Staib said, is by working on several projects to ensure his wife’s legacy, beginning with offering new items.
Staib said they decided months ago they would start serving Hong Kong Ball Pancakes. They never wanted to serve salsa and chips, but the idea of serving the pancakes with glaze intrigued them both.
“It packs so much flavor and leaves so many things we can do in terms of catering,” he said. “This is something Roz wanted to do, so we’re going to.”
He’s also working on other new baked items, not to mention a cookbook full of her favorite recipes.
While he’s heard many people say some of their favorite dishes are gone, Staib said that’s absolutely not so.
“She had every recipe written down,” he said. “Her legacy lives here in the book.”
A few minutes with Staib talking about his late wife quickly can turn into hours. He has nearly five decades of stories to share from how she started working for him after leaving a difficult work environment to her befriending celebrities, such as Johnny Carson, Doc Severson, Arlo Guthrie, Alexander Payne, and the cast and crew of the film Nebraska, which filmed four days at The Uptown.
Some of Staib’s favorite memories include that of her father, a war hero he had much in common with. That’s another legacy Staib hopes to share with people. But most of all, he wants to create a way to continue talking about his late wife for years to come.
“I cry myself to sleep, but I’ll never forget. Our 44 years were absolutely wonderful,” Staib said. “I’m doing everything I can to keep her legacy going.”
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