It's not easy writing today. We have lots of things going on at various of stages of completion. There seems to be very little going on that seems appropriate to write about here. I prefer to write about complete ideas rather than amorphous meanderings, although sometimes meandering is inescapable. We have a clear vision of what we want to do this year. Unfortunately, as with most situations, there are several different routes that will take us to our destination, each with a different set of challenges and rewards. It's all a matter of choosing the right path. Easier said than done, always.
Today I was thinking about the old school Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood. I loved the idea of them but I found it frustrating that the story lines were so short. It was a necessity because there was no other way to fit so many different ending between the relatively narrow covers of the books. I also wanted to read each and every story but somehow there was always one ending that escaped me. I finally took to reading them cover to cover after simply to find out how each possibility played out. After the first book I read cover to cover from the beginning, I abandoned the series. There simply was not enough satisfaction in these stories to keep my attention. It was as though someone was coming up with these great ideas, and then instead of seeing them through to completion, they were getting bored and throwing out these quick endings simply to be done with the process. Lots and lots of quick endings to be sure, but each ending lacked the development to make it a great story. The books were all about options without substance.
I suppose in a way that's where we are now. We're considering all of these options but distance handicaps our ability to evaluate the possibilities clearly. We're putting together a list of properties that we think may be viable for our future. Each one is unique and will need a slightly different structure to reach it's full potential. Of course, it's impossible to really know how viable any of the properties are without seeing them and examining their locations. It's like having the table of contents, but not the actual book. It's tantalizing and frustrating all at the same time.
Sometimes we need to take a break and work on something more tangible. One of these projects is compiling a list of our greatest restaurant experiences and our favorite places. We're making of list of all their positive attributes so that we can take the things we love about other restaurants and apply them to our current project. In addition to the foodie destinations, there are restaurants that are loved for their service and while the food may be good it is not the main reason that people dine there. There are restaurants that are loved for their locations, their ambiance, their social scene, their pomp and circumstance, or simply for sentimental reasons. As a teenager I spent countless birthdays at the Palm in New York City. It was a restaurant famous for it's gruff career waiters, the caricatures on the walls, the sawdust on the floors, thick steaks and huge lobsters, and the onion rings and cottage fries. Those who belonged to the club knew what and how to order, and those who asked for menus were immediately branded as tourists, barely tolerated by the staff and lucky to be admitted at all. It was noisy and unapologetic, the drinks were strong and the food was mostly delicious, especially to my teenaged palate. Years have passed and now the Palm is a chain and the everything has changed. The original restaurant is a shadow of it's former self and I never go back because the experience is one of total disillusionment. But I remember it fondly for all of the things it was. It still comes to mind when I think of my favorite restaurants for sentimental reason and for the things that I learned there about steak and lobster, cottage fries, chopped salads, cheesecake, sentimentality and a sense of belonging. That's an emotion that I want to capture in our own place, that feeling of ownership that your guests have when a restaurant is special to them and it makes them happy just to be there. There are a few different restaurants that have made me feel that way over the years, but the Palm was the first one I experienced as a quasi-adult. What was your first special place? What was it that made it so special?