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Diary of a Restaurant – Ch. 3: The First Brunch, No One Showed Up

Jul 15, 2020

A Story By Kevin Gallagher

Did I say no one showed up for the first brunch?

That’s not strictly true. We had no one for the first hour until Lisa came by – we comped her brunch in appreciation of the loan of the waffle iron. Shortly after, the starving artist, a weekday regular came, had his coffee and single croissant (extra jam, please) and asked that the bill be divided into amounts under $4 so there would be no PST charged.  There was also a slightly odd gentleman in a vintage suit and tie who had a coffee at the bar and ate all the fruit in the garnish tray, slipping the rinds into his pocket.

By one o’clock, in a now empty restaurant, Donna and Anne were working away, heads down, on ideas for new dishes and plate presentations. Having rolled a cigarette, Mirro, our only server had slipped out back for a smoke. I was pacing, on about my tenth cup of coffee and changing tapes on our little cassette player every few minutes. When I put on some opera – ‘Suicidio’ Maria Callas’ big aria from La Giaconda, Anne looked up at me and said calmly, “Take that off or I’m out of here. How about some soothing jazz?” and she fished a couple of tapes out of her bag.

So, Betty Carter was bopping in the background when Ivan and Ted, arriving with four colleagues from the film industry and a huge bouquet of flowers, resurrected our enthusiasm. Full of good spirits and compliments about the menu, they ordered Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk pancakes and Veda’s Choice, Caesars and Mimosas, even the apple crumble dessert.

Ivan and Ted had decorated our dining room for us in spectacular style. Creative and whimsical, they transformed a dull warehouse space into what might have been a Peter Greenaway film set, using found items and cast-off material from the film and television shows they had worked on. Their biggest expense seemed to be paint. As time passed and our confidence in them developed, they took more of a free hand in decorating, often not even consulting us. They usually worked at night and we might arrive in the morning to find a new installation or different coloured walls – and missing pieces of apple pie.  Justifiably proud of their work, they were constantly introducing new customers to the restaurant. 

While I was chatting to them, two other couples slipped in. One of them we knew but the other had just wandered in, having seen our homemade sandwich board at the entrance to the parking lot. We had ten customers in the restaurant and it felt great, bustling. 

And Betty Carter became the patron saint of brunch.

We were in high spirits when we closed and sat down together to eat. There was plenty of food left and we tucked in with gusto, confident that next week we’d be busy.

READ THE NEXT CHAPTER: ‘The Following Sunday

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE CHAPTERS OF ‘Diary of a Restaurant – The Brunch Chronicles’.