Sunday, January 20, 2013

Eat This Diner

 "Eat it before it eats you."

Every time a sucker is born, which according to verifiable medical opinion and Pew Foundation polling results is about one a minute, another restaurant bites the dust. It's enough to make one believe in intelligent design - the one being made expressly for the other, after all. And vice versa.

Embedded in the anthropoid psyche is some primal flaw, some weird evolutionary anomaly, which is the nearly universal conviction among members of the species that he or she can profitably and happily operate a restaurant. This conviction is nearly always attended by its corollary, that while I (meaning anyone who's thinking this) might be able to run a thriving eatery, anyone else (meaning you) would probably be out of business in a month. Clearly there's something to this lemming-like urge - the combination of warm, savory food and congenial atmosphere strikes some deep chord in every large primate.

And anywhere you look, there's a restaurant for sale, a forlorn hulk sitting like a specter of financial ruin on any street corner, often with the previous menu spangled across the seedy exterior. And no matter how unprepossessing a bit of real estate it may seem, never mind that it's the flagship of a capsized empire, there's invariably some poor sap who heeds the siren call and thinks, "Hey, why not broasted chicken? Sure, I could make a go of this place - a lick of paint, maybe a few new windows and Bob's your uncle!"

And we'll all be rich, you'll see. Never mind that broasted chicken or "Peking-style" duck or catfish fritters or hog jowls and grits didn't make the place go the last time. This time will be different because . . . because there's this restaurant sitting here and I a) can fry an egg as well as the next guy, b) will only use real butter c) am sick of my job, d) ain't got a job, e) am just about to not have a job, f) need something for my freeloading nephew/uncle/sister-in-law to do, or an infinite number of specious reasons why I should alter my existence after some manner in all probability disastrous.

The "Miss Flo," Florence, MA

I'm reminded of this particular human foible because there is, in the rural cowtown of 350,000 souls where I happen to reside, a miniscule diner which has been the bane and peril of several lives in the past two decades. It has had countless reincarnations as various hash houses and most recently as a soul food diner - all this rich history of foundered souls despite its being so small that plates of eggs and potatoes had to be carried out the kitchen door and around through the front door to serve waiting customers; and in the apparent indifference, among its various sequential owners, that about fifteen years ago police were called to the back door to haul off the murdered corpse of the unfortunate who owned it at the time.

Anyway, in case you happen to be reading this, it's for sale. Just thought I'd mention it as, you know, an opportunity.

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