There is a business near us, we walk or drive by it nearly everyday. It’s a beautiful restaurant with big, huge windows near the river. When you look through the windows you can see the stools and tables all set with salt and pepper and napkins. You can see the care that was given to the settings, and the furniture, with a big, beautiful well stocked bar.
Rick and I had sat in that restaurant and watched one of the fiercest storms come through town. Trees bending to the ground, leaves flying, it was crazy windy and hailing — scary and enchanting — all at the same time. Then, the storm was over and the sun reflected over the water running in the streets, and the birds were in a frenzy to grab any worms and checking on nests and their babies or eggs. People stepped outside to check on their cars, with some picking up branches here and there. And we watched it all through those big windows.
This place made good drinks, had outstanding wings, and was pleasant. You were met by the wife of one of the two brothers who owned it, and we chatted for a while. “Tell us what you like, we’ll make sure to have it.” She’d say. Eager to please. One of the brothers would come out of the kitchen and ask how things were. Even the bartender, maybe another brother, would come over and ask if our drinks were up to par. Truth was, it wasn’t the best restaurant in town, but it wasn’t the worst. It was good, honest food at a decent price.
Then, one day, the doors never opened again. It was as if they left the night before, everyone calling, “Have a good night, see you in the mornin’!” and disappeared. We didn’t see any headlines about restaurant owners disappearing into the night, or about alien abductions. But that was what it was like. A few weeks later there was a small note in the business section of the online newspaper that the restaurant was closed. Nothing more, nothing less.
A year later the restaurant with its tables set and ready, bar still stocked, stands exactly as it did the day the door was locked for the last time. It’s a sad commentary of our time maybe, or some people would say it wasn’t meant to be, or wasn’t good enough for the competition in town, but you know, to those brothers and their wives, it was a dream. Well thought out, honest. Who knows what they spent to get it started? Who knows what really happened? They just couldn’t make it.
I don’t get why they didn’t come by and get their salt and pepper shakers, empty the bar, stack their stools in a corner. Maybe even pots and pans still hang from the ceiling in the kitchen like ghosts. I see the tables and stools and the booths all ready for their next guests, as if they still had hope someone would come.