Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Landmark Day

As we walked into the restaurant for the last time, Eve excitedly exclaimed, "I know this place! Daddy and I came here on our date! Daddy loves to eat here. And so do I." We hadn't had time to dress up as we normally did when dining there--it was lunchtime, and we had a very tight timeframe in which to eat and leave. But we had to come say goodbye.

Brad's favorite restaurant in Mesa--favorite for the famous salad room and perfectly cooked pot roast--closed its doors last week.

So many memories under those brass chandeliers.
This was the place we always brought our kids when we wanted them to work on their best table manners. My kids are rowdy and rambunctious without particularly discerning palates, and dressing up a little bit and using black napkins at white-draped tables was a bit trying for them in the beginning. I was always a bit on edge, trying to communicate telepathically. Sit still or Chew with your mouth closed or Talk quieter or Slow down with that full plate or Only one cookie at a time. Sometimes, they responded to those telepathic messages that were accompanied by the evil eye. Sometimes, they ignored me in their excitement. And then, as if through the sheer power of my will for them to be good, they transformed into better behaved little ladies and gentlemen who knew the first thing they did when sitting at this table was to place their napkins in their laps.

We took our seven kids to this restaurant with us once--Heidi, Tucker, Ben, Lily, Micah, Hyrum, and Angelo. Two babies and a toddler. What was I thinking? Many older couples surrounded our boisterous family, and I just knew we were disturbing their quiet night out. I was wrong. As one couple left, the man stopped next to me, placed his hand on my shoulder, and said, "What well behaved children you have. I am impressed with their manners." No words could have been sweeter to this stressed mom at that moment. When everyone was buckled in the car, I glowed as I related his comment to my brood. Remarkably, it wasn't the last time someone would comment on their good behavior while dining there.

Brad's sister held her wedding luncheon here. Two unfamiliar families united together in the basement of a landmark. The Landmark.

We used to bring Brad's dad to this restaurant with all of the cousins when they were little. On one occasion, Tucker took so many trips to the salad room that he was full "to the top." He decided in the parking lot to jump up and down to move his food through a little faster. Instead, he threw up all over, with his cousins and siblings watching and laughing. He was about eleven years old, and the story has been told so many times that we've lost count.

I don't know how many of my kids accepted Brad's $1 bribe to taste a quail egg or some other delicacy from the salad room. I know I never did.

So many memories in this red brick building.

Most memorable meal of all was lunch February 13, 2003. It was raining that day. I remember.

I remember, because heaven wept with me that day. I tried simultaneously to remember and to forget that day--the day our fifth child was supposed to be born.

In an attempt to console his mourning wife, Brad wanted to take me to a nice lunch. He had the pot roast, I'm sure. I slid a tower of carefully selected tidbits around a clear salad plate, but nothing that entered my stomach could fill the empty place in my heart. I left the restaurant that day a weeping mess, but it marked the end of the worst and the beginning of my healing.

Collected soup tureens and vintage photographs of Mesa from its early days. Heavily trimmed windows and outdated wallpaper. A broken chair lift on the front stairs and antique stoves in the salad room.

There will never be another.

Goodbye, Landmark Restaurant. Thank you for teaching my children manners and the joy of trying new foods, uniting my family, and helping heal a mother's broken heart. The Dentons will never forget you.

No comments:

Post a Comment