La Grande Orange.
A new bistro-type cafe a couple of blocks from our house. Dr. M and I had dinner there the day it opened. We liked it. So a week later, I take Anna there for lunch.
A few minutes after ordering, the waitress brings my lunch, but she doesn’t bring Anna’s. We wait. After fifteen minutes, I call a man over who looks like he’s in charge. I explain the situation to him.
The man immediately apologizes. He’s very sorry this has happened. It’s a new restaurant; they’re still working out the bugs. The man gives me his card. He’s Brian. He’s the manager. Brian assures us that next time we come in he’ll take care of us. I don’t know what that means, but I say “Thank you”, and Brian takes off, hopefully to rectify the problem.
Ten minutes later, Anna’s lunch has still not arrived. I’m about to look for Brian when another man comes over. It’s Bob. He hands me his card. The card says Bob’s the Founder-President of the restaurant. Bob also apologizes, if possible, even more sincerely than Brian.
The waitress brings Anna her lunch. The waitress apologizes as well. Then Bob prints, “Dinner for two – Free” on his card, and scribbles his name. Bob explains. On our next visit, whatever we want, it’s on the house. There seems to be there’s no end to their kindness. Who knows where it will end?
“Because of the stress we caused, we’re getting each of you a massage.”
“I have a beach house in Malibu. It’s yours for the weekend.”
“The company has a private jet. We’re flying you to Paris.”
“The Maserati parked out front? Here’s the keys.”
“Two tickets for the space shuttle. Enjoy.”
It was almost becoming oppressive. When we finished eating, I asked Anna if she wanted a cookie from the restaurant’s bakery.
“No,” she replied, worn down by the restaurant’s generosity. “They’d probably want to give it to us.”
A high-end steak restaurant. I decide to splurge and go there for my birthday.
Dinner for two at The Palm. In honor of the occasion, I wear my brand new camelhair sports jacket. I’m really looking good.
During the course of the meal, a waiter trips directly in front of me, spilling an entire platter of green beans on my jacket.
A restaurant representative comes over and apologizes. He instructs me that after I get the sports jacket dry cleaned, I should come back with the receipt, and the restaurant will reimburse me for the price of the cleaning.
A few days after the incident, Dr. M and I return to La Grande Orange, where we’re graciously treated to our complimentary dinner. Founder-President Bob drops by to see if everything’s okay. Dr. M orders desert, less because she wanted to than because the waitress looked hurt when we originally turned it down.
A few days after the incident, I return to The Palm with my dry cleaning receipt. I explain the situation to the man behind the Reservations Desk. He tells me to go fuck myself.
A tale of two restaurants.
La Grande Orange
and The Palm.
One place we’ll go back to.
And one place we won’t.