Inspiration / The Writing Life / Writing

The Family Favorite

There’s certain things that I’ve always wanted to put in books, either realistically or fictitiously. Today I want to share a description of one of my family’s favorite places to eat.

The atmosphere is warm and friendly there. It’s a local place, family owned, with two locations. We always end up ordering from the original one. The ceiling is decorated in different panels, some with patterns, some solid colors, and some with tassels of beads attached. “That old sixties décor,” my grandpa says. The seating is tables and chairs, some booths with cracked leather, tiny jukeboxes attached to the wall of each one.

The salads are always made with fresh vegetables, nice enough to get even the carnivorous eaters to finish them. The thing we love most from the restaurant is the pizza and pasta, and many people agree. Homemade sauces, salads, desserts. Silver stands full of hot pizzas are brought out and the cheese stretches all the way to the plates until someone cuts them loose. Finish the meal with a cannoli or some walnut cake. It’s the favorite way for family members to cheat on their diets and the out-of-state ones always request it before they leave.

A mid-20th-century 24-disc Wurlitzer jukebox. ...

A mid-20th-century 24-disc Wurlitzer jukebox. Photographed at “The Stables” behind Full Throttle Bottles, Georgetown, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The restaurant has been in business since my grandparents were young, and they’ve been bringing us grandkids here since before my feet could reach the floor. There’s a waitress who remembers me from childhood. She always insists on taking our order when she’s there.  Back then we all sat in the the room on the left. They’ve since expanded it by knocking out the back wall to make a party room.

Since Grandma passed we sit in the right area, just papa and I, past the bar and the line of booths usually full of smokers. There’s a bigger, brightly colored, stand-alone jukebox at the end of them, though I’ve hardly ever heard it play.

The one advantage to sitting here is the view. You can see into the kitchen: people stretching and pulling on pizza dough, the click of ice cubes filling glasses, the chill from the refrigerator as they pull out salads and desserts. I like to watch the dance of cooking and catch the snippets of jokes and conversations. There’s an atmosphere there that I can’t quite capture in words.

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