Most of us have our favorite spots to eat, drink and be merry.
If you’re lucky, there’s good food and plenty of it, and the atmosphere’s just right.
For a family, it’s a place where you can bring the kids and not feel like you’re breaking a cardinal rule.
It’s a place where you can find chicken fingers and fries and grown up food too.
It’s a place where you fit in when you walk through the door, a place where you’ll find your pants don’t fit when you walk out.
But it’s just a restaurant, right?
I used to think so.
I ate at “our place” in Jonathan’s home town almost once a week, even had my wedding reception in the back room.
A connection was made, I guess.
But when we moved back to New York, I found another place for Italian fare.
Ah, but you know I’m going somewhere with this.
I fell for a restaurant here in Sullivan County in the way that you don’t just fall for a place to eat.
Since Kevin McElroy (and at the time Erin Burgess) opened 27 Main Street here in Callicoon, I found out what it was like to eat at a restaurant more than twice in one week without feeling like a glutton.
I learned what it’s like to have “your table” and “your waitress,” to have “your special” made just the way it’s always done.
For the first time in my life, calls to a pizzeria for “a large pie, half ham, half mushrooms and make sure the two don’t touch” weren’t answered with “lady, are you crazy?”
Instead through the receiver I’d hear a faint voice yelling across the kitchen, “tell Sager it’ll be all ham ’cause she’s going to eat some meat!”
“Oh yeah,” I’d yell back through the phone, the poor waitress who’d answered covering her ear. “Make me McElroy!”
Opening the box later, I’d discover a neat dividing line across the pie with Jonathan’s ham kept squarely to one side – just the way I like it.
You could call it customer service, and yes, I suppose it was.
But I have yet to see a commercial on television for a place that offers to keep an obnoxious toy hamster behind the counter because the customer’s daughter likes it.
Or a place that allows that daughter to play the hamster’s ear-grinding song over and over and over and over and over . . .
Sunday afternoon, Jillian raced to the back of the restaurant to claim her small cup of cheese from Diane and a small cup with a make-shift straw/lid combination from Amy.
While I spent one last lunch at 27 Main with my friends, she threw breadcrumbs to the birds from the back porch and gathered fistfuls of flour from a tray set aside just for her to decorate both her face and the floor.
Slip-sliding in her Crocs with reckless glee, she had to know it was her last hurrah.
Sullivan County is chock full of restaurants, a few good ones, too.
There’s mouth-watering spinach pie in one corner, sinful cinnamon bread in another.
But the Sullivan County I love doesn’t just have places to eat. It’s a place that feels like it’s my community.
It wasn’t about the food – although I’m a sucker for his pizza. Kevin, you made a community in a little hole in the wall in my hometown.
Looks like the new owners will have some big shoes to fill.
Our place no longer
September 17, 2007 by 2 Comments