I never knew as much as I have learned here about Patricia Murphy's as I have here---I personally knew her as she was my employer---I was her Orchid grower at the estate in Deerfield--which most people did not know about in Florida. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at that time and did not know that there was a Ft. Lauderdale restaurant (1970s) though nearly everyone at that time went to the Polynesian near Sears on Federal Highway at that time for special events in Ft. Lauderdale. I did know about the Deerfield-Boca Restaurant because that was the one I was associated with. To work at the Polynesian; you had to be from Hawaii supposedly or American Samoa which was not true at the Boca-Deerfield Beach Restaurant. This was THE restaurant in the area south of Deerfield that nearly everyone went to for their special occasion---weddings, wedding anniversaries, high school graduation, bar mitzvahs, even the death of a loved one.
The estate where "Ms." Murphy lived was large, out in the swamps and we had more than some 50-thousand Cattleyas (the big classic corsage orchid that women wore back then and today Japanese men do) to look after. We would change them out according to what was in bloom or fading. These days every time I see the British sit-com "Keeping Up Appearances"---I think of those days---crisp linens, sterling silverware, fine china and crystal, wait staff that was always on their toes who tended customer's every need (if they did not they did not last long---the restaurant had a reputation for a while being a hard place to work at since even the slightest hint of sloveness or rudeness was not tolerated by management), fine food, candlelight dinners to the music of falling water , a babbling brook and sometimes a live String Quartet and tropical plants---orchids by the tons, tree ferns, Monsteriosa philodendrons et al and food that was so sapidly delicious as to be piacular.
I did not know until now that things had been runned into Bankruptcy---which is sad but I can see why with the expenses of running at least the Deerfield-Boca restaurant. There was not only the usual expenses of running a restaurant but the expense of all the extras. Food portions were often just too generous—it was a common sight to see customers taking ‘doggy’ bags home with them.. One does not make a go in the restaurant business by serving more than it cost to buy and make. It would have been a truly special evening for customers if they had paid the true price of all this luxury----about two to three times the menu price. Wait staff were very well paid---it was not uncommon for some wait staff
to go home at night with as much as 700.00 in their pockets in addition to their base pay.
The cook staff also were very well paid---if you left Murphy’s on your own and did not get fired—one found that it was easy to get a job elsewhere because other restauranteurs knew that they were getting quality people when they hired former Murphy employees. Other restaurant owners would come dine with us for the purpose of stealing employees away from Murphy’s but usually left empty handed because they could not pay as well as Murphy’s did. Murphy’s employees had good benefits—free meals, good insurance with sick and vacation leave paid—which is not the usual situation in most restaurants.
Finally maintaining all those plants, fountains and waterfalls ran up utility bills more than usual----if there had been no air conditioning things might have not been quiet so expensive but when customer confort is a priority in a not so normally confortable atmosphere (due to high humidity) not to mention the cost of linens (we had some low life people come in and steal silverware and linens as souvenirs---such people found the next time they wanted to come dine with use reservations were very difficult to obtain)
The other thing that probably helped take them down was, according to what I read her, was just too many restaurants in too many places over to wide a distance and quality of service and food was bound to suffer in the process. I know these things because since working for Patricia Murphy’s ---I also have gone into the restaurant business. The restaurant business is a cruel taskmaster----it is initially more forgiving of mistakes than other businesses but if these mistakes continue ----one is punished accordingly but if one does not do too badly -----the rewards can come piling in.