Here's a Roadfood story that just hit me in the gut.
Within the past week, I stopped by a old family favorite, a place that was wildly successful and once arguably the best of its kind in a very competitve arena. It had been a few years since my last takeout.
I arrived on what should be this place's peak night of the week, but I was the only car in the parking lot. The dining room, where I remember many great meals with my family, was barely lit, rundown and empty. The bar area was empty too. This once-bustling gem felt like a ghost town.
My order wasn't ready...so I sat at the bar. After a moment, I realized that I was sitting in a tomb. It felt like the untouched home of an elderly loved one who had passed away (the dust, the smell, the emptiness). The crowds had been getting thinner, and my visits far less frequent over the years. I felt a little responsible for what I was experiencing.
The owner told me that his mom (the cook there) had passed away months ago, that business was very slow ("Well", I said. "It'll pick up later, right? The owner: "No, probably not".). He asked for some business tips. I gave him a little advice (the best I could), but knew in my heart that I was witnessing another passing before my eyes.
I went home (with my story), was hoping against hope that the food would knock me out...that the old recipes were intact, but again, it was just a shadow of what it used to be. Maybe the food was the problem, or maybe it was a combination of things. Either way, the whole experience was draining and had me feeling lousy about it all weekend. Saying goodbye to an old favorite isn't easy.