Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taking a Stroll Down Memory Lane - 0001

For awhile I was whining that because I was running out of matches, I wouldn't be able to grill. My wife and I looked everywhere for the stash of matches but all of our efforts were to no avail. This morning though, while I was sitting around threatening that "without matches I cannot grill," my wife found a bag full of them. Apparently and for some strange reason we collected about 100 books of matches over the years. We went through each one and we literally took a stroll down memory lane.

This blog entry has nothing to do with food and cooking but I have to write about it because it will help me/us heal.

It was the fall of 1982. It was a good year and a bad one too. We made an unsuccessful attempt to move to Greece. As we were flying back to the US, Eileen and I had a conversation about our future. The jobs we had at the time were taking us nowhere and we decided that I had to go to college so I could get a real job afterwards. We talked about it with Miles, my brother-in-law, and he strongly recommended that I attend Erie County Community College because Kodak and IBM were recruiting from that school every year. So the decision was made to move to Buffalo, New York.

In 1982, in Buffalo the unemployment was in the 15% area. Plants: Chevy and Bethlehem Steel, were laying off people left and right and jobs were hard to come by. Since I only knew the restaurant business I started looking for a job. Finally I landed a job at Salvatore's Italian Gardens. I worked there two to three nights a week. The tips were great and the staff was very friendly. Russ, the owner, only fired me once because I failed to come to the restaurant mid-week to check the schedule and I missed going to work one very busy night. He recanted his decision and let me work there again.

I have so many interesting, but good, memories from Salvatore's. One night Lucarelli, another waiter, and I worked a large party that had ordered two bottles of Dom Perignon champagne. After the people left Lucarelli decided to take a swig from one of the bottles. A rat saw him and told the boss who wanted to fire Lucarelli. Finally, the boss came to me, because he thought I was "honest Abe," to ask me for the truth. Of course, with a straight face I said to him that Lucarelli never took a swig and the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that was the end of it.

The famous Victoria Station. My in-laws would take us there often for dinner. The restaurant's wait staff would always greet you with "Good evening, folks." My mother-in-law once gave us an open-ended gift certificate for that restaurant to order whatever we wanted. Eileen and I went there. Eileen ordered a "regular" prime rib and I ordered the engineer's cut. That was basically the whole left side of the cow. The meat was three inches thick and it was literally falling off the plate. Of course I ordered an end-cut. They had over 100 restaurants but they declared bankruptcy and now they only have one.

White Plains Diner is still around. Eileen and I would go there for burgers and fries. Good times.


The nicest, one of the most expensive restaurants in New York. You see, my in-laws were two classy people. When they asked Eileen and I about our wedding arrangements we requested a "simple" wedding and reception for the immediate family. What do you know. They made arrangements to have the wedding ceremony and reception there. The whole thing was just grand. The ambiance, the food, the service, the whole experience was just top notch and memorable.

Unfortunately, a handful of cowards flew a plane into each World Trade tower and thousands of people perished. This restaurant is no more than a wonderful memory.