Last week I was busy baking cupcakes when Arwen, one of the staff at Saxapahaw General Store, approached me with a message from a customer. “A guy came in the store the other day to ask if we take reservations,” she said. I giggled at the thought, but she went on. A customer was planning to host an out of town date for her birthday and wanted to offer a special dinner experience for her. He chose us.
Touched by the thought of being entrusted with such a gesture, Arwen and I cooked up our best plan. We’d put a tablecloth on the back booth–the one that’s tucked away behind the motor oil–and he could bring flowers for the table. I’d make a special dessert, and Jeff would be putting on his weekend dinner show already. We’d put Sinatra on the iPod and offer them table service. Arwen called our new friend to tell him the plan, and she reassured him that if his date had a sense of humor, it’d be a great success. He even called me back to make a special dessert request. We’d have cheesecake. They would arrive at 7:30 sharp.
When Saturday evening came, Jeff and I were tired from a lively day. My cheesecake had turned out really well, if I may say so, and was ready for its debut. Jeff’s pork chops and his local sirloin were scrumptiously tender as always, and he’d even talked me through the making of a bisque. Arwen had carefully collected votive holders, tea lights, and a lovely crocheted table cloth from her home to bring to the store for our date’s table. At her direction, I had lit the candles and dimmed the lights in the Coke cooler, and I’d started the music. We were ready for magic.
Jeff and I were preparing to take our leave, knowing that Arwen and company could handle our guests–but something stopped us. We decided to wait for our friend and his date to arrive. Boy am I glad we did. We had the chance to serve them a nice meal in our little store, and they were gracious enough to act as though they were enjoying an experience in a fine dining establishment. They didn’t seem to notice that our silverware doesn’t match, and they sacheted right past the case stack of Havoline to reach their table in the back. He asked Jeff for a wine recommendation. They gushed over the cheesecake. What a gift.