(Blogger’s Note: Every Friday an excerpt from the soon-to-be published book, Faux Pas is French for Restaurant, appears in this space. Have a Merry Christmas.)
When Jim Rogers appeared at the front door of Chez Foley an hour after his wife had been banned from the Minnesota faux French bistro he was seething.His demeanor didn’t resemble the real Mr. Rogers. Plus, history reflects the fact that if you ban one’s wife from her place of lunching, it is a call to arms supported by valor, pride usually ending in challenge. Fortunately, Rogers was not wearing gloves.
"Is Mr. Foley here?, the proper broker of stock and trade asked head waiter Mike Benno.
"Yes, he´s sitting over there."
"Are you John Foley?"
"Yes, sir. You´re Jim Rogers."
"Yes. I am Sally´s husband. And you should be ashamed of yourself. She will never step foot in here again. And, she will tell her friends what happened."
"Did she receive the roses", I asked.
"Yes, she received them, along with that sarcastic card. I took the roses to the old-age home and here´s your damn card. We´ve also stopped payment on the check she wrote for lunch. We are not paying for it."
"Well, Jim, that´s fine. Just make sure that when your wife tells everyone the story about lunch that she is sure to explain that she is banned from Chez Foley. Otherwise, it wouldn´t be a true and complete story would it? We all know that she doesn´t fabricate. My wishes hold true. I do hope you have a joyous and plentiful holiday."
"You know, I can´t believe you. I just can´t believe you." Rogers added as he stood in the doorway of the small bistro.
"Jim, we´re done here. By the way, you too are banned."
When the front door returned to its closed position Benno and a few other waiters checked to see that it was still hinged properly to the brick facade of the eatery. Ropers´ exit was ferocious. His borderline blood pressure had topped the charts.
Moments after his departure the calls began coming in from neighbors and customers who had already been summoned to join the banned clientele in a protesting form of reverse banning. Since it was "The Season" and my catering book was full few opted to shun Chez at the time.
It was time for me, however, to call in my diplomatic core- I learned early on that every French Bistro proprietor, even if the Bistro is a faux French Bistro- needs a real diplomatic liaison to deal with customers who have endured true French influence.
Only Kranston could alleviate and erase "The Ban". With pen in hand she took to the greatest tool in a culinary kitchen- the note card- and began to write how sincere the gesture of the roses were meant to be. It was just a little bump in the culinary road and that we would certainly love to have the Rogers join us for New Year´s Eve at our private table. The card was signed and sent before the moon rose over Lake Minnetonka on that cold December night.
The chill of the afternoon was replaced with the warmth of the season a few days later when Jim Rogers gently came through the door of Chez Foley and dropped of another check for the now famous lunch. Pegged the "spotted grape affair" the incident lives long in the manual of luck be with the owner.
Sally Rogers eventually became a regular again. Never complaining, never asking for substitutions, never asking to split anything less than a bowl of soup.
The incident played itself out before Christmas and everyone involved enjoyed a wonderful holiday. Although the Rogers never joined us for New Year´s Eve, they told many of their friends they were invited to sit at the table.
The elderly at the "old-age home" also enjoyed an American Beauty Christmas.