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The Third Yard Line

Today is actually the one yard line, however, I'm not there, so I'll write about the third yard line instead. Don't know what I mean? Well, you know guys and their sports metaphors...Bruce always refers to wanting to walk into the end zone, however, this project does not quite fit that description. Nevertheless, they are serving!! Here, my friends, is what 20 foot ceilings look like lit up at night.
Wonderful, right? But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

You know how sometimes when plans are changed it is unexpectedly a blessing? That would be Sunday morning, at least for me. Driving to church on I-4, which is dangerous anytime, but especially now during the construction, Bruce's phone rang. Generally he has an earbud affair attached to his body all of the time, however, he was hoping Sunday it would not be necessary. Alas, it was. Pulling off the interstate to take the call, Lynn was calling to tell him that none of the electronic faucets were working in the ladies restrooms, and since they would be serving guests within two hours......

Well, we turned around, heading to Bruce's home away from home. While he sorted out the problem, which as it turns out was caused by a plumber working overnight, I roamed around, watching the proceedings, all the while soaking in the moment. This cute little spot is newly furnished since last I visited.
The outdoor patio!! So cute, however I suspect this area probably won't get any daytime use just yet due to the ever-present heat! Nonetheless, I bet it is wonderful at night.
Should you be wondering, most of the rest of the patio is under gigantic blue umbrellas. Furthermore, they have mounted fans with jet engines, imported from Italy, of course. There is seriously no expense spared!

Back inside, the cooks were working diligently in the front of the house...who knows what was happening back of the house...crazy, no doubt.
In the dining area, meetings ensued about 11:00, with the first invited guests set to arrive around noon. Managers from all over the US come to help with an opening. This location is #8 in the United States.
So that looks pretty conventional right? Not so much when Bianca, the lunch manager, hopped onto the bar to hold a little pep rally with the servers.
When I say pep rally, I am not kidding...cheers unfolded. Sitting at the bar, I had a delightful time talking to Junior...
who is on loan for a year from the Boston location. Renting an apartment with another one of the bar tenders, his main goal is to make money, and lots of it! Citing the much, much, lower costs of living in Florida, he is sure his plan will work.

The fantastic thing about where I was seated, aside from enjoying the bartenders, is that I got to watch each and every guest come in; seeing the looks on their faces mitigated some of the pain of not having Bruce around very much for the last month or so. Seated at the end of the bar is the representative from Trane, along with his lovely wife, who talked me into trying sushi. Nothing exotic mind you, but still a first for me. Anyway, he is part of what we call Bruce's posse, working with him on many, many jobs throughout the years. Behind them sits the olive tree, planted in the middle of the patio. Remember when we went to Dunedin looking for one a few months ago and the girls in design dismissed the ones we found? Well, this one is originally from Italy, imported to a grower in California, and now trucked across the country to Earls. Crazy, right?

Three days before opening (thus the thrird yard line), media, along with friends and family, were invited to lunch or dinner on Earls. The hardest part will be the lack of name recognition, and in the world of chains, that is a big hurdle. Word of mouth, baby, word of mouth. Anyway, Bill and Fallon came for lunch, and while I did not expect to be there at that time, I was delighted it worked out that way. As you may recall, Bill is stone crazy, and believe me, there is real stone everywhere! Plus, their food was good. That's the point, right?

Unfortunately I did not take a photo of Bill and Fallon, only some strangers eating, along with a manager keeping an eagle eye on the guys behind the bar.
Anyway, another problem popped up with one of the ovens, so B and I had lunch while waiting on the technician to arrive. To tell you the truth, it was just thrilling seeing the place come to life. Servers are still getting their footing, in spite of some crazy tough training, using both Sunday and Monday to interact with real live customers, albeit with them eating for free. :)

We were there until nearly three in the afternoon, and as you can imagine, Bruce fell fast asleep the minute we got home. I forgot to mention he'd already been there at 6 AM, to sort out another problem. It is no fun, but not unexpected for equipment to fail, or what have you, in the early days. Here's hoping it will all settle down fairly quickly.

We had reserved a dinner spot at 6:45 PM, so we went back. Thinking about who to invite, as the number of folks was quite limited, we hit upon the idea of having Regina come, along with Gerry, her friend, and yard man. In fact, he did our yard for a year when I was sick some time ago. Well, it was both good and bad. The good--we had a ball and the food was just delicious. The bad--Regina is now 80, and although she is a young 80, loud environments don't suit her as well as they once did. Mind you, she did no complaining, but we did have to talk loud.
You might wonder about inviting Regina, so here's what I was thinking. First we are crazy about her, and secondly, when Bruce took the job he had been home for about six months. A good many mornings he would chat with Regina as she was walking Argyle, her Welsh Corgi. When she heard the news that he was going back to work, she said to him, "it is a gift for your retirement." And so it has been. Come to think of it, Regina is one of the first people I had the nerve to show my photography to, so there's that as well. Anyway, she is a hoot, and Gerry is the same.

So, that is how I took the shot of the restaurant looking gorgeous at night.

I will tell you that almost all of the staff is super young and they think of my darling husband as a father figure. I think he is the second oldest person in the entire company!

Meanwhile on Monday, while Bruce was at the restaurant from sun up, to sun down, I was bike riding, or sewing. No surprises there. It is not very often that I see a Pileated Woodpecker, and even more rare for me to see TWO in my own front yard.
Seriously unbelievable! Here's how huge they are up close.
Can you believe how big their claws are? Our poor Palm tree is a favorite of woodpeckers, as is plainly evident!

Last night David and Michelle went for their sneak peek, and from what I hear, they thought it was marvelous as well. Bruce ate dinner with some more folks from his posse, including Danny who has installed probably at least thirty kitchens for him over the years. I've mentioned his name before, Colin, Bruce's go-to guy, finally finished up yesterday, leaving Bruce sad to see him go. Plano, a suburb of Dallas, should go easier as the general contractor was hand selected by Bruce because he knows they will do a good job. That said, I'm sure Bruce will be calling Colin again. :)
Tomorrow is the end zone!!! Here's hoping the staff will soar!!

Proud as punch,

Gail

p.s. Good grief, how could I have forgotten...this coconut cake with lemon curd was out of this world!!


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