It is March 2022 and time for the
Every single day, for all thirty-one days of March,
writers will share stories.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community
As we walked up to door of our favorite Indian-Nepali restaurant, we saw through the window that several tables were filled with customers. How wonderful! We are finally getting to a more normal state of affairs with this pandemic. This was our first time out to eat in many, many months, and we were excited to eat INSIDE the restaurant, rather than simply enjoying takeout at home. It was great to see that many others had the same idea.
We stepped inside, only to find so many unfamiliar faces. It was a little confusing. The hostess, the wait staff, the bartender; we didn't recognize anyone.
The hostess walked us through the main room to a small table on the side and I scanned the room for our manager/friend as we walked, but I didn't see him. Tony looked at the tables themselves - happy customers eating and conversing, with platters of injera with its varied stews and vegetables at the center. Ethiopian cuisine.
This was not the same restaurant.
How to explain what this felt like - same place but not? same location yet entirely new?
We sat down quietly as she handed us our menus and said she'd be back with water.
Tony whispered, "Hon, this is an Ethiopian restaurant now."
I looked at him, nodding, wrapping my mind around the foods being served at the surrounding tables and the sound of foreign language conversations being spoken all around us. Hmm. Well, that is sad; I guess our little restaurant didn't make it through the pandemic after all; the owner had spoken with us many months back at how tough a go it had been so far.
Then we smiled at each other - this is entirely unexpected, but this will be fun. Our very first date was at an Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan (Washington, DC) so many years ago; we have enjoyed the cuisine many times since. We have always been game to try new foods.
We settled in our seats and studied the menu. Wait, what? This was the old, familiar menu we knew, for Indian food. There was no Ethiopian food listed.
What is going on here?
I whispered, "Okay, this is weird. Why is everyone eating Ethiopian in what we believe is an Indian restaurant, and you and I are given menus for Indian?" Honestly, it was a little bit like a scene from a science fiction movie - maybe the floor was moving beneath our feet, maybe this was some dream sequence and we were going to wake up in a minute?
The hostess/waitress returned for our orders, and we shared our confusion. "Is the restaurant under new management?" She happily explained that, about a month ago, the Indian restaurant merged with an Ethiopian restaurant. There are two managers in the same location, offering these two cuisines, both with their own chefs but utilizing one space together (and the same organic farm for their vegetables). A very clever solution in these challenging economic times, I think.
I was still confused about the menu - why were we not offered Ethiopian options, as well? The waitress had seen our surprise upon entry and knew us to be returning customers; therefore, she had given us the Indian menu. She insisted on bringing a small sample of Ethiopian food for us to try, alongside our favorites from the Indian menu.
An unexpected twist in our evening, yet what a delicious and adventurous meal we had!