an empty storefront initative
For All of You Who Supported my Kickstarter Campaign for my [Blank]
R-Evolving Restaurant concept last year, this is simply a reincarnation of the same concept; however, it’s now called Carte Blanche, and I’ve teamed up with some very talented men. Help us take the incubator kitchen-world by storm!
Please Vote For Us to win this Grant!
I went to a local dive bar on Saturday – looking extra cute, mind you – for some hang time with my peeps. Picture this. Me: cute, dark denim, silk blouse, adorable earrings, and a long, ultra-fashionable necklace. Them (the dive bar patrons): over-grown beards, over-grown bellies, and undersized shirts and pants. Let’s take this situation and turn it into an SAT analogy.
A single long-stemmed rose sold in a gas station : Danyel decked out in adorableness standing in a ________.
A) Dive Bar
B) The Country Club
C) Coffee Shop
D) All of the above
If you chose “A,” you were correct!
I, of course, find a good challenge in making friends with “these” people – the dive bar patrons. You know the type. They are the people that immediately hate me upon my entry into THEIR place – ex-boyfriends and batteries not included.
So, back to the story. I step inside the dive bar and glance around. I’m hunting for my night’s prey, A.K.A, my new friend and challenge. I look from right to left and then my heart stops: “He’s perfect,” I hear my overconfident-self mutter. He’s sitting there sporting a grey beard long enough to give even a menopausal Rapunzel a run for her money. My friend-to-be sits there with his fat and grotesque belly spilling over his Wrangler jeans, circa 1973, his t-shirt stained with an ever-so-perfect trail of his last three meals. I embark. Immediately, I notice his eyes are already glazed over, his beard just grazing his Twinkie-filled belly. I know immediately this is going to be a hard one. I take a deep breath and say, “Hello.”
After a few moments of silence, I refer to the hockey game on TV, asking a moronic question – you know, playing the whole dumb bimbo thing – and finally he turns to me. I can almost hear his neck creaking and see the sweat dripping from his forehead from such strenuous activity. It’s at this moment, just when his profile turns into his full-faced self, that I realize my new friend looks like Santa Claus gone wrong. Like Santa post-divorce, post- a November elf strike, or maybe even post- a falling out with Jesus from a Craps game gone wrong. In fact, he is a realistic Bad Santa. He’s what Santa and his jolly-ass self would actually look like. This was Santa strained from the economy, the elf-union, and the porn he found on Mrs. Claus’s laptop. This was Santa wearing the pain and aging of a real factory/sweatshop owner/husband of too many years. This was Santa.
Santa sits there, with his rosy, alcohol-stricken cheeks, his unkempt beard, and his gross belly, in complete silence. He is just staring at me. I’m not sure if Santa was questioning his own sanity, as if at that moment, just possibly, he was hearing the voices, because there is no way this woman would be talking to him. Or maybe his silence was his way of showing me just how pissed off he is that I interrupted his hockey game. At this moment, I had two options: jump on his lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas, or make another stupid comment. I choose the latter.
Me: So, who are you rooting for?
Santa: [Looks down at his Bruins Shirt and chuckles scoffs] Bruin.
Me: I like the Rangers.
Me: Are you from Boston?
Santa: Blah, blah, blah…Boston…blah, blah [insert town really far up north in Connecticut].
At this point, my lack of interest was evident. I think it hit both of us like the morning you wake up and realize you are no longer in love with your boyfriend. You just stop caring. Sadly, I decided at this moment to dump Santa. God, I am SO over him. I instinctively turn my back on him and ask my group if they want to go outside.
Geez, Santa is SO smothering me, I think to myself. I just can’t take how he had to be right there, like all the time. He was SO needy. Over it! We (my friends and I) proceed to the patio.
Our escape didn’t mean we were outside of dive-bar world. Outside simply meant we wouldn’t stick out like sore thumbs; we are now among the sidewalk patrons of New Haven. I sit at a picnic table that feels sticky enough to make me pregnant and start in on my friend-mission again, and then I see him: friend number two.
He’s sitting with his posse wearing a nice pressed, plaid oxford. He and his group are all very loud – yes, I’m half-Italian and half-Jew, and I’m calling someone else loud. I decide he will be my next friend. I can feel his lady-friends staring at me with pure hatred. I can feel the social divide between our two groups. I can feel the instant assumption that I am just another Yalie-kid trying to be poor. The truth is, I don’t go to Yale, and I’m not trying to be poor. I am poor. Nonetheless, there is definitely a difference between our group; hence, the wonderfulness of my new choice.
I start the conversation with another lame question. I believe this one was something to the affect of, “So, do you come here often?” Aside from being the worst pick-up line known to man, why is this dumb? Because, my new friend-to-be knows everyone there by name. In fact, there is a strong possibility that the bench that just impregnated me is the aftermath of something my new friend-to-be had done in the past. My new baby’s daddy, I can only assume, is Timmy. Yes, Timmy. He immediately takes to my friend-attempt. He starts telling us stories about his days of yesteryear. All his stories are of him in his cab, smoking pot and drinking. They are all funny, but they all lead to my making a resolution to never take a cab again. I will walk home at all hours of the night now because I have been let in. I am in-the-know of true cabbie life. My friends (that’s you, reader), it’s fucking scary. Funny as an outsider, but fucking scary should you be a passenger. I’ll give you a little snippet of one of four conversations:
Me: So, Timmy, how long have you lived in New Haven?
Timmy: Blah blah, cab, 20 years, pot, accident. Blah blah, little girl in back of cab and alcohol in trunk. Blah, accident on I-95, blah blah, cops come. Girl is drunk, pot, blah blah.
Me: [Laughing and inserting the typical “oh my” and “no way” throughout his story.]
Timmy was an awesome storyteller, but like I said, the stories would bring any carless pedestrian to the nearest dealership to purchase a vehicle ASAP.
Timmy: How about a shot to put some hair on your chest?
Yes, this is a dramatized version of the conversation and, no, I didn’t actually blackout; I just can’t re-tell stories for the life of me – I have come to understand that if I try, I will ruin it.
Timmy turned out to be an awesome new friend. Our groups merged for the evening. Well, for the most part. Those lady-friends continued to evil-eye me all night. Not to worry, though. Timmy stopped by the hotel the following day to drop off his business card and say hello. I found him charming. funny and entertaining. Just not smart and business-savvy enough to keep the stories G-rated so I would actually call him after a night at the bar.
My life summed up quickly: Silver spoon to plastic fork.
I grew up in a wealthy town in New Jersey and was pretty much just average. I did school like an average person would. Socialized like an average kid did. Drove like an average person—never over the speed limit and always used my blinker. And, I had average expectations of myself. That was until after my second year in college when I decided the average-route wasn’t for me. I wasn’t supposed to be average. I was suppose to be me. I don’t write this with the intent of portraying myself as wanting fame, to cure cancer or rule the world, yet, to provide insight into the next 10 years of my life.
After I graduated high school, I entered a CT college with the intentions of being a neonatal nurse.
I was pulled out a few years later after I informed my parents, that I no longer had intentions to be a nurse, and, furthermore, wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Forced to move back to NJ, I got a job waitressing at a local restaurant and saved all the money I could so I could get myself back out of my childhood home.
Six months after working, I had saved enough money and built up enough resentment toward my parents, that the only next logical move seemed to make a plan to get the hell out-of-dodge. I found myself in their kitchen announcing my new plan. I would move to California within a month and despite my not knowing where or having any plan of how I was going to achieve this newfound goal, I was going to see it through. After my announcement to move to CA, my father asked me where, and, the city of San Diego spewed out of my mouth before I even had time to think about it..
One month after my announcement, my plane was landing in San Diego, CA and tears of joy and a new sense of accomplishment overwhelmed my 20-year-old-self.
How I got there, I am not sure. It’s all a blur. I was on a mission and nothing was going to stop me. Funny thing is, I didn’t know a soul in San Diego, I had no job lined up and no apartment. Oh, and the last time I had been there, I was 3 years old. So all in all it was a risk. Nevertheless, a risk I was willing to take. This was the beginning of my life as a not-so-average person.
I spent three years in San Diego, was still dating (on and off) my boyfriend from college, who was still living in CT, worked just enough to get by, played hard, enjoyed the sun and had many mini adventures and memories to look back on. Nonetheless, my tenure as a San Diegan came to a head when I decided to move back to CT, for personal reasons, and take my newfound-self to it’s next adventure.
After moving back to the East Coast and, again, disappointing my parents with my decision to, ‘live in sin’ with then boyfriend, I decided to enter hospitality school and pursue a passion for hotels that I had realized during my time in San Diego. I entered college, again, as a 25 year old and immediately realized that average grades were not me. I excelled and proved myself correct: I wasn’t average. My boyfriend soon became my fiancée and no sooner my ex-fiancée. I called off my wedding, a year and half into college, and one month before our wedding. I disappointed a lot of people, but mostly, I hurt the one person in my life I loved the most, my now ex fiancée. Calling off the wedding forced me into my next life’s adventure. I moved to New Haven, waitressed, again and finished college as quickly as the school would allow. I ended up in a new relationship with a man, who may or may not have been my professor, networked the hell out of myself and forged relationships with many people that would later help me achieve a life less ordinary. I ended up having an opportunity to open and later manage for a hotel in New Haven called, The Study at Yale (www.studyhotels.com). During the three years I worked with/there, I learned about the industry and myself; moreover, I learned how much I hated cubicles.
Two years into my work with the hotel, I planned and executed a holiday event for a company based out of Watertown, CT. In doing so, I forged a relationship with the owner and his wife and in turn found myself with a new mentor who would encourage me to be creative, challenge myself and to do whatever it is that I wanted to do: In other words, to not be average.
After three years at the hotel, many letdowns, a failed second attempt at finding love and settling down, I decided to go forward with an idea for a business I had concieved earlier that year. I was encourage by Aaron, aforementioned mentor, to seek funding via Kickstarter for my venture and see what would come of it. After a week of waiting, I received notice that Kickstarter declined my request to host a campaign. I emailed Aaron about my rejection, only to be met with a counter-email asking how much I needed and his willingness to be my investor/partner.
Over one and half years later, much success, letdowns, and a huge learning curve, Aaron still provides daily/hourly support when needed—which is often.
That’s it. My life is and will continue to be a series of adventures, all of which culminate from my decision to not be average.