A couple of friends recently visited Savannah, GA and posted some food photos on Facebook. They mentioned the names of a couple of restaurants they visited but not Paula Dean’s place. I’ve never eaten at Dean’s and probably never will after her fall from Food Network grace. But, I do have a story to tell.
Sometime in the late ’90s a friend and myself were headed to Florida for a fishing trip. We decided to take I-95 going through Savannah and stopping at Dean’s for lunch. We were in a large van and pulling an 18′ boat making a parking place hard to find. My friend was handicapped and used a modified crutch to get around. So, I drove by Dean’s and dropped him off to secure a place in line while I found a place to park the boat.
By the time I got back we were at the end of a pretty long line of mostly black people. They were part of a church group from North Carolina and had reservations for lunch at Dean’s. So we stood in line with them and got to chatting with those nearest us. The line behind us continued to grow and in the course of our conversation, we learned the line we were in was for those who already had secured a seat. To get a seat, one had to walk to the other side of the building, stand in another line, and hopefully get your name on the list. So, off I went to stand in that line. About three positions from the front the Dean employee taking names announced they had sold out and the best anyone could do was come back around three in the afternoon and take their chances on getting seated.
I walked around the original line and told of my findings. On the off chance, I asked one of the church gentlemen if we could be a part of their group? In fact, I asked if we could be their token white guys? When he stopped laughing he agreed it was worth trying. So, when their group was called we tagged right behind and when we got to the door the church’s minister looked at us with a question on his face. The black man we were with just looked at the minister and told him with a wink that we were his cousins. With a knowing twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips, the minister became complicit with our scheme.
Things went bad pretty quick. My friend found a table of church ladies with two vacant seats with one having a purse sitting on it. The ladies invited him to sit down but mentioned the other seat was taken by an elderly woman who’d gone to the restroom. That left me looking for a seat. One that did not exist. And, when the elderly woman returned to her seat and found my friend sitting at their table and that she was going to have to put her purse on the floor, my friend was asked, crutch and all, to take a hike. That old woman wasn’t having any of it.
So, with empty stomachs and filled with curiosity the two of us took a quick self-guided tour of Paula’s buffet table, located the van and boat, stopped at McDonald’s, and headed for Florida munching on a Big Mac with fries.
Food wise I don’t know what we missed, but while it all looked good it was buffet food and I’ve never expected, nor received, much from what came off a buffet line.
The best thing, as is often the case, is having gotten a story to tell!