Friday, August 17, 2012

Beach Blast and the OK Cafe




One of my favorite home town restaurants closed the end of June after 8 decades of feeding railroad workers, farmers, and city folk. For many the cafe was a Sunday dinner tradition. My Mom and Grampa ate there many times during the week as well.
I'm so glad I honored the home cooking of the OK Cafe in Birds Do It! 
My favorites included the hot beef sandwich and their crispy fried chicken. Yep, home cookin' at its best!




Here's an excerpt showing Birdie's first time at the cafe...

From the only booth available at the rear of the small restaurant, Birdie was able to take in the full impact of the décor. Train related signs covered the walls, glass lanterns and antiques filled shelves over the service area. But most amazing was the model train that periodically circled the room on tracks placed near the ceiling. Feeling almost sorry for the engine pulling a long string of cars, each advertising a different area business, Birdie chuckled.

“This place is wonderful. I can’t believe I didn’t even know it was here.”

Garr barely glanced up from his menu. “Food’s good, too.” He tossed the plastic covered pages to the table. “Don’t know why I bother to look, I know what I’m having.”

Birdie glanced at the Sunday dinner specials. “Um, I guess I do, too, unless I change my mind before the waitress gets here.” Nervous about being there with Garr and Rachelle, Birdie didn’t think she could eat very much—even though she had skipped breakfast. A salad and the stuffed baked potato would be about right. And it shouldn’t be too messy; she was good at dropping food all over herself.

Full of banter for Garr and Rachelle, the waitress arrived to take their orders. A knot formed in Birdie’s stomach but she ignored it. She refused to dignify the uncomfortable emotion by naming it.
She fiddled with a napkin from the black, metal dispenser while she waited for the waitress to leave.

“So, you come here often?”

Startled eyes met hers. Garr chuckled. “Great line.”

Oh, God, that sounded like a pickup line from a bad movie. She glanced away quickly and stared out the clear windows lining the front of the restaurant.

Letting his fingers linger just a moment too long, Garr reached over the table and touched her hand. She was so cute when she got flustered—faint pink drew a soft line across her cheeks. He took a deep breath and leaned back in the booth, letting his arm rest around Rachelle’s shoulders. That should keep him grounded.

“This is one of our favorite places, isn’t it, squirt?”

Rachelle nodded, reached for her glass of soda and blew bubbles with the straw until Garr tapped her shoulder and she stopped. An innocent smile graced her young face.

Garr turned his attention back to Birdie. A strange look filled her eyes as she watched Rachelle. It was a look of recognition; as if she met someone she hadn’t seen in years. Confused, he studied her, and waited until her gray-blue eyes returned to him. He smiled to offer comfort for something he didn’t understand. Yet.

“Originally this restaurant operated right next to the railroad tracks, actually not too far from here. This location is much larger than the first OK Café.”

Smoothing the wrinkles in her forehead, Birdie’s eyebrows rose. “Larger?”

“Yep. There they catered to the railroad workers and the locals who dared to try the shabby place. My grandparents used to take me there. Now, well, you can see the results of a good reputation, excellent food...”

The waitress appeared with their meals. Birdie’s eyes widened at the size of the overstuffed potato set before her.

“And adequate portions.” Garr chuckled.

“Good thing nothing comes with this besides the salad. I can’t eat all this.”

“It’s good, you may be surprised.” Garr turned to his meal, cut a bite of roast from the pile on his plate, and placed it next to Birdie’s potato. “Try this. They have some of the best beef in town.”

Trying to swallow the dry lump in her throat, Birdie watched Garr and his daughter a few moments while they happily attacked their meals. She looked at the roast resting so innocently on her plate and glanced at Garr from under her lashes. He watched her.

Birdie picked up her mug. She needed to get a life. She’d been around birds too long. She glanced again at the offered bite. Feeding the female was a typical male mating behavior. Humans didn’t do the same thing... did they?

***
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Enjoy the rest of the summer and some great books!