Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When a one-on-one restaurant tour leads to a landscape oil

 6 x 4 in. (15 x 10 cm) original oil on hand-made canvas panel. Unframed. Available in my Etsy store

Next door to the Framingham, Massachusetts main post office, there's a restaurant, once a proud showcase in the IHOP chain, blue from chain smokers, a favorite stop for EMTs as the elderly clients regularly needed them. 

It then became an independent pancake house and grill, but never changed clientele. About a year ago, it closed and moved closer to dereliction -- a process that the independent management had begun by neglecting the physical plant.

Last Friday, walking back from the P.O., I went over to look in the windows. Somebody was renovating the place. Just then, a guy came out the front door -- at first I thought he was a workman, but it turned out to be the new owner. It's going to become a Mexican-Spanish restaurant.

He was exhausted, but urged me inside and began showing off his handiwork. There was nothing that he found to be usable inside that had not been adopted, re-purposed, spiffed, perfected. The solid wood wainscoting he had sanded (hundreds of feet of it) and set gleaming with new varnish in a mirror finish. 

The granite buffet top was now his desktop in a tiny office, where his original drawing for the menu cover was drying on the wall. The rotting carpt was gone, the cement underlay acid-cleaned, an array of Mexican tiles in place, awaiting imminent setting.

Out back, he pointed out a stack of wood pallets from new equipment for the kitchen - he was going to use them. For something. He didn't know what, yet. 

"Everybody here throws everything away," he said. "Where i come from, these would be anything from a couch to a porch to a house."

I asked where he was from originally. "Mexico."

Where? I asked. "Jalisco. You probably know Guadalajara - it's in Jalisco. I'm from the countryside."

The restaurant is opening next March. I went home and hit Flickr for Jalisco. One photo popped out, and it was available under Creative Commons. The photo by Wonderlane, intrigued me by its exotic colors - the river, the sky. And the exotic skyline... exotic to those of us around Boston, where skies are Canadian blue and rivers are granite-gray or sky-blue, and mountains don't shoot up vertcally and skim off their tops.

Wonderlane has a blog (much better than mine) here.

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