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Happy Valentine’s Day
February 2, 2018 | Frank Bonanno
(caught on camera, there, kissing Jacqueline)
I love Valentine’s Day. Love the red and pink of it, love the Veuve Cliquot of it, love the awkwardness and the harmony in the love of love on Valentine’s Day. I love to greet guests that had to step on a trail of rose petals to get to me, love to take coats and catch the scent of date night buried in the scarves and gloves. I love how the restaurants fill and empty and fill again, and love that the music is love music. Love chefs testing out their favorite dishes, love starched servers and glammed up maître d’s. But.
There is a history to my Valentine’s Day that I love even more. Listen.
Doug and I signed the papers on Mizuna on Valentine’s Day, 2001.
Earlier that afternoon, Jacqueline and I signed off on our first home.
Mizuna’s first Valentine’s Evening we had over 200 on the book (we seat 53). As the exec working the line every night, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been about anything, and the snow started dumping. My nerves doubled down to the threat of a storm, a camera crew from 9News showed up to film a restaurant’s anxiety on a snowstorm Valentine’s Day, and as I watched the newscaster interviewing Doug from the Mizuna line, the phone rang at the hostess stand and it was Jacqueline and her water broke. Doug cooked for me that night and we brought Luca home (5 weeks early) on February 15.
We named the next venture after that son, and opened Luca the restaurant on Valentine’s Day 2003.
Jacqueline found out she was pregnant with Marco just before we opened the door to Friends and Family.
On Valentine’s Day three years later to the day, my son Luca stopped tolerating his epilepsy medication, and had a seizure that lasted eleven minutes. The episode triggered a scan that found an anomaly in Luca’s brain that Michael Handler was ultimately able to remove just a few weeks later (and Luca’s been seizure free and unmedicated ever since).
As a restaurant professional, I used to think I hated Valentine’s Day. I bought into this notion that it was a contrived holiday. Fake News. Year after year, though, Valentine’s Day called out to me. Pay attention, it asked. So I do.
Every year something remarkable happens on Valentine’s Day, and I stop and look around, and whether it’s my son getting his license to drive, or a flood at French 75, I stop whatever drama I think I’m involved in to. Pay attention to my life, this celebration of breathing and cooking and loving and breathing.
Think of it, every year on February 14 we are called upon to stop and look at romance. Look at love. Look at the beauty of the world around us. There are balloons on sticks and fluffy animals and flowers on street corners and couples trickling into restaurants to fight or eat or love and, really,
How great is that??
How great is it to be alive and in this world of reds and pinks? I raise my glass of Veuve to you, and wish you all