Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Never know who you'll meet at the area's restaurants

After dealing with a serous subject – autism – for the past two Sundays, I shall now return to the frivolous.

But first I must point that those last two essays dealt solely with a fund-raising effort by the Willoughby Rotary Club to raise money to buy iPads for children who suffer from autism and not with the difficulties and heartache that autism can bring. The club feels it is a worthy project, and one that deserves our attention and our support.

I in no way intended to imply that I have any real knowledge of autism, because I do not. So if any readers felt that I approached the subject too casually, I did not mean to. I apologize for perhaps lacking more sensitivity than I might have shown. But as I responded to one reader, whose entire family I know quite well, my heart is in the right place.

Now, back to something far less important. It has to do with dining out, and especially the interesting people you can encounter in Lake County’s fine dining establishments.

There certainly is no shortage of top-shelf restaurants in the area. They are many and varied. They all have different reasons to attract patrons. But since one of our main considerations is proximity to home, there are four places we seem to be attracted to most often. There are many, many others we visit on occasion, but when it comes time to respond to the question, “Where would you like to have dinner tonight?” (other than the obvious response “at home,”) we usually find ourselves choosing one of four nearby favorites: Skye, Molinari’s, Dino’s or Noosa.

Our choices became severely limited with the passing of Gavi’s. We miss it greatly. And someday – someday – it will open under new ownership. The sooner the better. Who knows when?

I told the lady of the house there are probably 100 people we will never see again since Gavi’s closed. Maybe 200. But I digress.

Be that as it may, one of the main attractions at our favored places is the people we see there — and talk to. She should have been a reporter — or perhaps a prosecutor. She asks better questions than I do.

One of the great qualities about Skye is that it is also a hotel, so you meet travelers from all over. Some of them are sales people, coming and going about their business, from Indiana and Minnesota to Queens, N.Y., and some are just homebodies enjoying a night out.

The other night, as the couple next to us was checking out, we heard the gentlemen caution against keeping the pen that is presented by the server to sign the check, because “it is bad karma.”

He explained. He recently pocketed a “house” pen and had very bad luck the entire next day. So he couldn’t wait to return the pen a day later.

Well, we talked about “bad karma,” we introduced ourselves, and he turned out to be a local CPA, Alan Hill, with Rea and Associates in Mentor.

The server couldn’t find the Mentor tournament basketball game for him on the TV, so Alan said they would go home and watch, although, he pointed out, “I don’t know why. I went to Willoughby.”

So did I, I said, when it was Union High, long before it was South.

His wife is Kristina Hill. She said she is a paralegal in Cleveland.

Where? I inquired. “Baker and Hostetler, 27th Foor,” she replied.

My response was an unbelieving “WHAT?”

She wondered why I was stunned. “Because,” I replied, “one of my very good friends is a partner at Baker.”

I told her his name is Wade Mitchell. She laughed with incredulity. “I do a lot of work for Wade,” she said.

Small world. We agreed he is an outstanding lawyer.

“Wade is not only an outstanding attorney,” I said, “ but I hire his band, Plaid Sabbath, every year to play for the Painesville Gyro Club’s St. Patrick’s Day party at Hellriegel’s.

“I already have him booked for 2014,” I said, adding, “I pass Wade and Carol every Sunday, walking down Center Street in Willoughby, walking to Burgers-n-Beer for breakfast.” They live just a few doors down from my brother on Glenwood Avenue, so it’s just a short, leisurely stroll downtown.

I could tell similar stories about people we meet at all the other restaurants. One just has to keep one’s ears open — and basically let the lady do most of the talking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words Jim! See you around town. Kristina Hill

April 8, 2013 at 4:27 AM 

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