Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us that week to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!
You will never read that again….
It's not that I'll stop writing this humble column, because I won't. But tonight is the last Dinner with Dave (at least at Santora) and the aforementioned introduction will no longer be relevant. I was really flattered when Gustavo wrote that intro a year and a half ago when I started contributing to The Weekly. “Legendary” can be hard to live up to but I'll take the compliment; it's been a long road and maybe I've paid my dues. I can't believe it has been almost 8 years and some 20,000 plates of food served for free (I did the math). What a run and little did I know that an otherwise innocuous comment from my friend Steeve Jacobs many years ago would lead to such an event. If it wasn't for him mentioning there were more people hanging out at my house on a Wednesday night than in DTSA it never would have prompted me to put two and two together and start serving up free grub like I did at my pad. Yep, it was slow mid-week 8 years ago.
There were a lot of sad faces at the Memphis Group holiday party last month, even more last Sunday for the final Yacht Rock brunch at Santora and I suppose there will be a few more there tonight. There was the usual drunken frivolity at both but they had an undertone to them that was unmistakeable. The end of an era will do that to you and the end of several makes it even worse. I once stated that Memphis employees have “an almost pathological dedication to the institution” and I meant it. We love, love, love working there and I've never had a job where you walked in and group hugged your co-workers every time you come on shift. It's a one of a kind institution that attracts unique souls, to say the least.
If there's one thing I've tried to get across in my column, it is how hard The Biz can be. Hopefully I've made the hidden world of F&B somewhat interesting in the process but I will leave that up to you, dear reader. It's not just the daily grind, all of it can be tough on the wallet and soul. It's not an easy path to take. I've been there for all the ups and downs of the Memphis family and they've fought their battles not out of love for money or notoriety but because they believe in creating more than a one-dimensional facade. Food. Community. Culture. Sadly, Santora and Detroit have succumbed to the forces of the industry, although Dan and Diego are excited about regrouping for the next project(s). The long and short of it is they need a little breathing room. We're also excited about having the resources to bring the battered Costa Mesa location up to par.
As for Dinner with Dave as an event? It's over as it's been known. I'll probably do it occasionally at Memphis Costa Mesa and maybe take it out and about town someplace fun if it strikes my fancy, we'll see.
I have no illusions that any of this is overly important in the grand, universal sense of things. Hell, all of us are just a blip on the radar compared to the greater events of our time and even those will someday disappear into the mists of history. But what does count is love and friendship. Memphis has nurtured both well and I hope my contribution to the greater effort via my event has kept on this theme. And I feel so humbled to have met such amazing people, hosted such talented musicians and, most importantly, shared so much food with everyone, especially old family recipes. Maybe all I really have to offer is a sincere “thank you”-and it is sincere.
Want more of Dave's rantings/ravings/ramblings? Check out www.dinnerwithdave.com for the latest!
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Chef, writer, bartender, photographer and overall bearer of mirth.