Restaurants in my community are a dime a dozen. Eateries throughout town succeed or fail, open or close, on a regular basis. Most restaurant customers know that the key to success of any restaurant almost always is the food followed by the quality of service. My restaurant—The Witherspoon Café—although somewhat off the beaten track north of the main drag is one-of-a-kind. It must meet those important criteria for success, as customers flock to my door every day. During the ten years that it has been operating, there has never been one single complaint.
My outdoor café in the heart of Olde Dundas is a popular gathering place for a wildly diverse crowd. Open year-round, it is nothing special, except for the fact that it never runs out of excellent, highly-specialized food.The 50-by-50 foot space, containing a small raised deck with railings, an old-fashioned swing, and seating for three dozen around a small pond with a waterfall near a fresh water birdbath,attracts a steady stream of customers. The shrubbery, flower clusters, and tall trees hug the perimeter of a velvety green lawn. In one corner there is a tiny vegetable garden contained by a low, spiked, black wrought-iron fence. It makes an inviting, relaxing space to dine. Lawn strollers and curiosity seekers are free to wander the grounds. Tucked out of the way is a small indoor space for those who prefer to eat inside.
Concentrating my efforts on providing a high-end dining experience, I opt for a restricted menu, but insist on purchasing first-rate food products from reliable suppliers. Wine, beer, and spirits are not available, but fresh water which I label Witherspoon Adam’s Ale, is always on tap.The Sandyland Peanut Company of North Carolina supplies nutritious peanuts-in-the-shell. Premium suet from a local wholesaler is a hit with some customers.Organic, locally-grown sunflower seeds, cracked corn, wheat, and millet round out the menu. That’s it. You may have gathered by now that my restaurant is “for the birds,” and a limited number of wild four-legged animals.
Because my restaurant is open year-round it attracts different clientele depending on the season. For example, on a typical summer day, the first customers to arrive are the really early risers who start their days at dawn.They are the “truck drivers and cabbies” who want a quick bite before heading to work. They eat on the raised deck next to the sunroom attached to my house. Some customers, especially the noisy blue jays, are loud-mouthed and aggressive as they line up to eat. They add drama and excitement to the dining experience. Ever alert, they are first to sound the alarm when danger lurks. The gray,black, and red squirrels aggressively challenge each other to be the first in line. After shoving its way to the front of the line,the dominant squirrel grabs a plump peanut from the double handful scattered on the deck. It sits on its haunches atop the railing, expertly holds the nut in its front paws, peels away and spits out the shell before devouring the nut in less than 40 seconds. Others just grab a nut and scramble across the top of the wooden fence surrounding the yard towards their home.The Blue Jays defer to the squirrels, but then quickly nab a peanut in their beaks, fly into the nearest tree and hammer the shell apart while firmly grasping the nut between their toes.