Great restaurants should be protected,
at least as much as whales and trees.
I'm not big on passing new legislation. I figure we have plenty
already. But I think we ought to consider the passage of a
Restaurant Preservation Ordinance.
Breathes there a more woeful man in the world of travel than he who
returns with salivating anticipation to a favorite restaurant after
years of painful, longing separation only to find it closed?
This sad fate befell me recently. Worse, I was in the company of my
11-year-old son, Sam, so I couldn't break down and weep for fear
that he might think his dad had lost his marbles. It occurred one
terrible afternoon in Atlanta when I stared in disbelief at the
empty shell that had been Aleck's Barbecue Heaven.
Aleck's held a legendary spot in our household. I had regaled Sam
with stories about Aleck's since he was a toddler. I like to think
that through my repeated descriptions, the tiny 'cue shack had
gained a certain mythological status, and I hope that in Sam's
mind's eye the place was shrouded in mist, like something in a
fairy tale. And then Goldilocks sat down with the three bears at
the magical barbecue shack, where they polished off a pile of
tender, juicy ribs and Goldilocks said, "They're just right," and
the bears smacked their lips in joyful agreement and everybody
lived happily ever after.
I had wanted him to conceive of Aleck's in such an exalted manner
because, in the end, there are few true shrines in this world.
Aleck's was one of them. I wanted him to walk through its rusted
screen door with the proper reverence.
But here we were, in the car, driving up and down the street in
"It was here, I swear," I said, driving slowly, leaning forward
over the steering wheel. "What's the address again?"