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Cemetery Gravestones

RIP to the OG
Beloved Restaurants

Pour one out for the places that have closed their doors. Here is the restaurant graveyard that I wish didn't have to exist, but alas we can't have beermosas and poutine on a rooftop while overlooking the St. Johns River. Gone are the days of rolling out of bed and into Deerwood Diner.  Change is the only constant.

Five Points Tavern

Do cafes ever invite you in as you stroll by? That moment when tumbling architecture stacks down the side of a downtown city street. Between the cluttered intersection of 5 points and the St. Memorial Park on the Saint Johns, sits a sweet cafe with a delicious awning. Walking by you’ll see delicate glassware flirting with the sun’s reflection.

The outside seating spills onto the sidewalk. The edge of the restaurant is sectioned off with the arm of an iron fence. Large terracotta brick tiles decorate the floor and an outdoor bar with a backsplash mirror reflects the faces of afternoon diners.

​European Feeling Cafe on Margaret Street

Five Points Tavern has a European feel. I can pretend the Seine is nearby. The server wears a blue and white striped linen apron and glass milk jars hold water on each table. Easy jazz tunes lounge into the air and invite one to stay awhile. Some days I dine alone. I can visit places that beckon me and observe my surroundings uninterrupted. I see another solo diner, sipping on an IPA and resting with his Boston Terrier in the sidewalk area.

My rose wine is slightly bitter, but pleasant for a warm May afternoon. Sundays like this leave a pleasant space for dreaming.

I can step away from distractions like car shopping, apartment cleaning, work development, and the usual chores of mundane existence. Certainly, a date would accompany this afternoon well, but so would being across from a duomo in Italy I could ascend. Every afternoon allows only so many charms.

How About the Soup and Sammy for Lunch?

The lunch fare here consists of some fun apps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and two pasta dishes. Not a ton of options, but most look tasty and the atmosphere is so winning I’m inclined to enjoy whatever I may gander.

The romance of this afternoon, with La Vie En Rose filling the breeze, coaxes me to try something light and savory. I choose the soup and sammy. It’s tomato bacon bisque and tasty grilled cheese with a sweet sauce. It’s delightful.

The street here is lined with large trees bending over the sidewalks. Moss, tiny leaves, and palm fronds tremble in the wind and little wooden tables and simple chairs remain stationary in contrast to nature’s movement. My goodness, this soup has a smoky bacon flavor. I just inhaled a mouthful of barbeque smoke.

How often do you travel in your hometown? The world is ripe for your exploring. I’ve just spotted another solo dinner. An elderly woman with a glass of wine sits smoking a cigarette under the shade of a patio umbrella. I’d tip my hat to her if I were wearing one. After all, the derby was yesterday which would make the adornment and gesture completely appropriate.

Where People Are the Scenery

Some of the other diners, the communal ones who’ve brought family, friends, or a lover sip on beverages in these tall elongated martini glasses. I assume it’s a wine spritzer, cranberry mimosa, or other beverage. I hear a cocktail shaker from the bar. It’s only 1 pm but that forbids no diners from libations.

The lunch hour was just interrupted by a gaggle of motorcyclists parading down the street. The weather is perfect for their ride and maybe 70 rode past in an informal procession through 5 Points. The only thing more self-aggrandizing than my blog writing while eating is their go-pros conspicuously attached to their helmets. Let no glorious moments go unseen by the public world of internet followers.

A little girl is exploring the patio, wearing heart sunglasses and holding a purple fluffy toy in her hands. Her family decides to forgo dining at this establishment and canter farther down the sidewalk.

The French music continues to play in the background. Maybe I can believe in travel again. Maybe I can know that I have traveled. That I am discovering a new destination. One where strangers are a friendly bit of the scenery and the walls that prevent me from hearing their inner monologues allow me to imagine only the most pleasant things.

It’s funny. I’m on a screen. My laptop rests before me and I click away at the same qwerty playground as work, but I am present. I am immersed in my surroundings. Another family mumbles past me. 4 and 5-year-old sisters wear matching baseball tees with butterflies. Parents pull children gently toward the tide of the sidewalk. I knew this place would share its secrets with me. I’ve traveled 20 minutes North to become a bird’s eye diner in Riverside.

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