After a year and a half of confinement, Mrs. Pincus and I sprang from our quarantine central for a weekend jaunt to Jamestown, New York. Sure, Jamestown is not first on anyone's list as a "must-see vacation destination." It did, however, meet certain criteria. First, Jamestown is a six-hour drive from our home. My wife loves to drive and hates to fly, so this trip seemed a good fit. Second, it is the home of the National Comedy Center, a museum that houses a comprehensive collection of all things geared towards evoking laughter, from the slapstick to the cerebral and every silly thing in between. Jamestown is also the home of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum. It is no coincidence that Jamestown is the birthplace of Lucy and also the location of a museum that chronicles her life, both personal and professional. Personally, I am not a fan of the famous redhead, but Mrs. P and I are drawn to Hollywood kitsch, so this was right up our alley. We imagined taking the tour with the same attitude as when we toured Graceland. We found ourselves in the overwhelming minority among a reverent flock of Elvis disciples on a pilgrimage to their own version of Mecca. The Lucy-Desi experience wasn't nearly as intense, but seeing Lucy's shoes from Season 4, Episode 11 didn't give me the same thrill as it did other guests.
After a full day of touristy activities, Mrs. Pincus and I made our way to a restaurant just a stone's throw from Lucille Ball Memorial Park. The park is actually adjacent to a large and active marina. The restaurant is hidden, obscured from the view of any travelers on Boulevard Avenue by several enormous dry dock buildings offering shelter to various boats in various stages of repair. The nondescript building of The Main Landing is haphazardly decorated in a vaguely nautical theme, with weathered pylons, stained rope fishing nets and a few sea-related sculptures that looked like they came straight from the garden department at Home Depot. In the planning of our little trip, Mrs. Pincus secured an online discount for this particular restaurant. Based on the menu we reviewed on their Facebook page, we figured "Eh... how bad could it be?" Not exactly a glowing expectation, but we were only in town for one night and it would not be our last meal before being strapped into the electric chair, so — as they say — what the heck!
We pulled up and parked our car on a plot of wet grass in front of The Main Landing's elevated porch. There were two other cars already parked when we arrived. On the front door was a poorly worded, computer printed sign warning those who enter to be prepared for a possible lengthy wait for service, as they are short staffed. The sign's sentiment was very blunt and not the least bit apologetic in tone. Guests enter The Main Landing to a small bar area. Here, we were "greeted" (if you can call it a "greeting") by a harried woman behind the bar, a scowl on her face. Another woman in an apron, smiling and much friendlier, asked if it would be just the two of us for dinner. The woman at the bar, with a hoarse voice tinged from too many years of tobacco abuse, suddenly barked, "Do you have a reservation?"
The aproned woman quickly ran interference. "We'll be fine. We can seat you without a reservation." The woman at the bar interrupted, delivering an angry ultimatum, "Okay, we can seat just you two, but after that — no more!" We were dumbfounded. Apparently, we looked as though we were running a separate service for customers wishing immediate seating and skirting the reservations requirement. The woman in the apron grabbed a couple of laminated menus and led us to one of the many empty tables. As we took our seats, she whispered an apology. "I am so sorry. She had no right to speak to you that way. You don't need a reservation. She's the owner, but she should know better." Then she added, "I'm the owner now. I'll take care of you." It was very reminiscent of the chilling line from Captain Phillips and had somewhat of the same effect.
During the course of our meal, the woman from the bar strolled the dining to and stopped to chit-chat with the folks at the tables near us. From the tone of their conversation, they were obviously regular customers. She laughed and joked and their exchange had a lively air. She walked silently past us on her way to an outdoor deck at the rear of the building where she continued her jolly banter with a couple of shirtless young men donning life jackets and heading down a narrow, wood-planked dock towards a waiting boat. She leaned against a wooden post and gazed dreamily as they boarded and tooled out of the marina area. She waved.
When it came time to pay, the online discount encountered some trouble. We have experienced similar difficulty with this same website at several different restaurants. The gist of the situation was that, according to the website, our discount had already been used. After a bit of discussion and possible solutions to our dilemma, the woman at the bar changed her previous attitude. She became concerned and accommodating and offered to give us the discount no matter if the website told otherwise. Her complete "one-eighty" personality metamorphosis was unexpected. Welcome, yes — but decidedly unexpected.
A little closer to home, I would absolutely be inclined to never return to this restaurant again. Considering that we saw all we intended or needed to see in Jamestown, New York — our experience with The Main Landing yielded the same result. The food was good. The attitude was strange. And it's six hours away.
We can eat good food and get treated like crap right here at home.