Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Can We Swap Research to Help Each Other?

I visited a superb restaurant in May. It wasn't a four or five star in appearance, but the food certainly was worthy of the rating. 

The lightly enhanced fresh basil salad dressing still touches my memory. The delicately spiced-to-perfection tomato sauce on the fettuccinie, and the tiaramisu--airy, melt-in-your-mouth silkiness, had balanced flavors which were faultless on the palate and guaranteed to be savored long after the experience. This was fine dining.

Inside Ciao!, a beautiful free-standing stone fireplace was set in the center of the room. Long, dark beams stretched across a white ceiling. The lobby had elegant sofas and wing backed chairs with material matching the decor throughout the restaurant.

The manager, elegantly dressed, visited every table and spent a few minutes chatting with the guests. She pointed out to us that the chef grew today's herbs in the garden located in the side yard and made all the dishes from scratch. The bouquet of flavors delicately balanced in our meal proved her words. 

I'd like to introduce you to Ciao! An Italian restaurant located in Sylvania, Ohio.  

If I had a character who wanted to be a chef in an excellent restaurant, or if my characters happened to have an evening with fine dining, I would take them to Ciao!  

Today we will explore swapping research to help each other.

As writers, we spend a large amount of time researching. Sometimes, we don't have a clear picture of a business because we are depending on a picture from the Internet and the words of a great marketer.

Today we will help each other by swapping information about the perfect restaurant to take our characters for any occasion. 

The next excellent restaurant I'd like to introduce you to is Waffle House. Yep. You heard me right. Waffle House. In this case I am going to specifically refer to the Waffle Houses located south of the Ohio border. 

During vacations, my family huddles into one of the small booths, orders food then wait for the show. The waitress turns her head and shouts the most amazing words. Something about smothered and covered. Her accent is a thick southern style with words stretching her mouth as wide as possible. 

I had no idea what the waitress was referring to when I first visited a Waffle House. She called out the order loud enough to be heard over chattering guests and the cook's clanking pans. Somehow the cooks managed to whip up breakfast foods at superman speed, delivering the meal to the waitress seconds after she shouted the order. This truly was a cultural experienced. I loved it! We put the Waffle House on our must do list every time we drive south of Ohio. If you need a place to tickle your funny bone, Waffle House is the place.

The caption with this photo read: Take note criminals. Waffle Houses aren't "soft targets" as it is common knowledge that legal gun carriers enjoy coffee and breakfast food. Dan Cannon link to article 

If I had a character who lived in a small town, she might be a cook at a Waffle House. The sheriff would be a regular customer along with the mortician, school teacher, and the preacher. When a stranger drove into town everyone would stop and stare, leery of what the wind just blew in with the dust. Decidedly a trouble maker until proven otherwise.

I really love both of these restaurants and would gladly eat at either one again.

Ready to work together? After all, our characters need to eat! 

1. You must have eaten at the restaurant you select.
2. The restaurant does not have to be one that serves the needs of your current characters. We are here to help each other. So talk about a restaurant you liked. It might fit the need of someone else's character.
3. You are only allowed to choose restaurants you liked.
4. Not allowed to criticize a restaurant someone else chooses.


1. Choose a geographical area
Northwest, United States     Southwest, United States    Midwest, United States     Northeast, Unites States      Southeast, United States     International
or other

2. Choose a level of dining:
formal                       expensive but a little less formal           middle class
fast food                   cafe                                                       lodge 
or other

3. Describe briefly the setting/atmosphere inside the restaurant.
4. Comment on the food/menu/prices
5. What type of character would eat there and how do they need to be dressed?
6. Name the restaurant. YES, we need to know the name of the restaurant and the location.

I can't wait to see what you share! This will be a great help to all of us. Take notes!!

BTW you can choose the same restaurant as another commenter. Each of us have different experiences. Please be sure to add more information if you do. The more we know, the better we can help our characters find the perfect place to eat.

So....where should our characters eat?


This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Jeanne Takenaka said...

I loved your descriptions, Mary! Being gluten free, I've never been to a Waffle House, but I love how you described it. :)

Okay, I'll play. One of my favorite restaurants in Colorado Springs is called Coquette's. Everything on their menu is gluten free and delicious.

Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Coquettes is nestled between two other shop fronts. The exterior looks a little run down. Once you walk inside, you forget this because the interior is almost retro in its feel. With simple lines throughout the restaurant, the place is open. Dark wood floors and white walls with various forms of art. The bakery counter and hostess station meet you as you walk through the doors. About 2/3 of the way back, a full bar captures the eye. The tables are dark wood and most are set for 2-4 people. The servers wear black. The chef, with tattoos, walks through the restaurant rather than sequestering himself in the kitchen the entire night. He talks with the hostesses, manager and the servers. Occasionally he stops by guests' tables as well.

The food is unique with delicious flavor pairings. Lavender and chocolate mousse, anyone? The menu has vegetarian items, as well as entreés from the various meat groups. One of my favorites is their chicken crepes, with a blend of cheeses, chicken and spinach. This dish makes a GF girl happier than happy. Another favorite is described as this: Pan Seared Duck: apple wood smoked bacon& rainbow chard, sweet potato & parsnip puree w/ lavender blackberry gastrique.

The prices are a little on the high end,but hey it is gluten free. ;) People dress in everything from blue jeans to professional attire. There isn't a dress code. The people who frequent the restaurant are probably more middle class and above.

I hope this is helpful.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Sign me up!
I'd like to have the pan seared duck. Yum!

The dark wood tables and white walls sound good.

What amazes me the most is the chef touring the tables. This is a star feature.

Thanks, Jeanne!