It is colder than you thought in the breeze of Georgetown. It’s harder to concentrate on finding a breakfast spot, while children talk to you, whine to you, ignore you. So wind whips your hair, sun blinds you, and you look at your phone trying to find a spot where everyone can eat something.
“This isn’t a democracy,” your husband says. And then also, “I just want to get some eggs.”
“Let’s just go where we went yesterday!” your 14 year old says, eyebrows up.
“The same place? We have to walk all the way there?” her brother complains.
“No,” you explain. “It’s the same restaurant — different location.”
“If we go there, I just won’t eat anything,” your youngest quips.
“Let’s just find someplace to eat!” Someone complains. “Is it breakfast or lunch?”
You walk up streets, turn on streets, turn back down streets. Your husband asks Siri for a vegetarian restaurant suggestion, and looking at the brunch menu that pops up, you ask him, “Do we want to pay $39 each?”
You finally find something that looks promising, follow directions down near the water, only to realize that it is just a bakery — no seating. You need to sit and get warm… with a cup of coffee in your hands.
“My legs hurt!” The complaints are getting louder. “Can we just find somewhere to eat?”
“Let’s just go where we went yesterday!” your daughter says. Again. You look at your youngest who didn’t really enjoy his breakfast yesterday. “What if you get something totally different today — and apple juice?”
He agrees, and you walk back down the street, only to find the restaurant packed. A sign at the steps reads “Upstairs closed for now” and all five of you look and hope that somewhere there will be a seat. But, there isn’t. The manager asks you how many in your party.
“Five,” you sigh.
“Five. Yea… we don’t have room for five. . . Actually you can go upstairs. I’ll take care of you myself.”
He most likely thinks you are insane as you say, “Thank you so much! This has saved us!” A little dramatic for breakfast, or even brunch. But, it’s true. You walk up the steps. You pick a table. Everyone sits down, their faces visibly relax into smiles instead of frowns.
“Something to celebrate for sure!” you say to your family. Then you order an almond milk latte, and take a picture to celebrate the little things like a nice manager, a beautiful day, and a much needed coffee.
This Le Pain Quotidien just feels different than yesterday. Yesterday you sat at the communal table stuffed in beside so many other people. Your waiters were rushed — and there was that one who stole your favorite speculoos spread without asking and took it to another table. “Excuse me!” you called to him, and he came back so rushed and annoyed. “We weren’t actually done with that.” He ran off, practically rolling his eyes and came back with the hazelnut spread, and ran away again. “Excuse me!” you called again, “This wasn’t the one we needed.”
“Which one would you like?” he asked, lips pursed.
“The cookie butter one.”
“The speculoos?” he grimaced at you before dashing off to get it.
Ahhh, memories. Today’s location is so different. The manager brings you the speculoos and tells you it’s his favorite too. “I love it on a croissant,” he explains. “I know better than to get between a customer and their speculoos! I’ve almost had my fingers cut off for that before!” (You wonder if he was watching you in the other restaurant yesterday. . .)
Then, at the end of your brunch, the manager brings you a bag. “Here. I wanted you to try this. It’s a croissant and some speculoos — for later. Once you try it on a croissant, you’ll never go back!”
Celebration! It’s not about the croissant, or the speculoos — even though… yum. It’s not even about the coffee — even though the warmth of that latte is something to celebrate.
Celebration! It’s about kindness: Opening the second floor so a family can have brunch, smiling when a mom asks for some speculoos, walking up and down the steps to bring a family food and water, refills, the check, and a croissant with a little container of speculoos to go.