Just sorting through old Lunch Encounter mail, taping postcards to the fridge, rereading love letters and perusing ephemera. Barbara, chef/owner of Cafe Clementine in Tribeca, born and raised in Bluffton, Ohio, a suburb of Lima, took me with her on a short stagger down memory lane in her note, following up a Kew Pee/Wilson’s conversation we had started months earlier.
Kew Pee, a burger chain based in Lima, is cute as can be. Looking at a snap shot, if I squint real hard and let my imagination take the lead I can see Barbara inside, all dolled up in her blond wig (“You wore a wig in high school??!! What did it look like?” “Well, just like my hair.”), tall and funny, with one and a half feet out the door of Ohio, and on her way to NYC and acting school.
Just a short detour there, though. We met on the front steps of the main building of the Culinary Institute of America a few years later. My words to my mother when I spotted Barbara in a mauve gauze dress (how she thinks she knows what I said is anyone’s guess) were, “Not my type”. Snarky little hippie me. I ate plenty of my words then, and still. With salt.
Taken down by a cold and sofa bound I’ve been catching up on your blog.
Wilson’s was owned by the Kew Pee people of Lima, Ohio. Wilson’s was about 40 miles north in Findlay, home of Standard Oil in Ohio. Guess they had a non-compete clause with themselves.
My friends and I really liked Wilson’s. It was new and bright and sparkly 35 years ago. Is it still in biz? Perhaps by now the grill has had time to acquire
the patina to make a real Kew Pee.
Even a teenage palate could tell the taste of Kew Pee hadn’t completely migrated north to Wilson’s, but Wilsons served fries and were blocks away from the movie theater where we saw Easy Rider and Mash and a live traveling Christian Chorus who tried to convert us into born agains. (unsuccessful) .
Thanks for the stagger down memory lane.
I think they wrapped their burgers in the
“Hamburger Pickle on Top
Makes Your Heart Go Flippity Flop”
dry wax paper too…gonna check with Brent.
Dreamy Cafe Clementine just moved in from next door, where they were known as Columbine. The menu is the same, thank your lucky sandwiches, and the bustle remains. Not quite an unruly mob at lunch time, but you better have your money ready when you reach the register.
Barbara knows what to do with food, and you will recognize that instantly when you fold back the paper wrapping. She’s been making benchmark sandwiches for a long, long time.
A word to the wise, be careful what you become good at, cause you will be doing it for the rest of your life. Who said this? I do not remember. Booksmart? Me? Nah. That’s what I get for going to trade school. That and a best friend without whom life would lack its luster.