I was walking through Red Hook on Saturday to a new garden center on the tip of the Island called, Liberty Sunset. Why Liberty Sunset? Because the place has an incredible view of The Statue of Liberty and sunsets, that’s why. Anyway, this place is incredible (don’t think typical suburban garden center). So, I first walked to my new favorite little cubbyhole restaurant for a bit of brunch (if brunch can be had at 2:00 pm, rather than just having breakfast at 2:00 pm).
Oh wait, it wasn’t at the restaurant. Okay, so next I walk to the garden place that is owned by a couple people, one of whom is from Hungary. Since he is from Hungary, his partner told me on their grand-opening, he is really into hospitality. At a certain time on the weekends, they fire up the incredible grill in their amazing kitchen that is part of a huge warehouse room where they have waterfalls and grow lights and photography space and an enormous table in the midst of pots and scattered plant projects that was salvaged from some place, but is a horizontal slice from an ancient Redwood. They have like twenty chairs around this table. Mind you, this isn’t the tourist destination kind of disneyfied mega-garden center. This is the place of work of some unique people! So, since the Hungarian co-owner is really into hospitality, they cook up some food and open some bottles of wine and invite anyone shopping or looking around to have a snake (or a meal, depending on how hungry you are). People just grab some stuff (the day I was there it was Hungarian specialties of sausages, and the like). I didn’t eat, but thanked the other co-owner when she offered me some food and wine.
That’s hospitality!
But, it wasn’t at the garden center, either. This building used to be a warehouse. Red Hook is a port area of Brooklyn. The very modern Queen Mary II docks there now whenever it sails into New York City. I can see the smoke stacks from my living room window, and pretty much the whole thing when I’m on the roof. On one of my few runs these days, I ran through Red Hook and down by the dock to see the Queen Mary II in all its glory. (A bunch of us from General saw it sail up the Hudson on its maiden voyage along with a few thousand other people standing along the river at 6:00 am.) Anyway, I ran down by the docks and noticed a ton of police everywhere. I guess to guard against potential terrorist attacks. No problem. Well, until I ran down a deserted road that dead-ended on the bay and gave an incredible view of the front of the ship. I don’t think they trusted me. A cop car followed me all the way, sat there while I look at the boat and the Statue of Liberty, and then while I ran away.
Okay, so this garden center is in the warehouse building along with a few other business whose proprietors seem to be equally unique (don’t think hippy type, but just industrious, do your own thing, live a good life, hip-cool kind of people who are at stages in their lives where they can afford to do this kind of thing). Around the corner of the building is a Key-lime pie bakery. The most authentic key-lime pies in New York, its truck proclaims. After my breakfast at 2:00 pm, a nice little personal key-lime pie was in order. Refreshing on a hot, sunny day, before buying pots at the garden center. It was here that I saw it.
One of the owners of the garden center, I guess (I think they are all in cahoots with each other) fired up a new waterfall into a huge above ground custom built wooden pool that will be used for marsh plants right outside the door of the pie place; so one of the owners had on a t-shirt that had printed on the back P.E.T.A. I thought, great, it figures that one of this crew was a PETA member. But wait, I read on.
P.E.T.A, for this guy, meant, “People who Eat Tasty Animals!” I had to crack up. The shirt was from some b-b-q place in the South. Eating my little, personal key-lime pie, I thought, “This guy fits in perfectly with a garden center that serves up sausages and wine to his customers.” That’s the kind of place I would like to work. “People who Eat Tasty Animals.” Just too funny.