As some of you know, I was once a restaurateur in Jacksonville, Florida back in the 80’s. Yes, while the majority of my age group was out enjoying movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and going to see Pat Benetar in concert, my husband Ray and I were spending our wild and crazy youth in business. You have to be wild and crazy and young to own a restaurant cuz the hours are horrific. We were up to 90+ hours when we came to our senses and returned to the real world.
The first, called Sasparilla’s, served ice cream and sandwiches. We deliberately spelled it phonetically because Sarsaparilla’s would have giving us nightmares explaining to our customers how to pronounce the name. Our second business, Nanny’s of Windsor, started out as a dessert place, but soon morphed into lunch, and the third restaurant–also named Nanny’s of Windsor–launched as a full-blown eatery from breakfast through dinner.
I still have my recipe book, an old-fashioned photo album where I’d stuck handwritten meal ideas behind the sticky film. One of the popular items we served at Nanny’s of Windsor was quiche. Back then quiche wasn’t mainstream, but as our place targeted the Ladies who Lunched at the nearby country club, a wedge of quiche with a side salad “did it” for most of them, as well as a few guys who owned shops at the Grande Boulevard Mall where we were located.
Before I share with you one of my recipes, I’d first like to take you on a quick trip down Memory Lane with photos of our third–and thank god, final–restaurant, Nanny’s of Windsor:
A week before grand opening Ray and I burned the name Nanny’s of Windsor into the glass door, along with a decorative flower border. I guess maybe we should have asked the mall management about doing that first… oh well! A decorator friend of ours, John Miller, used our restaurant as a showcase for his furniture store, supplying just about everything you see completely free. He even showed us how to do fancy wallpapering.
John took me to a private supply house where we picked up about 300 baskets and loaded them with silk plants, flowers and ribbons to hang from the ceiling, painted black to give the room depth. John also donated the breakfront cabinet and the china inside, and all the oil paintings on the walls.
Nanny’s of Windsor was originally located upstairs in the Mall, but a larger restaurant wanted our space, so the mall managers asked us to move. They transferred us downstairs to the opposite end of the mall…under an elevator! We had a bright yellow canopy lit from the inside and the canopy along with the aroma of our fabulous brand of coffee became like a beacon for hungry shoppers. We were able to place pink-clothed tables outside the shop to line the planters under the elevator. Everyone loved the new Nanny’s.
The view from the main dining area to a more secluded area behind a half-partition.
Photo quality isn’t the best, sorry, but I was too busy cooking to take decent photos. The clock was ours, and the cats on the mantle were gifts from my mom-in-law, who also spent a gracious amount of her time renovating the antique fireplace. We purchased it from a wrecker, and she spent a couple of weeks on our townhouse balcony in the Florida heat scraping old paint from it and then staining it. Mom — you are the best!
Ray managed the front service with the help of the fabulous Jennifer Fields, a high school phenom whom we leaned on pretty heavily, while I ran the kitchen, sometimes accompanied by Jen’s sister, Lynda. To the left of Ray is the single remaining ice cream cabinet from our Sasparilla’s days. To the right of Ray you see a tiny window leading into the kitchen. This was my lair.
No, I didn’t crawl through the tiny window to enter my lair…but there were times when Ray and Jennifer would quickly throw order receipts through the window and run. I wasn’t a temperamental cook…unless we were slammed and I ran out of quiche and chicken salad inside forty-five minutes of opening. That would put me into a tailspin every time. But it was difficult to gauge the need for certain items on a daily basis. Everything was made fresh, and we didn’t have room for leftovers. We didn’t have a freezer, other than the ice cream chest.
Not only did I cook, but I was also in charge of Atmosphere! See the tiny tape player above my workstation? We usually played classical British music to fit the theme, but during Christmas I played Bing Crosby and Perry Como. We didn’t own many tapes, so if you stayed over an hour, you would probably hear the same song at least twice. Plus the machine shut off with a huge SNAP! I cringe now, but its a good memory.
Okay, thank you for tripping along with me through the ghosts from my past. Now, as promised, here is a quiche recipe I think you will enjoy:
You will need the following:
- 1 pie shell – unbaked
- Gouda cheese – a small wedge
- Tyson frozen grilled chicken
- 1/2 a package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
- Minced garlic to taste
- Pat of butter
- 4 eggs, beaten within an inch of their lives!
Heat oven at 400 degrees.
- Cook onion, bell pepper and garlic in butter.
- Microwave spinach and pat dry
- Microwave chicken and chop into pieces.
- Add to onion mixture and heat through.
- Slice the Gouda, and placed several pieces on the bottom of the raw crust.
- Add the meat and veggie mixture to the crust.
- Arrange additional slices of Gouda over the mixture.
- Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture.
Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes, or until done. Slide a knife into the center and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to leave a comment.