I received an email last night letting me know that a customer thought our choice of The Carpenters as an inspiration for a meal, given Karen Carpenter’s lifelong struggle with Anorexia was possibly offensive and definitely unappetizing. I don’t disagree and it’s something that we talked about in the restaurant and, for me, at home.
I don’t want to create a false equivalence here but we also wondered if The Sex Pistols, who are at least as famous for Sid Vicious’ murder of Nancy Spungen as they are for their music, were a band to celebrate in this context. The important thing to understand is that we don’t take these decisions lightly. We know we’re just a restaurant and we also don’t think that our decisions are going to change the world but we decided we wanted to celebrate the Carpenters for what they meant as artists and performers of 70s soft pop love songs. And that that was appropriate for Valentine’s Day. We got on Spotify and were giddy looking at some of the songs that we had forgotten, that our parents loved or that we had discovered through the 90s tribute album. Schooling some of the younger folks who said they didn’t know any songs by The Carpenters and hearing them all respond, “Oh I didn’t know that was them” over and over again.
But, Karen was anorexic and a lot of people would say that is a subject that you should avoid as a restaurant at all costs. Well, it’s too late for that. Karen Carpenter was how I learned about anorexia and I hope I am a better person for it and that we all have learned so much about the different forms that eating disorders can take and are more sensitive to the complicated ways people approach food. As restaurant owners who are extremely thoughtful about what we put on the menu, why and where it comes from, we want people to make informed, healthy choices about what they eat and, hopefully, through that, have a healthier relationship with why and how they eat.
I would just like you to know that we did not make this choice cavalierly and we didn’t make it ironically. I have sung Close to You to my kids at bedtime probably 600 times, think about Rick Moranis in Parenthood every time, and when it comes on L’Oca d’Oro’s stereo on Valentine’s, I will absolutely be smiling. And I hope the whole restaurant will join in a heartfelt sing-a-long.