Well, there were architects

In drafting my novel, What’s Left, some of my favorite passages came about while sketching the family’s business possibilities. What would be involved in transforming their restaurant? In expanding their real estate holdings? In undertaking alternative financial models?

Well, this is a novel, and in the revisions, they story’s become much more about Cassia than her parents’ generation or their roots. Or even my passion for architecture.

Here’s a passage we didn’t need in the end:

Baba expects an architect straight out of school – a young professional full of the latest ideas. Graham maintains we need someone with experience, especially when it comes to cost overruns. Barney reminds us of the importance of knowing what a restaurant itself needs, from plumbing and wiring and ventilation on up. Dimitri points us to a father-and-son team from Finland.

That’s right. Finland. But they’ve been in the States for a decade, designing mostly schools and churches. They like what they see in our approach.


Waiting for some routine maintenance on my Camry, I look around the new building the dealership erected – twice the size of the old one. Some things I don’t like, such as the bank-teller stations for the service coordinators. But overall, I’m impressed by the thinking that went into reducing footsteps the employees would have to take throughout the day. It really is more efficient.

The same kind of thinking can go into something like the renovations in Cassia’s family.

If you’ve ever worked as restaurant wait staff, what would you most want to see in the new Carmichael’s? What’s most annoyed you in some of the places you’ve worked?


Somehow I can envision Barney wearing a scarf like theirs much more than a traditional chef’s toque blanche. This is the scene at Uchi, a nouveau Japanese eatery in Houston. Photo by Ed Schipul via Wikimedia Commons.

In my novel, the family restaurant could have been like this.

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