copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar
When I headed out for my book signing yesterday, I didn't have high hopes for sales. After all, Papa Jay's
is a small local restaurant that had just opened a year ago, and --
embarrassed as I am to admit it -- I hadn't really noticed it in my
travels. I vaguely remembered an old collision shop used to sit on that
lot. But I had met the owner, Papa Jay, himself, when I stopped by a few
weeks earlier to drop off my book. It was Monday, and the restaurant
was closed. But Jay, his wife Kathy, and his children were taking down
the outdoor Christmas decorations on that cold and sunny day, and it
seemed like they were having fun. We chatted for a few minutes, and I
immediately liked Jay, whose warm persona sparkled from his eyes.
I did have high hopes for was a good time. I'd be joining my long time
family friend Rob Sells, who I really hadn't spent quality time with in
years, but whose first book, a historical adventure entitled RETURN OF THE WHITE DEER,
had just been released. Together, we'd sit and chat about the world or
writing, meet a few nice folks, and hopefully sell a few books.
envisioned the interior to be like a small diner. You know what I mean,
right? I pictured booths and formica tables and a few waitresses
bopping between the tables. What I hadn't expected was to be completely
astonished by the transformation of this old garage into what I now will
consider my local oasis for comfort food with a gourmet twist, at fast
When I entered with my books in hand
yesterday morning, I was thrilled to see a beautiful table set up for
Rob and me. Right up front - not set in the back corner. A red
tablecloth and two potted mini rose plants adorned the table. Rob and
his wife Dale (who has the same first name as my wife!) were already
setting up when I got there. But I just stood and stared--totally
unprepared for the scene. Behind our table nestled a comfy couch and
chairs in front of a gas fireplace, all arranged around a coffee table,
with plenty of end tables to set your coffee or brown sugar drenched
corn cake on. (I can't wait to try that!)
To the left
of the high-ceilinged room was the ice cream counter and ordering area.
All ice cream is homemade, and I know where we'll be this summer! Behind
a counter -- which happened to be laden with goodies like cookies the
kids had just pulled out of the oven and that afore-mentioned corn cake
-- stood a smiling young woman, taking orders.
was scrawled on large blackboards that plastered the walls behind the
counter - with an array of soups that made me salivate (try the spicy
potato! Mmm...) and enough choices of what all the customers are calling
"real food" that you couldn't possibly go away disappointed. Breakfast,
lunch, and dinner are offered, with homemade pies and mile high
Strategically placed about the space, which included the front room
I've just described and a cavernous and beautifully done back room
filled with nooks and tables for plenty of patrons, were large glass
coolers of ice water, complete with tall stacks of glasses for customers
to help themselves and quench their thirst. I'm a huge ice water fan,
and loved the idea that I could fill my glass to my heart's content at
any time without having to bother the servers.
place was packed, Rob and I both sold a very respectable number of
books, had wonderful converstations with friends old and new, and we
were fortunate to sample some of the delicacies, like Jay's clam
chowder, fresh baked cookies, and the truly delicious homemade poppy
seed dressing. I felt so at home there that I could picture myself
sitting by the fire with a nice cup of mint tea, writing my next
chapter. I can't wait to go back and sample more. ;o)
once again I was humbled. I used to think I should focus on selling
books at book stores, my winery niches, and vendor sales. I hadn't
considered restaurants. Even after eight years of selling books, I'm
Many thanks to Dale Sells for setting
this all up, to Rob for inviting me, and to Jay, Kathy, and their family
for having us there yesterday.
If you're anywhere in the Geneseo, NY area, be sure to stop by and pay a visit to Papa Jay's!
Check out the video here.