By Ben Higgins
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Eight-year-old me never knew how to answer. In fact, I typically froze up and changed the subject.
Thinking about what I wanted to be makes me laugh. Some of my friends were learning about biology and prepping for the LSAT. Instead, I was building sand castles. (I like to think of myself as someone who will always be young at heart.)
A man named Stacy
I used to visit a restaurant, Stacy’s, 10 miles outside of Warsaw, Indiana. Named after the owner, the eatery served steaks, a red drink my grandma would order sheepishly — she’d giggle after drinking it — and the best pre-frozen calamari that side of the Tippy river had to offer.
The atmosphere was even better than the food. Christmas lights hung from the tiled ceiling. The bar’s massive mirror made the restaurant look twice its size, ashtrays lined tables covered in plastic tablecloths, and smoking was allowed.
A blend of tenderloin, fried food, and cigarettes permeated the air. Grease, family, friends, and ranch dressing was what “going out to dinner” in the ’90s looked like — and it was wonderful.
The corner booth
The most memorable part of Stacy’s was the corner booth. I always wanted to sit in this intimate space. The reason:
It’s where my hero, Stacy, sat.
I looked up to this bald, skinny man, and he had no idea. Why did I want to be Stacy? All I knew is he owned a restaurant, smoked cigars, and had lots of friends.
Stacy would sit in his booth, cigar in hand and a bottle of wine in tow. Friend after friend, couple after couple, would roll through the restaurant, convene with Stacy, and enjoy dinner.
The power of breaking bread
Fast forward many years and I’ve discovered the real reason I wanted to be in that booth. I desire a connection with people. And I’ve seen the power of connecting by breaking bread with others.
Years ago, I mentioned my restaurant dream to a friend and restaurateur, Juan Padro — he is a modern-day Stacy — and I told him how I hope to create those authentic moments. I want to smoke my pipe, celebrate with happy friends, and mourn with struggling friends.
True connections are life’s greatest gifts. They occur in surprising places with unexpected people. They can reshape our ideals and perspectives.
Jesus chose dinner to create memorable moments. He gave his friends worldview-changing news during a supper, which transformed history forever. I know nothing else than to follow Jesus’s lead in life.
A big opportunity
Earlier this year, Juan gave me the opportunity to invest in a Denver restaurant called Ash’Kara. When the establishment opens later this year, I’ll partly own a restaurant and be a little bit closer to becoming Stacy.
So, come visit and make some memories with me. (And check out the MW Instagram to see more of the delicious dishes we’ll serve!)
What did you dream about as a little kid?
(Ash’Kara menu images by Baltz & Co.)