The following week Wendy came into her house to the phone ringing.
“Hi, Jake,” she said as soon as she recognized his voice.
“Hi, dear. I haven’t talked to you in a while, and I wondered how the nursery is doing.”
“It’s great. I’m so thrilled with its success.”
“I don’t blame you.” “Why don’t you come over and I’ll make dinner so we can visit?” Wendy prompted.
“How about I meet you for lunch instead. There’s something I’d like to talk to you about.” Her interest was piqued. “Sure. Why don’t you pick the place?”
“I like La Italia’s on Wilshire.”
“Me too,” Wendy responded. “I love their pizza and lasagna.”
“Forty-five minutes, okay?”
“See you there.”
La Italia became a popular restaurant in the West LA area. Parking was sometimes a challenge, but it rarely stopped people from appreciating the great food and the Italian style decor. Wendy always liked being there. As soon as you walked in, you see a large wrought iron chandelier hanging in the center of the main room. The tables had iron legs with thick wooden tops. On one wall was a shelf with a carved wooden mirror, and on each side of it were wooden candle holders with broad yellow candles. On other walls were pictures of windows with flowerpots painted on the bottom with blue shutters on the sides. A painted tile with a bowl filled with bright colored fruits stood out. Wendy could almost see herself in Italy.
Jake, already at a table when Wendy came in, waved her to him. She gave him a quick kiss and slipped into the chair across from him.
“It’s so good to see you, Jake.”
“I’m glad we have stayed in touch. I always enjoyed talking to you.”
“Oh yeah, me, Miss Chatterbox.”
“Not really, I’ve always enjoyed the times we’ve shared with each other.
“Thanks, me too.
The waiter came over, set down glasses of water, took their orders and left. Neither of them needed to look through a menu.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” Wendy asked anxiously.
“Well, I’m interested in purchasing a small diner in Malibu. It’s set back a little across from Pacific Coast Highway and not far from the Malibu Pier.”
Wendy’s mouth fell open, “Wow, sounds great!”
“Like I said, the place isn’t very big and only does snacks and finger foods and drinks, from three in the afternoon until eight at night. It’s decorated beachy, which most places are in beach towns.”
“Not full service, and this works for the place?”
“It surprised me too, but yes, it works. The owner, Jim, wants out of the business. He’s a friend of mine and the bartender there is also someone I know. I want to buy it.”
“What made you want to do this?”
“Actually, you did.”
“Me?” she questioned as she sat back from the table.
“Yes. I saw how well you handled your nursery, and I’ve wanted to venture into something different for a long time but didn’t know what until I talked to Jim. I’ve thought about my conversation with him for several weeks and I decided to give this a try.” She leaned forward. “I think it’s a great opportunity. Business on PCH in Malibu has to be a hit.”
“I’m glad you agree. I wonder,” he hesitated and went poker-faced, “if I could interest you in partnering with me on this venture.” “You’re kidding, I’m blown away. Why would you want me?”
“I like your good business sense and your ability to keep everything on track. Also, I think it’d be fun to work with you.” “Wow! You want me to put up half the money and a make me full partner, is that right?”
The waiter put their food down.
“Yes.” He ran his hands through his hair. “I can’t quite swing it without some financial assistance.”
She focused on his endearing face and bit her bottom lip. “That’s a wonderful offer, but I don’t know if I can take it on. You see, I just agreed to collaborate at a place called House Retreats. The owner wants me to design patio gardens, including ones in office buildings.”
“I can understand your hesitation, but my accountant, attorney, and I will handle the business aspects. You could be a partner in absentia if you prefer.”
“Hmmm...can I go see it and take some time to think about it?”
“I’ll check it out tomorrow and give you a call, okay?”
“Definitely, and if you can’t do it, it’s alright, but I thought I’d ask you first.”
“Thank you. I’ll let you know as soon as I can.”
After they finished eating, they headed out and Wendy left with fond thoughts of her cousin. She wanted to be there for him, but she needed to think about this. The dividends from the stocks her folks left her to use anyway she wanted were there, but the issue…her time. She shook her head in disbelief, two wonderful offers in such a short span of time.
The following afternoon Wendy drove to the diner tucked against the Malibu Hills. Wendy saw little space between the back of the building and the hillside. The parking was to the right of the building. She walked into the diner, sat at a table and ordered an iced tea from a very pleasant waitress. Wendy glanced around the room, impressed with what she observed. It lacked any definitive décor, although there were a few buoys hanging on the wall. She did love the fact there was a fireplace with a foot-high hearth that could add warmth and atmosphere to the place during increment weather. After she finished her tea, she went to look at the fair size bar, maybe twelve feet long. She stood back, turned and looked at the opposite end where the fireplace stood.
“Excuse me,” a waitress said, “did you need something?”
“No, I’m sorry. I was just admiring this place.”
The waitress looked around as if seeing it for the first time. “It’s nice. I like working here.”
“My name’s Wendy.”
“I’m Amanda. Sorry, someone needs me,” she said noticing a man waving at her.”
As Amanda moved away, Wendy decided to go ahead with the partnership, if she could afford it. Malibu included very high-priced real estate and might be beyond her financial capabilities, but she’d see what the price was before she made the decision. She needed to consider the time involved in taking on another wonderful project, although it shouldn’t be a problem since she wouldn’t be involved in running the place.
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