Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sandra Bullock Is Having A Great Year, And I Had A Great Day

In today’s very busy world, multi-tasking is absolutely essential in order to get everything done, and so, I decided to accomplish two things over lunch a couple of days ago. First, have a great lunch. Second, pick up something for a special valentine, my wife, for this Valentine’s Day weekend. Thanks to Sandra Bullock, although unbeknownst to her, I was able to accomplish both things in one place, and it was in her place.

Her place, or more correctly, one of her places, is Walton’s Fancy and Staple on West 6th Street, in Austin, Texas. Actress Sandra Bullock has enjoyed a lot of success over the last year, as moviegoers have enjoyed both The Proposal, and The Blind Side. It is well known that Bullock has received numerous nominations and awards for these two films, including, a 2010 Oscar nomination for Actress in a Leading Role for The Blind Side. What is less known, at least outside of Austin, is that Sandra Bullock both lives in Austin and is quite an astute and successful businesswoman in the city.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple, which opened in 2009, joins Bullock’s other Austin restaurant, Bess Bistro, which was opened several years earlier. But Walton’s is more than just a mere eatery; rather, it is a bakery, delicatessen, coffee shop, floral mart, gift store, and caterer. In other words, you can get more than one thing done during a visit, which is why I headed down there in the first place.

After finding a place to park on 5th street, I walked the block over and went inside. Upon ordering a hot cheese and bacon sandwich, and a cup of the soup of the day, potato, I made my way over to a small table which faced the refrigerated floral cases. As I waited for my food, I watched several florists adding more floral arrangements to the cases. It wasn’t long before I spotted the Valentine flower arrangement I wanted, and kept my eye on it throughout lunch, hoping that no one else would buy it before I finished eating.

Quite soon, my sandwich arrived, served up in a wire basket lined with paper. I must admit, I’m partial to grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches at so many places are often small, cold, soggy, and served on cheap bread, with a few dill pickle slices on the side. But, like any true grilled cheese aficionado, I even love eating those. In contrast, the sandwich at Walton’s was a hot delicacy, grilled on bakery bread, which was both crispy and buttery, with big pieces of smoked bacon poking out from the melted cheese. The sandwich was, in a word, outstanding.

The excellent sandwich aside, the service was extremely friendly, from the time I ordered until I walked out of the door. Late into my lunch, one of the employees came up to me and asked if I was serving in the U.S. Army, as I was wearing an army veteran baseball cap. I explained to her that I was not currently in the army, but was a military veteran. She thanked me for my service and we chatted for a moment or two. What a nice gesture on her part, and one which I did not expect. It only added to what was already a very favorable experience with the food.

Once I finished lunch, I walked over to the floral case and removed the Valentine flowers I had identified earlier. After the flowers had been paid for and carefully secured in a box, I left. As I walked back to the car, I reflected that all of my original goals in visiting Walton’s had been achieved, but the visit had turned out to be so much more. There is no doubt that Sandra Bullock is having a great year. But, indirectly, thanks to her, I had a great day. With Valentine flowers for my wife, the benefit of a very fine lunch, and the unexpected and kind thank you for military service performed long ago, it could not have been a better day.

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