Tuesday, June 24, 2014

PAY IT FORWARD: My old man Tony use to tell me there were only two kinds of people in the world...happy and miserable. "Happy people stay happy no matter what they have or don't have. Miserable people stay miserable and like the sayin goes they like company. They do their best to make everyone else miserable. Avoid them...run from them."

In any business, in any family we all have to deal with a few of these lifelong Les Miserables. So appreciate the happy people in your life and business. Tell them what a pleasure it is to know them, to be in their company, to be of service to them.

The other night at Flamingo Grill, 10 twentyish people walked in. They impressed me instantly by their upbeat demeanor, their delicious smiles and their gracious manners. We seated them at a large round table. When they got their entrees, they held hands and joined in a rather long prayer. A customer nearby watched. He was impressed and moved. He told their server to bring their bill to him and add a 25% tip. He left without their knowing who he was.

It was a delish moment for all. A beautiful pay-it-forward moment. Don't know the young people's name but I took a photo. All the best to you all.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Note from Jay Huggins

Dino, thank you for allowing me to be a part of the Cagney's family!
Some of my most cherished times were enjoying the opportunity to be part of the Dino(s) team. You two made a material difference in my life teaching me a better work ethic, the importance of quality, commitment to service, positive attitude and most importantly a wonderful friendship.
Jay Huggins
President of Crescom Bank

Stain glass window from Red Springs Baptist church is back home in Red Springs, N.C.

This incredibly gorgeous window was rescued from a demolished church in Red Springs N.C in 1974. The church opened in 1910, torn down in 1974. A new church was built.

In 1976 it was restored and installed in Cagney's Old Place where it stood proudly in the main dining room for 37 years. After Cagney's closed, it was sold back to the newer Red Springs Baptist church. Thanks to church member Ed Tindall, it's spirit lives on in the new church. Bring a tear to a glass eye. It brought a tear to ours when Ed brought us the picture below.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How we got to Myrtle Beach- From the first two pages of my memoir by Dino Thompson.

   Folks are always asking how we got to Myrtle Beach.
   All their worldly possessions, me in a baby-blue bassinet, wedged into the back of a two- tone Lasalle, we were migratin south from the shuttered shipyards of New Port News. Snakin down two-lane Ocean Highway 17 on our way to the Florida boom when the Greek meat-balls and feta cheese ran out and we pit-stopped for gas, lunch and a diaper change in a tiny resort crossroads called Myrtle Beach. 

   We pile out the car and push through the art deco door of the Kozy Korner Cafe.

   A Broderick Crawford lookalike in french cuffs and an expensive suit, uglied up with a wide amoeba tie and fake gold tie clasp, gives me a cute-baby poke and escorts us to an aluminum booth with flip-down seats. 
   Broderick turns out to be the owner, a Charleston-born, cigar-chewin geechee-accent Greek who goes by the not-so-Greek name of Tom Haley.
   He introduces hissef to my Cypriot-born ole man who goes by the not-so- Greek name of Tony Thompson.
   “Where y’all headed?” asks Tom, napkinin off his two-tone shoes.
   “On our way to Florida,” Tony says.
   “Whaddayou plannin on doin down there?”
   “Find a business, start a new life. We heard things were good there.”
   Tom waves his manicured hand. “Gotta goin business right here. It’s for sale.”
   Tony glances around. “I only have fifty two hundred dollars.”
   Tom smiles, slaps the table “Whaddayou talkin? Thas the price.”
   “Any other Greeks live here?” asks Tony.
   “Yea. . . there’s Papa Chris, George Anthony, Louie Achilles, John Gravis, Baroutsos, Charlie Kordas and . . . plentya Greeks.” 
   “Mind if I look around?” Tony says, as a red lipstick’d waitress packed in a snug uniform and a toothy hey-how-yall smile, slips the pencil from behind her hairnetted ear to take our order. An hour and a handshake after meetin Tom Haley, Tony’s introducin himself to the waitresses and cooks. “Hello, my name ees Tony. I’m the new owner.” 

   Tony informs my mom who's spooning some green goup into my mouth. She slaps her head, crosses herself. “What d’you mean you bought this restaurant? I don’t even know the name of this town. There’s nothing here. No customers, no nothing.” 
   Tom points a manicured finger out at the deserted street. “Whaddaya mean nothin here? We got four restaurants, two gas stations, a movie theater, drugstore, dimestore, bingo parlor, auction house, train depot, the Lafayette Manor, and don’t forget the Pavilion. . . In the summer the town’s fulla people.” 

   Mom’s suckin air, tryin not to cry. “Where are we going to live?” 
   “Upstairs apartment comes with the deal.” 
   So an hour after lunch, mom’s upstairs throwin out the last tenant’s trash, knee-scouring the apartment with Ajax and tears, movin us into what’s gonna be our Myrtle Beach home for the next thirteen years.
   That's how we got to Myrtle Beach.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Another reason to remember the Ocean Forest Hotel- its Architect.

Every October brings back demolition memories of the Ocean Forest Hotel and wonders at what might've been. This past October I re-printed a blog homage to the hotel. Forty years ago this October, the Magnificent Castle on the Ocean was imploded by Hudgens and Company of Atlanta. The owner of Hudgens confided to me the Ocean Forest was the finest constructed building he had ever examined. Over a roast of oysters at Morse's, he told me. "This hotel needs renovation, not demolition." He then turned over a placemat and laid out the economics and showed me he could gut the interior, create new larger rooms, redo the original lobby decor, make a few exterior alterations and bring back the landmark to its original splendor and the 12-acre ocean front property still had room for further development.

ARCHITECT RAYMOND HOOD is why the Ocean Forest Hotel was the finest constructed building Mr. Hudgens had ever examined. Hood was one of most revered high-rise builders in the world. His extraordinary visions created...

  • Chicago Tribune Building opened in 1924 is listed as a Chicago Landmark.
  • American Radiator Building opened in 1924 which Fountainhead author Ayn Rand once called the most beautiful in New York. It's on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Ocean Forest Hotel opened in 1926 and 1927 demolished in 1974.
  • New York Daily News Building built in 1929 designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
  • Masonic Temple in Scranton built in 1930 is the city's cultural center.
  • McGraw-Hill Building built in 1930-31 is a NY landmark.
  • Rockefeller Center built 1930-1939. Comprising 22 acres, 8,000,000 million sqft of buildings, four acres of gardens and is still one of the world's most vibrant city centers and visitor attractions.
All but the Ocean Forest Hotel live on.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A thank you to Brent Rainwater who left this world.

Time to pay our respects to a loyal customer/friend of Flamingo Grill.
We met Brent the first week Flamingo Grill opened. He sent a handwritten letter complimenting our chef on our lobster bites and béarnaise sauce.

From Florence S.C, Brent Rainwater might as well have been from Florence Italy.
I was born in a pot sink, learned to walk and talk in a cafe, have au jus coursing through my veins but Brent's passion, his knowledge, his wicked enjoyment of food made me seem a culinary illiterate. He befriended some of the world's celeb chefs and his dining experiences were otherworldly...Lutece, Per Se, Alinea, Prudhomme's, Emeril's.

And I thought I was hip to movie history until Brent and I butted heads while he and his sweet wife Anne dined on Peppercorn tuna, Steak Oscar, cajun oysters and extra sides of bearnaise. I'll miss swappin foodie philosophy and movie history with Brent.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This December marked our 28th year at Flamingo Seafood Grill.
We look forward to 2014, to enjoying longtime friends and meeting new.
In a tornado of silly, cruel, petty, depressing and 24-hr negative news... it's the fascinating, kind, upbeat and gracious folks who have passed through our doors who
continuously renew our smile and recharge our emotional batteries.
Wishing you prosperity of the soul this coming year and whatever else you do...
Non illigitimi carborundum!
Dino Thompson