The Firehouse Grill
This is a continuation of a 2-part Short Story I did a couple of years ago...That title was "My real first time" by matt lawrence
Cast of Characters:
Carly-Magnolia Café Manager
Dominic-Magnolia Café Manager
Andy-Former Magnolia Mgr
Erik-Firehouse Bar Mgr
Dylan MaCalley-Carneros Winery & Firehouse
JD Cavanaugh and I had been together for almost 4 years when, as all things closet-related does, something "popped up" out of my past. We were very happy and had come together as business partners before we ever became life partners but, as things go in the gay world, events seemed to take on a life of their own and it wasn't long before our business carried into our personal lives. One evening, as we were sitting down to dinner JD told me that he wanted to chat about something important but that he felt the need to get some things out in the open before we did. My pessimistic side took over and I braced myself for bad news....or at least something that was gonna put a big ole hiccup in, what I at least felt like, was the perfect relationship we had grown together.
We are both 40, celebrating our birthdays only a few weeks apart. He is the quintessential stud who should have been, at the very least, an underwear model for any number of publications or websites. He is 6'3, 180 lbs of rock (though now there are the beginnings of a tiny little paunch starting around the mid-section). He has killer green eyes; blond hair that he keeps short and an ass you could bounce a quarter off.
To give you a little background into how our "partnerships" came to be I would tell you that JD was in the commercial real estate/investment game when we met. He operated one of the only "gay friendly" businesses in the neighborhood....or "gayborhood" as I liked to call it. Lavender Heights was an eclectic mix of twenty-something's, punkers, gamers, techies, twinks and old gay farts like me....well old in terms of gay-speak. I was 35 when I first had occasion to talk with him and we hit it off from that first meeting.
I was, as I said, in my mid 30's and was tiring of the rat race of both my career and my gay self-discovery phase. Ten years before meeting JD, I had the fortune of meeting a person who, at the time, I thought was my soul mate and life partner. A man who not only ushered me through my first real sexual experience with another guy, but also taught me about love and commitment; a man who, to this day, is my best friend aside from JD.
After almost 5 years in a committed relationship, we went our separate ways and I embarked on a 9-year path of unearthing my inner gay self by bedding anything and anyone who would have me in any of the cities my career took me to. I traveled for a living and was very active in state and national politics stumping for the candidates whom I most believed would take us all to the promise land. I made great money for someone my age and I could pretty much have what and whom I wanted during that time.
Coming out of the relationship with Matt (yes, both of us were Matt's) I had worked hard to tone up and slim down; I took great pains to shop well, work out regularly when I had down time and it was now important for my new-found "self" to look great. On the outside, I was still a decent looking guy - somewhat average in most ways. At 6'3, 200 lbs with blondish brown hair and blue eyes I still had that linebacker/fullback style body. I didn't have a whole lot of hair on my body and I was average in the cock department (6 ") ... I was pleased that, as I said before, I had managed to stay fit and actually worked off a few pounds...I guess you could still say I was the typical beef and corn-fed guy from the Midwest.
After leaving the world of national politics, helping to get a candidate elected President of the United States, I decided I was somewhat bored and wanted to do something different. Back in the day, I had worked my way through college bartending and managing restaurants and I still had an intense passion and love for the hospitality business. Considering the numbers of hotels and restaurants I had been in during an almost 13 year career on the road, I thought I had something I could bring to the table and, with a pretty good chunk of the money I had saved, I set out to open a restaurant and bar in my adopted city's gayborhood.
After scouring the area for a suitable location all I could find was an older, run-down diner-style place that was, from a value perspective, a steal but from a practical side, a dump with very little chance of becoming anything other than a diner. Needless to say I did not listen to any conventional wisdom and I bought the place out-right (I told you it was a steal). The city was so happy to have someone else take it over I breezed through the permit process and within a month, Magnolia Cafe was open for business.
I had set out to hire only locals as I felt then, and do now, that it is important to give back to the neighborhood and become part of it. There was no shortage of applications from hot twinks, jocks and muscle boys who all insisted that they had experience waiting tables. It didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that most did not have the background and, though I don't like to stereotype, most did not have the patience or customer service skills to make it; at least not in my house!
I managed to find one guy who struck me as someone with experience and a guest-first attitude. It did not hurt that he had a killer smile (with dimples-my personal weakness) and was 100% pure grade-A beef. "Andy" was my new manager and, as I watched him work the crowds and the staff, I knew he would help me make this a big success. As I fast-forward for a bit - Andy did help me make the business a success, so successful that it catapulted me to a place where I was ready to open a second venture in only 6 months time. While I had a huge crush on him and loved watching him "work" there came a time when I had to let him go and our friendship took a major hit, as you will see later in the story.
Magnolia became a hub for the neighborhood and I was constantly being asked when I would expand or move into a bigger place. There appeared to be a thirst for a nice restaurant and bar that would suit the locals and it became clear that people liked what we were doing and wanted us to do more. That meant I had to wrap my head around going through the process of searching again and putting together a financial package that would work for either an expansion or a second store. That is when I met JD........
Some of the other business owners in the neighborhood had referred JD to me and, by all accounts, he was a master at putting together deals. The search took about a month - JD ushered me around the neighborhood looking for the perfect site. I had pretty much decided that I could not really expand Magnolia based on the size of the building, the zoning and other regulations and the amount of financing it would take to literally tear it down and start over.
During our 4th week of searching, we came across an old city-owned firehouse that, from the outside, looked bad. JD unlocked the door and we went inside and I was taken right away. Though old, dirty and run down, you could see the potential this three-story marvel had - character, charm and history and I decided then that I had to have it. I visioned a beautiful cocktail lounge on the first floor with old school brass and brick and the best part....the fire pole is still intact in the center of the room. Several small, intimate booths' that circle the perimeter of the space with a cigar-bar style atmosphere. As I continued the tour, JD led me to what would be the kitchen - it actually was a kitchen used by the fire fighters back in the day. A little re-arranging and moving a wall or two and I could see the skeleton of a first class culinary space that any chef would be proud to operate. Yep....I did not even have to see any more - this was it and I wanted it bad.
I did end up looking at the rest of the building and nothing about it changed my mind until JD took us back to his office and to sit down and go over the specs.......
JD: "Matt, I know how much you liked the fire barn and I know we've looked at bunches of buildings but I gotta tell ya - this one is probably a bit out of your price range. The city wants almost $750,000 for the property and building!"
Me: "Ok, here's the deal - I want that building and I want it bad - I would probably say I'd be willing to do almost anything to get it... so Mr. Hotshot Real Estate Wizard....just get her done!!"
JD chuckled and just smiled at me and, for an instant, I almost thought I saw him wink at me. For the first time since we started looking at property and lunching almost weekly, I started to see him in a little different light. I am not sure what was going on but I was very intrigued! I had to get back to Magnolia so JD said he would play with some numbers and see what he could put together and, with that, we shook hands and I went back to work confident that this genius would get me my new restaurant.
A few days had gone by and I was busy at Magnolia. I could hardly contain myself as I told many of the regulars and those who had come to be friends about the new spot and ideas I had for it. While I tried to maintain focus on the restaurant, I could not help but think of all the possibilities with a new venture. I decided, to take my mind off things, that I would treat myself to a little entertainment that evening. Dinner, drinks and dancing - that would be the ticket. I had not been out to the clubs in a while as I was trying to reinvent myself and become more responsible and less reckless however, on this particular day, I needed a distraction.
I left the restaurant about 5pm confident that things would be fine while I was gone. I went home and just as I walked in the door, my cell phone rang - shit....it was JD. I anxiously answered the phone to his deep voice greeting me with "Hey handsome...what's new?" I told him I had taken the evening and decided to treat myself to a night off and he responded by saying "perfect....how would you like to have dinner with me?" I said as long as it wasn't at Magnolia and he had some good news for me it was a date! JD went on to say "I do have some news for you but it's a little convoluted and technical so I would like to go over it with you in person - it's not bad news if that's what you are thinking". A few more minutes of chit chat and we then agreed to meet at 7pm for dinner and the conversation.
The next 90 minutes were going to be pure hell for me but it is what it is. I stripped and got ready to get in the shower....pausing for a minute as I walked past the large mirror in my bedroom. I was very happy with my new and refreshed look....dropping that extra 20 pounds and firming up a bit had even me thinking I was pretty good looking. I showered and shaved... (all the while resisting the urge to bust a quick nut-I was really horny and it has been a while since I got off)....grabbed my favorite pair of black CK boxer briefs and stuffed my perpetual hard-on in them.....found a nice light blue shirt and my favorite silver tab jeans to wear and headed out.
I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late but I was in no rush - I was going to enjoy my one evening out and I was looking forward to some good news about my future! JD was seated on a stool at the bar and he saw me come in - he stood up and put his hand out with a big grin on his face. It was then that I realized I was noticing things about him that, I guess, I hadn't paid any attention to before. He was dressed casually with a nice polo shirt on and cargo shorts and flip-flops. His smile was bright setting off that great tan he always seems to have and those deep green eyes. The shorts were a little baggy as cargos tend to be but there was no mistaking the nice package he appeared to have (or maybe he was just happy to see me) and a great set of legs for a guy - almost hairless with just a dusting of the blonde.
I stuttered for a second and put my hand out - he pulled me into a hug, which was unusual as our relationship to that point had been very professional. I guessed that, even though we would be talking business, it still was a casual dinner and I was glad he felt comfortable hugging me.
We took our table and proceeded to order cocktails and then wine with dinner. I told him I couldn't stand it any longer and he said "ok, ok-here's the deal......I am having some trouble getting the financing together because you've only had Magnolia open for less than a year - it's the whole debt to income ratio thing however - if you were to take on a partner in the venture there would be no problem getting it financed with all the tenant improvements you would want - the city is interested in a long term contract in terms of a lease with an option to buy".
I digested the information he was giving me, along with my salad, and told him that I had never considered the option of a partnership - I didn't really know anyone who would be interested and I didn't really want to get into business with someone I didn't know. He got that shit-eating grin on his face again and said "well, what about me?".....Fast forwarding again, by the time the Crème Brule was gone he had me convinced that we would be perfect together as he was the "brains" and I was the "brawn" in terms of this type of operation - he had no interest in the day-to-day operation - just the long-term profitability and success of the business.
I was sold and, even though I told him I'd like to sleep on it, I had pretty well made up my mind - this was going to work. On top of me getting my new place, I was also getting a new partner and friend who, at the very least, was very easy to look at.
After dinner we walked the few blocks over to the closest gay nightclub and went inside. We saw several people that one or the both of us knew and we ordered a couple of drinks. Needless to say we danced and talked the evening away. I was in a great mood, was more relaxed than I had been in months and I was hard as a rock thinking about this handsome guy who was hanging out with me for the evening. After several drinks and a lot of dancing I looked at my watch and realized that I had better say my good nights and head on home for Magnolia, my mistress, would be waiting for me in the morning.
I was totally caught off guard when, as we were walking down the street, JD stopped and said "Hey, I have an idea, it's only midnight so why don't you come on over and take a dip in the pool with me....I've got some nice port or most anything else you'd want (boy, he wasn't kidding there) and we can kick back for a while and relax".
So you know those cartoons where you've got the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other - well that's what was bouncing around in my head but, without any hesitation at all, I found myself agreeing to go with him. Call it reckless or dumb or lucky - whatever it was I was throwing caution to the wind!