Food and love go hand in hand. For Valentine’s Day, we’re exploring this fiery connection in all stages of a relationship, from a first date to living together to breaking up.
When Leah Voskuil recently met friends for pizza and pasta at Leo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she had “what can only be described as war flashbacks,” she said. Eleven months earlier, Ms. Voskuil had been dumped at that very restaurant by a man she’d been seeing. Once she realized she’d returned to the scene of the breakup, she struggled to pull herself together.
“I saw where he told me he doesn’t have a spark,” she said.
After that meal with friends, she swore never to return. “Even if I had to go to the bathroom so badly, and there was no public bathroom available but Leo’s, I still wouldn’t,” said Ms. Voskuil, 29, a copywriter for a men’s wear brand. “It sucks, because the food is so good.”
When a relationship ends, there are many casualties. You may lose your bar-trivia friends, your rent-stablized lease in Fort Greene, your beloved terrier. But one crushing loss is often overlooked: your favorite restaurant.
The restaurant breakup is a trope in pop culture for a reason: They’re happening all around us, both in spite of and because of their public nature. In “Legally Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods wails in a restaurant when her boyfriend, Warner, tells her she isn’t serious enough to be with him. Taylor Swift describes a similar experience in her song “Right Where You Left Me”: “Help, I’m still at the restaurant / Still sitting in a corner I haunt / Cross-legged in the dim light / They say, ‘What a sad sight.’” For better or worse, restaurant breakups are often highly dramatic.
Kristen Mizzi was, bizarrely, dumped by three consecutive boyfriends at Jaleo by José Andrés in Washington, D.C. Given the histrionics of each conversation, “I’m sure that anyone who looked toward our table knew exactly what was going on,” said Ms. Mizzi, 40.
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