As I mentioned before, I chose to set Neverending Beginnings in Richmond. When I first started writing, I debated whether or not to create fictional restaurants for my characters to frequent. When I was writing the original draft, Sex and the City was in the height of its poularity and I didn’t want it to seem like I was copy-catting the restaurant name-dropping trend. Ultimately I decided that it was infinitely easier to use places I already knew and that as long as I didn’t overdo it, readers wouldn’t be annoyed. So far I’ve been happy with the reactions from Richmond readers. Many people have mentioned that it is fun to see places they have eaten at featured in a novel. Occasionally it even prompts someone to share their story or memory of the place with me (which I love).
Perly’s is one of my favorite restaurants. Recently at a conference I attended, one of the out-of-town presenters mentioned having breakfast there and went on the say that you know a restaurant is good when you are already planning your next meal there before you finish the first. I couldn’t explain it any better myself. The banana chocolate chip muffins featured in my novel are amazing, as is the curried split pea soup, the baked apples, the fried potatoes and the biscuits. Ah . . . the biscuits . . . there could be a whole blog post on those perfect homemade biscuits*. Seriously.
Here’s a scene featuring Perley’s:
When I first arrived at the restaurant, I felt relieved that this large group might somehow provide insulation from Amy’s mother, until I realized that the only two seats left were right next to her. Even though I was on time, the other guests had all come together from the hotel and arrived en masse. I hadn’t gotten a room, since I lived just a few blocks away and didn’t see the point. Until now.
“Katherine, how nice of you to join us,” Mrs. Moore greeted, somehow making it seem as if my on time arrival was late.
“Glad to be here,” I greeted and waved back at Amy happily seated at the other end of the table.
“Mimosa?” Amy’s sister asked, holding out a pitcher.
I took the pitcher from her. Here’s to taking one for Amy, I thought as I filled my glass.
“Now girls, it really is a little early for champagne, don’t you think?” Mrs. Moore commented.
“That’s why they mix it with orange juice,” Amy’s sister shot back, rolling her eyes at me. I’m pretty sure I saw Mrs. Moore tense, but she didn’t say anything. At least I had an ally.
I ordered my favorite banana chocolate chip muffin, which was just out of the oven according to the waitress, a side of fruit and a coffee so I wouldn’t be tempted to have a second mimosa. Not so bad. Fresh muffins, good coffee. Lots of things to keep my mouth occupied.
“No eggs or bacon or sausage?” Mrs. Moore asked.
“Nope. The muffins are absolutely amazing here.”
“Plus, aren’t you a vegetarian?” Amy’s sister chimed in.
Since far less-opinionated people than Amy’s mother had opinions about my diet I just sipped my mimosa, took a deep breath and waited.
“I just don’t understand that at all . . .” she started and I just shrugged and sipped.
She was quiet for quite some time, and I started to think that by some miracle I was going to get off that easy. But I knew better. She finally added, “I think there is something to be said for balance. Too much of anything, even vegetables, can’t be good.”
*If you plan to visit Perly’s for a biscuit, get there early – they show up on the 86’ed list quickly!