Adri and I first visited Formoso a few years back on a road trip, this is when the seed hit the soil! At the time we were residing just outside of Denver in South Aurora. Adri a lifer, having never lived anywhere outside a 10-mile radius of where we are now and myself a former east-coaster. We met in her family’s restaurant, sparks soon followed (but only the good kind!). To make a short story longer, Courtland, Formoso, Mankato, Lovewell, these became our stomping grounds any time we needed a get-away or a slowdown and the seed started to take root.
A few trips ago we left Courtland in the rearview and both found ourselves sad, and a bit angry. Well a 7-hour drive with anger and sadness makes you evaluate things and eventually, we said why do we go to a place that we love only to leave it again, over and over, and over again. Now, I have moved many a time in my life, Adri, maybe 3 times in her “adult life” (you know the early 20s) but as I said, never outside that 10 mile bubble so when these words came out of her mouth “we love it there, we should live there”, I think she wanted more, but all I could say was “okay, let’s do it” because for me, moving was just something you do when you want to.
For the next few months, all the headaches and stresses of large city life seemed so prevalent that this whimsical idea we had started to actually sound good, it started to actually make sense. Then we started to feel like we were tired of just being productive members of society, and that we’d rather be productive members of a community. But let’s be honest a city girl that’s never lived outside a 10-mile radius of one spot, and a southern city boy who’s roots are the DMV (DC MD VA) aren’t exactly the people who just become farmers… Well, we reached out and asked some of the people we’d met what we felt was the most important question we could ask if this was the journey we were going to take “What does Courtland need that we could build a life on?” The answers really surprised us, we kept hearing “Do you know anything about restaurants?” There was a recurring theme that the food scene in Courtland was ready for change, some new love, some new passion.
Remember when I said we met at her family restaurant? Well, Adri has been a lifer in the hospitality world, her Dad, a first-generation Italian immigrant opened his first restaurant the year she was born. Fast forward to the present she has a degree in Hospitality and is an Advanced Sommelier, one grade away from being a Master Sommelier and was still involved with the family restaurant. Amazingly enough, the man she decided to marry (that’s me!) at the time was making a living traveling with Rock Bands for a non-profit that helped cancer patients find live-saving donors through music, but this wasn’t always the course. Two back to back tragedies forged the course for me, my younger sister was killed in a car accident, and 48 days later my mother died of Blood Cancer. At the time I was working 100+ hour weeks as the Food and Beverage Director for an East Coast resort directly managing 8 venues. Feeling exhausted from the workload and all the intense emotion in my life, I felt lost, I had lost two major parts of my life, one of which I didn’t even get to say goodbye to. So I simply walked away, but as it turned out it wasn’t so simple. I had buried myself in my professional career and lost who I was in the process so I walked away to find me, I spent three months in my Jeep traveling the country and learning about its people, and it’s diverse cultures and food scenes, and eventually, I found myself again. And then I found Adri, and then we found Courtland, or maybe it found us!
Before Pinky’s we were operating her family restaurant side by side with her parents, they supplied the old school & Italian influence, we supplied the new school and passion for excellence, and it was great and amazing, but the American Dream was calling. It was time to build a foundation for our kids and ourselves, in Courtland. So here we come, doing what we love and bringing some new love and passion to the Courtland Food scene, all the while becoming productive members of a community, and building something we and our kids can be proud of.