Through a series of odd coincidences, my dad happened to be involved in the management of a restaurant that recently closed after many years of operation.  Closing a restaurant is an odd business, a secretive affair, conducted in the middle of the night so when the next day’s waitstaff and kitchen crew show up- oops! Just kidding! No restaurant here anymore!   (They do it this way, apparently, because it’s the only way to do it.  If word gets out that you’re closing, suppliers won’t fill orders and staff start slacking or, worse, taking things from the restaurant, and you just sort of fizzle out.  You have to just pull off the bandaid and furtively hang up a “thanks for 8 wonderful years!” sign in the dead of night.)

After a restaurant closes, there is the issue of what to do with all the stuff *in* the restaurant.  Unopened liquor and cases of wine can go back to the distributor, but open bottles of liquor and broken cases of wine are unreturnable and cannot legally be resold.  Fixtures furniture and major kitchen appliances get auctioned off, but the best you can hope for from the pots and sheet pans and creme brulee dishes is pennies on the dollar at a liquidator.

Because my dad and the other people involved in this restaurant are not that interested in breaking the law to get a few bucks back on liquor, and not all that interested in quibbling with a liquidator  over whether that whisk should be worth 3 or 4 cents, they decided that to invite family and close friends (including us!  US!) to come to the restaurant and “see if there is anything you guys want there.”

Oh. My. God.  We weren’t the first people to have a go at this stuff, so some of the prime items- like the brand! new! All Clad frying pans were already gone.  But all was not lost, oh no.  It was definitely worth the trip out there.  We made out like bandits in the liquor closet- 3 cases of wine, an unopened bottle of Johnnie Walker black, and TWO bottles of Patron.  That was pretty cool and all, but the best part was the kitchenware.  Huge storeroom, stacked high with 12-inch skillets and full sheet pans and souflee dishes and dozens and dozens of spring loaded tongs, and all of it stuff we could take.  I tried to exercise some restraint- after all, space in our kitchen is not unlimited- but I still came away with a beautifully banged-up All Clad saucepan, some ramekins, a whisk, ladles, tongs and more tongs, and a cool shaker thing for powdered sugar.  I was really sad I could not take the deep fat fryer home with me, but that was, in retrospect, probably a good choice.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out what to do with 2000 bamboo skewers.