One Year Ago

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein

Dear Maison Family,

It was exactly 52 weeks ago I shut the dining room down. Fifty-two weeks ago, that many of our worlds were flipped upside down, that everything that use to be comforting and familiar was now a source of deep fear. The unknown staring us all straight in our eyes. It was also a year where I read about communities being divided, families fighting over different beliefs and politics and the media having a field day throwing “new” information at us that was completely different then what they told us yesterday. It was a year where the thought of hugging a dear friend became fearful and the idea of touching a strangers’ arm was taboo. It was the year that we all learned to see each other’s smiles and tears behind the masks.

But I also saw a year full of hope. I saw neighbors that once never even knew each other first names become yearlong quarantine buddies, families that rarely spent time together making habits of eating supper together, I saw that there was a faith in us all getting through the storm together that was so much greater than the virus that was attacking us. I saw a community gather and thrive and support one another, it was a beautiful and terrible year all together. We all had no choice but to slow down, embrace the reality of the unknown and find peace in our new daily routines. A year that perhaps we all needed to find comfort in the small things we use to take for granted, and a chance to be forever grateful for our health and for the perfectly designed bodies we have that miraculously have a heart that beats without trying and lungs made to breath without thought.

I continue to stare at awe at this little space. This little hole in the wall restaurant in a goofy shopping center, smashed between the laundry matt and a bait n’ tackle, that has grown beyond my wildest dreams. When I get moments to stop and sit, like I’m doing right now, and actually take in the beauty that is Maison, I can’t help but be eternally grateful for each of you.

There are too many of you to thank individually on this email, but not a moment goes by that I am not humbled by not only your support, but the love that you showered on my team and I over the last 52 weeks. From allowing us to mess up your order when we learned all about ecommerce, to you letting my son and our other busboys deliver your groceries. To you walking through the once dining room turned into market and not even thinking twice when loading up on produce and wine in our goofy little set up. The family meals, the peaceful protest, the moments shared with each of you are the reason I get to sit here today, in my restaurant that not only stayed open, but thrived over the course of the pandemic. There are no words in the English language to verbalize my gratitude, but I will forever try and will always welcome each of you with open arms and a heart to serve.

Many of you have heard rumors or the buzz that we are growing, and they are true. From the moment Maison’s doors swung open I began picturing my second restaurant (yes, it’s true I may be crazy). I wrote the name Giana down on a piece of paper and hung it in my office, knowing one day it would come to fruition. Giana means “God is gracious”, I named it that months before the pandemic had begun and my entire life let alone last year is just living proof of that statement.

Giana will be an Italian bakery, wine bar, market, deli and restaurant…

watching the walls get exposed and seeing the soul of the space only invigorates my vision. Right now, it is a cold empty space, but in a few months’ time I just know it will be filled with warmth of laughter and love. Tearing down the old walls and building my dreams one step at a time is yet another reason I am so humbled with this life I get to live.

On the home front…. Noah survived his fight with COVID. When I last announced that we were closing it was a sudden and unexpected decision. Noah had a fever and the next morning I force fed him a clove of garlic and he couldn’t taste it. I acted in haste to make sure that I was keeping my team and each of you safe and closed. Fortunately, both my nephew and I remained untouched by the virus and spent the two weeks cleaning out the garage. Dumpsters were filled, wine was drunk and then it was time to get back to work.

Nathan stayed up at SLO while we were closed, he is still loving his time up there. He is majoring in bio-chemistry and minoring in bioinformatics (I had to google how to spell that). It’s still crazy to me that I have an adult child, when did that happen? He is healthy and has a heart made to serve, it’s incredible, as many of you can attest to, watching your child grow into the adult that you always hoped you could raise. Nathan is the reason I was able to become the woman I am, he taught me what it meant to truly love another and has made me a better person over and over again.

The dogs… Georgia has yet to get high again, thank God. She is perfect in every way… except that she thinks I’m a dog and insists on grabbing me with her mouth to make me sit and love on her. Jaxford is also perfect in his own wild “don’t touch me unless I tell you to” kind of way. Two nights ago by some act of grace, Georgia let Jax sleep in my bed (usually she kicks him out – side note – she is half his size) and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to both of them cuddling with me. Talk about a proud mom moment. I’m still trying to convince the boys that maybe… just maybe we need one more dog.

My dad is still my rock, joining me for our morning coffee. He and I are so alike, which as a child a I hated. What little girl wants to be told that they look or sound like their Armenian father? Well now as a grown woman I can proudly tell you there is no person I’d rather be compared to. He truly is a remarkable man, he loves his family through all our faults, he is steadfast in his beliefs and he is the best Papa in the whole wide world. He also is fabulous at giving the boys “grandpa lectures” whenever I see fit.

All in all, I have nothing but gratitude for the last year. For the headaches and the losses, for the sometimes-painful growth I experienced, for the creative bursts that I didn’t even know I had in me…. How can I not sit here today and see all gifts in the chaos…?

Eat well, laugh often and always drink good wine…. Sending you love from my crazy little family to yours.

Chef Danielle