MAYOR EATS AT AI
Here's the Mayor of South Pasadena, David Sifuentes at the Ai Japanese Restaurant lunchtime sushi bar a couple weeks ago. His unscheduled appearance came minutes after owner Amy had shown me a photo of him declaring "AI JAPANESE RESTAURANT DAY."
Ai is quietly celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Too quietly for my taste. I'd prefer balloons, doorprizes, waitstaff singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" and giving free sushi to every 100th customer.
Two weeks ago, I crawled to Ai from a sickbed where I'd lain with a respiratory virus that attacked the day I moved back to L.A. (Oct. 31) and still hasn't gone away (it's been a month now). I was sitting al fresco at a lovely table in calming weather, eating healing miso soup and chicken terriyaki when the front door of Ai swung open and owner Amy jumped out crying, "I was so worried about you! Did you move here?"
Between coughs and persistent laryngitis, I assured her that I did. She ducked back inside and came back out with the picture of co-owner Fumito and Amy with the Mayor, holding the citation. She was so thrilled and proud. After 40 years of humbly working like hell in South Pasadena...official recognition.
After lunch, I went inside to pay and Amy whispered to me, "THE MAYOR IS HERE. LOOK!"
I looked and asked if I could take a picture. "Oh, I don't know," she said. I asked if it would be all right if I asked. It's my wont to take photos of anyone and anything without asking. Bad habit that Fumito has been trying to correct lately (by yelling a lot).
So I asked and Mayor Sifuentes agreed. And here's the photo to remember the moment that honored Ai so deeply. More power to them!