For Stephane Martel of Jonquière, the story of the Seventh of July breakfast dish
Have I already told you about the crushing summer heat in our very first small resto and the old Greek owner who wouldn’t let us install an air conditioner in the window at our own expense? Well, dear Stephane, your favourite breakfast dish was created on one of these Sundays from Hades in July 1987. At the time, diners we usually closed on Sundays, so our establishment faced two hurdles: uncomfortable heat and a shortage of customers. Nonetheless, we were so desperate to put money in the till, I would have opened 8 days a week if it had been possible.
I had enough time to wipe down all the storage shelves between orders, which arrived in the kitchen slower than turtles. And the young waitresses in the dining room kept busy by cleaning table legs and chairs while grumbling about the boss, who should come up with a solution instead of washing her shelves.
My eldest daughter insisted that we find a way to dip the cat’s nose in our bowl of milk.
Squabbling amongst themselves, the beautiful Fatima finally suggested that we use half of the board for the weekday special to promote a new dish at a tempting price served exclusively on Sundays.
- “Us waitresses will promote it all week to entice food lovers to return on Sunday with their families,” concluded my daughter with a commanding voice.
We all loved the idea. Now all we had to do was come up with a great breakfast dish that would appeal to our regular customers. The three waitresses turned to me, waiting for me to reveal the idea that would save our Sundays. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to pull anything out of my hat in response to the onslaught of questions. I turned each promising dish over and over again in my mind, trying to reimagine it.
- “We have to create something even more wonderful than all the dishes drawn on the walls!” exclaimed my daughter.
- “What if we served crêpes and French toast together?” proposed Evelyne.
- “Yeah, but it’s doesn’t wow enough,” replied Fatima.
Gigi then piped up: “Well what if we added a mountain of beautifully cut fresh fruit and dust it with snow.”*
I added that we could also offer some raspberry sauce on the side. And with that, our little group was seized with excitement.
The three gazelles started to rack their brains to find the perfect name for the new dish.
Fatima came up with “Seventh of July.” If we had known you back then, dear Stephane, we would have named the dish in your honour.
- “Why not Sept de juillet?” asked the French-speaking Evelyne.
- “Because our clientele is half anglophone and because it doesn’t sound as good in French,” explained my daughter.
The success of the Seventh of July that following Sunday was so astounding that we decided to add it to the illustrations on the restaurant’s wall and serve it seven days a week from then on.
Gradually, customers who visited us during the workweek started to come back on Sunday with the wife and kids. They were followed by their friends with their families, and then the friends and families of their friends, and so on. We had to transform our first modest diners into bona fide restaurants, with a menu for each customer, flavourful fruit cocktails, specialty coffees and the same amazing dishes.
Today, your “Seventh of July,” dear Stephane, is one of the top sellers in the category. A big, heartfelt thank-you for helping to make it popular. Thanks too for taking the time to read my letter each week. I dearly miss all those happy times we had at the start of this great adventure when I was able to get to know each one of our customers, who would share a new recipe, some fantastic idea or words of warm gratitude that meant the world to me
*Our nickname for icing sugar.