Argentines on the River

Obviously along in years and sitting in forbidden territory with wine and book, I was a prime target for the coronavirus police. Two patrol cars pulled up by the Masa and More Restaurant, peered through the glass window, entered and said “No sitting here.” That was me, though I was six yards from the nearest person. What’s more, they commanded the staff to bunch up all the chairs so that no one else will be tempted to sit. I remonstrated but to no avail Off they went probably to spell out the rules for other struggling small businesses along the scenic Ft. Lauderdale river.

They were polite, says manager Delfina Robinson. The incident was caused by a snitch ensconced in luxury across the street who doesn’t want anyone to be happy during the shutdown. But she’s the exception, says Delfina, who finds  Americans welcoming and warmhearted in contrast, she insists, to bitterly divided Argentines. Here you can like or dislike President Trump and still be a friend. That’s not possible in polarized Argentina. Welcome news no doubt for the President.

Largely for that reason the Robinson family – seven of them – decided to take their chances with the U.S. Their timing was off. No sooner had they rented their restaurant on a choice spot on the river than Coronavirus hit, and they could mot offer the splendor of Argentine cooking. No rich steaks for takeout, no tables or chairs for impressed diners. But with all the members of the family pitching in, they make do with 30 takeouts a day. They also have free rent for three months.

In the meantime they live with the vision of fine dining, as other restaurants must, provided they can stay in business. Big corporations should have little trouble considering the size of the bailout they’re getting, courtesy of the American taxpayer. Once again, as Delfina points out, there’s something truly and typically  American about her immigrant business.

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