Friday, September 19, 2008

Famed Tales from the Frontlines: Guess Who Came to Dinner at Straw Hat?

It’s always intriguing to me when I go to a restaurant and there is a buzz about all kinds of celebrities that have passed through their doors. So, I decided to ask the Straw Hat owners to name the rich and famous who have been drawn to Straw Hat’s warm, welcoming ambience, and it’s down home cooking style.

It turns out; Straw Hat has its very own who’s who in the celeb world. In coming months, we’ll give you a sneak peak at some of the rich and famous who have passed through and are regular Straw Hat diners. And, please since we don’t have paparazzi chasing Hollywood types down in our parking lots, let me know of any high-profile types you may have spotted enjoying the original California pizza.

Makes you wish there was recycling back then and napkins were washed and kept for framing, when you realize that Thomas Kinkade, America’s most-collected living artist, ate many a pizza at the Rancho Cordova, near his boyhood home of Placerville. Turns out when the 50-year-old painter was in his teens, he would come into the Straw Hat and draw cartoons on napkins. His dad, who worked at the eatery back then in the ‘70s, would downplay his son’s talent, so we’ve been told.

Well, in the wish I could eat my words category, today, Thomas Kinkade’s art is said to be found in one out of every 10 American homes.

Coming from a modest background, Kinkade emphasizes simple pleasures and inspirational messages through his paintings. As a devout Christian, Kinkade uses his gift as a vehicle to communicate and spread inherent life-affirming values.

It was while growing up in the small town of Placerville, California that these important values were nurtured. It was also during this time that Kinkade began to explore the world around him. He spent a summer on a sketching tour with a college friend, producing the best-selling instructional book, The Artist's Guide to Sketching. The success of the book landed the two young artists at Ralph Bakshi Studios to create background art for the animated feature film Fire and Ice. It was also during this time that Kinkade began to explore light and imaginative worlds with abandon.

After the film, Kinkade earned his living as a painter, selling his originals in galleries throughout California. In 1982, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette, and two years later they began to publish his art. Today the couple has four daughters: Merritt, Chandler, Winsor and Everett, all named for famous artists.

Perhaps this famous hometown boy will accept our invitation to our upcoming 50th anniversary bash.

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