Andre Frelier was French and his restaurant, L’Omelette in Barron Park reflected his warm French hospitality. It was a favorite of Stanford students for its cozy lounge around an open fireplace, good drinks at reasonable prices and rarely checked ID’s.
Andre’s wife, Yvonne, was also French, but French Moroccan, and had a firey personality. Their marriage ended, and to spite Andre, Yvonne opened her own restaurant in Mountain View – Chez Yvonne. The atmosphere there was similar to L’Omelette, but had an extra edge to it, and checked ID’s even less frequently. Both restaurants were important to the atmosphere of the area.
Decades later, both L’Ommies and Chez Yvonne had disappeared. I started a new company in a field which never existed before in the Bay Area – condominium association management. One of my first accounts was Los Altos Square.
Condominiums were a new concept, and the developer had created an innovative, attractive community. The new board of directors didn’t really know what their responsibilities were, but they knew they should have some rules. They decided that all cars must be parked in garages. There was one townhouse that always had a car outside in the driveway. The Rules Committee instructed me to contact who-ever it was down in that Townhouse 43 to find out why that car was always in the driveway. I procrastinated, but finally I rang the doorbell, Yvonne Frelier answered the door. She was thrilled to see an old customer and I was thrilled to see her. She invited me in to see her house. It was lovely, but there were differences between a condominium and a single-family home which sometimes made it difficult for a developer to sell both the concept and the home.
The developer of Los Altos Square was a really nice person, but he would have sold his grandmother if he could make a deal. Yvonne told him that she had to have a family room. In order to sell the townhouse, he made a deal with Yvonne that she could convert her garage to a family room.
She insisted that I see her creation in the garage. It was a full-sized Moroccan bar. A huge zebra skin covered the floor. The mahogany bar glowed from layers of bar-top varnish. Above the bar, a false roof of palm fronds concealed soft indirect lighting. Behind the bar, glass shelves held rows of exotic liqueurs which were probably left-overs from Chez Yvonne.
Then she said, “Meet my kitty – here kitty, kitty”. I heard 100 decibel purring, and out from behind the bar came a full-grown cheetah. With a smile on its face, it rubbed its chin on my leg like any affectionate cat and purred even louder when I scratched behind its ears.
I said, “Yvonne, I don’t know you, I have never been in your house, and I don’t have a clue what sort of deal you made with the developer”. Fortunately, the Rules Committee forgot about cars parked in driveways and went on to more important issues. But a wink was sometimes exchanged between Yvonne and me.
Chez Yvonne lives on in a garage in Los Altos