ROBERT ST. JOHN: Lemonade

robertstjohnI am powerless over several things – the movies “The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II,” and “Almost Famous,” donuts, babies, french fries and Beatles music.

Whenever I am flipping channels and one of the first two Godfather movies are on, I have to stop and watch. The same goes for my favorite film, “Almost Famous.” I cannot turn down a donut.

It is a known fact if I am in a room with a baby, I cannot leave the room without holding that baby for at least one minute. I love holding babies so much I volunteered to work the nursery at my church. That lasted one Sunday. I don’t look like your average church-nursery worker. The faces on the young mothers looked terrified when they handed their babies over to me and I thought it best to find a better place to volunteer, like in the area where they pass out the donuts.

French fries? I’m hooked. Have you ever noticed that even bad french fries are kind of good? Beatles music? If I’m turning the radio dial and a Beatles song is on, I have to stop and listen.

The same goes for lemonade stands. I cannot pass up a lemonade stand. It’s America at its best – little entrepreneurs setting up shop in front of their parent’s home, creating a product, attaching a monetary value to that product, dealing with inventory and production issues, honing marketing skills, developing sales pitches, and working on practicing hospitality and service hoping to make a profit at the end of the day.

The other day I came home from work and three young girls had set up a lemonade stand in the driveway across from my house. I got out of my car, walked directly over, and bought a cup. They asked for 50 cents and I gave them a dollar.

As a kid I set up a few lemonade stands outside of my house, but I lived on a street that had almost no traffic. It was my first learned lesson in the restaurant business – location, location, location.

When my children were of lemonade-stand age, our street was too busy . Nevertheless while working on my second book with watercolorist, Wyatt Waters, he said he needed to include a painting of a lemonade stand. Our across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. Dews, loaned us her front yard and Wyatt completed the painting, minutes before my son drank up all the profits.

Only peaches taste more like summer than lemonade. Even store-bought lemonade tastes pretty good. My mother used to make the frozen concentrate variety. My grandfather made it from scratch. It’s easy: Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water, heated until it dissolves, then cooled), freshly squeezed lemon juice and ice.

So here are your marching orders: For the remainder of the summer, stop at every lemonade stand you see.

Robert St.John is a restaurateur, chef and author of numerous books.