What’s Today’s Special at Jack’s Both Sides Now Café?
If you lived in my fictional town of Capehart Bay, Wisconsin, you wouldn’t let a week go by—or maybe even a day—without treating yourself to a trip to Jack Young’s nostalgia café, Both Sides Now. It’s the only restaurant around where ‘60s and ‘70s music is on the menu. Jack’s open-early/close late café is the heart of the town, and of my novel The Jacks of Her Heart.
Lorna Lindstrom, widowed for over a year now, has always been a big fan of Jack’s menu, especially the “California Dreamin’ Salad.” Others prefer the crowd pleasing “Wild Thing Burger.” As for dessert, Jack’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door Brownies” melt in your mouth, but many stop in because they crave the “Nights in White Satin Chocolate-Marshmallow Sundae.”
Lorna knew Jack, at least to wave to, but that changed fast when they end up on the same tropical cruise with a group from town. Jack asks Lorna to dance, and that’s all it took to spark the magic between them. Soon they’re sipping champagne and strolling on the deck in the moonlight… Oops, did they really get married in the Dominican Republic?
The Jacks of Her Heart is a lighter-side romance with a touch of what I’ve dubbed “middle-age revenge.” Enter the grown kids, two for her, one for him. These three don’t hold back their disapproval. Come on, Mom is a professional organizer and lifestyle coach. Spontaneity isn’t her style—and neither is Jack. As for Jack, his divorce papers are barely dry, and his daughter was counting on Mom and Dad’s blissfully reunion. (She hasn’t been listening to Mom and Dad.) Come to think of it, Jack’s dad and Lorna’s mom aren’t jumping for joy, either. Only Jack’s baby granddaughter doesn’t have an opinion. (Can you tell I love to write multi-generational stories?)
Through it all, the rollercoaster of disputes, discovering a few hard truths, coping with real family concerns, and many tender moments, Jack’s café is a constant, always offering the comfort and warmth of good coffee and equally terrific food. Even the breakfast fare draws smiles—Jack’s dad rolls his eyes but concedes “A Whiter Shade of Pale Egg White Omelet” isn’t half bad. On the other hand, Lorna goes for the “Mellow Yellow Banana Smoothie.”
Both Sides Now is the best spot in town for people of all ages, including the students from the college down the street, to meet for coffee. (They get a kick out of Jack’s annual Bob Dylan Lookalike Contest, too, and root for their friends who enter.) Almost no one can resist Jack’s famous muffins. Can you guess what kind of muffins match these songs: “Brown-eyed Girl,” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Here Comes the Sun?”
Readers often ask where I got the idea for Jacks, and I think it came from having a burger in a ‘50s nostalgia diner that struck me as a little ho hum. Wasn’t it time for an update? Around the same time, Jack and Lorna tapped my shoulder to get my attention. Madly in love, this sandwich generation duo was extremely persistent—and apparently hungry!
So, enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Both Sides Now Café. If you can think of new menu items, I’m all ears. And send me an email and I’ll send you a playlist of the songs used in the book.
Wait! I almost forgot…how did you do with Jack’s muffin names? Here are the answers: “Brown-eyed Girl” is Raisin Bran; “Black Magic Woman” is Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip; and, “Here Comes the Sun?” is Orange Walnut.
A toast to good food, good coffee, good music, and books we love!
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Virginia!
Virginia McCullough writes romantic women’s fiction (Greta's Grace, Island Healing) and series romance for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Her seventh Heartwarming novel, The Rancher's Wyoming Twins is scheduled for release in April 2022. Virginia also writes nonfiction books and is a writing coach, editor, and ghostwriter. She currently lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she’s enjoys hanging out with her writer friends and drinking great coffee at local cafés.