3355 Richmond Rd
Beachwood, OH 44122
I once bought a badge at a thrift store that said “I’ve got MOXIE!” As a teenager in San Diego, it meant nothing to me, but to my mother it was a reminder of the 1950s spent in her mother’s soda shoppe on Staten Island, drinking sodas long forgotten. When we looked up the word, we found that it was synonymous for chutzpa. At the time, it certainly described me.
Twelve or thirteen years and thousands of miles later, I arrived at Moxie thinking of that button, and my mother, who I am probably too hard on, but who isn’t hard on their own mother? Moxie seemed to be in an anonymous office park, but inside was a dark, sensuous lounge. It was too much for me to take in at once; I was self-conscious, feeling as if I was out of place. Frank Berezin greeted me warmly at a table in the back, and with the rest of the restaurant behind me, I suddenly felt that the entire meal was something special, like a private club which I’d just gotten access to by association with him – the restaurant in Paris with Dick Diver, perhaps. Frank described some of the other patrons he knew from practicing law or presiding over charitable boards. It struck me how what people desire most – be it power, wealth, fame or any of the other big goals – is about human connections, nothing more, nothing less. The people in that restaurant seemed powerful because, in some way or another, they were all connected to each other. I’d be willing to gamble that a well-connected group of poor people can accumulate anything they desire within a few short years, while a poorly-connected group of well-off people can lose it all in the same amount of time.
Sunlight streamed in when the back door opened. We talked. The Moxie burgers arrived, both medium, mine with onions. It was good. Very good. Held together by a single long toothpick, the meat was tender, markedly sticking together by sheer force of the seared outer shell and crumbling tenderly in my mouth when bitten. The onion, tomato and lettuce was fresh in a way that made each a distinct flavor and the fries were golden and crispy. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Lolita – ah, Lolita – but for $10, in Beachwood, at lunch, it was a fine, fine sandwich.
When I walked out, the parking lot was full. It again looked like an office park, with cars on Richmond screaming past. I had a moment where I felt like Harry Potter, realizing that I just had to know to walk through the glass doors to be taken to a special place. Then I put my sunglasses on, got into my car and drove away.