There is so much to say about Dana. Where to begin?
I attended Dell’arte International from 2009-2010. I ate at Dana’s cafe nearly every day. Dana’s support was unwavering. His smile, delightful.
I quickly became a fan of his Blue Lake burger with provolone cheese. So much that even years later when I would visit the town, if he saw me enter the cafe, his first words were often, “Blue Lake burger with provolone?” And I confirmed the order followed by his standard, “you got it!”
Something was special about his food. Others could prepare it, and it was still a great burger. But Dana’s cooking was special. He always said it was because he “cooked with love.”
Near the end of my school year I was going through a divorce and was broke. Before I left, I was left with a larger tab than I could pay, and I didn’t want to stiff him for the bill. I remember walking in near tears, filled with shame. When I told him my situation, without batting an eye he told me not to worry about it.
Over the next year or two, I would visit the school, and I always had a check with me to finish paying off my tab. Every time I gave him a check he told me I didn’t need to, and not to worry about the rest of the tab (but I did. So there, Dana).
I can only hope to pay it forward, the love and grace he showed not just me, but everyone who entered his life.
In this way, though his physical body has changed, I know he is alive and well through the lives he touched. The love he put into his food was absorbed. It nourished. And it grows. And it can never be repaid.
I hope to keep paying my tab forward for Dana.