B. Smith

I was saddened  to learn about restaurateur Barbara Smith’s battle with Alzheimer’s,  and now she and her husband have chronicled their life with this debilitating disease in their book Before I Forget.

I have followed Barbara career since she was a beautiful young model and in 1976 the second African American to grace the cover of Mademoiselle magazine.

Also a talented Southern cook,  Barbara went on to open the highly successful B. Smith’s restaurant in New York’s theatre district,  and eventually to add two more restaurants to the chain.  Her charm, her taste and her business acumen led to a television show and lines of cookware and furniture, as well as an apt comparison to Martha Stewart.

Over the past few years I had reason to ride the Metroliner fairly regularly to DC and discovered the B. Smith’s restaurant that was located in Washington’s beautiful Union Station.

But my favorite B. Smith’s was the lovely, airy restaurant on the wharf in Sag Harbor.  We went for lunch or dinner whenever we were in the Hamptons, and twice saw Barbara Smith and her husband Dan Gasby eating there.

The first time I spotted them there we stopped at their table to introduce ourselves and they invited us to sit with them awhile.  We talked about life, family,  politics and Barack Obama’s recent election, and they were warm and gracious, and Barbara was as lovely as she looked in her fashion shoots.

We laughed at the fact both husbands were named Dan, and their daughter shared my name, Dana.  Later as we were finishing our meal,  the waiter brought us dessert with their compliments.

A summer or two later we were back in Sag Harbor and again spotted them at the restaurant.  We spoke again and mentioned it was our wedding anniversary.  Later the waiter brought us a complimentary bottle of wine followed by Barbara and Dan themselves,  coming back to voice their good wishes.

You could say other savvy restaurateurs might have done the same, but not with the same grace.

Wishing you well,  B. Smith.

Dana Susan Lehrman


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