- & Joni
- est. 1983
With Valentine’s Day approaching in 2 days, we couldn’t think of a better time to write about our second #shareyourlovestory! This story is extra special since Joni & Mark’s daughter is Danielle, the Director of Almost Everything at Frank & Eileen. For that we owe them some extra love and gratitude! We’ve known this story for quite some time, but we asked Joni to tell it in her own words, through her own eyes. You may want to grab a box of tissues before continuing!!
“So here I am at 18 years old working as a server in a restaurant. One day I went to put in an order for the kitchen and there was a piece of paper folded in half with my name on it. Inside it said “you have nice legs – from your secret admirer”. Having no idea who it could be from, I asked around and got virtually nowhere. Each night for the next week I received a note with a compliment. Naturally, it was starting to freak me out! We had this new Regional kitchen manager, but I thought surely it couldn’t be him. He was cute, 6’3″, long hair, built like a football running back, but not my type. After a few more days I finally got a note that asked if I would meet him for dinner. Still unsure of whom I would be meeting, I decided I would take the risk, promising I would leave if it was not the new guy. I walked in the restaurant and standing there was our new Regional kitchen manager “Sparky” Pratte, holding a dozen roses. We had a fun dinner, which consisted of me doing mostly all the talking. I talked a lot! He was so shy and so tall, we sat at a table under this silly cuckoo clock that would not shut up!
The next week the same company sent me to help open a new restaurant in Sacramento training the new staff. When I told Sparky the news, he didn’t seem to care, so I thought it was over between us. Wow, was I wrong! Without fail, he sent me flowers every week and called me everyday for the next 3 weeks. I still did all the talking. He was then sent to the same restaurant to train the Regional kitchen manager. As you can imagine, there were strict policies about not dating other trainers or staff. Needless to say, we very quietly broke the rules. We went on to open 5 more restaurants together all over the US over the next 6 months. While we were in Florida, I had a minor freak out and decided we shouldn’t date anymore, but he was persistent. Of course, on the night we broke up he brought me roses and Champagne. After 3 months apart and being quite miserable it was time to give in and realize I loved him! Being young or the fact that getting married wasn’t in my plan didn’t matter. We were together traveling and working together once again and HAPPY!!
One day, he asked me to marry him over the phone. I said yes. We took a short vacation together and talked about what we wanted for our future and how important family was to us both. We agreed if we were going to get married it was a 50 year deal, no less! While planning the wedding and deciding on a date, I remember asking him what he wanted for his birthday. He said all he wanted was me. So we got married on his birthday – September 8, 1983.
I am so lucky he is my Sparky, my best friend, my pain in the tush, the father of my amazing daughters, my rock, my everything! Thank goodness he is persistent! I am happy to say we have been married 31 years and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. My Sparky, my love!
P.S. the cuckoo clock from our first date now hangs in our bedroom — we bought it when the restaurant closed.
- your friends at Frank & Eileen