Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Janie loved the restaurant from the minute she walked in; dark wood panelling, slate floors, high ceilings broken up by a latticework of heavy wooden beams.

“You see, we’ve put your investment to good use Janie my darling.” Markus slipped his hands around her waist, pulling her close enough to brush his lips against her neck and whisper in her ear, “Come, see what it’s like at center stage.”

She followed him down between the rows of leather seating, semicircular boothes arranged amphitheater style, radiating outwards and upwards from the cooking floor to form a shallow bowl.

The lighting overhead traced a path through the aisles as they walked, lighting just ahead of them and dimming as they passed, anticipating, it seemed, where they were heading.

Reaching the expansive circular kitchen area, a portion of the stainless counter and fascia retracted, allowing them to step through before closing silently behind them.

“It’s entirely automatic,” Markus explained, “the system predicts what’s about to happen and provides all the right ingredients, just in time. Faster, more efficient, allows the artist to spend the time creating art without wasting a moment preparing or cleaning up.”

“It’s beautiful, I know I complained about all the money you spent, and I’m sorry, truly, this is far more than I imagined.” Setting her purse down on the counter, she ran her fingers over the seamless matte metal finish. In an eye-blink, an articulated arm snaked out from beneath the counter and the purse disappeared, leaving the counter pristine again.

“There’s more,” Marcus appeared with a pair of bulbous glasses filled with red wine and offered one to her. As she sipped, he continued. “The kitchen discusses the food plan in advance with the artist, places orders for the food, unpacks and prepares, it even cleans up. The artist simply puts on a show inside this room and then takes his or her leave, the kitchen does all the dirty work.” He walked around the galley area as he spoke, circling a massive wood filled, gas fired cooking grill at its center that reached almost ten feet across. “Everything gets cooked on here, mostly for dramatic effect. All the food waste gets collected from the cutting surfaces and channelled to it. Everything’s shredded, baked dry then blown into the fire-pit as fuel. No waste, energy efficient, and stunning to watch.”

Stopping across from where Janie was leaning against the counter, Marcus set down his glass and unbuttoned his shirt. Janie smiled coyly, “Are you sure there’s no-one else here?”

He slipped off his shirt, carefully folded it and set it on the counter. Behind them both, the glass panels separating them from the seating area began to opaque.

“Doesn’t matter if there is, it’s been determined that we’d like privacy, and it’s being taken care of for us.” As he spoke, he slipped off his undershirt, then his shoes. Janie giggled as his pants and boxers joined the rest of his clothes in a neatly folded pile on the counter, on top of which he placed his shoes, carefully stuffing a sock in each one. No sooner had he finished then the pile was swiftly whisked away through a cupboard door in the counter.

Janie straightened up, set down her glass, and turned her back to him, holding her hair up off her neck.

“Unzip me.”

Behind her, the giant cooking furnace roared to life, flames licking hungrily up through the grill. The windows surrounding them turned completely black, and overhead a gentle mist began to emanate from the sprinkler system.

Janie certainly had never done anything like this, but, more than little giddy from the wine, she was liking it already.

“I think the kitchen computer might have some bugs Marcus, I hope there’s enough money left to get them sorted.”

Marcus closed the distance between them. “No, not a bug dear, she’s just getting a little ahead of me, that’s all.”


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