A love story that happened in
spite of the best-laid plans
By ELAINE HESSER
Published: February 14, 2014
IT’S BEEN said that “life is what
happens while you’re making other plans.” Pierre and Marietta
Bain of Pacific Grove’s venerable Fandango restaurant can attest
to that. They’ve been married for 38 years, and after watching
them for just a few minutes, it’s evident they adore each other.
It’s hard to believe that if their original plans had worked
out, they never would have met.
Pierre was heir to the Grand Hotel Bain in Provence. It’s in
the Guinness Book of World Records because it’s been passed from
father to son without exception since its opening in 1737,
making it the world’s longest continuously owned family hotel.
Pierre, the oldest of four boys, was sent to hotel school to
learn the business. After graduation, the plan was for him to
intern a year each at a hotel in an English-speaking and a
German-speaking country — since he spoke both languages — then
return home to manage the Grand Hotel.
Bain completed school and left for a year in Bermuda to start
his English-speaking internship. One year turned into five
before he was ready to go back to Europe. It was 1964, and
Greyhound offered foreign visitors to the United States 19 days
of unlimited travel for $19. Not wanting to miss the opportunity
to see the United States before leaving, Bain visited Florida
and New Orleans, saw the Grand Canyon, and ended up in San
Francisco, where he took a short-term job waiting tables at
L’Etoile, an elegant restaurant in the Huntington Hotel. He
explained his strategy: “You get a job and meet people who will
take you around and show you the sights.”
Not long afterward, Aime Michaud, then-President of Del Monte
Properties Company, dined at L’Etoile, and invited Bain to join
the team that would open Pebble Beach’s swank new restaurant,
Club XIX. Between the gorgeous scenery and the lure of Laguna
Seca — Bain was a racing fan — the offer was irresistible.
Fortunately, one of his brothers agreed to take over the family
business in his stead. And in 1975, he met Marietta.
The former Marietta Marcuzzo’s family tree was populated by
hard-working Sicilian fishermen and a widowed grandmother who
managed to support six children by running restaurants in Omaha,
Los Angeles and Monterey over the years. Marietta’s plan was to
attend school in Saratoga to become a freelance court reporter.
Like the rest of her family, she was diligent and energetic,
holding down four jobs at once, one of which was a weekend stint
at Club XIX. Soon, Pierre offered her a full-time job at the
restaurant, and she decided to forgo the court reporting.
“Pebble Beach was a dream job!” she said.
Pierre got up the nerve to ask her to a ski show at the Cow
Palace. “My dad never gave me advice, but he told me not to go,”
Marietta said. He didn’t have anything against Pierre, but
Marietta worked for him and her father thought workplace
romances were risky. “You love your job,” she remembers him
saying, “and this can only lead to losing it.” She ultimately
ignored his advice; she says she didn’t think of it as a date —
and she didn’t care about skiing.
After the ski show, Pierre took her to Marrakech Moroccan
Restaurant for dinner. “We sat on those big pillows on the
floor,” Marietta remembers, smiling. “It was so romantic!” And
so began a whirlwind romance and, for Marietta, over a decade of
deception. “I lied about liking skiing for 12 years,” she
laughed. “I tried to convince myself I liked it, but my children
didn’t like it either.” Pierre chimed in, “That was pretty much
the end of our ski trips.”
In 1986, with help from the late Alan Shugart (co-founder of
Silicon Valley giant Seagate), Pierre and Marietta bought
Fandango from the Georis family. They liked the cottage look and
feel — it resembles the family hotel in Provence. They fancied
it up a little with tablecloths and linen napkins, and made the
menu their own. Regulars have their favorites from osso buco to
sweetbreads — some things, as Pierre says, “you can’t get
anywhere else.” Many of the staff have worked for him for
decades, some going back to his days at Club XIX.
The couple agree that the best, and most challenging, thing
about the last 38 years has been “working and being together
every day.” They somehow found time to raise two children, and
are the proud grandparents of two grandchildren. The whole
family travels to France annually for a reunion. Some of the
cousins have come to work a summer at Fandango, just as the
Bains’ son, Rene, spent some summers at the Grand Hotel Bain.
When asked if they’d ever retire, Marietta quickly asserted
that Pierre was “not allowed to retire.” He laughed. “I like it
here,” he said. “I don’t do any heavy lifting anymore; but I’m
not going to get bored.” He’s dedicated to keeping Fandango the
traditional place locals love. And after nearly four decades
together, he and Marietta seem dedicated to loving each other
for many years to come as well. That, we think, sounds like a