Was Belinda Carlisle referring to Provincetown’s Café Heaven in Heaven Is a Place on Earth? Former television executive Quinn Taylor might think so. His Lobster Ravioli is pretty divine. As is Taylor’s witty observations on tackling modern-day love. Just how did a fateful phone call end up minting a new restaurateur? Do television executives eat in bed? Why is the three-day rule so 1985?
Is food ever explicitly queer?
Quinn: I would not think so. Soul food. Black food. Asian food. California cuisine. Personally, I cannot think of anything that would be called queer food other than the fact that I’m eating something and I’m queer. We’re such a diverse group that I don’t think we necessarily deserve our own genre. We eat everything.
What led you to go in on this venture?
Quinn: My career in television was very good to me and I was good to it. I felt I came to a place where I could step back and come to Provincetown full time. I had a house here for eight years. LA is great but I don’t need two homes anymore. I thought of spending the summer here in Provincetown then I got a phone call on the 28th of February saying Cafe Heaven was for sale. I said I would buy it. There wasn’t too much thought into this other than the fact I had been eating at this restaurant hundreds of times over the many years I had been coming here. I always loved the food. I became very friendly with the owners. I met friends there I still have to this day. When the phone call came. it felt bizarrely natural.
It’s called Cafe Heaven. Do you agree with Belinda Carlisle? Is heaven a place on Earth?
Quinn: It’s wherever you’re living your best life.
How Portuguese are your Portuguese Clams? Are you worried it will become marginalized by the increasingly nativist rhetoric and actions of our culture today?
Quinn: It speaks more to the sauce than to the clams. It’s been a big seller for lots of restaurants. In a town that has a Portuguese heritage week where we all put up Portuguese flags, I don’t think there’ll be backlash unless the sauce isn’t very good.
NYC media maven and PR powerhouse Kelly Cutrone coined the expression, “if you have to cry, go outside.” Is crying allowed at Cafe Heaven?
Quinn: Customers can cry, of course. Employees need to leave the floor and pull it together in the back and tell me why they’re crying. If it’s something a customer said that will be dealt with. If it’s something from home, it needs to be put to bed so you can do your job and deal with it later.
What if an employee just received a text message earlier that morning that their partner of thirty years was running off to Palm Springs with a significantly younger individual?
Quinn: They received that text either before work in the morning or during their break. I do not want phones on the floor. If they got it at work or while coming in I would give them the day off so they could deal with it. Personal lives are the most important thing. I want happy employees.
What’s your television lineup for a day in and what are you eating while you lie in bed?
Quinn: I don’t eat or watch TV in bed [laughs]. I try to keep those things separate having made it for 27 years. My days were filled with television. When I was sleeping, I wanted to sleep. When I was eating, I wanted to eat. I just started watching Dead to Me with Christina Applegate. I’m obsessed with HBO’s Gentleman Jack. Veep is the most incredible show ever. I loved Succession and can’t wait for its return. I always think Modern Family is a stroke of genius every time. I love Sneaky Pete.
Is queer film and television where it needs to be?
Quinn: There’s always room for improvement. I haven’t seen Netflix’s Tales of the City and can’t speak to that.
Did you like Call Me By Your Name?
Quinn: I did but not as much I liked the book.
Was the upcoming sequel to the novel fueled by the pressure to create a sequel to the film?
Quinn: That speaks to where queer film and television is at. Is that the best we can do, to create a sequel to that movie? Maybe. I hope not. I really enjoyed the book. I thought the movie was fine. I did not believe the relationship.
Were you depressed by the ending of the novel?
Quinn: No. It’s life.
Is life too hard, Quinn?
Quinn: It is for some people. And it is. Of course it is.
Do we need to eliminate certain rules of courtship that deal with holding back or deliberately delaying communication after meeting someone? Is there an advantage to making the first move or being a bit more aggressive?
Quinn: Those rules are ridiculous anyway. If you like each other why can’t you reach out? Don’t stalk them or text every eight minutes. If you text someone who likes you and that person expresses they like you, why can’t you communicate whenever you choose to? Imposing a three day wait is overly pretentious and wildly 1985.
What’s the Quinn Taylor playbook to courtship?
Quinn: I have been single for a number of years now so my playbook may not be worth discussing. We are all obsessed with having a type. What’s your type? I say upright and breathing. Would I go on a blind date? Sure. I’ll go if I if you think the person is nice too. I try not to adhere to what I consider to be a type because that usually does not work.
When was the last time you wigged out on a romantic interest?
Quinn: I’m not the wigging out type. There was a guy I had been dating for six months. We established a pattern of text, beep, response. Text, beep, beep, response. After a particular day, the relationship was clearly running its course, and his response time got longer. He finally called and wanted to stop by and talk. I said “To be honest, there’s nothing really to say. What you have not said speaks volumes. If this is to absolve you of wrongdoing, you don’t need to come over and tell me all this unless you have do this. I didn’t need it.”
He decided to come over. I had a friend over and made him stay in the room. I told him “Ok, give me the reasons you don’t want to see me.” He said he didn’t want a long-distance monogamous relationship but he lived 24 minutes away. That’s not long distance. What, there’s a truck stop between where I live and Valencia, California? I told him you’ve said what you wanted and can go. I went back to my friend who’s sitting in the room probably wanting to die but he did want a favor. It was controlled wigging I suppose.
Is long distance for the birds?
Quinn: I know people who make it work. It can’t work forever. You really have to commit to it and fly back and forth. Like a plant, you have to love it, feed it, and talk to it. You can’t do it over the phone all the time.
Are we at risk of devaluing the power of the expression “I love you?”
Quinn: I don’t think so. When you really mean it and say it, it still lands. I’m a romantic. I’m also a gigantic cynic.
Quinn: Hope springs eternal. I bought a restaurant. Of course, I’m hopeful. If I wasn’t hopeful I would go for a long swim in the harbor and never come back.