At the risk of exposing his memory to posthumous attacks, I'd like to note the passing of David Martineau, the longtime maitre'd at The Edgewater hotel, on Thanksgiving Day at age 64. (My immediate thought was: He finally got a Thanksgiving off.)
Although the Admiralty Room was reportedly in decline before he left, David was there for the Edgewater's heyday, which I identify as the Rigadoon Room in the 1970s. It was a dark, intimate supper club, low over the water, with black leather banquettes, white linen tablecloths, heavy silverware, and low table lights. David, slim then in his black tuxedo, prepared tableside classics like Steak Diane, Bananas Foster, and the over-the-top, flaming Cafe Diablo. It was about the only Continental cuisine in Madison until the arrival of the Ovens of Brittany.
The wait staff also could be a bit flaming. He gave a generation of gay students, including many handsome men and good-looking women gay and straight, their start in food service.
He aimed for elegance, liked formality and pampering customers -- the Edgewater was an expensive date -- and was a showman. He liked his customers to have a good time and feel special. He also cared about food, and told me he when I last saw him that had he developed a line of sauces for Hy-Vee, his last job.
He looked after his friend Charles Lunde, the master of classical music at The Exclusive Company on State Street and a nightly customer at The Edgewater, after Charles became ill and went into nursing care. I always considered David a good-hearted Midwestern kid behind the tux. He deserves to have his picture on the Edgewater's celebrity wall, if it's still there when it reopens. I'm sure he would say that he wasn't a celebrity, just there to serve. But he was an institution.