AT 9 this morning, Vivande opened its doors to the public for the first time in three weeks. At 11, an auctioneer began selling the furnishings and equipment.
Most of the two dozen people milling around seemed to be dealers in used restaurant supplies, although there were a few neighbors, too. Back in the kitchen was owner Carlo Middione, who had a story to tell about nearly everything he’d amassed during 29 years in business.
Over his shoulder was a cello, lot number 107. It was a prop at a party he catered honoring the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He’d baked 800 sugar cookies shaped like cellos — which he decided must have strings piped on. “Not one string, but four,” he recalled, shaking his head. “After about 100, I wondered, ‘Whose idea was this anyway?’ ”
There was a huge whisk leaning against the brick wall. “That’s a damn good whisk,” Carlo said. It came from Paoli’s at Montgomery and Bush and was used for stirring a huge pot of polenta. A neighbor mused: “Now we won’t have anyone who likes to ‘stir shit the Sicilian way,’ as Carlo always said.”
Three hours later nearly everything had sold. Some of the choicest items — including the big whisk and the lighted cafe sign in the front window — went to Joan O’Connor, proprietor of Timeless Treasures on Sutter Street.