Who Does This Restaurant Belong To?

NYC is arguably one of the top three food capitals of the world. With over 5,000 restaurants spread across the five boroughs, and constant openings and closings, it’s highly unlikely anyone has eaten at all of them. It is more likely that you will consistently eat at the same 5-10 restaurants and share them with others, specifically a significant other, over the years.

So what happens when the relationship is over?

Who gets custody of the restaurants when a relationship ends?

Last summer I ended a six-year relationship, that I thought would lead to forever. Life, however, had other plans for me. I assumed my emotional pot would still be boiling over during the holidays, but it wasn’t. Instead, as we approached ramen season and separated our belongings, I couldn’t help but wonder ‘who gets custody of the restaurants we frequented?’

About five years ago, my former love, we’ll call him Mister, introduced me to the greatness that is ramen – real ramen. I like most, whose first encounter with ramen occurred in a college dorm room, was skeptical. But I like trying new things, and apparently, it was love at first slurp.

Mister took me to the renowned Ippudo in the East Village, and it was nothing like what I imagined. I had no idea ramen could be classy. I fell in love with a soup that can be reimagined a hundred times over. I can confidently say I loved ramen more than him, it never lets you down, and it’s adaptive.

Six weeks after our split, I decided to celebrate my birthday at that very same place. It was then I began to wonder what if he walked through the door? And we run into each other here of all places! It would’ve most certainly ruined the evening. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but what if?

Why didn’t we have an agreement in place so this could be avoided?

Throughout our almost six-year courtship, Mister and I explored a variety of restaurants together, but the ramen ones, in particular, were something special to me. To say I love food is an understatement. I am obsessed with it. Mister introducing me to ramen, gave me something new to explore beyond the palate. Ramen like its broth is filled with history, complexity, and emotion you can taste in each bean sprout, bamboo shoot, and chili flake. We had eaten so much ramen during our relationship, it had become a comfort food for those times I’d want to see him, but he was unavailable. He knows how much I love food as well as the history and culture, so he’d done a reasonably decent job in finding new spots for us to explore, despite being a creature of habit. But I did a great deal of work curating a remarkable list of go-to places for us throughout the city during our time together.

But now that the love is gone, I still want to go to those places with the reassurance that he won’t be there. This can be quite a challenge for people like Mister and me since we live in the same neighborhood. Yes, I’m also talking about the Indian takeout and ice cream shop. I don’t want to see him there. I know it sounds crazy, but the reality is when I go to the taquerias and food trucks I do not want to potentially run into him. Fortunately, Mister and I have very different schedules, so the likelihood of this happening is about as likely as your spicy curry actually being spicy on the Upper East Side. So what’s this really about?

Honestly, I don’t want him to share those locations with other people. Not just future women partners, but anybody, even his family and friends. I feel like he’s not worthy enough to enjoy their food. Call me petty, but I don’t want them thinking these were his efforts. He just doesn’t deserve visitation rights even if they are supervised by an innocent party like family and friends.

If it’s an amicable break, can there be joint custody?

Joint custody is possible in cases of an amicable breakup. But how many of those actually occur? Very few. If the break up is mutual or amicable, there still may be a need for some custodial terms, especially if it’s a place you frequent. I mean do you really want to keep running into your ex every time you go get ice cream? Mainly if you eat out frequently. If it’s a place you both discovered together, then joint custody is fair under the pretense of mutual separation.

If it ends badly, is the wronged automatically awarded sole custody? Forever or for a specified time?

I do believe the wronged should have sole custody of the restaurants. It’s the bare minimum. It’s unrealistic for me to say I get to have guardianship equal to the length of time of the relationship. Most restaurants don’t even make it five years in the city that never sleeps. I will have moved on and been on countless dates in the next 6 years, but I do believe I should have sole custody for at least one year. And that’s like a very long time in NYC years. But I would feel comfortable with him avoiding at the very least all the ramen, ice cream, and breakfast spots we’ve eaten at and frequented especially that one with the crayons for at least a year. I also believe the wronged should have custody over any restaurants they introduced the other party to. You automatically get to claim them, think of it as a farewell package.

Does the wronged keep custody of all the restaurants or the ones they chose?

I want custody over everything but then he’d be stuck actually cooking at home, and he can’t really do that. We don’t want him to starve. (Or do we?)

If I got nothing else out of the past six years, I’m thankful for the introduction to ramen. As a result, I was able to experience everything ramen has to offer and appreciate it more than he ever could. I probably would’ve never found my new comfort food had it not been for Mister and for that I’m eternally thankful. To make amends and right your wrongs, I hope you understand why I ask that you abstain from those restaurants for a respectable period of time. This will ensure that I at least keep one thing that isn’ tainted from our relationship.

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