The always bustling crowd at Espana Restaurant had emptied out by 10 p.m. Tuesday night, when a phone call arrived. It was a request from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to accommodate a special guest.
“They said it was a bigwig,” recalled Espana owner Roberto Pestana. The bigwig turned out to be Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones – in town for a concert Friday night at TIAA Bank Field.
“It’s the highlight of my career,” says Roberto, who has entertained other notable celebrities like Fergie. “He was very approachable, very cool. There was nothing snooty about him.”
Jagger dined with a small group, downed a bottle of wine or two, and chatted amiably with the Espana staff. But no photographs, or brown sugar on the Portuguese cuisine.
“I was disappointed that I was not able to get a picture, but I respect his privacy,” Roberto says. In fact, a couple people who apparently had heard of Jagger’s presence tried to slip in and take a picture. But Jagger’s security guard would have none of it.
After dinner, Jagger’s manager took Roberto’s cell phone number to contact him directly next time. When they learned that Roberto’s wife, Marina, is going to the concert, they offered to upgrade her tickets. “They were very respectable, honorable people,” says Roberto.
In case any Stones fans are concerned about Jagger’s health following his heart surgery, Roberto says there is no need. “He looked in fabulous shape,” he says.
Fortunately for much of Amelia Island, Jagger and the Stones should put on one of their stellar shows. Roberto’s wife will enjoy it, but he has to work. It’s the life of an uber-successful restaurant owner.
“I heard like three-quarters of the island is going,” Roberto says. “I’ll turn out the lights when everybody leaves. I’ll be here by myself.”
Amelia Island is becoming a playground for the famous. Jagger’s quiet appearance at Espana is the latest sighting. Faith Hill, Demi Moore, John Travolta and Michael Jackson have all been here.
And who can forget the frantic phone call that came in to Amelia Dental Group just before the Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. They wouldn’t say who needed dental work, just that it was urgent.
When Dr. Rob Van Etta showed up at the former Alltel Stadium, he found in the dental chair none other than Paul McCartney, the halftime entertainer. McCartney had a tooth ache.
Amelia Dental Group was on call for such emergencies. And the call was routed to Van Etta, who kind of saved the show. Like with Roberto, it had to be the highlight of his career.
(Steve Nicklas, CRPC®, is a financial advisor with a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns regularly appear in weekly newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)