BAL HARBOUR, FLA. -- "The guests, I handpicked them like chocolates," David Migicovsky says. "There's Monica Heftler, she's very Zsa Zsa, she'll be bringing Omar, and then there's Mrs. Beasley, he's a man who writes a column for a gay magazine. He'll be along with the triplets."
Migicovsky is the owner of Coco's, a sidewalk cafe in the town of Bal Harbour -- Miami's answer to Palm Beach -- that caters to patrons and their lap dogs.
"We came down from Montreal and were amazed that we couldn't take our dog (Coco, a teacup poodle) out to eat with us," he says.
Hence Coco's, where the menu includes the munchkin burger, breast of turkey chips and rare roast beef, all $5.75, and the Dogtail, Evian served with a slice of orange and a tiny umbrella, $2.25.
Today, the syndicated TV show "Inside Edition" is here to capture the ambiance. According to Migicovsky, they've been bugging him for months to set this up. And a setup it is, with all the handpicked regulars already arriving at what he says is, as far as he knows, the only restaurant in the country that dotes on little canines.
"In France, people won't go out to dinner unless they can bring their dogs, and I've lived in France," says Suzi Salone, who lives in North Miami Beach. She has Elizabeth and Agatha (Cavalier King Charles spaniels) with her on short leashes and a gentleman named Bill from Key West, who is hardly restrained and a bit oblivious to what is going on here.
"I picked up the menu, ordered the Evian with an orange slice, and the waiter put it on the ground," he says, shaking his head.
Elizabeth and Agatha are fighting over one measly drink and umbrellas are flying.
"Agatha, you pig!" Suzi yells.
Bill, do they do this sorta thing in Key West?
"No, we're poor. We eat dogs down there."
Mrs. Beasley, coming all the way from Hollywood, pulls up in a stretch limo with one chihuahua, two chihuahuas, three chihuahuas -- "The triplets!" everyone cheers.
The "Inside Edition" TV crew dashes and films him one time, two times, three times coming out of the stretch limo. "We need you to do that one more time. We're sorry," they say. Beasley himself is beginning to moisten up a bit -- the dogs are disappearing, one is under the limo, one is in the bushes, he's finally down to a single chihuahua, Dixie (the one that has an AIDS benefit named after her), for the last shoot.
As he finally makes his way to a table he is dripping with sweat, his fashionable black suit is covered in natty chihuahua hair and the odd little things are pulling him like a herd of deprived reindeer that were raised by a Maltese Santa Claus.
Which brings us to Omar, a Maltese.
"We always coordinate our outfits. We have to match," says Monica Heftler, who lives directly across the street. "You should see us when we dress up as Santa Claus." Today they are wearing what could best be described as Halloween tangerine. Stunning.
"We usually come every Sunday for the chicken," Monica says.
Omar is on the table, breathing heavy, with his tongue hanging out. It is 90-some-odd degrees on the patio and he is dying of thirst, but he refuses to go under the table where a full dish of Evian with an umbrella in it is waiting for him.
"Omar won't go down there. He wants to eat from the table," Monica says.
Barry Lipson, a waiter, is hopping over furry speed bumps as he rushes the orders. "More turkey bits over here." "Could you spare the umbrellas? My dahlink is going to poke both her eyes out."
He is spinning around. "We usually don't have so many dogs at once," he grins. "It's not bad, though. You get tired of serving people, so this is nice for a change. Besides, a lot of them are better behaved than the humans. Dogs love me."
The whole affair is just loping along, the one and only Coco had made her rounds cradled by Migicovsky's daughter, the cameras continue rolling as the crowd thins out. A cocker spaniel sits alone in a shady corner cleansing his palate on a cup of orange sherbet. The perfect ending to a perfect luncheon.
But then Monica whispers to her chauffeur (a big burly Saint Bernard of a fella), quickly struggles to her heels and begins her exit.
At the same time, Barry comes out, tray in hand, balancing empty pooch dishes and discarded umbrellas. As he turns a corner he and Monica match each other stride for stride. Now, you have to zoom in on this. Omar turns and looks at Barry. Barry can't even see Omar's eyes because of the Maltese's choice of hairdo, but if he could he might get a glimpse of all the hatred and malicious intent that can build up in a spongy Maltese brain on a dog day afternoon.
And then suddenly, there's an elongated yelp. And with that, it appears, Omar chomps into Barry's right leg.
Luckily, he has on his white baggy pants, which are as important in this business as a bulletproof vest. It seems that Omar meant to do the job but only shredded Barry's pants. Monica, meanwhile, appears to be taking this all in stride. Meaning she doesn't even stop.
She says nothing to Barry, but as she rounds toward the Rolls she giggles and says to Omar, "Oh my, did we eat that boy's pants? Oh well, we'll be back Sunday and buy him a new pair."
Barry is flushed as the Rolls pulls away. Where is "Inside Edition" now? "Dogs love me," he mutters. "Dogs love me."