A 2020 Breadboard haiku: Thirty-seven years. Changes Changes, Love the crew. Many thirty more
Well, a new year has arrived. We are safely past 1914, 1929, 1984 and Y2K. Now, as we start a new decade, of course, I thought the most important thing anyone could do is be the first customer of the year at the Breadboard. This place has been around since 1983 so it is entering its 37th year. I knew there were certain important things that I could find comfort in knowing they would remain satisfying, unchanged and up-lifting. I could count on a great cup of better not bitter locally fresh-roasted Goodbean coffee, I could count on cheerful and welcoming personal service where they know my name and expect my visit, and I could count on a monstrous Marionberry muffin and more delicious breakfast options then a normal starving picky breakfast eater could ever need. But what I didn’t expect as I listened to the sometimes inappropriate but always interesting banter of the employees was that there was a new family at the helm of my Breadboard. What? Panic. Confusion. Disillusionment. Dread. Nikki? Kristal? Pete? What about the delicious sausage country gravy? The Mountain Man? My Marionberry muffin? Nikki’s Nightmare Spinach and Cream Cheese omelet? Kristal’s Killer Chicken Sandwich? I was disoriented, even a bit woozy. My eyes started to moisten, my throat started to clench and my fingers tingled and my right arm started to throb a little and I could feel the optimism and hope that comes with a new year slipping from my grasp and as I watched my coffee cool, the steam evaporating into the air, uncertainty, and dread were just about to overwhelm me when I realized the Breadboard family was just going about their business as usual. Energized, Wholly unconcerned. Happy. I took my first sip and the coffee was, as usual, strong but not too strong. My huge Marionberry muffin was huge and familiar and my server, Kerri (who has been there longer than any of the owners – combined? haha..) was just as loud and loving as ever and I just looked at her and squeaked, “Wh-wh-what happened? Pete? Is he-?” Kerri cut me off, “-older than me? YES!” But I continued, is he d-d-d…?” She jumped in, “Done? Yep. 23 years. Oh, he’s around, loafing more than ever, and Kristal and Nikki will still be pitching in and Pete will probably show up unexpectedly and try to get his food for free, but you know what’s really cool is that a lot of times a guy works really hard and puts his heart and soul into his work and most people don’t really get how hard being a line cook day after day is and they take pride in what they do and they are really skilled and they fix stuff and clean like crazy and don’t expect anyone to notice and they are genuinely kind and really care about people and they never get a real opportunity to own something and get past just living month to month as they put two kids through college and others benefit and profit from their diligence and hard work.” My first thought was, “Wow, that was a really long sentence, but then I asked, “Ok, so?” She explained, “Pete is turning the reins over to Gilberto and his family. Gilberto loves this place. His kids have worked here. He takes pride in the Breadboard. He’s one of the best cooks the Breadboard has ever seen. He’s younger than Pete, as most people are – haha, and he’s got passion. And we are psyched!” As I pondered this new revelation and gazed at my monstrous muffin and the aroma of better not bitter Goodbean coffee massaged my senses and the throbbing in my arm relented and things started to come back into focus, the dinger at the kitchen window dinged and Gilberto hollered out, “Kerri, food’s up – it’s gettin’ cold!” And she rolled her eyes and warmly barked back, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll give ya’ something cold!” Well, that’s what I call a happy new year.