burning bridges: I made a margarita for Will Patton

When I wrote about my second gig in baking, I skipped over a couple of other part-time jobs I had during my year in Bend, Oregon. At some point during my tenure at Fred Meyer's bakery, I got bit by the waitressing bug (the bug that precedes the acting bug?) and decided to apply as a food server at Cafe Rosemary, which has since closed. I primarily worked the weekday lunch shift, which wasn't as busy or tip-lucrative as dinner but I loved that I neither had to get up crazy early or stay up too late. I can't remember how well that worked with my class schedule but I'm assuming my off days were my school-intensive ones. In other words, I had no real time off, especially considering I was still working a shift or two at the bakery during this time.

Anyway, all went well for a few months. With tips figured in, I averaged about three times what I was making at the bakery. The guy I worked with most days - I think his name was Scott? or Sam? - was really cool. A very tall, blonde, handsome, down-to-earth snowboarder ... with a fiancee. What, I had a boyfriend, too! Sheesh. The restaurant was owned by an older couple - the guy cooked while the gal managed the floor. I think their adult son was involved in some way as well. The food was amazing. The daily soup was always incredible (and I'm not even a soup person!) and there was this salad we made with fried goat cheese ... holy cow, it was tasty. For Thanksgiving that year, I bought a pie that came with a large to-go cup of brandy-spiked whipped cream. It was the star of the holiday dinner that year, let me tell you, no offense to my Grandma's turkey. But the gal-half of the owner duo, unlike her husband, was, well, difficult to deal with after awhile. At the end of a shift my tall, blonde, snowboarding co-worker and I would count up the tips - and she'd take a third of our total. Kinda messed up, right? Then one day we had an argument about a female diner who asked about the day's soup. I'd been told at the beginning of my shift that either we didn't have soup or we sold out really quickly, I can't remember now, and somehow I missed the memo that this diner was given special treatment because I basically got as close as I've ever been to fired over telling her there was no soup. It was mutually agreed that I should take the rest of the shift off. Sensing that I was quite possibly on the verge of being fired, I called later that evening and quit. It was also mutually agreed that a two-week notice was unnecessary.

I walked straight from Cafe Rosemary to Baja Norte, across the quaint downtown area of Bend, where I applied to a front-counter position. I loved working at Baja Norte, which was owned, at the time, by the same guy who owned Mexicali Rose (both restuarants are closed now - such is the restaurant industry in general but in Bend in particular to the point that it's kind of a local joke how often restaurants come and go). My Grandma loved Mexicali Rose and we'd been going at least once every visit since I was 12 or so. They had one of the best margaritas I've ever had and their carnitas was to die for. The recipes were the same over at Baja Norte so I now know what went into that carnitas and I'll take that secret to my grave.

Other than delicious discounted food, I enjoyed working there because the vibe was way more laidback. Everyone who worked there was either a student at COCC like me and/or a total ski bum. The tips were okay. Definitely not making three times minimum wage here but it was enough for laundry and gas (because gas was $.99 a gallon at the time).

And when the Kevin Costner flick The Postman was being filmed at nearby Smith Rock State Park, Will Patton came in one night. I poured him a margarita while he waited for his to-go order. And that true story concludes my brief career in food service.