Robin Galvan-Davies: A story of community kindness
The appointed time has arrived: It’s 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon, and I’m on the patio of Kane’s Family Restaurant on East Main Street in downtown Grass Valley. The time and place for this meeting were determined by early morning phone calls.
While waiting for the truck to arrive, I’m smiling for many reasons; the irony of why I’m here, but also that which propelled this meeting.
The truck pulls up and out steps Ken Paige and his son Chad, owners of Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar in Nevada City, and new members of our Chamber Family. They are greeted by Maria Ramos Byers, owner of Kane’s Family Restaurant and Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, her husband Ray Byers (Byers Enterprises), and Maria’s daughter, Gina Ramos Sidebottom, managing director of Maria’s Mexican Restaurant.
According to Ken Paige, and the reason they are here at Kane’s is that the search for tables and chairs to accommodate outdoor dining for Friar Tuck’s has been an exercise in futility. Until this morning. Two phone calls remedied that. Two restaurant families. One needs tables and chairs; one has tables and chairs. With Kane’s closed due to COVID, it was a simple “yes!” and mission accomplished! No boundaries, no “Them-Us,” just one community family stepping up to help another succeed.
While the chairs and tables were being loaded, I asked Gina, “What did you think when your phone rang at 6:30 this morning?” Laughing, she said, “I thought someone wanted to book a table at Maria’s!”
“No, really,” she said, “I was excited that we were able to help out! We’re all in this together — whatever we can do to help each other out — I’m all for that. I’ll do anything for this community-especially our fellow restaurateurs. It’s completely about community, and we’re stronger together!”
Maria fusses over the state of the tables and chairs — dusty from being stacked on the patio all these months; some in need of minor repair, all in need of a good cleaning. Then, an “ah-ha” moment — she pops inside Kane’s and brings out a stack of silvery placemats. “These work well,” she says, “you should take these, too.”
I turn to Chad, who’s watching the interaction between Maria and his father, and he says, “I was telling my dad, if I could snap my fingers and make this whole COVID thing go away you’d think right now I’d want to do that, but I actually would not.
“I know we’re struggling; I know we’re going through ‘stuff,’ but in the last month, I’ve met so many amazing people and people who really care about this community. This place, Nevada County, Grass Valley, Nevada City, it is what I thought it was … people really, really care. And we’re so blessed and happy to be here. Honestly, my dad and I would rather be here than any other place in time.”
Those words of positivity tumbling out of Chad Paige’s heart certainly got my attention. With the challenges that Friar Tuck’s has faced in recent weeks, one might expect a bit of resentment, but the love and admiration that he and his family express for this community are indeed heartfelt, and that speaks volumes.
The truck and trailer are loaded to the max, and securely strapped down, and the placemats are safely stowed. Thanks and gratitude is given by all to all, and we each go on to tackle the remainder of our day.
As our Chamber day ends, the last news we hear is that the Byers family has helped the Paige family unload, set up, and power-wash those tables and chairs in the bistro area in front of Friar Tuck’s on North Pine Street. A bit of alfresco ambiance from Kane’s Grass Valley lending alfresco elegance to Friar Tuck’s Nevada City outdoor dining.
I love happy endings; Friar Tuck’s is open for outdoor dining, and now you know the rest of the story!
Robin Galvan-Davies is CEO of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.
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