I’m writing this on April 17, 2012, 2 months to the day since I opened the doors to The Comida Cantina at 721 Confidence Drive in the neighborhood of Prospect, in Longmont Colorado. And while I am many things today…. excited, grateful, awestruck, humbled, and yes tired… I am not one single bit regretful. The last 2 months have been some of the most incredible and intense of my life. They have been filled with more abundance than you could shake a cat of 9 tails at. And I have shared it with some of the most incredible people I have ever known. My staff rocks… harder than a group of 16 year old girls at a Miley Cyrus Concert. They are an awesome cross section of our community. And while I have in no way been grateful to the recession that has gripped most of our country, I am in this regard. People want to work. They want to be a part of something good. They need to pay their bills, and The Cantina is helping 25 people do that every day. I love that!!!
Each day as we open the Cantina, prepare the menu and ready for service, there is laughter, realness, integrity of intention and the efforts of hard work. There are walls that hold in the smells and flavors that I have dreamed about. There are chairs for people to take a load off at the end of their day. There are bottles of tequila, whisky, beer, wine that I love and feel proud to serve. And Tina parks herself just outside. For the record, the truck has not stopped going out. People ask every day “how’s that little bus of your doing? Does it still go out?” I always answer yes, smile and point to it. “Look, she’s out there right now.” Tina…. my first love at Comida. The hardest working employee I have had. She’s taken a few beatings since we moved to Mayberry (the name I affectionately call the neighborhood of Prospect where the Cantina is located). But she’s happy for the move and looks damn good sitting outside the restaurant she essentially built.
After the second week I arrived early one morning to find no fewer than 2 dozen eggs thrown all over the front of the restaurant and all over Tina’s sides. Hard and crusty, it had dried over night. Egg is no friend to stucco, and Tina looked down right ashamed as she sat their caked in goo. But life goes on and every once in a while you pick a winning number. And I did just that when it comes to my landlord. He came right over with a Hotsy and power washed both Tina and the store front and we were back in action in no time, knees dusted off and tears wiped away. Business ownership is many things, boring is never one of them.
In the mean time, each day the Cantina grows. In a neighborhood people balked at for being out of the way, too long of a drive from Boulder, Comida has a wait. On any given Tuesday night I will walk through the restaurant and count a butt in every seat, and many waiting at the door. I know it frustrates those that come and don’t want to wait, it’s Longmont after all, why should they? But I swear, once they have a freshly made Comida Coin with salt making their palm chilly, they relax a little and the pain of waiting is eased. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. There is a fine line for people, I know. It’s a delicate balance when it comes to waiting. We walk the line a lot I am sure, but hopefully the company they’ve come with will serve to entertain and the Comida we set in front of them once they have a table is worth the wait. Whatever… a girl can dream.
Now Spring is in full swing, the patio is open, we started lunch and brunch 2 weeks ago, and the truck is booking out into October. We get to go Aspen Food and Wine again this year, and the amount of kindness and attention the various news agents, writers, bloggers and critics have given us takes the smile from ear to ear. And while we strive every day to do the right thing, to not fail for our guests, or for each other, we still bump into our humanity daily. Admittedly, we have failed. But like any good school of hard knocks, the lessons have been real and we have done our best to pay attention. No doubt, they will continue to present themselves, and we will do our best to listen.
So that’s really it for now. I know the time in between posts has been great, and I will try to keep you updated more often. If you are reading this I figure A: it’s the middle of the night and you can’t sleep or B: you are trying to open a food truck and want advice or C: you’re my mom. If you are not in one of those categories, I thank you. And if you are, I thank you. There are many out there without which I could not do this. Most don’t get named, but hopefully all know who they are.
I will leave you with a quote that each person hired into Comida reads in the Employee Manual. It serves as our mission:
“First things first.
Comida means food.
Plain and simple.
It is why we are here.
We are here to make it and serve it with graciousness and delight.
We are here to make friends with our guests and to make friends with each other.
We will create and foster a culture based on loving what we do and doing it with dignity.
Food is just food.
And service just service.
And really, it is a privilege to have either. “
Be well, stay tuned, and eat more Street Food!