Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shopping for Christmas Online

I am not one who shops alot online but this year, I decided that it might be the best place to find a good deal. Boy was I wrong!

I started off by purchasing a laptop for my youngest daughter. I found a good reconditioned "like new" laptop from a group calling themselves "Laptop Group" on ebay. They had pretty good feedback for the most part and seemed to know their stuff. I gave myself plenty of time to get it in time for Christmas. In two weeks, when he had not arrived, I called the company. I was told that they were out of that particular type but they could upgrade me to a machine twice as nice for another $150. I was now over $400 but from their sales pitch, it sounded pretty good. A couple of weeks later, I received a beat up old HP laptop with a broken switch and dead batteries that would not charge. I called and they said that I could send it back if I wanted less any charges that the business had entailed such as shipping and handling or let them hand pick me out an even better Dell laptop and send it to me. I had to pay all shipping charges for sending mine back however. To get it back in time, I sent mine two day for over $50. I was now pushing $500. In the mean time, I found a Gateway with twice the stuff in it at Walmart for $400. The Dell that I recieved just before Christmas was a 6 yr old model but it does work. I then discovered that I could have purchased a brand new one from Dell for a little over $400.

I then went to purchase my other daughter a camera. I went to a site called ShopUSA which claimed to screen website companies for the best buys. I found a very nice buy of the one that she wanted from Budgetphoto. ShopUSA gave them a five star rating with over 5000 glowing reviews. I purchased the camera and was sent a email asking me to call the company to verify. I was first left on hold for around 15 minutes. While on hold, the voice told me that they strove to have the best customer service around. They said if you have any problems, please let them know as customer satisfaction was their job one. The voice at the other end of the line said, "Yea, can I help you?". I explained about my purchase and my email. He then said "hold on". This happened twice more until he said that he was having problems with his computer. He had no personality that I could tell. He then asked me for my order number. I gave it to him and he said that I needed to verify what was in the order. I went over the package item by item and when I got to the last (mp4 player), I asked him what an mp4 player was. Only then did I realize that no one was on the other line. A phone started to ring. It rang for around 3 minutes. I was then put on hold again for about 10 minutes. Since I had placed the order, I did not want to mess it up, so I patiently waited. A voice came on saying "how can I help you?". I told him I was not sure how he could and explained in detail how my phone call had been going. uncaring, he said "I'm sorry, can I verify your order. I said, certainly and gave him my number.

He went over the order with me and then said, "Would you like to order batteries?". Shocked, I said, "you mean it doesnt come with batteries? It comes with a case, two lenses, two tripods, a cleaning kit, and lens protectors but no batteries?". "You bought the cheap set." he explained, "What do you expect?". "Batteries.", I returned. "Well, the cheap set does not come with them." I asked how much and he said $160 each (I later discovered that they could be bought from the manufacture for $40. He then asked me if I wanted a charger for another $160. I now had had enough. I told him how I felt his company had baited me. He merely said, "If you don't like to deal, cancel it." I promptly did. He said, "Fine, your cancel order number is the same as your order." He then hung up.

I was fit to be tied. I went on the ShopUSA site to put in my own review. I signed up to give reviews and had to go through a few of those pages where they try to sell you stuff until I was finally allowed to give my review. After I had finished and posted, I went back to the site only to find that my review had been ignored. They had the same 5008 glowing reviews. I then relized that the sites were in business with each other.

The moral of the story. Don't shop online unless you know for a fact that the company is a reputable one and know exactly what you are ordering.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Traveling Billboard

If you own a business, you know that the cost of advertising can be pretty substantial. When I first purchased the Jake's van, it was for that purpose but in a different way than it turned out. In my first winter at the new site, I worried about my sales, especially since the signage did not seem to be adequate (some people drove back and forth and still did not see it.). So, I came up with the idea of buying a van with large windows, placing the Jake's on both sides and the "We're still open" on the back. I would park it out on the road pointing inward towards the diner as kind of an arrow of sorts.

I searched the different styles and found that the window design on the Dodge/Chrysler suited me the best so I began looking for one (It had to be white). This became harder than I expected especially since I had a budget and a price in mind (no more than $15000). I looked and looked and tried making a deal with the Dodge lot but nothing seemed to fit. Every day, I drove by this one lot and saw the perfect one but the sign said $19,990 and I kept on going. One day, I drove into that lot and inquired on it. I was making a trip to Portland the next day. I had a price in mind and stuck to my guns on it. As the salesman went back and forth, I did not budge. I told him that my trip to Portland would probably find what I wanted. Then an idea came to me. "Would you take trade?", I asked. "What do you have in mind?", he came back. I explained to him that I owned Jake's and he said that he would check with the boss. He came back a few minutes later with a few more questions and before I knew it, I had my van....with a surprise on the side, a new account also. There lot had a sales meeting every month and they had not been happy with their existing restaurant (Slow food and uncaring attitude). I assured them that would not happen with us and talked them into calling in the order an hour ahead and I would have the food on the table when they walked in the door. I had a new van, they had a new meeting place just blocks from there lot, and the best thing was, their meetings would be paying for part of the monthly payment.

I had the signage placed on it and it turned out much better than I ever expected but I sooned realized that parking it out on the street was not going to work. I never realized just how much driving I do in one day. Back and forth to school for my grandson, going out for supplies or repairs, meetings with the accountant or insurance agent, or just getting away. Then I began to notice people were noticing me and I realized the greatest part of the whole thing, I had a traveling billboard. I even had people follow me back to the diner. One group jumped out of their rigs as I parked and shouted gleefully, "We found you! We have been looking all over!".

But there was a downside also. I tend to not have the best focus when I am driving. I am often off in thought of what I need to do or how I can better the business and people will tell me that they wave, honk, and try and get my attention and I just keep on driving. Now, the ones that know me, know that I don't mean to ignore them but I am sure that their are others who might not and I hope that they don't see me as ignoring them. And then their is the problem of when you don't focus well and make a mistake like pulling out in front of someone. That can be very detrimental when you are trying to increase your customers. I imagine them looking at the van that just cut them off and saying to themselves, "I will never eat there!".

I recalled a few years back when my kids were in Cascade Junior High. These were the days before round abouts and as I pulled out on to the road to Bachelor, I looked in my rear view mirror just as the car behind me that I had cut off, slammed on its brakes and narrowly missed hitting me. The car pulled into the Cascade lot behind me and a very large man stepped out and walked up the side of my car. His bulk filled my mirror and my mind raced. I imagined myself being pummeled by this big man right in front of my kids peers. I rolled down my window and with a gulp, said Hi. "I am sorry that I almost hit you.", he explained. "I wasn't keeping an eye on the road well, and you just ended up right in front of me.". I told him that it was me who had cut him off and that I was sorry. "Heck, no problem", the big man said, "I have done it myself before."

Just last week, another big man came across the diner floor and stopped me. "I owe you an apology.", he said. "Why?", I asked. "I cut you off the other day with my car. I really didn't mean to.". And I quickly realized that the driving thing can go both ways. With little deja vue in my head, I shook his hand and said, "Heck, no problem. I have done it myself before."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lars Larson

My daughter talked me into going out with her the other night to the Village Grill. KBND was having a party there in honor of Lars Larson doing his show there for the day.

We arrived right at 6PM and found the place totally packed. Looking around, we noticed an old friend, Dave Butler standing off to the side so we stood with him and waited. Some people invited us over to sit with them so we were able to get off of our feet and watched the football game while we waited for the festivities to begin.

I heard Carrie say "There he is." and I looked up to see Lars coming straight for us. He walked over and stuck out his hand and said, "Thanks for coming!". Now I measure a man very much by his handshake and his was very firm and assuring. Kind of one that says, "I mean what I say". We talked for a couple of minutes and Dave gave him something that his wife, BJ had put together for him. Dave had met Lars a few years ago at a celebrity baseball game. I stated that I wished that I had brought my camera so I could take a picture and put it up on the wall of the diner. Lars said, " I'll give you a picture" and turned to his assistant who gave him one. He signed it and told me that when he and his wife, Tina came to town again that he will try and get by to see me. We shook hands again and the shake said to me that he meant it.

I have met quite a few celebrities in my time but few as nice and down to earth as him. His picture now graces my celebrity wall.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

You had a great year, Cougars!

Every game day, the team would roll into the diner in the morning for Game Day Breakfast. As the year progressed and they remained undefeated, my crew came to really enjoy them when they came in. For all you parents, they were always very well manered and a true joy to serve.

One game away from the championship, they ran into the other undefeated team, West Albany. I worried that morning how things would go. A pass to drive over and little time to prepare for the game. Those are not excuses, however, as West Albany was very up for this one and very much prepared.

Congratulations to a great team and a great group of guys. Congratulations to Coach Neil, you will be missed and hard to replace.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Seniors

I woke up early thanksgiving day. There were so many things going through my mind. So many last minute details to attend to. I knew Jimmy would already be hard at work in the kitchen cooking Turkey. I admitted to myself how it would be impossible to do this task without him Jimmy had been working from sunup to sundown everyday of the week. This was his favorite project. It had actually started many years ago in his own restaurant in Calistoga, CA. We have merely taken his original idea and embelished it, adding our own unique flavor to it. The meal is basically an "at cost" meal for seniors. Our goal is give them a great meal for the very best price and to be the family for any senior that is around that does not have one close by. One of the important things there is the entertainment and I was very proud our especially our first act this year. A young 14 yr old Classical guitarist named Travis Johnson. He has won awards all over the Pacific Northwest and he and his siblings were to play the first hour and a half of the event.

Judy and I arrived shortly after 9 AM and began the preparations for the serving area. A couple of our regulars had joined Jimmy in the kitchen and were helping him with some of the food prep. All were having quite a gay time up until around 11:45 when the first customers began to arrive. I quickly realized that we were not prepared in ways that we needed to be prepared. We had not given ourselves enough time to properly train the volunteer serving staff and they were arriving the same time as the customers. The same went for the preparation of home deliveries. My daughter, Carrie, who was the greeter arrived to quite a few seniors wondering where they could sit. Judy helped Carrie while I set up the servers in their positions and helped the delivery drivers prepare their deliverys. I quickly realized a couple of problems that needed to be changed next year. One was to prepare the deliverys at off hour times and the other was that I had booked to many people. Originally, we had set for 50 customers per hour but when I saw empty tables, I tried to fill them and we ended up with more like 60 plus. By the time we got all of the first hour set and beginning to eat, the second hour was upon us. I could see the stress getting to both Judy and Carrie and saw Carrie actually break down and start to cry. People were all around her pointing to their name on her sheet and asking why they could not be sat. I quickly gave her a hug and kiss and told her she was doing just fine which seemed to help.

It was also a while into the first hour before I realized that the young classical guitarist had not shown up. With all of the hectic suroundings, I am not sure that any of the seniors even realized it however. Our next act, Mike, wondered if any of the seniors would hear him through the din, but I assured him that it wouldnt matter that if they saw him playing it would be equal to the same. They would just appriciate the fact that he was there serving them.

Wave after Wave of seniors came through the door and before we knew, it was 3PM and the Singing Sousas had shown up. Jeannie Sousa and family have entertained our seniors for three years now and were big hits especially when they walked through the crowd and sang.

As I dropped into a routine, my fears subsided and I began really listening to happy seniors that were so very much appriciative. Over and Over, Judy and I were given handshakes, hugs, and thanks. Everybody seemed to be having a grand time. One of our greatest compliments were that it felt just like family which is exactly what we were attempting to do. Others were so happy to see the young children of one of our helpers serving them also. The youngsters were equally getting valuable experience of real life that should stay with them for quite some time.

Now the day was a special day in another light was my wife Judy's birthday. Now she is Australian and so the Thanksgiving holiday does not have as much meaning to her as it does us but she relished serving the seniors and I could see that in her eyes. At one point, the Sousas sang her Happy Birthday. I went over right afterwards and planted a kiss on her. The oos and ahs and claps from the crowd of seniors were what you would expect from a younger crowd. I could really tell right then that these seniors were truely enjoying their time with us.

Five oclock came with our food nearly gone. We served the last group of seniors and then sat down to feed ourselves. The wives in one of our delivery groups were still busy hustling around serving and cleaning and refused to sit down until they were finished.

All in all, we served right around 350 seniors with invaluable help from old and new found friends. I am so thankful for them all. Jimmy, who worked so hard to prepare the food. His daughter, Paula who lovingly worked alongside of him. Dale and Mark, two of our newer cooks along with Mark's Daughter who served in the kitchen. The mother, father, and daughter whos names escape me (I am so bad with names) who jumped in and served food. The brothers Zack and Jake who also served. Frank, my best friend who walked around and kept people laughing and happy. His son, Chaz who helped serve. Cindy and Tyler who went wherever they were needed. My buddy Richard who represented the American Legion and served the pies. The deliver families of Al and Gary. Al's sons helped serve afterwards and Gary's wife and daughter were so incredible. And then our children and grandson, Casey, Carrie, and Jayden. I also need to give a special thanks to some of our suppliers that donated some of the food that fed the seniors. Thanks to Franz Bakeries, Sysco Foods, and Food Services of America. It was so neat to have their willing help.

Looking back, I do have one regret, however. I had relied on a helper to pick up a lady for the first hour. I was to take her back afterwards. I didnt take anyone back home so I wonder if she was even picked up and all of the paperwork is now gone. If she did not get picked up, I feel so bad and hope that I can find out who she is so that I can try and make it up to her.

So ended the day. 350 people, up from 220 the year before. Can we top that next year? Maybe if I start an hour earlier. Or if I stick by my original 50 per hour. But for now, we crawled into our beds tired.....but a happy and satisfied tired.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Veteran's Day Chili Cook Off

This years cook off was a week later than Veterans day but with more participants and that meant more competition.

Last year, Jimmy had won third place in the red chili and first place in the green and he was anxious to join the fray again. He had been trying out different meat grinds and collecting all of his needed ingredients and was there early on Saturday morning to get started.

The day was cold and rainy and we gladly shared a tent with our American Legion buddies that kept the wind off of our backs and the rain off of our heads.

At around 1PM, the samples were taken to the Judges and the people began to sample all of our creations. The VVA's chili was definitely the hottest with my mouth burning for hours afterwards.

At 2PM, we were called in for the results and Jimmy received second place in both categories. At one time, I offered to share secrets with one of the groups. "You tell me your secret ingredient and I will tell you mine:, I quipped. When they agreed, I pointed over to Jimmy and said, "My secret ingredient is the big guy over there with the chili apron on!".

Congratulations Jimmy!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A week off

I know that I haven't posted much lately and there is a reason. First off, I think I was going at it to hard and as one person told me, I needed to step back a little. So....Judy and I left last Sunday for the good ole Oregon coast and it was a well worth trip.

We have been to the coast every year for the past 21 years at least one time a year. It all started the year that Jake's Restaurant changed to Jake's Diner. I had put in some pretty long hours those first few months so Jake gave me the use of his condo at the Inn of Otter Crest. My young family had a time of their life that weekend and it started the trend. Now, every time I need to get away, that is where I go.

And true to form, we found places and saw things we had not seen before. There always seem to be something new or changing there and the weather was unbelievable for just about any time there. The first two days, the temp was in the 70's.

Tuesday afternoon, we were driving south of Newport and drove by a sign that read "Helicopter rides for $39". We pulled in only to find the building closed up. Because Judy was very excited about the prospect, I called the number and talked to the man. I asked him when the best time to go up would be and he said right now. I told him that it was too bad he was closed. "Heck, I'm not closed, I am just working on my computer.", He explained. I told him we were parked outside and he invited us in to show us around. One very small bubble type copter was all that was parked outside his office. He showed us his list of tours and we decided on the whale watching tour as he promised that we would see a few whales.

I must admit that I was a little nervous starting out. After all, the three of us just barely fit in the small plastic bubble sitting on top of what looked like an old V8 engine. There was a see through bubble type door on our side but nothing on the pilots side (He seemed to be hanging out a little). I let Judy sit on the outside and took the little jump seat in the middle with my head grazing the top of the plastic sphere. My knees seemed to be in the way of the pilots instruments as he switched on switches and pulled levers in readiness of flight. At first try the engine gasps but did not turn over. "A little cold.", he explained. A little cold! It was in the 70's outside! With a bigger draw on the choke, the engine caughed and came to life. The whole machine shook as he revved up the engine and we prepared to lift off.

I held my breath as he gave it the gas and we began to lift off. We just slowly rose and it really wasn't that bad. It was kind of like being suspended in air without any feeling of real movement (other than the shaking) or like being on a tram. We rose from the tarmac and flew out to the beach. He then turned north and past the coastline of Newport showing us the various parts of the Newport coastline. It was seeing something that we had seen many times before but from a totally different perspective. As we flew over the place where it had all started 21 years ago, we noticed something on the beach below Otter Crest that we had never known before. On the rocks below were a huge group of seals. Just north of there we flew over Whale cove and the vacation home of Bill Gates. After finding a few whales and flying all around Depoe Bay, the pilot turned back south and along the coastline from the land side giving us yet another perspective. He landed the shuddering bubble back at the Newport field and waited for the block to cool so that he could shut down the engine. I did not realize that the blocks temperature while we were in flight was above 600 degrees and he needed to get it down to 300 before shutting down.

In all, the flight was around an hour and was so well worth it. It was truly the highlight of a great week . We drove to Otter Crest right after the flight and got an up close with the seals. The week finished just like it started with sunny skies as we left the coast behind till the next time. I am now back to work and rested up, ready to charge into what ever comes up.

And speaking of what is coming up, we are almost into November and getting close to our annual Thanksgiving Senior Outreach. I am still looking for a couple more singers and volunteers so if you are interested, please call me at 419-6021

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What it feels like to be robbed

They didnt get much so I guess I should be thankful and count my blessings. I have also found a couple of weak links in my security that I have fixed. But that does not take away from the weird feeling that you get when someone destroys your property and breaks into your space.

Sunday morning around 12:30, the security company called me and alerted me that one of my alarms had gone off. At first, I thought that I had just screwed up and not set things properly since I was the one who closed up that night so I told them to not worry about calling the police. They told me to be careful and I said, no problem. But as I raced down to the diner, I began wondering. As I got closer, I punched 911 into my cell and prepared to hit send, when I saw the police. They had already been called and had beaten me to the scene. They asked me to stay in my car until they were sure that the area was secure.

I am so thankful for the Bend PD who were on the scene so quickly. We took a look at the security cameras and watched the hooded bandit casually cut the chain on the fence and just as casually the lock on the freezer. He walked into the freezer, picked up a box and walked out in no hurry. Twice, he came back and was probably walking back for a fourth load when he saw the police arriving. His car was parked in the trailer park behind the diner and he got in his car and slowly drove away just like he was leaving a friends house. He was so casual, that he looked normal to the police who although took note of the type of vehicle, did not get the liscense. After bringing in the K9 unit, the dog walked them over to where the car had been parked.

Both Judy and I slept little that night. We werent worried about what we had lost as much as the horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that some one had done what they had done. For crying out loud, if they were hungry, I would have probably given them food. You really have to have it happen to understand the feeling. It is certainly not a feeling that anyone would want to have.

But I did learn a valuable lesson on how secure we really were. Immediate steps were taken to rectify the situation and I can only hope that the man on the video is caught soon.

Musicians Needed

Are you looking for something really neat to do this holiday season for someone else? Do you have a free hour on Thanksgiving afternoon?

Then consider joining us for Jake's Third Annual Senior Thanksgiving Feast. Our goal is to be the family for seniors in the area who for whatever reason don't have theirs around. Last year we served over 200 seniors an "at cost" meal served by an all volunteer staff. All tips given for the day are collected and given to the Salvation Army for use in the Holiday for needy people in the area. Last year, we collected around $350.

Here is how it works:

Jake's shuts down for normal operations on Thanksgiving. This allows for our employees who wish to to be with their families. Jim, our Chef, along with kitchen volunteers, prepares an old fashion Thanksgiving meal. Reservations are taken weeks in advance setting places for 50 seniors per hour allowing for a comfortable hour long food and entertainment event. One of our counters is cleared off and set with Finger Foods and Salads while the other is set for Pies. The seniors come up and get what they want of the finger foods and salads and then are served by another volunteer their main course of a choice of Turkey or Ham, Mash Potatoes, Stuffing, and Vegetable along with their choice of beverage. To top off the meal, they are served their choice of a wide variety of pie for desert.

Here is where the Musicians come in. While they are being served their meals, they are also being sang to by a volunteer musician. You can either sit in the corner and perform or walk amongst the guests. Acoustic is preferred and you will not need an amp.

What I can offer you in return is a huge Thanksgiving meal that you can eat with us or take with you and the great feeling that you will get from entertaining the seniors. We have lost one of our musicians from last year and are hopeful but have not verified that the Singing Sousas will return (they have entertained both of the first two years).

Think it over and if you are interested, call me at 419-6021

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

World Series of Holdem for Habitat Results

Wow, I am tired. I didnt realize how much energy I was putting into this thing until it was over. I had been fighting a bug of some sorts the last few days but taking mega amounts of echanachia and running on adrenaline the last few days, we have finally come to the end of this big event. In the middle of the event last night, I began to shake and thought that it was just my blood sugar so I ate a cheese sandwich to bolster that up but right afterwards when cleaning up, I felt very drained. I went home and soaked in a bath while drinking a cold beer and then crawled into bed. A couple of hours later when my wife came to bed, I awoke and realized that my heart was pounding and as I lay there, felt a feeling that I have felt before. My 55 year old body was telling me that I had pushed it too far again. I stuggled for half a night before I was able to calm it back down enough to sleep (maybe I should take yoga or something). Anyway, Judy went off to run the restaurant this morning and I slept in until now. Enough on that, on to the good stuff.

Yesterday started off with a check of the Z21 news and when I saw that they had put my name and number up on the screen, I knew that I would be getting a few calls during the day. I jumped in the shower knowing that shortly, my buddy RL from KSJJ would be calling for an update and figuring that I had the time for a quick shower before that happened. Right after a quick soap up, the phone rang. I quickly turned off the water and grabbed the phone that nearly squirted out of my soapy hand and standing in the shower, all suds up, I gave the interview. I realize for anyone who heard it, I have probably just just totally grossed you out.

After getting ready, I had not even made to the car before the first call came and I began endless explanations of how they could not play in this tourney but we do this every Monday so please join us.

The first caller asked me where we played. "Jake's", I answered. "Where?" she asked again. "Jake's", I again said. "But they are closed down!" she explained surprised. "Not yet." I answered and then heard someone on her end of the line explaining to her where we were at. It is funny. It has been three years and still some people think we are closed.

The day was somewhat of a blur with last minute details tied in with normal operations and duties of the diner. I was very glad when my buddy Frank showed up around 5:30 as I was able to turn over the duties to him so that I could help out the waitresses in the diner which was very busy especially for a Tuesday night. Our third partner, Richard showed up with his team from American Legion that would help control blind raises and cash in chips when they were raised but was somewhat disappointed when no one from Habitat showed up. One of our regular players, Conche, was the man who took us over $8000 and was awarded two free meals for his endevour.

With a few thank yous and introductions, the game began. Everyone wore a name tag with a star for every previous win that they had. At our prize table sat the variety of prizes and the coveted gold hat for the winner.

Twenty nine players started in the game. By my figures, that took us to $8190 for our grand total. My son, Casey, who was the winner of the previous big tourney that we had back in June, was the first person out. Shortly behind him went Brice, the self proclaimed only undefeated player. (He only played once and won)

I was playing pretty steady with my chip count rising the same. I remember one hand where a guy across from me pushed the bet up substantially. I had a pretty good hand and stared at him wondering what one of the pros would do. What would they look for? He glance over at me and dropped his eyes as he saw my stare. Wow, could that be it? Could that be the tell that shows he is bluffing. I quickly pushed in my chips and called his bluff. Maybe it was going to be my night.

The blinds went up a few times and I found my self in the small blinds with a jack/eight. I limped in and ended up with only me and the big blind, Stan. On the flop came another Jack and another Eight. I checked to Stan who quickly bet and I called. On the turn came another Jack (I had my full house). But I wanted more chips so I checked to Stan who once again bet and I called. On the river came a King. I studied the cards on the table over and over. There was a possibility of a flush but I had that beat. The only pocket that could beat me was pocket Kings or a Jack/King and three of the Jacks were already up. With confidence, i pushed all in. Stan followed and I slammed down my pocket. "A full house!", I yelled. Stan slowly flipped over his Jack/King to my total shock. Left with only enough to cover the blinds and a King/Queen in my pocket, I played the next hand and was beaten by Four Sevens! I believe I ended up in 15 or 16th place.

As I played, I watched what I felt were my favorite players playing side by side. Leslie James and my fellow blogger, Monkeyinabox (I will let him divulge his name if he wishes.). At their table was the youngest player in the game, the surprising 12 yr old Issac (Stan's grandson). I had looked up the law on this and made a few phone calls and since there is no money won, it is kind of like when a bowling alley rewards coupons that the kids cash in for prizes. Issac has already showed us his ability to play by winning a previous tourney.

I watched as the final table became set with Leslie (whos shocking all ins had held her up all night), Monkey, and Issac joined up with father and son, Bob and Rob Head (who love to get into your head), Jimmy (the exbarber), Brian, and Mike. Mike then Jimmy and then Brian went out, leaving the trio up against the duo Heads. Surprisingly, Rob took out his dad and then was taken our shortly thereafter by the kid, Issac. That left the trio that I had been watching all night. Monkey was the first to drop and shortly thereafter, the kid took out Leslie. Yes, the first World Series of Holdem for Habitat was won by a 12 year old boy who will enjoy the coast with his parents compliments of the Sandcastle Motel and Jake's. Unbelieveable

Monday, October 1, 2007

World Series of Holdem for Habitat first night

I spent most of the day either promoting and getting prizes for tomorrow nights event and as the hour go closer, I set the back room up for tonights preliminary event: The Prequalification Tourney. Leslie James (from the Twins) showed up with her husband and as the time grew closer more and more other players showed up. We ended up with four tables. Each having three previous winners who could not win tonight but would make the play more competitive.

Keisha Burns from KTVZ showed up and filmed the first part of the event. I was hoping she would play also but was quite happy and honored to have her there and to know that we would be on the news. Joe (formerly of Fox and now KOHD) showed up to play as a previous winner also.

At the last minute players asked Frank and I to play also so we obliged, sat at tables, and the play began. Since Richard and John from the American Legion were there for blind raises, we were free to play. Richard and John were representing the Operation Home Build that the funds will be targeted to.

All you girls will be happy to know that two of the four qualifiers were women and for all you bloggers, one qualifier is a blogger (monkeyinabox). The night was quite fun and finished quicker than normal as all of the tables played as a final table.

Tomorrow's event should be great with three to four tables and some great prizes from Jake's, Printer Resources, Kings Razor, Lava Lanes, Shell Stop and Go, and of course the grand prize from the Sandcastle Motel in Lincoln City. Just before we started, we were informed that the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City had donated two dinners to the pot and we decided to add those to the grand prize.

Congratulations to the qualifiers and a special thanks to all of the businesses that support us. Tomorrow night will be a great success and will bring our grand total to over $8000 raised for Habitat.

Friday, September 28, 2007

World Series of Holdem for Habitat Grand Prize

This is the grand prize for the Tuesday night. Be there Monday to qualify for Tuesday (unless you have already won a previous tourney. Leslie James and hubby have already signed up to play on Monday.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Long Drive

I was up most of the night on Friday night. You see, Judy and Casey were trying to get back from their Alaska. They were flying standby and found themselves struggling to get on a plane since the season in Alaska was finishing up and many were leaving. At 2:30 AM, they finally managed to get a flight to Seattle. The called early Saturday and said that all of the flights to Central Oregon were either cancelled or booked. They finally got on a flight to Eugene. I looked at their options from there and found that they would have to wait all day long until 5PM to fly out to Redmond. They boarded the flight to Eugene and I sat their on the computer trying to figure out how to get them home sooner. They were both very tired after being up for the last 24 hours.

I was driving to Eugene later in the day to the game with my grandson, Jayden. I didn’t really want to take two trips over but the more I sat their, the more I knew that was the best thing to do. So, I quickly picked up Jayden and off we went. As I approached Sisters, I decided to take the short cut and go over the McKenzie. It is slower going but can cut off 30 minutes or so. As I started up the road, I noticed a small yellow sign on the side of the road that cautioned drivers to watch for bikers. I saw a few bikers ahead of me and thought that maybe there was some local event going on. As we passed the bikers, Jay begins to count them. The closer to the top we got, the more bikers we came across. At the top, there was a guard and a large van with Bike Oregon on the side. "Oh, No!” I thought. I had seen this event once before and there are usually thousands of bikes. As we started down the other side of the hill, we started coming in to more and more bikes. Even though they were on the other side of the road, they were constantly some of them giving me the slow down sign. I tried to obliged but got somewhat flustered myself when going down a straight stretch at 30 mph, being drafted by bikers and still getting the "slow down" sign. I later realized after talking to a friend who drove the same road that many bikes were giving all of the cars the same sign and were merely trying to alert all cars to what they are about to come across. As I started into the switch backs, I slowed way down to around 15mph. I was constantly watching for bikers who would come across the middle line into my path, especially after the turns. I approached a switchback and noticed many bikers yelling and waving. I then noticed a van going the other way, passing them right on the blind switchback. I stopped and pulled over as far as the road would allow. As the van approached, it rolled down it's window. I did the same and was waiting for a friendly, "Boy, did we pick the wrong day to go on this road." Instead, I was face to face with an angry man screaming, "Slow down! Can't you see there are bikes on the road?” Now, I am the one stopped and he is the one passing them on the blind corner.

I struggled to keep a good perspective on my drive. I was going slow. I was going the other way. They were the ones crossing the line. I had to watch for them. I wanted them to have a good time but I wanted my ability to motor also. I watched as bikers raised their hands in a fist and yelled as I went by. "What in the world! I thought. I lowered my window to respond when I realized what they were yelling. "Truck!” They were merely warning the bikers behind them that my mini van was coming along. No problem! I felt much better and continued on my way. I was even ok with it, when I approached a stopping point for them and had bikers in my lane working on their bikes. I merely weaved my way through it all and continued. It was 11AM when I arrived back on the Santiam over two hours after I had started over it.

I drove to Eugene, picked up Judy and Casey and then called my eldest daughter, Carrie to have her meet us somewhere along the way. It was evident that there was no way that I could make it back to Eugene in time for the game any other way. As I drove back to Bend, I ran across car after car sporting their Ducks gear going to the game. "This could be us." I thought since I had originally planned to spend the afternoon knocking around the stadium with Jay. We met Carrie at Black Butte Ranch and set back out for the game.

We arrived back in Eugene thirty minutes before kick off only to find that our usual parking place (Williams Bakery) was no more. We drove around and quickly decided on what I thought was a similar good spot close to one of the walking bridge. But, the stadium was much further past that bridge than I expected. Jogging part of the way, we finally reached the stadium just minutes before kick off. Our seats were in section 6 on the 6th row. I was looking forward to good seats but was soon to realize that they were great seats. Front row, right on the goal line and with only two other seats on the row. And it only gets better. The Ducks scored three times in the first quarter, all of them right in front of us. As the third quarter marked the shut out, Ahmad Rashad (Bobby Moore to those who remember) walked in front of us and waved at the crowd as he left the stadium.

Topping the birthday weekend off with a trip to Toys R Us, we headed back towards home. We stopped in Springfield at Albertsons for a snack along the way and as we walked back to the van, we heard someone yell, “Jake’s Diner, Bend, Oregon…..Go Ducks!” Jay answered them with a large “Quack” on his quacker and off we went. As we drove, I noticed a line of red lights in front of us and looking in the rear view mirror, a steady line of headlights. We felt good traveling back home with a group of Duck fans.

The next Monday afternoon, I picked up Jay from school. “Did you tell your buddies about our great seats on Saturday?”, I asked. “No, I forgot.”, he replied. “But I told them we went to Toys R Us!”. Ahh….the important things in life to a 9 yr old.

Friday, September 21, 2007

World Series of Holdem for Habitat

Have been extremely busy lately but will be back on with some posts as soon as possible. Here is the PSA sent out for the coming event:

PSA – Jake’s Diner, Bend Area Veterans, and Habitat for Humanity will be partnering for this event.

Event Name: World Series of Holdem for Habitat

Where: Jake’s Diner

When: October 1st and 2nd.

Time: Signups begin at 5PM and play begins at 6:30PM

Cost: $5 on the first night and $10 on the second. All proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity and will be targeted to Operation Home Build.

The second night is the main event. To qualify, you must be a winner of a previous tourney. The first night is to help those who have not qualified or have not played before to have a chance to play in the main event.

On the first night, every table will be considered a final table and will have a winner who will qualify for the main event (if the winner of the table is already qualified, the 2nd place finisher will qualify).

On the main event night, the winner of the tourney will win two nights on the Oregon coast right on the beach at the Beautiful Sandcastle Motel (part of the prize has been donated by the Sandcastle).

Other businesses who have donated prizes for the Holdem for Habitat events include Jake’s Diner, Printer Resources, Kings Razor, Lava Lanes, and the Shell Stop & Go.
For further information, please contact Lyle Hicks at 419-6021

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mean People

I run into mean people at times but this week, I had three in two days. Now that is not a thing I enjoy.

On Friday, a lady came in and ordered the all you can eat salad bar. It was a little early and the lettuce was not on the salad bar yet. She complained to the waitress who quickly got the lettuce in it's place and gave the lady another plate to put it on. The lady decided not to but as she left, grabbed a to go container and began filling it with items off of the salad bar. Judy told her that was not allowed and that all you can eat means all you can eat while you are here. She ignored her and continued to fill up her container. She was just about to leave when I was called. I stopped her as she closed her container and stated the same thing that Judy had. She complained bitterly about their not being any lettuce on the salad bar. I told her that I understood and that I would allow her to take it this time since she already had it but in the future, it would not be allowed. Her son came along and grabbed the container out of her hand and gave it to me. He said that they did not want anything from me and that they would not be coming back. I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. As I threw the container in the trash, I noticed that it had NO lettuce in it. Her complaint was that she could not get lettuce but when she filled up her container, it was with everything but lettuce. Minutes later, I was called up to the cashier to the same lady. She was demanding a refund for no lettuce. I smiled and told her no and this time her daughter was the angry one and they told me off and left. We have a group of retired doctors who come in and drink coffee who watched it all with interest. "Why didn't you tell her to get the hell out and not come back!", one of them joked. "I cant do that", I answered, "I wont do that.....but maybe Judy will.". They all laughed and I felt better about the situation. As I walked back into the waitress area, they all thanked me for handling the situation. It seems that no one likes to wait on these customers since that run them ragged, often complain and ask for discounts, and very rarely tip.

The very next morning, some ladies were in. One of them ordered an omelet with Swiss cheese in it. We buy our Swiss pre-sliced and they put paper in between the slices. Sometimes it is hard to see as it is the same color as the cheese. The cook overlooked it and did not take the paper off or as sometimes happens there were two slices of paper. Whatever happened, the lady had the paper in her omelet and complained to the waitress. The waitress offered to make her another omelet and she agreed. Upon returning with the omelet, the lady refused it and said that she had now lost her appetite at which time I was brought into the problem. I listened and then explained to the ladies what the paper was and that it was completely sterile or it would not have been on the cheese. I told her that I understood but she had requested that they redo the omelet and we had done so. For that, I was going to have to charge. If she had refused the omelet in the first place, I would not have. I was called up to the cashier shortly and a younger lady at the table (assuming daughter or something) began to tell me what kind of total jerk that I had been and that my customer service skills were horrible and that I should have just left it to the waitress. I listened and told her that I was sorry that she took it that way and that it was not meant that way as she continued to berate me. She told me that it was obvious from how busy that we were that I cared less about her and she knew that her not coming back would not hurt us but that all of the bad things that she was going to tell others about us certainly would. I listened to all that she had to say as customers walked by and looked our way. She finally got angry, spun around, and went back to her table. As I started to leave, a man in the line looked at me and said, "I guess she told you!". "Yes", I grinned, "I guess she did!" "We love you, Lyle and our food was great!" "Jake's is great and we love it!" he explained. "Does that make you feel any better?" "Yes" I thanked him. The waitress came by later and thanked me. "For what?", I asked. "They said they felt sorry for me for having such a horrible boss and they tipped me $10." She happily explained.

Not minutes later, a man refused to show his ID to the cashier for his credit card so I was brought back up. "This is America, I don't have to show anything", He said. "This is Jake's and yes you do if you want to use a credit card.", I explained, "I am trying to protect you also, there has been far to much identity theft going on." He angrily threw down cash and stated that he would not return. I apologized and left the station. The cashier later told me that after I left, the man told her that his ID said something other than the name on the card but he had had no problem at other places with it.

The thoughts of a mean person is an interesting contemplation. Are they mean because they think they can get something in return for it? Or is it because they are insecure and this is a way they try to overcome the insecurity? Or do they think that others are just out to get them and they need to stick up for themselves? Or are they just arrogant and think that they are owed? Many possible reasons come to mind and that makes me feel sorry for them.

But for whatever reasons, I find myself getting less tolerant of mean people and am thinking of putting up a sign like I saw at Trade N Tools that states that a $5 service charge would be charged to all mean people. But maybe that would just make them meaner.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

another day has passed

After seeing Judy and Trinity off for Portland very early, I managed a little sleep the rest of the night (it is hard to sleep when she is not next to me) and drove into the restaurant around 9:30 with my grandson in tow.

I found one of the cooks out back and he looked quite hot. "Everything OK?", I asked. "It is suffocating in that kitchen", he said, "I don't think the main fan is working." I wondered why in the world someone hadn't called me....I mean the cook on the line was to new but any of the others should have in the least. With his help, I climbed up on the roof and fixed the fan belt on the exhaust fan and handled that somewhat messy problem quite quickly.

As I walked into the main part of the diner, someone handed me my dvd player. The swing crew the night before had knocked it off of the pie case and broke it. I pulled the one from the back room up and it didn't want to work. So...I opened the back up that I had just bought from Walmart and it wouldn't work either. frustrated, I gave up and decided to stop by a shop later and pick one up.

I called the insurance company for my house who had sent me a cancellation notice the day before to apologize for the over looked bill that was probably somewhere on my desk...who knows where...I do remember seeing it. After going through the automated system and having it hang up on my twice, I finally got a person but didn't realize that the main room had filled up and had to truncate the call to help out on the floor.

People were sitting at dirty tables quicker than I could buss and I am pretty fast. To top that off, some of the food was not going out as fast as I wanted it too and I am sure that my frustration was showing. Looking at one ticket, I saw no drinks and the word "Marion berry", just written in the middle. When I finally got the waitresses attention, she said...."oh, yea, do we have any marionberry pie.". "I am sure that we do, but I will check." I found a Marionberry pie and brought it back to cut it. "Oh, no!", she cried, "Don't cut it yet, I am not sure if they want any." I took the pie back and began setting up plates on the pass bar. A few minutes later, I heard, "Have you cut that pie yet. These people are waiting on it." With dropped shoulders, I went back and retrieved the pie and cut off a slice.

By now, it was 11:30 and I had to get ready to take Jayden to soccer camp. In the mean time, I had emailing back and forth with Shelly (the movie producer). I was trying to get a second show for Thursday as the first one had sold out just hours after the paper hit the stand on Saturday. She was not able to get ahold of the person from McMenamins. Having not eaten anything yet (wait a minute, don't I work in a diner?!), I scooped up a bowl of Jimmy's Beef Stew off of the buffet and heading towards the counter, was stopped by the cashier who had a paper in her hand. One of the dishwashers wanted a $50 draw. "Not till I can be assured that she has it coming.", I remarked. Then I sat down and wolfed down the stew while discussing the situation with Jimmy. He was going to give her the draw whether or not she had it coming or not because he said he needed her to work. I started to lecture that most other places don't give draws at all but just ended up saying that I was not going to give anything that had not already been earned. Before I could find out the info, he had given her fifty from his wallet. My time was up and I quickly grabbed up the grandson and off to camp.

After dropping him off, I drove down to Mcmenamins and they gave me the cell number of the manager that we needed to talk to. I was able to reach him and discover that their was no chance for anymore shows on Thursday night. Maybe in the future but not at this time. Disappointed, I called the cashier up to have her start calling the names on the list and letting them know that their would only be one show. She had over 70 on the list by now and there were many more who said that they would be coming in early to get a seat in the first show.

I started her calling the people and letting them know. As I talked to her three or four groups and individuals came in for tickets. The cashier told me that this was the way it was all day. An email from Shelly said that she was sure that there will be enough room, but I was looking at many more people than tickets. At one time in the afternoon, I talked to three groups at the same time. One of them was close friends with Shelly's grandparents and had known her since she was a child.

The next few hours flew by and before I knew it, it was time to pick up Jayden from Soccer camp. I picked him up and drove to BiMart to look for a cheap dvd player. I found what I thought would work but all of their dvd players were up on the top shelf. I went over to the desk to find a lady deep in conversation on the phone. She turned away from me as I approached so I figured it was up to me to get the player. They were right above the TV displays. I checked to lower shelf and it was stable and I tried stepping on it and reaching one of the players. They were packed too tight but one was a jar off to the left so I shifted my foot that direction. Unfortunately, the bottom shelf did not go all the way to the wall. It broke off and they had a unstable shelf holding up their largest 30plus inch normal big heavy bulky set. The shelf came forward, my foot slipped off and the set came down on my toe. Smoke poured out of the back of the set and employees were there in seconds. (I guess that is one way to get help). The phone talker got off of the phone and immediately got the ladder out. "All I wanted was a dvd player", I explained. Fortunately, they didn't charge me for the busted TV and I said nothing about my bruised toe (still hurts). I left BiMart with a little less pride however.

I took my dvd player that had boldly written on it that it worked with jpeg pictures of which was all I wanted it for. I hooked it up in the diner and turned it on. It would show pictures but only if they were in one file and since mine are in many files to organize them, I quickly saw that this would not work.

Barb (swing cashier) was on by now and in one of her rare moods. She began complaining that their were not enough tickets for all to see. "I know", was all I could say. "Something needs to be done.", she said. "I know", I returned. "There is a ticket left in the envelope with a mans name on it.", she said. "I know", I explained. "There is no number on it to call him.", she said. "I know"..."Your wife did that." she informed. "I know"...this time, I retreated and walked away.

Later as I walked by her station, I noticed that the cinnamon rolls had not been wrapped yet. "Hey Barb, remember to wrap the cinnamon rolls.", I told her. She threw her arms up in the air. "I don't have time for it this instant!", she complained. "Ok, when you get the chance.", I calmly countered. "I Know!" she states, "I never forget to wrap them!", she angrily complains. I remind myself to stay out of her way figuring that it must be that time of the month or something.

I remember Jay having one just like the one that was busted so we went to his house and swapped out with him. Jay had been playing in the backroom while I ran out to my house to try out a old dvd player that I had there. Coming back in to the diner, the waitresses were busy and I started to tell Barb that Jay and I would be back shortly but decided that I would be better off just going.

After retrieving the dvd player from his house. I get a phone call from a waitress in somewhat of a panic. "Do you have Jay with you!", she said, "We cannot find him." I then realized that I should have told someone...anyone that I had picked him up. The whole place was in a panic looking for him. Arriving back at the diner, we put up his dvd player and it worked....problem finally solved.

But now the afternoon was gone and it was time to take Jay to soccer practice. I took him down to the field on the south side of town and called his mom to let him know that he was there and when to pick him up. I was looking forward to a very rare occurrence. The house to myself all evening long. I had the night planned out in my head. A good movie, a little Chinese, and a cold beer. I figured I would probably fall asleep on the couch before the movie finished.

My daughter answered but informed me that she had class that evening and that she had worked it out with me weeks ago for me to watch Jay. Dejected, I ran a couple of quick errands including taking the dvd player back to Walmart. I then returned and picked up Jay from practice.

Meanwhile Barb calls me to inform me that the dvd player is messing up and that one of the customers in upset because he thought I was going to save him a couple of tickets. I called a friend who I thought had bought too many tickets and he had a couple to spare. "I was going to scalp them outside.", he joked.

Jay and I decided to make a night of it and plan a sleep over. We picked up pizza, Root Beer, and a movie. Neither one of us made it through the movie. He is now asleep on cushions on the floor and me...well you can see where I am at. Just trying to wind down after another typical day at the diner.

BTW, the cashiers felt that there were a couple hundred people asking for tickets....the dvd player was working the last I looked at it ...and I got my insurance paid sometime during the day, I think.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Bulletin Article

The bulletin wrote an article on the up and coming movie but they placed it on their pay per view part of their website. I am posting it here so that relatives and friends of mine from outside of the area are allowed to read it. I am very grateful to David Jasper of the Bulletin for his writing of this article.

Vanishing Americana
Documentary chronicles a slice of old Bend
By David Jasper / The Bulletin

San Francisco filmmaker Shelly Roby made "Jake&'s Truck Stop," a documentary about the longtime Bend truck stop and the fight to save Jake's Diner.
Rob Kerr / The Bulletin

Jake’s Diner survived the 2004 closure of Jake’s Truck Stop in south Bend. In early 2005, it moved to its present location, shown here.
Rob Kerr / The Bulletin

Lyle Hicks, 54, stands outside the current home of Jake’s Diner. Hicks managed Jake’s Diner for 23 years before taking over as owner in 2004.

Patrons of the old Jake’s Diner can be seen in
“Jake’s Truck Stop,” a new documentary about the Bend landmark. The film screens Thursday at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
Start of Article:
Back in 2004, when long-haul rigs still rumbled through the Jake’s Truck Stop parking lot and owner Kim Wolfe had not yet announced the sale of the property, Shelly Roby applied for a waitressing job at Jake’s Diner.
Manager Lyle Hicks saw her résumé, and her heavy background in television production for the likes of MTV and Oprah.
“Are you trying to Punk me?” he wanted to know.
Funny he should ask. Roby wanted to film something, just not for the MTV prank show “Punk’d.”
Roby had come to Bend from the Bay Area to be among friends and take time off from television and demanding 12-hour workdays. Her dream was to move into filmmaking, not to wait tables at the truck stop, although truck stops had long intrigued her.
What Roby really wanted to do was make a documentary about a day-in-the-life of a truck stop.
“As soon as I found Jake’s, I could not help but do a story on the place. When I meet interesting and inspiring people — like the individuals at Jake’s, or find a unique place like Jake’s — it lights me up inside, knowing I need to capture their stories and share them with the rest of the world.”
She received a green light for the project from Hicks and Wolfe. When not at the sales job she took at KTVZ, she worked on her slice-of-life film.
A few months later, in September 2004, Wolfe announced the sale of the property. In short order, Hicks vowed to save the diner, and the jobs of its staff.
Roby soon returned to her one-woman film project and ended up with a documentary completely different from her original vision: “Jake’s Truck Stop,” screening Thursday at McMenamins (see “If You Go”), is a film about a dying institution and the slow erasing of old Bend.
Roby’s film offers footage of trucks trundling at night through lonely parking lots, and monologues of bearded drivers who feel like society’s black sheep. There are heartbroken employees wondering aloud about what they’ll do next as they prepare for the inevitable closure.
In short, her film captures the death throes of the truck stop in all its ragged glory.
But it is also the galvanizing story of Hicks, his loyal crew and their ardent efforts to save the diner.
As one of the blocks of white text that pop up now and then in the hour-long film reads, “This is a story about loss and the human will to go on.”
End of an era
For years, long-haul truckers in need of diesel fuel, and hungry locals in need of a brawny burger and a mound of chili cheese fries, pulled off South Highway 97 for a refill at Jake’s Truck Stop and Jake’s Diner. Hicks says the truck stop dated back to the 1930s, and operated under a few different names, the last of which was Bob’s. It became Jake’s in the mid-’70s.
Business boomed in the 1990s, but began to decline in the early ’00s with the opening of the Bend Parkway, diverting truck traffic away from Business 97.
Another factor, says Hicks: High gas prices in general and demands by large trucking organizations for cut-rate fuel prices — arrangements that larger truck-stop chains could accommodate — also siphoned off sales profits.
The truck stop portion of Jake’s closed in October 2004. The diner held out for six more months in that space, then moved to the east side of Bend.
Today, you can drive by the fenced-off property that was Jake’s and never know it — or its 80 employees — had been there.
The six-acre facility, which stood for three decades as Bend grew up around it, was demolished in the fall of 2005. A large sign on the chain-link fence at the corner of Highway 97 and Badger Road advertises the future: Pioneer Crossing, with its retail space for lease.
‘A lot of drama’
That the restaurant continues in its new home off U.S. Highway 20 today, with much of the same staff and customer base intact, is largely due to Lyle Hicks. Hicks managed Jake’s Diner for 23 years before the sale of the property was announced in 2004.
Hicks had to decide if and how he would become the diner’s owner.
“I had four weeks to decide whether I could do it, how I was going to do it, and then make the decision. The actual decision to make the change and buy the restaurant was made a little over a week before the actual closing of the restaurant,” he says. “If you open a restaurant and six months later you close it down, you lose more than you put into it.
“I knew everything we had was going to be on the line.” He went home to his wife, Judy, and said, “Do we do this or not?”
“She didn’t even hesitate … she said, ‘Do it.’ Because she believed in me.”
A friend who helped him crunch numbers told him, “If you don’t do this, you’re going to regret it the rest of your life.”
In an arrangement with the original location’s new owners, he signed a six-month lease, and survived a tough drop-off in customers who mistakenly believed Jake’s Diner had also closed. “We were going to go down fighting,” he says.
There had already been “a lot of drama,” when it became apparent he was going to move the business at the end of the lease.
The only place he could find that was the right fit, and that he could afford, was, in his words, “the worst location in town.” The space is obscured somewhat by a car lot and is set across Purcell Boulevard from Costco. Before Jake’s called it home, the spot had been host — or perhaps parasite — to a quick succession of failed restaurants.
Seated on the deck of his restaurant recently, Hicks reminisced about the dubious move. What he remembered from the business classes he took 25 years ago at Central Oregon Community College was the importance of “‘location, location, location,’” he said. “It went against all of that.”
Still, he leased the spot, and a cavalry from his church arrived in pick-up trucks to help him move the diner in April 2005. Others dedicated their free time to helping Hicks refurbish the place, and would accept payment only when Jake’s became profitable in its new home.
The restaurant was immediately full when it opened on tax day in 2005.
“Now that it is developed, and people know it is here, we have customers all the time from out of town” who find their way to the restaurant, Hicks says. Truckers, as many as six at a time, have found their way to the diner for a slice of history and pie.
“Ninety-nine percent of people that come in here really, really are happy. There are still a few who come in and say, ‘I miss the old place.’ And I totally understand that.”
“But as (Judy) told me when we moved over here, it’s just time for us to move on. And this is our home. The more they’re here, the more they get used to it, too. I hear it less than I used to hear it. When I first moved over here, I heard it a lot, ‘Oh, I miss the old place.’ Especially when they were tearing down the old place. That devastated everybody.”
‘It’s down-home’
Earlier this week, Jake’s was full of customers, some eating a late breakfast, others arriving for lunch.
Seated next to a tray of cinnamon rolls bigger than a human face, Jim Brumfield, the restaurant’s chef, was eating the daily special during his lunch break, and told of how truckers used to get the cinnamon rolls to go, “and they’d munch on those for the next thousand miles. They wanted something they didn’t have to stop and get again. So that’s why everything’s a little larger.”
Obviously, Brumfield worked at the old Jake’s. He says the place is just “down my alley. It’s down-home. I’ve not worked for any better boss.”
He and Hicks agree on giving back to the community, doing things like hosting a poker night for Habitat for Humanity, and an annual low-cost Thanksgiving dinner for the elderly. The latter is something Brumfield had done when he had a restaurant of his own in California.
“You want to do things heart-happy,” says Brumfield. “It’s a sad situation when you see a place close. The worst part was when you saw how there was so much life in the (old) building. For so many years that place was a happening place.”
He didn’t know what would happen in the new location, but “it just took off. There was such community support. It was phenomenal.”
In what seems to be Hicks’ patented style, he is self-effacing about the success. The community is what saved the restaurant, he says, “that wasn’t me.”
He also credits his family, friends and longtime supporters of Jake’s for getting him to go through with the scary proposition of taking over the business that had supported his family of five.
“It’s impossible. No way could I have done it without those kinds of people. No way could I have done it without the community support, because I would have gone under very fast.”
“I don’t know as I could have done anything different,” he says. “How do I put this? I almost feel like I was guided by something higher than me. I am a man of faith, and I do believe in God. I took a ride. All I did was answer questions every day and work every day and survive.”
Hicks has seen Roby’s documentary, and says it’s weird to see himself on film, “It’s also in certain ways kind of humbling.”
There are moments in the film that he can not remember, due to the stress that he was under at the time.
Hicks says that in the process, Roby became “one of my biggest encouragers. She was constantly telling me, ‘I know you can do it.’”
Roby, who will soon enter film school at San Francisco State University, says she is interested in real-life storytelling, and there’s something palpably real about truck stops.
“I love real people, real stories, and I feel like truck stops, the people there are so real. Some of them are working two jobs, single mom, three kids. The truckers that come in are just trying to make a living. They’re just so American to me.”
Roby has no immediate plans to enter “Jake’s Truck Stop” in film festivals. She may base her decision in part on how it’s received Thursday at McMenamins. Her decision to donate the ticket sale proceeds to Bend-La Pine Schools’ art programs was inspired by Hicks’ own giving to the community.
Whatever happens with the film, says Hicks, “it’s tremendous to have it happen. And it’s just another part of the ride, if you know what I mean.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jake's has a deck!

I have tried hard to market what I feel is one of Jake's Best assets. Our Deck. It is a very peaceful quiet setting with two water features and a variety of plants. Five tables grace the deck with the ability to place two of them together for large groups.

I have a banner at the front of it, signs on both doors coming in, and a greeting sign that says it is open. I also placed in one of my ads that ran all summer long last year.

The problem is it is off to the left side of the diner (an area that some still dont realize that we have).

So, the next time you come in, ask for it....I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

2nd Annual Cruise In BBQ

Right on the heels of the movie will be our main event of the summer.

Our second annual Cruise In. A thank you to all of the classic car buffs who have supported us on Wednesday nights all summer long.

Chef Jimmy will be cooking one of his famous BBQ's featuring Sirloin and Chicken. Tie that in with all of the baked beans, coleslaw, watermelon, and French bread that you can gorge yourself with and you got a great meal and a fun night.

Richard Taelour will once again be bringing his own brand of Blues and there will be plenty of classic cars gracing the lot making this a great event to cap off a great summer. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jake's....the movie is just over a week away.

The producer and I were interviewed today by the Bulletin for an article to come out on Saturday.

I noticed that McMenamins has it on their website now also.

Around 1/2 of the presales are gone and their will only be around 50 or so seats at the door. If you want to go, pick up your ticket at Jake's.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Movie Tickets on Sale at Jake's

It is now official. The movie, "Jake's Truck Stop", will be shown at McMenamins on Thursday, August 23rd at 6PM. The tickets are on sale at Jake's for $5.00 with all of the profits going to a local arts charity (the producer will decide which one).

At this time there is only one showing scheduled but if the tickets sell out, they may decide to show another show. The bulletin will be running a story on it next week sometime. There will be a Q&A session after the show.

Any one with questions can call me at 419-6021.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

VVA Barbeque

Another Saturday started this morning...but I knew that it wouldn't be just any Saturday because while we were running our diner, we were also helping out the Vietnam Veterans of America at the Flash Back Cruzin down at Drake Park. Originally, we were merely assisting the Salvation Army but at the last minute, they had to pull and I was able to get commitments from the VVA but had to move from assistant to lead because of the time. In the last few weeks, we had spent much of our time, proposing the idea to the VVA, helping them with their permit, and figuring out and securing the equipment and food needed.

Since I had the till with me, I knew that it was very important for me to get down to the park as early as possible even though I knew that there wouldn't be that many early BBQ burger sales. I drove down to the park, set up the till and made sure that the vets had all that they needed to get rolling with their sale. I then drove back to the diner to insure that the day started off well there also. Knowing that Judy would be there eased my mind on how the day would roll so I prepared to replenish the vets. I was soon called and informed that they were quickly running out of drinks. My grandson, Jayden and I ran to Costco and bought more and then headed back to the park.

We arrived to see the sales going very brisk. The crew was working well and each knew and did their position making it a very smooth operation. There only problem at that time was running out of things. It became very evident that they would not have enough condiments and the hot day was bringing them quite a lot of individual drink sales which I knew would affect the outcome as I had only figured on around 100 or so extra drinks and even though I had just brought in 4 more cases, I could see that it was going to be tight. The burgers too were selling fast so we jumped back into the van and headed back to Jake's for yet more replenishment. Picking up four more cases of Burgers, another log of cheese, and the last of the sweet relish, I checked in with Judy who was getting the bussers in their cleaning from a rather quiet morning. We had expected as much with the fair and cruz in going on. So, I quickly headed back to the park. As I pulled in, they were putting a fresh tank of propane on the bbq. But, with a very long line, the bbq was not lighting up. With plate laden customers waiting for their burgers standing all around me, I began tearing apart the bbq, trying to figure out why it was not lighting. Nothing I could do seemed to work and I could feel the hungry eaters growing impatient all around me.

One of the not so happy ones walked up to the cashier, Ron, and began to complain. "This is ridiculous!", she began, "I don't want to have to wai.........". Before she had all the words out, Ron had swept the plate from one hand and the partially drunken soda from her other and in one move, threw them in the garbage while handing her her $5 dollars back. "Anyone else want their money back?", he announced with a smile. I guess they understood because it really calmed down the complaints but unfortunately didn't stop the stares while with sweat rolling down my neck, I worked on the bbq. I managed to get the right side lit and got the guys rolling on cooking on that side while I got the left side lit also. Plopping down on one of the ice chests, I stuck my hands in some of the ice water and washed my face with its coldness. I quickly noted the stared turn to smiles as the burgers began to roll again.

Helping out where ever I was needed I tried to check the balances on all of the product and realized that I would not have enough buns and that the drinks were still off in number. The Rotory club stall next to us was winding down it's sales and I managed to buy three more cases of water from them and then took off for one last run getting more buns and one more case of root beer. Arriving at Jake's, I found a very tired wife who informed me that right after I had left on the last run, the diner had filled up and that right after she had sent half of the crew home. We kissed as she drove home and I ran back down to the park.

Jimmy joined me and with the lines showing no signs of slowing down, we first sold out of drinks, then out of chips and finally around 5 PM secured for the day. A bunch of very tired men secured, loaded, and cleaned up the area. Jimmy and I then drove our stuff back to the diner.

Before leaving for home, I took a quick count of the take and found that we were able to raise over $2000 for the VVA. All that from some shrewd purchasing deals, some donations (Frito Lay donated the chips), and some hard work from a handful of Vets. As tired as I am, I can go to bed feeling pretty good about the day.