Sit long, talk much, laugh often
By Margaret Melloy Guziak
SIT LONG, TALK MUCH, LAUGH OFTEN, reads the small rectangular sign in the area above the back booths in one of the best restaurants you will find anywhere, “Camilla’s Kafe”. It is downtown on Aspen Ave. (the main street in Fruita, Colorado) and is next door to the famous “Over the Edge Sports” bike shop on the corner of Aspen and Mulberry St. This little sign sets the tone of the place, which is comfortable and relaxing, lively and full of fun and laughter. If you want to know what is happening in town, simply ask any of the friendly gals inside. They will know.
Remember Sam Malone’s Boston bar on CHEERS, the TV show that is now in reruns? Camilla’s is like that, “a place where everybody knows your name” and they greet you by name when you come in and take your preferred, usual seat. You, in turn, will learn all the lovely waitresses’ names, each with their own personality and beauty, who work on different schedules on different days. If you become a “regular”, you will eventually get to meet them all.
I don’t really like to talk or write about her place. It’s like giving away your favorite fishing hole. If you praise it too much, everyone flocks there, so you can’t even get in yourself. Like wise, old Yogi Berra said about his favorite New York restaurant, “The place is always so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.”
Camilla’s menu is imaginative, fresh and all the food lives up to your expectations, matching exactly the written descriptions on the menu. The blueberry muffins that pretty Camilla bakes are to die for. The wait staff will offer to warm them up for you and provide a dollop of creamy butter on the side. Her pancakes are puffed and tan, served with her own bottles of luscious syrup, a slice of hot, crisp bacon and an egg cooked exactly as you ordered for a real bargain breakfast on a Fruita morning.
And Aaron, her handsome husband, is also a fantastic chef. They are parents to two beautiful, little girls, whom if you are lucky, you might get to meet sometime on the weekend if and when they join them for an early weekend breakfast in their own family restaurant.
If you’re looking for a quiet, sedate, silent place, you’re in the wrong place. You’ll hear music during the week and sometimes live music from “live” performers on the weekend. (Hey, I’d hate to see a dead performer, wouldn’t you?) Anyway, stop to look at the many photographs in the back area. Read what is written on Mary Nelson’s memorial plate. Ask any local biker about Mary and why she was so special.
Here’s a dining tip: Now that the weather is so nice, you may want to eat on the patio area in the backyard. If you are with a crowd, it is a wonderful place to take pictures of your group. Good food, good drinks, fresh air, clean tables with umbrellas, some shade and classy waitresses. (Darn it. I’ve done it again. Now I’ll never be able to get a table!)
Haven’t we all been to big, chain restaurants when we’ve traveled on the road where the pictures of the food on the plastic menu look large, colorful and delicious, but what the waitress brings doesn’t look anything like the picture? We’ve all been to eating establishments where the cold toast is burned and the cook applied a smidgeon of greasy margarine with a tiny squirt gun. The petrified strawberry jam is contained in little packages that are sealed so tight they can only be opened with your penknife, which you’ve left in your car’s glove compartment.
Bet you all have some restaurant “fun” stories. We know that we have lots more of them about different places; some in the Grand Valley, some not. We won’t name names, although most of the places are already out of business. Wonder why? You might get a laugh out of them, so we’ll share them with you in future columns.
As one of the freelance writers for the weekly rural magazine, The Fencepost” which covers Colorado and Nebraska, my article written the “Final Roberts Farm Show”, was in their May 7th issue. Many local readers know Chuck Roberts of Mack, his daughter, Julie, his sister-in-law, Debbie, or other family members. Hundreds of you have attended his annual 2-Day Farm Shows in the past 15 years. If you want to read the article, you can go online www.thefencepost.com and put my name or “Final Roberts Farm Show” in the Search box at top right.
So many events coming up this spring and summer. Last weekend, downtown Grand Junction, the talented Jazz Band from FMHS performed. Also, Fruita resident and fabulous musician and friend, Frank Bregar, and his band were one of the musicians for the annual Art & Jazz Festival. We were at Frank and Gerry’s 40th Wedding Anniversary Party celebrated recently at the Fruita Community Center.
Denver jazz singer and friend, Hazel Miller is always the BIG headliner for the Festival. I interviewed Hazel and wrote an article for “The Beacon” about Hazel a few years ago when she was here for the Jazz Fest. Another year, she was the lead performer at a Palisade winery for Partners Benefit Concert. She will be doing that again this August. Who says we have to go to the big city to hear great musicians? Check her website for dates, times and ticket info. Love her.
I do need to tell you more about Hazel in a future column, and I will. Go to her website, www.hazelmiller.com for her tour schedule. She will be singing in various cities in CO., SD., NM. and WY. Check it out.
This coming weekend is “Mike the Headless Chicken Days.” So, go have fun!