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The Job Gets Done Goodbye Stoves

After 10 years, serving close to two million bowls of nourishment, our two Charlie Hong Kong stoves have done their job. Goodbye, and thank you, these stoves have served us well. Gratitude for all the food created on your 8 burners and in your 2 ovens. Working from 6:30am-10:00pm day after day, for an entire decade. Readying to welcome a shiny new stove into our kitchen, requires team work and competency. The plan; to change out the 2 old stoves for a new one, and open at noon, is a big deal. Our core daytime cooks take on the job. Our dedicated cooks, show up day after day, month after month, year after year, until 10 years has slipped away. We scheduled 2 ½ hours to complete the project. Fingers crossed. Like a professional relay race, everything has to move smoothly.  Cooking and prepping begins at 6:30am, with the intention to have everything complete by 9:30, to give the ovens time to cool enough to remove them from the kitchen. Due to the extraordinary team work this happens. The cooks are like miracle workers. Rudy and I show up at 9:30; the cooks are sitting on the cement retaining wall, catching their breath, after the intense prep work. Immediately Rudy and I jump into action. Rudy enters the kitchen with Andres and Javier, the morning head cooks, to remove the old stoves. My focus turns to bagels and coffee for everyone. When I return, I find the well-used (that’s an understatement) stoves resting in the parking lot, to be dismantled and delivered to a recycle location in Watsonville. Their lives well lived, after providing, those two million bowls of nourishment for our community: individuals, old and young, families, couples, students, service workers, healthcare providers, those committed to the well fair of our community, tourist. I study the stoves, now ready for a well-deserved retirement. Carlos, our oven savior and friend, after 25 years of service, is already at work knelt down on the kitchen floor, where the ovens used to live, working with a hose. The floor cleaned to perfection, in anticipation for the new stove. Everything flows like clockwork. This team, with decades of comradery, working together, in an incredibly small kitchen, a repurposed, 1950’s, soft serve ice cream stand, into a busy kitchen. Like clock-work, the delivery truck pulls into the lot at 10am. The driver opens the back, lowers the new stove, then rolls it next to the kitchen door. It’s wrapped in protective plastic. As the plastic is removed, the sun sparkles on the shiny stainless. This large stove has 8 burners, with two ovens, like the cooks requested. The stove needs to be assemble by our oven expert, moved into its’ place in the kitchen and carefully connected. As opening time draws near, customers begin to appear. Opening was rescheduled to noon from 11. Our customers are patient, kind and generous, as the time extends to 12:15. The excitement builds, the stove is turned on for the first time. I ask the cooks to stand by the oven for a photo to mark the occasion. To feed and nourish community, support local organic farms and those who work in the fields, the vendors who create products we use requires commitment, dedication and hard work. To have the right tools for the job is essential. The open sign is turned on and another day at Charlie Hong Kong begins.

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