Today is a guest article from Raymond Meyers. He recently restored Genes Stop and Go. He is an excellent writer, and makes one heck of a burger:
Colleen and I graduated in the class of 1975 from Montesano High School. We got married and worked nuclear power plants around the country, finishing our nuclear careers at Hanford. We’ve been to all 50 states. Okay, we drove across the Maine border just to say we’d been there, but I’m still claiming it. We’ve lived in 17 or 18 states. Whenever we try to figure that out it’s a different number.
We’ve lived in or near Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Washington D.C., and Seattle – to name a few. In some of those cities, the local paper puts murders and drive-by shootings six or seven pages back in the “Local News” section. Sometimes local murders don’t make the ‘A’ Section, let alone the front page.
For contrast, the Vidette from last week devoted more than half of the front page to news about Satsop school’s Relay for Life. The top of the page was devoted to something about tourists and the internet.
Now, we’re back in Montesano. I love it. What’s so great about Montesano? Here’s just a small sample.
When we bought Gene’s, we had no idea what we were getting into. We hired Steve Crass for a general contractor. Steve and his local team did a phenomenal job of restoring and improving Gene’s Stop & Go. My previous experience with contractors doesn’t even compare. You’d have to have seen the “before and after,” but Gene’s was 62 years old. The building had been maintained and had a few upgrades, but never a major overhaul. When Steve and his team were done, we had new plumbing, new wiring from top to bottom; new floors, new wall coverings, new fixtures; new equipment and a brand new blacktopped lot. We went from being all-electric to gas for the cooking equipment. Cascade Natural Gas came and worked with Steve to make sure everything was up and ready in time for opening day. The galvanized vent hood over the griddle and deep fryer was replaced with stainless steel – Steve and his team did all that – and made sure I had a first-rate fire suppression system. They installed the posts around both sides of the building to reduce the chance of a real “drive through.”
The City of Montesano improved our drive-up access. Police Chief Vance, city planners and engineers, and the PUD all looked things over, planned it, and made sure it would work – not just for safety and requirements, but for me. They cut away old sidewalk, installed the ramp, and put in a handicapped slope for the sidewalk. They charged us for the cement – nothing for labor. Three city employees got the first three soft serve cones out of the new machines. It only seemed fair.
Then we opened. Everybody waited patiently while we tried to figure it what we were doing. You came back even after eating my attempt at making fresh-cut French-fries – and those things were NASTY. We didn’t know how much of what to order, and when we ordered enough we lacked refrigerator space to store it all. Ann at Pick-Rite let us use her walk-in refrigerator for overspill while we figured it out. She asked nothing in return.
Montesano needs some more industry. Montesano needs more jobs and some street repair. Maybe a fresh coat of paint here and there would make things a little nicer to look at. I’ve never been anyplace (and that covers some ground) that doesn’t need more industry, jobs, street repair, or a coat of paint. But the people of Montesano absolutely rock, and all the rest of that stuff moves way down the priority list when you look around at what a wonderful close-knit community this is.
I loves me some Montesano.