Friday, March 06, 2009
There is a little gem of an establishment in Santa Clarita known as The Saugus Cafe. This charming restaurant is heralded as the place where James Dean ate his last meal. (Although one of the waitresses once told me that the story is just an urban legend.) It has been around practically as long as Santa Clarita has been around, in fact, it "happens to be the oldest operating restaurant in Los Angeles County; it's been in business since 1887."
I now have a deep affection for The Saugus Cafe. All my life I have wanted that "small town" feel and experience. Almost impossible in Santa Clarita, but The Saugus Cafe has brought this long coveted experience to fruition. Emily and I have now made it a custom to eat there once a week and it is wonderful. The same people are there every week and it appears to be family owned because there are one of two servers there every week...a mother and daughter. We feel as if we are on a T.V. show everytime we go and we have given nicknames to all the "regulars" who always sit in the same spots. We always sit in the same booth on the same sides of the table and I think this adds to the sitcom feel.
First we have "The Men." They sit on the far end of the restaurant. There are about six of these men and when one leaves, there is always another to take his place. We are convinced that they are Vietnam war vets and so we were very excited one day when one got up to leave and we saw that he was wearing an Air Force jacket. Once when I got up to pay, one of them had just finished cussing and when I looked over at them, they appeared to look a tad guilty. :0)
Next we have "Fred." This is what Em and I called him before we found out his real name. Fred is very close and so I will leave it at that. He always sits at the counter closest to "The Men." I have to admit that he looks a bit like a homeless man, except that he looks less like one to me everytime that I see him. He always leaves before we do and says good-bye to Betty* or Sharon*. (*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Then he leaves and walks past our window. He always looks a little depressed. Last week when Sharon told him to have a good day, he said, "I'll try." Poor Fred. I always feel bad for him.
Next we have "Fernando." Fernando is a hispanic man that tends to sit on the opposite end of the counter as Fred. He doesn't talk much but he is a faithful patron.
Next we have "Captain Kangaroo." I don't think Em and I ever came to an agreement on his nickname but I like this one. He's not always there, but he wears a jacket that has the words Australia and Kangaroo on the back and there is a picture of a kangaroo. He sits at the counter too.
Next we have "The Outiders." There is a section of the Cafe that is closed during early hours and yet these two young couples don't find it necessary to abide by such petty rules. They sit together at one of these forbidden tables and have a fun time laughing it up every morning. Never mind that Betty has to walk all the way over there to serve them their coffee!
I have saved the best for last. Three weeks ago, a "new" regular came in. That is, he was new to Em and me but we found out he had definitely frequented the cafe before. The first morning he came in I heard him before I saw him. I often wear heels to work and The Saugus Cafe has very thin wooden floors. I hate clomping over to the bathroom because I feel like everyone watches me because it's so loud. Well my harmless steps sounded like whispers compared to this man's heavy footfalls. I was scared to turn around for fear of what my eyes would behold. I soon saw a shadow on the floor and finally a gargantuan man dressed from head to toe in camo appeared! I took one look at Emily and I had to bite my lip.....hard! He has been in ever since and he happens to have more than one camo hat and more than one camo jacket! But he always wears camo! We have dubbed him "The General." :0)
One last thing that I like about The Saugus Cafe is that Betty and Sharon know our order. They bring us our coffee when we arrive and they know that I like "a little" whipped cream and strawberries on my french toast and that Em likes "a little" whipped cream and blueberries on her Belgian waffle....that is when the Belgian waffle maker is working which they now ask the chef if it's working when Em comes in...even before they take her order.
Betty and Sharon are very friendly. They give hugs to the regulars and they always say thank you for coming in. MMMMMmmmm...Saugus Cafe. What more can I say?