Cooks are a big reason for restaurant success

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Have you ever thought how important a cook is to a restaurant or eating establishment?

There was a favorite restaurant Ouida and I frequented when I worked flood insurance claims in New Orleans. Honestly, I believe they served some of the best food I ever ate. Each time we went there we marveled at a portrait of the cook, which was mounted on the main wall. A caption under that portrait read “Without this lady we would not be here to serve you”. You see, that restaurant owner proudly boasted of that cook’s talent and her importance to his restaurant.

Years ago, when I was in the Army, Ouida and I went to a favorite restaurant located just outside Baltimore. In his way of lavishing praise for his cook he paraded her throughout the eating area for patrons to say “thank you for such tasty meals,” and so on.

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When we dine out locally, I often include a token gratuity for the cook, who I believe is the heart of the restaurant. I probably would not eat there if I did not like the food. And, the reason I like the food is because I appreciate the talents of the cook. I am sure our local restaurant owners have already let their respective cooks know just how important they are to the success of their operations.

A couple of years ago, I asked our readers to identify the person who had number 1 as their telephone number. This was in those days when the operators punched in our numbers each time we made calls. That question was clarified in a conversation I had with Haskew Middleton several months ago.

Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Brantley and their daughter, Luticia Cowart, both had that number. Actually, Mr. Brantley owned the phone company prior to selling out to Mr. Corman.

My wife gained her first job with the Cormans in the early 1950s. At that time, many of the operator’s main duties included “plugging in” or “patching in” incoming and outgoing phone calls.

I can remember some of those early 1950 operators who manually plugged in calls. Just to name a few, they included Emma Andress, Julia Bryars, Marvis Ward, Hazel Kunnert, Eleanor Daniels, Maggie Harper, Carolyn Coleman, Gail Byrd, Nell Rushing Bryars, Ruth Martin, Ellen Maddox, Thelma Heathercock, Laweida English, Margaret Grimsley McNeely, Audrey Martin, Clara O’Farrell, Ester O’Farrell, Patsy Maholovich, Nina Gates, Cornelia Mullins Williams, Willie Marie Strickland and Dot Smith. These were some of the “long term” operators. There were countless others who worked for shorter periods of time. (Hope I did not omit anyone).

The amazing thing about these ladies was their ability to memorize all those telephone numbers. When someone made a call, they immediately patched in the call without having to look up the number.

I bet they knew when someone made calls to someone other than spouses. (Just kidding, of course.)

Now, let’s take a look at some news from 1955.

The Atmore Jaycees and Jaycettes were very active in community activities back then. They especially worked with projects beneficial to local students.

Jaycee officers were George Keenan, Sam Ford, Taylor Faircloth, James Forte, Robert Faircloth, Robert Maxwell and Elam Fayard. Jaycette officers included Virginia Ford, Ernestine Miniard, Thelma Pitts, Janelle Forte, Billy Gilbert and Sarah Fayard.

Two ECHS students were selected to attend Boy’s State at the University. They were Bobby Barnes and Gordon Bryars. Sponsors of the two, respectively, were American Legion Post # 90 and the Atmore Lions club.

Sam Jack Cassidy received an honor that year as a member of the Crimson Tide. The former ECHS football standout was selected “the All-Around Athlete” at the Capstone.

J. Whisenhunt, principal of Escambia County Training School, resigned his position here to take a similar job with the Anniston School System.

Brooks Memorial Church ordained two local young pastors, Douglas White and Wilmer Baker. These two later became well-known ministers at other churches in and outside the state.

The real big news was in May when a brand-new Chevrolet was awarded to J. G. Toney for his selling the most subscriptions in The Advance subscription contest. The Bratt resident edged out two area ladies by less than six subscriptions to capture the big prize.

Finally, Dave Kinman, or “Big Dave” to those who truly know him, is our friend of the week. Everyone knows this man. Not because of his towering height and his huge size but for his big heart. Not only is he a wonderful ambassador to all of Atmore but to the Poarch Creeks, as well.

Married to his lovely Creek Indian wife, Myrtice, he is not of Indian decent, but the entire tribe claims him. You will find him on all the tribal trips, at the Pow Wows and at most every local restaurant. His well-mannered grandchildren are his pride and joy.

He has earned his due. Wounded in the Vietnam War, he has been awarded for his bravery in service. With a retirement from Frontier Communications and with two medical service related disabilities, he donates frequently to worthy charities. I appreciate his command of the English language and his uncanny ability to express himself so well. He reads a book or novel each week and he can communicate at the highest level. Highly respected and not one to stir up trouble, he, as I said, is the ideal ambassador for all of us.

Next week, we will take a look at some more news from years gone by.


You can reach Lowell McGill by emailing