My friend, Kirk Probasco, has closed Stokes Adobe. The fact that he is a veteran of food and wine is a no-brainer when you watch him work the room. Since I live two blocks away and that this was the last real local joint around, I need to relate some history here and celebrate his passion and the community.
This was in a small central CA town but, to their great credit, their big deal was going to Gallatin's in Monterey for dinner. This was THE destination for haute cuisine in the 60's, housed in an 1833 adobe serving wine and French food. This was all rather foreign for me (a good thing) but my parents spent the entire meal making notes on service, meal portions, the clientele, lighting, atmosphere, etc. For them, it was crucial to convey this to their Blue Plate Special crowd. Older, I look back and cherish these experiences, even though I had to wear that uncomfortable little suit. After Gallatin Powers (from a pioneer CA family) sold, Kirk leased the building in 1996 and turned it into a classic destination with wonderful CA cuisine sourced from local growers and cured his own salumi long before the craze.
Now, economics have the upper hand and people seem to have made other choices. The building, a classic adobe, has been purchased and will become a new container for the next food reincarnation. I'm grateful that my father taught me the fickleness of the restaurant biz and the low margins. Yet, these people came to work every night adding the unknown factor to someone's dining experience. I remember all the faces of the people who worked for my family.
Years later, the most haunting memory I carry is one of going to the simple home of my dad's main cook, Grant Dillon, (long before Chef became nom de plume) and listening to him (even in advanced alzheimers) retelling stories of being on the "steam line", having to memorize orders that were being yelled at him because he was illiterate and how that experience was the most important time of his life. I don't know how to deal with that memory nor the loss of another artistic community.