I’d really like to talk a ton of shit right now. I’m not feeling particularly great about my current job and that’s okay. Charter schools are not for the meek and when it comes to working environments, I am not meek. I am pretty damn strong.
When I got back from Berkeley in August of 1991, I was not sure what to do but I did start working at Easy Street again. At first, I was just doing Saturdays and that would keep me in a little bit of money, at least to balance out what I was earning from my job as a middleman in the plant trade. Saturdays at the sandwich shop, though, were great and I loved working them.
There was a Saturday crowd, for example, that consisted of a local judge named Bill, among others. Bill would come in and sit at a table by himself. Sometimes he and I would get into some sort of discussion on current events or neighborhood news and sometimes he would just sit and read his paper and talk to himself.
He was an older guy with white hair around the sides of his head and a white beard. I really liked Bill a lot and he would sometimes come to the family gatherings we would have at the restaurant. He came every Saturday unless he was out of town, and he would always tell me if he was going to miss a day. Sometimes he came in during the week, too, but I think he liked how quiet Saturdays were.
Sometimes my friends would come hang out with me on a Saturday or Ben would come in and help me if he wasn’t working. I would usually have enough of a crowd to make it worth everyone’s while to have me there and I would close up at 2:30pm. I’d usually take my money for the day and hit Zia on the way home and get a new CD. I had stopped buying vinyl in those days.
By 1992, I was working full-time and giving my mom and Aunt a few days off each. I was going to Phoenix College at night finishing up my associates degree, so I was free to take care of things at Easy Street. This arrangement allowed my mom to do massage and my aunt to be a woman of leisure a few days a week and I could afford to live.
Eventually, mom and Aunt Julie decided to sell to a guy named Jose. He wanted me to stay on and run the show when he was not off promoting the restaurant or doing whatever stupid shit he did. He was a total con artist and while I enjoyed him as a person and he always paid me, there was just something off about him. He almost ruined the vibe that had been created and people stopped coming in as much.
Jose was not very well thought of from what I learned, in the Phoenix gay scene, and that was about half our clientele. It was a bummer to realize the ship was sinking. As I look back now, maybe I should have bought Easy Street. I’m sure we could have worked something out. I was going to ASU by the time Jose came into the picture and working on my bachelor’s in humanities. I thought I was going to be a high school humanities teacher.
Eventually Jose ran it into the ground, and he stopped paying all the bills, including what he was paying my mom and Aunt, so they got it back. My friends, Steve and Brian, decided to buy it and they got it for the amount Jose still owed which was about $7,000. They kept me on to run things and Steve and I manned the place for about six months or so, maybe a bit longer. This was late in 1994.
Eventually, the business had run it’s course and those guys couldn’t afford to keep it going and pay me what I needed to make. I wasn’t making much, but it was the end of an era. I went down one last time and got a few things I wanted from the place. I snagged the “good” coffee cup, which I still have, and the comfy chairs that were at the front table.
I wish I would have taken the old cash register, but as I think of it now, what would I have done with it? It’s funny how you remember things. I can close my eyes and see Easy Street when I need to see it. It was such a huge part of my life, for good and bad. I’ve been tempted to try writing a book about it but I’m not sure that anyone would want to read it. That’s one of the reasons why I will include a little piece of it in the Rye’s Above story.
Maybe someday I’ll crank something out specifically about Easy Street. One never knows. Occasionally I get some good bread and some good meat and cheese and make sandwiches in the manner in which we used to make them. I do the same with baking sometimes and make one of the treats I used to make. I wish I had the recipes for the cold soups I experimented with in the summertime. There was a really good melon one.
For many years, I pretty much lived off of Easy Street sandwiches. I would have the same thing pretty much every day until I would eventually get sick of it. Turkey and avocado was my go to sandwich, I guess. We had a sandwich on the menu called the Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado that was probably the most popular sandwich we had. It’s an amazing combination.
The Easy Street was ham, turkey, shrimp, and avocado. People liked that, too. They also like Aunt Julie’s soup and my mom’s baked goods. I liked the avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese sandwich, too, especially when I would add roast beef to the mix.
We also had amazing bread from Barb’s Bakery and our pita came from the Middle Eastern Bakery on 16th street which is still there. So many amazing regular customers, too. I should write something about them.
See you tomorrow.
It holds my pens now, but this is the "good" coffee cup from Easy Street. It was coveted by many.