Don’t deny it. You love food. Food brings us sustenance and nutrition. More than all, it brings us joy. It’s the lifeblood of culture and community. And of course, this assertion is no different for the vibrant culture and community of Christian Brothers High School. Falcons love food. After-school escapades at taquerias and delis, early […]
Don’t deny it. You love food. Food brings us sustenance and nutrition. More than all, it brings us joy. It’s the lifeblood of culture and community. And of course, this assertion is no different for the vibrant culture and community of Christian Brothers High School. Falcons love food. After-school escapades at taquerias and delis, early morning donut runs, potlucks, and even attempts (often, in vain) at getting food delivered to the school are all more than commonplace in the lives of our students. For most CB students however, this is where their involvement with the culinary world ends.
For a select few of our Falcon population, however, it’s merely the beginning. There are a number of students who are a part of families that are not just connected with, but deeply ingrained in cuisine.
These Falcons are a part of restaurateur families. Jealous? Who wouldn’t be? From the outset, there are some clear boons to be being in a culinary clan. Despite the obvious perks of being so closely associated with a restaurant, this association can also be a difficult responsibility and occasionally a grueling burden.
So what is the restauranteur experience truly like? How does it affect the lives and livelihood of the student students involved? And what’s it like getting so much good grub all the time?
The first leg of my culinary quest for knowledge should be a familiar one to CB students. A frequent element of student activities-sponsored events like Earth Day and Founder’s Day has long been Vallejo’s Mexican Food. Hundreds of hungry CB students and faculty line up on the bright green grass of the Main Lawn for the deliciously savory and freshly produced tacos provided by the hard workers willing to share their time and money with our school. However, despite the attraction to this delectable confectionery by our CB residents, most are entirely unaware of the significant connection the restaurant has to our school.
The Vallejo kin has sent a total of two young men to the storied halls of Christian Brothers: Efrain Vallejo ‘16, now a student at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and Elias Vallejo ‘19, an active participant on the men’s volleyball team along with a rigorous course load.
Due to the great popularity of the two Vallejo’s restaurants throughout the Sactown community, there are many responsibilities that come with being a part of the clan. However, the benefits gained from the experience far outweigh any challenge which the responsibilities pose.
“I like it a lot, because I get to go work with my dad and learn how things work in the restaurant business,” Elias stated contently. “You can just go there and meet new people, and get to know the way the business works.”
To Elias, simply being present in the restaurant is a joy, and it is clear he thrives on the sense of community found within the food culture. Moreover, he sees also sees the business as a source of sage wisdom and opportunity for personal growth.
“I maybe want to go into business someday, and I think it really helps that I have something that influences me and teaches me how things are run in that sense,” Elias orated to the Talon. “It really helps me learn more about how a restaurant works, and it also broadens my horizons. It’s really a learning experience.”
The illuminating growth and knowledge that comes from the restaurant business which Elias speaks of is not unique to Vallejo’s alone, however. This culture of learning is present in many of the lives of these students, and it constantly influences their lives in new and abstract manners. A shining example of the impact of this influence lies in none other than CB’s very own Geach siblings.
Since 2005, the Geach parents have been the successful owners and proprietors of a Pete’s Pizza restaurant. The fast, chaotic nature of such a business demands much of the Geach family — even the three siblings. Twins Gabriella Geach ‘18 and Helena Geach ‘18 and younger brother Reagan Geach ‘20 are all important facets of the Pete’s success formula.
“It’s given me a greater knowledge of food and finances to some extent. It’s guaranteed me my first job, and I also now understand restaurant etiquette,” Helena proudly stated. “You also definitely gain a lot of trust and loyalty for your coworkers, especially the ones that work hard and do their jobs. It’s really cool because the entire staff is super close and all tend to spend time together outside of work.”
Reagan’s thoughts also coincide with Helena’s assertions on the benefits of the business.
“It’s very cool. I’ve always had access to really good food and whenever we go out to eat I have a different perspective on the service due to behind the scenes knowledge.”
Much like Elias and his learning experiences within the Vallejo’s restaurants, the Geach’s have been able to gain a lot from their years of service to the business.
“You definitely learn about late nights, hard work, responsibility, money handling, and you earn greater appreciation for the restaurant industry and all that goes into running one,” Helena stated profoundly. “Most of the things I do revolve around the restaurant, it’s definitely the source for a lot. I grew up sitting at the counter or in a booth doing homework and distracting the employees from their side work. I definitely think I grew up a lot faster always being surrounded by hardworking people that were much older than me. It’s interesting now because I’m at an age where I’m working with people that have known since I was little.”
However, despite the glamorous and impactful side of the restauranteur business, there are more than enough challenges and roadblocks that can plague the Geach’s work. Long nights, anarchic crowds, and monotonous shifts can make the entire workplace situation seem strenuous.
“The most important part of work is opening and closing the day. When closing, you’re preparing the place for the staff the next day, and when opening, you’re setting the precedent for the rest of the work day. In the mornings, I set everything up and get the restaurant ready for the day, then do side work such as folding boxes and linens,” Helena vocalized to the Talon. “It starts to pick up around 1 or 2 and keeps going until as late 9 or 10 p.m. If I work all day, it’s definitely high stress and lots of movement. Sometimes we’ll take breaks in the big fridge to keep from overheating too much and power back tons of caffeine.”
In the same vein, Reagan shared his own grievances with the job.
“Sometimes a lot of the sameness food over and over gets dull and you lose interest, but luckily a good menu fixes that.”
Despite these issues he has with tedious side of the job, Reagan was quick to spout how much the business affects his life in a positive, powerful manner.
“The business has a major role in my life. It helps us pay for things like school and extracurriculars. I’ve been raised all my life in this industry,” Reagan said. “I’ve found a group of adults who have become my family friends after knowing them since I was three.”
The copious hours of strenuous work and massive dedication that these students have logged into the family’s restaurants is beyond admirable. The lessons of determination, perseverance, and resolve are no doubt hugely influential attributes that will help these students in their bright and promising futures. So the next time you’re feasting upon some delicious tacos, grubbing on some deliciously greasy pizza, or receiving the final product of a restaurant staff’s hard work, take a moment to commend the arduous work and sheer willpower that these students contribute to the culinary scene.
To finalize this summary of the experience, I leave you with Helena’s witty words on her laborious employment.
“I now know the importance of a good tip better than anyone.”