Small town people
This letter is in response to the recent controversy regarding the parking at the Country Kitchen in Big Pine. When I first heard of the conflict, and then later read the article in The Sheet, I was surprised that this had suddenly become an issue that elicited such strong emotion and dividing language, since the Country Kitchen has been advertised as a truck stop since the early 1970’s when it was established at the site of the former Kenedars. In fact, one of the early owners raised a tall sign in front of the restaurant that clearly identifies the site as a truck stop, a sign that has had different renovations, but has stood in the same place long before many of the neighbors moved into the area.
On a personal note, I grew up in the house directly behind the restaurant and my bedroom was located on the north side of the house where the truck drivers used to park their rigs overnight (long before there was a storage yard). I was often lulled to sleep with the sound of engines, cattle and sheep. Country Kitchen provided employment for many members of my family, including my mother, my niece, my sister, my brother-in-law and myself. I’ve cleaned, bussed and waited on customers on many occasions – in fact, my first job was as a bus girl when I was 14 years of age. I even pulled some graveyards as a fill in when I was home from college back when it was a 24-hour stop. Needless to say, I view Country Kitchen with fond memories and a grateful heart, as it was a source of income and friendship.
I have truly appreciated the love and energy the current owners, Nick and Jackie, have brought to the café. Their renovations have improved the experience and allowed for greater seating options, as the outdoor seating provides a wonderful venue for visiting with friends and neighbors while enjoying a great meal (breakfast is my personal favorite). When I read that someone had allegedly posted a Facebook message indicating that the family was probably not “small town people”, I couldn’t help but be shocked. Nick and Jackie and their family are exactly the type of people that make good neighbors and friends. They are examples of what “small town people” should be like—friendly, caring, and community-minded. Since opening the restaurant, they have regularly given back to the community, whether it is the Fire Department or the Big Pine Civic Club, they can be counted on if there is a need for a food item to help raise money for an event. Helping friends and neighbors is what “small town people” do!
Country Kitchen provides more than just a place for truck drivers and visitors to stop and eat—it supplies an economy to our community. It helps bring commerce and provides jobs to area residents. This is a much needed resource in any community. But more than that, it provides a place for friends to gather, share a meal, and visit with neighbors. So, from one Piner, who grew up as a neighbor to the Country Kitchen, I thank Nick and Jackie and the entire Nersesian family for becoming part of our small town!