Jack Gordon


From the October 4, 1970, issue of The Seattle Times

Man About Town

Robert Heilman




Take a Restaurateur Out to Lunch

Now that everyone has turned over a new leaf and Octo­ber actually is here on the calendar, you all may rejoice and celebrate National Restaurant Month ... preferably by "eat­ing out."

The Restaurant Association of the State Of Washington couldn't wait until the general restaurant convention opened tomorrow in Bellingham.

Members jumped the gun by beginning to observe Octo­ber before September had run out, like last Tuesday. They surprised even themselves by having a turnout of almost 150, although restaurant people as a class are late workers and late risers.

Nobody really stuffed himself at the "brunch," for the menu was confined to a sweet roll, some butter, and a choice of tomato or orange juice, sans vodka in either case.

Gordon Bass, master of ceremonies, was a tough emcee, determined to give the principal speaker, one Dan Evans, full time to discuss his subject, which was, (would you be­lieve?) "Tax Reform."

In introducing the restaurant association's president, Ralph Messett, Bass said bluntly: "Boe, stand up, but shut up."

Messett's nickname was hung on him in babyhood by his brother, Edmund. The two are partners in Dag's Drive-Ins, all five of 'em.

Three years old when his younger brother was born, Ed called Ralph "Bobo," the best he could do with "brother." It was shortened to "Boe," so universally used around town now that lots of people don't know bis real name.

The guest list was sprinkled with nicknames.

Felix Sposari has been known as "Speed" for the past 35 years. It was hung on him by his boss, Mondo Desimone, because of the brisk pace Sposari demonstrated in trimming lettuce and fixing other produce down Pike Place way.

Speed, now supervisor for the Gai's baking people, and Louie V. DeLorie sales manager for the outfit, both wore bright scarlet jackets, emblems of the Seattle French Baking Co. staff.

John F. Gordon, general manager of the restaurant asso­ciation, is "Jack" to everyone. He and Bass, old friends, traded insults.

Bass instructed Gordon to make the shortest speech of his life, and Jack thanked Bass wryly, for "completely ig­noring the prepared script."

All his life, Gordon has been called that, and never "Gordy," which scarcely would fit the executive vice president of Western International Hotels.

On the other hand, the state's chief executive, Daniel Jackson Evans, is "Dan" to thousands. He was named in honor of his great-grandfather, who moved to Port Gamble in 1857, and, being in the steamship business, was called "Cap'n."

Evans assured everyone no legislator ever voted a tax increase "just for the hell of it." He said that desperate and well-meaning jokesters have recommended "stealing" to bolster the state's budget. And in fun, at the end of his talk, the governor urged: "Vote early and vote often."

Bass, a consistently cheerful master of the insult, even took on the governor in the morning's atmosphere of kidding.

"We might steal," said the emcee, "but I don't think anyone should vote more than once."

Apart from talk about restructuring the tax base, it was a cheerful gathering, but dead seriousness accompanied presentation of two awards, both to appetite teasers.

Marcel Forster, who owns a pastry producing firm, named "Chef of the Year," and Bill Rast, representative of a wine-producing group, was given a distinguished service award.

The nickname set included sons of Walter F. Clark, as widely known in the restaurant business as you can get. Eugene F. Clark has to be "Gene," and Walter F., Jr., has been saddled with "Waddy," also because of childhood dif­ficulty with names.

Paul Lewis of Bellevue always is known as Skipper, the name of his fish-and-chips dispensary.

Seattle guests also included Jack Rabourn, Gwynne Aus­tin, J. K. Workman, Willis Camp, Bill Jensen and a flock of others, but there was a good representation of people near and far:

Donald L. Lundberg, Renton; Jim and Aggie Willis, Port Angeles; Ruth and Richard Kyle, Wenatchee; Bill Boileau, Issaquah.

Ron McWain, Olympia; Harvey Johnson, Vancouver; Randy and Norma Tei of Tacoma, and Mark Levine, Belle­vue.

Oyez, and more Seattleites: Ray Olsen, Bryce Foster, Wayne Boynton, J. A. Wykoff and Gay Meier.

Since women were by far in the minority, they were judiciously placed so that the proportion of each table was about seven gals to one gent.

Likely the busiest female was blond, efficient Kristi Lee, the restaurant association's coordinator of special events. Kristi was so busy she didn't even have time to eat what little food there was.

Sure, there's a recession in progress. But a restaurant association's brunch menu of sweet rolls, juices and coffee only . . . ?

Really, Mr. Gordon, isn't that carrying austerity a little too far?