Sunday, June 05, 2011

The End of the Road for One Waitress at Du-par’s

Du-par's Restaurant Bakery Items

A few months back, something happened in a restaurant on Fremont Street.  It probably didn’t make the evening news, but should have.  Lorraine, a waitress who had served the public for over 30 years, retired from working at Du-par’s.  I don’t think her retirement was all that splashy or marked with any big events, but it should have been.

My roommate Drew and I stumbled upon Lorraine and her caustic ways when we stopped in for dinner last fall, during a First Friday celebration downtown in the Arts District.  We decided to wander up and down Fremont Street, under the canopy, and wanted something to eat.  I had remembered that Las Vegas opened a Du-par’s Restaurant, which was big news to me.  Most of my friends and co-workers here met my enthusiasm for Du-par’s Restaurant with puzzled looks.  “Du-par’s? What’s that?”

Du-par’s? Only the best 24-hour diner in town, people!  It’s been an L.A. institution for years (over 70, since 1938), with locations in Studio City, Farmers Market, and now at the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino.  It used to be all over L.A., but over time they have closed some of the locations.  When I heard they were opening up a location in Vegas I was overjoyed.  Their buttermilk pancakes are to die for (named ‘Best in America’ by Esquire magazine), and their pies rival Marie Callender’s in taste and quality.  They also serve prime New York steaks, gourmet meatloaf, and other assorted “comfort food.”  

Lorraine is an institution, just like Du-par’s.  One-of-a-kind.  Sarcastic, witty, and quick with a comeback.  During her last week of work, Drew and I made a point of stopping by to have her wait on us one last time before her retirement.  This was a few months ago.  We walked in to find Du-par’s slammed with tons of late-night customers.  “Couldn’t you have come earlier?” Lorraine snapped at us.  “We were calmer and quieter then.”

When she saw the flowers we had brought her, she got all mushy, as she whisked them away from the dining table.  I swear I thought I saw her tear up for a second.  But only a second.  Then it was back to the business of taking care of her customers. There were several tables of obnoxious male golfers, tourists staying at the Golden Gate that ran Lorraine ragged, and didn’t leave a tip.  This is the side of Vegas I loathe.  But I love Lorraine.  And I will miss her.  

There are waitresses like her all over America, and most of them work for Du-par’s. Women with character and soul.  But there’s only one Lorraine.  She comped our meal that night.  But at least we left a tip.  And flowers.  

-VegasJules ( Julie Kasperson ) can be contacted through her facebook page.


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