It has been 50 years since the Taix family, which operated a French restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, opened a new location in Echo Park. Since then, the Sunset Boulevard restaurant has expanded, menu items have come and gone and the dimly-lighted bar has become the late-night domain of a music-loving crowd. But all during those years and changes, three employees – banquet room waiter Jose Fragoso, bartender Fernando Gomez and dining room waiter Bernard Inchauspe – have remained familiar faces to generations of Taix customers. Next week, Taix French restaurant will honor their 50 years of service and tradition with a celebration – “not a retirement party.”
Why are these three men in their 70s still on their feet taking orders for roasted chicken and martinis when they could be relaxing at home? Click on the link below to find out.
Jose Fragoso, banquet waiter
Jose Fragoso, a native of El Presidio, Mexico joined his brother to work at Taix as a prep cook. After deciding the kitchen work was not for him, Fragoso worked as a bus boy and eventually a waiter, first in the dining room and later the restaurant’s banquet rooms. While the dining room customers may required more individual attention, working the Taix banquet rooms that can seat more has its own challenges. On busy days, the 72-year-old Fragoso and the rest of the banquet staff must attend to multiple banquets at the same time and serve more 200 meals to groups of business people on a tight schedule. “They have to leave quickly,” said Fragoso of the business people attending mid-week banquets. Things are more relaxed on weekends for family celebrations and parties, he said.
Fragoso, now in semi-retirement, works only one or two days a weeks. “I am enjoying myself when I am working.”
Fernando Gomez, bartender
A former cabinet maker and soccer player, Fernando Gomez was working in a restaurant in Vernon when he heard that Taix was opening a new place in Echo Park. He landed a job as a bus boy before quickly becoming a waiter, a job he held for a decade. One day Gomez asked to work the bar. “It was very interesting and I liked talking to the customers. ”
Those were the days when there was no TV in the bar and Gomez, who was born and raised in Argentina, kept busy making Brandy Alexanders, Grasshoppers, Old Fashioneds and Gin Fizzes. “You won’t see that today,” said Gomez, who serves up many a Martini to a younger clientele. Gomez, who is 79, does enjoy chatting with the customers but has learned a simple but effective line when he needs to attend to another drink order: “Excuse me for one moment – I will be back in a minute.”
Bernard Inchauspe, dining room waiter
Having worked as a waiter in his native France and in the U.S., Bernard Inchauspe says the life of an American waiter is much easier. “The French are a little more demanding” and waiters have to bus their own table, Inchauspe said. “The American people are easier to make them happy.” How does Inchauspe, who turned 77 earlier this month, make his Taix customers happy? Inchauspe said the most important part of his job is to be constantly checking on the patrons from the beginning to the end of their meal.
Fulling the demands of customers and working a split shift can be challenging but Inchauspe said he does not have to deal with a bossy maitre d’ and enjoys the relatively relaxed style of the restaurant. Inchauspe loves to work but a decade ago cut back his schedule – to five days a week.
He tells aspiring waiters: “You are not going to be a millionaire, but you will make a good living.”