The parking lot is still vast and industrial feeling, and the memory of setting up the grill for Summer Cinema comes flooding back. The vaulted entry way seems cozy and familiar, and the patio seems to have grown up significantly, but then again, Pyramid Alehouse and Brewery has been on Gilman Street for nearly 15 years.
There is one cook on the line, and she stutters as she looks up from the grill. Patricia, who was hired as a prep cook, now runs the show at lunch time. Pride and nostalgia surge through my chest as I recall my bastardized mantra, apprendir mas, gagner mas, and think that maybe it had done a bit of good. “Destino!!!” she finally gets out. We quickly get caught up, and though I am a bit sad that Marisol and Brisa have moved on, she brings another of our old prep cooks, Candido, out to say hi. Before we are done reminiscing, Joellen Grady comes around the corner! She’s still the HR Generalist, and is able to update me on the things that have and haven’t changed.
I am surprised to see many of the same regulars in the dining room, and as I sit down, I realize that this is possibly the first time I have sat at the bar! As a rule, Pyramid employees must sit at the coppertop, and it isn’t long before I find the Head Brewer, Simon, taking his usual seat behind me, next to a gaggle of the on-and-off duty servers. The taps in front of me bear a variety of adjectival appellations, from Haywire to Dischord, but just because I live in the shadow of Sierra Nevada doesn’t mean I’ve forsaken my old favorites, and know the beers are just as good as ever.
The three years I worked for “The Tomb,” as I liked to call it, were probably the most formative years of my culinary experience. From the invaluable one-on-ones with Patrick Coll to daily interactions with skilled managers like Scott Cunningham, Tempe Minaga and Maia Wanlass, I learned incredible lessons about everything from procedure to handling difficult clients. From Ahmed Almuktar, Jim Humberd, Dave, and Kenneth Druley, I not only built upon my food knowledge and operational skills, but also got an intense education in organizational operations and corporate politics.
At first, as I perused the menu, one could hardly tell there had been any changes at all, though they have added tortilla soup to the usual selection, and they still have the ribs, turkey club and Salmon BLT. On closer examination, though, it seems the old classic wing-zings might have been replaced, and after reading their message on sustainability titled “Help us help you,” I have to think again about what to order. The chicken flautas have returned, except with black beans, and the “smoked” tri-tip sandwich comes on a “homemade roasted corn foccaccia.” The calamari looks the same initially, but the menu specifies “Rhode Island,” which could mean they are dredged in a spicy flour instead of the panko we used to use, and then fried with peppers, or it could mean the steaks come from Rhode Island, but I’m not sure.
I decide on the Crispy Ribs appetizer, to see how different they are with the apricot ale dipping sauce instead of the old pale ale BBQ sauce, and am more than satisfied. The dry rub on the pork seems similar to what we used to serve, but the dipping sauce is the perfect sweet and sour complement to the roasted spices, and Patricia finished them perfectly: crispy on the outside but still juicy, and even better, I don’t need a stack of wetnaps to clean up afterward.
Sadly, I’ve had enough to eat, and I’m prevented from ordering the Buffalo Chicken Pizza, which seemed to be quite an excellent replacement for the BBQ Chicken Pizza I used to love so much. The afternoon had worn into evening, and the fear of hitting traffic was alleviated by the arrival of the evening shift. As I visit with Chuey and Ruben, the sun descending on The Bay casts its Golden Rays through the dining room, and it’s with a full heart that I head toward the doors. The early evening is temperate and traffic is light, and the years between then and now continue to blend together as I begin the 20 minute walk back to BART.