As a server at Peter Lowells restaurant for the past two years, I’ve fantasized often about writing a blog inspired by our workplace. In that fantasy, I’m sharing the myriad stories of the ridiculously silly and playful antics that go on behind the scenes amongst our staff. At PL’s—as we call it here—we’re a family; we work hard and have a lot of fun doing it (most of the time).
My blog fantasy became a creative reality two months ago when I sat down to breakfast with the owner and proprietor of PL’s, Lowell Sheldon, and his partner in life and in work, Natalie Goble. The two of the them have recently given birth to a baby boy called Jack and, so, in between responding to Jack’s various requests for food, burping, diaper change, being rocked or sang to… the three of us began to talk about How We Were Challenging Ourselves to Evolve. And when I say ‘We’, I mean the living, breathing organism of the restaurant.
PL’s has been around since 2007 and, in that time, has established itself as a rock in the community—a point of constancy and integrity in its endeavor to deliver beautiful and rustically-created and served food at a reasonable price that has been truly, locally sourced. While tourists do find their way to PL’s via wine tasting room recommendations and word of mouth, mostly the restaurant feeds the residents of Sonoma County. These folks migrate to our watering hole daily, if not multiple times a day. They love it, they count on it, and when we close for holidays, it throws the rhythm of their day off. Bold statements, but true nonetheless. The immense power of spontaneous community gathering is not a new concept. PL’s can rest in knowing that it has come to be a central location for this kind of generative creativity and cross-pollination for Sebastopol and Sonoma County at large.
Getting back to the breakfast—we discovered a mutual desire to go beyond the success of being an established watering hole, to ask as any healthy young adult coming of age would: How am I, and how are we in service to this community? How are we challenging ourselves to evolve? And where is our creativity taking us? From this launch pad, a larger vision came for what is possible, including this blog.
I asked everyone on the team what everyone felt the purpose of such a blog would be. The responses were varied, but very interwoven. It feels important to share that when I asked Lowell, his response included that he did NOT see the blog as a vehicle for his voice. Hallelujah! Here we radically endeavor to take “the leader” out of the center and place the controversial conversations at the center instead. So the first entry of this blog is an INVITATION. We invite you to participate in the conversation: to follow and engage our exploration of where these questions take us as we consider local food systems, including the raising and slaughtering of livestock, sustainable fishing practices and the relationships out of Bodega Bay, the ‘cost’ of farming your own food, the pesticide policies that our county works with in the growing of grapes and making of wine, and the pollution of our landscape that results from it, the ethics of place, food, and community,, and much much more, including chef’s recipes and possibly some behind the scenes antics.
We dream of a California with a healthy water table, affordable organic nutrient-rich food, young people engaging with the natural world and their mentors more than their phones, a clean Russian River, and perfect summer sunsets paired with a cold glass of Jolie Laide’s very pink Pinot Gris and a plate of young fresh favas, creamy burrata, grassy green cold-pressed olive oil, and good salt.
With thoughtful appetites and a ton of curiosity we begin! We hope you enjoy the ride as much as we have already.