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A Tropical Mexico Connection via Sisters Oregon

Bill & I never tire of the conversations we have with our guests.  It’s a good portion of why we enjoy being innkeepers as much as we do–the genuine connections we can make with our guests enrich our lives and theirs too.  Take, for example, this little story:

It’s always slow in March in Joseph Oregon because the weather isn’t the best for outdoor activities, but a couple returning home to Sisters, Oregon, decides to spend the night with us on their way home.  As it turns out, TR and Jenny McCrystal own a restaurant in Sisters called Jen’s Garden.  It’s an “intimate cottage cuisine” setting with food inspired by the South of France with 5-course, 3-course, or a la carte menu choices.  We have a nice time talking about the restaurant, about Sisters, about Central Oregon, and all is fine.  I make a mental note that we will definitely plan for dinner at Jen’s Garden the next time we visit Sisters and to mention this same restaurant to other guests headed that way.

Tropical Mexico in Pomona California in 1972 as a small restaurant Over breakfast, somehow I mention my alma mater, Pomona College.  Often one or more guests will recognize Pomona College as one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, but I cannot remember when I heard a guest say, “Yes, and I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona.”  Turns out TR McCrystal was a Cal Poly hospitality program student studying restaurant and hotel operations.

But here’s where it gets even a little more odd.  Knowing that he’s a restaurateur, I added, “I’ll bet you never had dinner in Pomona at a little pink restaurant called Tropical Mexico.”  His eyes widened.  “Trop Mex!” he exclaims.  “Yes, a great place for college kids to go and the dishes–the mole, the menudo, everything I can remember–top notch.”

How serendipitous is this?  Here we are, the restaurant owner and the innkeeper, talking about a place each of us remembers from decades and lifetimes ago.  What we each remembered were sweet, college year memories.  As I started to write this blog post, I wondered if Tropical Mexico was really now just a memory; that it isn’t the hole-in-a-wall restaurant it used to be.  Surprisingly, it’s still there (and with a web presence). Tropical Mexico has changed and grown significantly from that little pink bungalow I remember from the late 1970s.  But TR and I made that connection across the years and across the miles.  

Will TR and Jenny remember us?  Probably.  Will I remember them?  Undoubtedly.  It’s these kinds of intimate happenings you probably won’t discover staying at a hotel–one of the beautiful little connections about the bed and breakfast experience.

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