Shared from the 2017-12-16 Bakersfield Californian eEdition

My favorite

Don Perico

Picture
FELIX ADAMO / THE CALIFORNIAN

Bakersfield College president Sonya Christian enjoys a good lunch with friends at Don Perico restaurant.

As a rookie math faculty member at Bakersfield College in the early ‘90s, I discovered, then fell in love with the chile verde, chicken fajitas and the avocado pico de gallo at Don Perico. I was new to teaching and still new to the United States, and I loved exploring the food and scene of Bakersfield and Southern California.

I still remember clearly the first time I walked through the lunch buffet line at the little restaurant on Oswell — the food, a rich color, a variety of flavors and mouthwatering aroma. It somehow reminded me of my hometown of Kollam in the southern tip of India, and Don Perico quickly became my favorite spot to grab a warm meal close to BC, and close to my heart.

For very many years now, I’ve been known to recommend Don Perico to friends and colleagues. And the lunch buffet is still my first choice when I get food off-campus — and not just for the food. The staff and servers treat you like family. For decades before her retirement, Amelia greeted me by name and always with the largest smile. I would look forward to my visits to also see her and catch up on stories about her family.

I had moved away from Bakersfield for 10 years, but when I returned for the most important interview of my life, I knew I needed to prepare and put myself in the right frame of mind. Of course I went straight to Don Perico, walked through the door, and there was Amelia with a big smile! “Sonya! Where have you been?” she asked. That was the meal that kept me going through my interview to become BC’s 10th president. At times when I found myself with my picture in The Californian, Arturo, at Don Perico, would greet me with a smile let me know “I saw you in the news … and that was a nice photo of you!” Great warmth, great caring.

The years go by, and Amelia has since retired, but the new faces still welcome me just as warmly with a smile, and it remains my favorite for many reasons: the food, the atmosphere, the friendly staff, and it just feels like home.

Thank you, Amelia; thank you, Arturo; and thank you, Don Perico, for being the place with great food, warm smiles, and the place where before you know it they greet you by name.

See this article in the e-Edition Here