Published in the March 7 – 20, 2018 Issue of Gilroy Life

From left, servers Mirna Sevilla and Darlene Lawrence with Longhouse manager Tina Smith.
Photo by Marty Cheek

A career waiting tables is often short. Standing all day, remembering orders, and hauling plates is exhausting. But Darlene Lawrence and Mirna Sevilla have been servers at the Longhouse Restaurant for 23 years, hired only a few days apart. After nearly a quarter century, they still enjoy coming to work.

“I can be myself here,” Mirna says, her freckled cheeks lifting into a smile. “I’m seasoned, and a lot of people don’t appreciate that. But I’m comfortable with my age and who I am, and so are my regular customers. When we reopened after the fire, I was a little scared, thinking I might have forgotten how to do it. Then it felt like riding a bike.”

Darlene also appreciates her customers, and the management. “And I love that it’s a local place where everyone comes. You see lots of families. Kids grow up, people divorce, some pass on, but they become your family and friends.”
Mirna calls Darlene the Felix Unger to her Oscar Madison. Demonstrating how differently the two arrange the salt and pepper shakers, Mirna says, “We’re like The Odd Couple.”

Without hesitation, Darlene’s eyes light up from behind her glasses and she pipes up from the end of the counter, “Yes, we are!”

Kidding aside, good veterans show rookies the ropes. Darlene notes, “Mirna took me under her wing when I was first hired.” Some 23 years later, you’ll usually find the pair working the weekday breakfast shift, where their experience is one of the best things on the menu.

Donna Lane

Donna Lane

Donna Lane is a storyteller and San Jose native who earned her journalism degree at San Francisco State University. She lives in Gilroy with her family, who inspire her to celebrate life each day.
Donna Lane