Service With A Smile


LET ME BE the 500th person to wish you a happy New Year! The Town Crier had to take time off last week to recuperate from the exceptionally long holiday season. But now that it’s 2005, I’m following through with a resolution to share certain secrets in the neighborhood — for the betterment of mankind.

Most locals have been to Pastino’s, the cozy Italian eatery on Park Boulevard in the Glenview district. You’d never know by tasting the food, but there isn’t an Italian in the whole operation. George Chan is the owner, and he kept the old recipes and some of the staff from the days when Sal Calo ran the place.

But it’s not just about comfort food. Pastino’s has two of the best waiters in town: 23-year-old Carlos Ham and his 18-year-old sister Wendy love working for their cousin George. “He needed someone he could trust,” says Wendy, who always seems to be smiling.

A student at Cal State Hayward, Wendy was born and raised in Honduras, along with her brother, making them tri-lingual in Chinese, English and Spanish. “Sometimes we get mixed up and speak ‘Spanglish,'” jokes Carlos, who is glad they can communicate with Pastino’s Spanish-speaking kitchen staff.

So there you have it. I’ve shared the secret of a great Italian restaurant with a multicultural twist and brilliant wait staff — and I’m probably going to regret it. After all, how many “high maintenance” customers like me can they handle?

Welcome sight

Isn’t it nice when you enter a town, to be greeted with a “welcome” sign? Some of Montclair’s movers and shakers are coming up with a plan for a sign and a garden — as you enter the Village from the north.

Volunteer Jill Wilson Broadhurst with the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council says the group is working with a landscape firm that’s has done a lot of pro bono work for non-profits and community groups, and an intern from UC is working on the plans and sign design.

Once that’s done, Broadhurst will be calling on all green thumbs to help with things like stump removal, soil preparation and planting. Oh, and the Montclair group would love to hear from local artists who might want to paint the concrete walls in town (what remains of the old railway).

Murals of Montclair would be a great way to celebrate the history of our “town.” If you’d like to help, log onto www.montclairsic.org and send an e-mail to the appropriate chairperson.

E-mail bag

Reader Shelley Brooks had this comment on my Dec. 17 piece about the adopted stray pussycats at Quinn’s Lighthouse on the Embarcadero: “My daughter attends Beacon School on Livingston Street at Embarcadero, and I am on a campaign to trap/neuter/return the feral cats near the school.”

She says feral cats are a huge problem on the waterfront and she hopes folks won’t feed them unless they’ve been spayed or neutered, because the number of kittens that can result is “staggering.” The kitties at Quinn’s have reportedly been fixed.

Strange coincidence

With the world rushing to help in the wake of Asia’s natural disaster, the timing of this is uncanny. Chabot Space and Science Center debuts a giant-screen film this week, called “Forces Of Nature.” It’s as close as you’ll ever want to get to the awesome power of an earthquake or severe storm. Save your meal for after the show.

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