Observing a Scene





Observing a Scene

The Fonda restaurant is one of my all-time favorite places to eat. Not only do they have the best Mexican food in town, but the ambiance is also great, and the service simply superb. However, I have never taken the time to really look around, and this experience gave me a lot of insight into deliberate observation and just how much people rarely take the time to look about them. I chose to visit the restaurant over the weekend at 11 in the morning, just before the place filled up with the lunchtime crowd. The restaurant is famed for its pizzas and tacos, and many families are regular customers from around the area.

On the outside, the restaurant is surrounded by a lot of bushes and greenery, instantly giving the place a relaxed feel. Some flowers also grow in rustic pots made of wood, steel, and clay, further adding to the ambiance of the outside. For those who like to sit outside in good weather, there are several outdoor tables and chairs made to withstand harsh conditions such as the sun and the rain. The furniture was all painted brown and green, blending in with the surroundings. I saw a friendly waiter attending to a large group with children. The children all had small chairs and were given paper and coloring pencils. Even before the food arrived, they were laughing merrily while comparing their drawings. With such a happy welcoming sight, many diners walked into the equally striking interior of the restaurant.

The first thing that struck me was the simple yet luxurious décor in the inside. The furniture was all made up of base colors such as white, gray, and black. These colors instantly brought a sense of calm and peace to the restaurant. Brightly colored pillows brought bursts of color into the place. Everything was made in simple and straight lines, with no overly intricate pieces of furniture. The floor was made of polished brown wood, adding to the sophistication of the interior. The walls were a pristine white, making the space as bright as possible the French doors opening to the patio brought in a lot of natural light, making the space vibrant and bright. There were also blinds that could be folded when the brightness proved too much for the diners.

There were three separate sitting areas. To the left, there was a large area fitted with couches and coffee tables. A bookshelf stood nearby, showing that people who sat there often read while enjoying their drinks. To the right, space was divided into two with a broad aisle between. One side had comfortable booths where those who wanted a bit more seclusion and quiet could enjoy themselves. On the other side were chairs and tables that could seat four people each. I would approximate that the whole place could sit about fifty people when full.

Fonda is a family business, and the owner is often at hand to welcome guests and chat with them for a little while. I got in at around 11, which was still a quiet time. The kitchen is visible through glass walls as one entered, so it was possible to see all the chefs decked out in white gear hard at work for lunch. At the door, Mark, the owner greeted me warmly. His cheeriness was infectious, and I immediately felt quite at ease. I told him that I would take something cold as I waited for a lunch order. He walked me to the counter to a pleasant young man named Ron, who was happy to discuss options with me as I was unsure. He assured me that it would be ready in a few minutes, and I chose a quiet table by the window to watch.

My drink came looking so lovely that I was afraid to touch it. Several colors were distinguishable inside the frosted glass, and it tasted just as heavenly as it looked. There were few people about the restaurant, and the wait staff took their orders with smiles brighter than their white uniforms. One thing that I always find different in this particular establishment is the extent that the staff goes to make people feel welcome. They walk diners through the menus, helping them decide what to take. I am almost always unsure of what to take, so this is a great help.

After about an hour, the place began to fill up with people. There was a bustle as the previously idyllic mood changed as more people came in. Mark kept his place by the door, welcoming guests, and walking them to their tables. One instance that struck me was when a blind man walked in with his cane. Mark walked out to meet him happily and led him to a table close to mine. The man was a friend of his, and he knew exactly what he wanted. Before the food came, Mark chatted with him and asked after his family. It warmed my heart to see such kindness in one small space.

I appreciate my observation experience at Fonda; it helped me see just how important it is to take a moment out of our busy times to talk to a complete stranger. Every waiter and waitress in Fonda takes time to learn their customer’s name and something small about them. Everyone feels welcome, and the food tops the whole experience. I saw many people come in sad and unhappy, and walk out smiling. The biggest lesson is that it’s the small things that count.