You might have noticed him but thought nothing of it. Quiet and unassuming, Pops (whose real name is Gustavo) is a fixture here at Rio Tomatlan. One sleepy Monday in August, I had the distinct pleasure to sit down and interview him. He’s a born storyteller.
Name: Gustavo (but everyone just calls him “Pops”)
HEATHER: “Where were you born?”
POPS: “Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.”
Pops came to the United States as a young man to study English. He walked over the border daily to go to the Methodist school. It cost his parents $7 a month for his schooling which was a lot in that place and time. The school was near the river and one day it washed away. A new school opened up at Fort McIntosh. The new school had two rooms in the Fort. Pops returns back to Mexico every 3-4 years to check on his home and visit friends and family.
HEATHER: “Where have you worked in the area?”
POPS: “Xerox and then Rio Tomatlan.”
HEATHER: “How long have you been employed here at Rio?”
POPS: “Since it opened.”
HEATHER: “What’s your favorite dish at Rio?”
POPS: “Everything! I taught Rafael (the owner of Rio Tomatlan) the basics of cooking.”
HEATHER: “What do you think is your favorite thing about Rio Tomatlan?”
POPS: “The location. Canandaigua is beautiful and this location has lots of space compared to the old location”
HEATHER: “What do you do here at Rio?”
POPS: “A little of everything but mainly I work in the kitchen and doing prep work.”
HEATHER: “Tell us about your garden.”
POPS: “I grew up in a farming family. There was plenty of unused space here so I planted a garden. I enjoy planting Tomatillo’s and Peppers.”
HEATHER: “If you were to describe yourself, what would you say?”
POPS: “Easy Going. Friendly, Quiet, - likes to garden.”
Charming and soft spoken, I enjoyed all of his stories about his life. So the next time you’re at Rio, stop and say Hello to Pops if you see him. I’m sure you’ll get a smile and a Hello back and if you’re very lucky, he’ll tell you about his life in Mexico.