The Plaza Club
memorial site

Dedicated to the memory of the Plaza Club, 3000 Briarcrest Drive, Bryan Texas
phone: 776-1775
(don't bother calling now)

Plaza Club main dining room (c.1992)

The Plaza Club was a great place, period. It was a place to work, it was a place to learn,
it was a place to have a great time, and a place to get the heck away from. Most of all, though... was a place to make friends.

I worked at the Plaza Club from May of 1989 to November of 1993,
minus the period from June to December of 1991, during which time I was
working at some other private clubs in Austin. I worked mainly in the kitchen, but
did a little waiting as well, for the extra experience (not to mention the pay).

For me, the heart of the Club was the kitchen. That is, after all, where I spent nearly
all of my time there. I started as a dishwasher, when Kraig was the chef.  It wasn't too tough
(compared to the time I spent as a dishwasher at Red Lobster in high school), but I did have some trouble.
One night after dinner service had ended I tried to carry a stack of about 20 big base plates from the dish area
over to the rolling base plate holder, and I slipped and dropped almost all of them. Kraig was red with rage:
"A college student should know better than that!" He and the other cooks all walked right out the door and
left me to clean up the entire kitchen as punishment. I never did such a dumb thing again at the Plaza Club…until I
climbed up on the deep-fryer one night years later to clean the vents on the hot line and overturned the entire thing,
causing hot oil to flow across the floor and over my foot and down the drains, but that’s another story…

Despite the damage I caused, Kraig eventually stuck me in the pantry. He taught me how to use a knife properly
and how to make salads. I had a hard time with the knife at first. One day I was chopping carrots with a big heavy blade
and sliced the tip of my thumb clean off. There was blood all over the cutting board. Even now it’s shorter than the other thumb.
But I really liked the pantry. It was bright and sunny in the daytime, and the sunsets were good. And, it wasn’t as hot or chaotic
as the hot line. And, the radio was there. I enjoyed controlling the music—playing DJ. Someone had left an old Lynyrd Skynyrd
tape up there, and I played it from time to time. One day I was having fun playing it over and over again, and then someone said
"If I hear Freebird one more time I’m gonna puke." Hearing this, I played it again. One of the cooks then took the tape and put it
in the drawer of the desk in the chef’s office. I waited an hour or so before pulling it out and playing it again. Then, the same cook
took the tape from the machine and put it in his pocket. Smiling, he patted his pocket and walked away, certain he’d won the fight.
I then tuned the radio in to the local oldies station, called the DJ, and requested…Freebird. "Do you want the short version
or the long version?" she asked. Of course, I requested the latter. Not long after, her voice came over the air and filled the kitchen
(because I’d turned up the volume). "This one’s going out to all those folks up at the Plaza Club who are working hard tonight,"
and then the song started. Everyone groaned and threw their hands up in the air, and I enjoyed the flavor of my small victory.

Soon after that, I heard that Kraig was leaving—going off to a big club in Fort Worth, and that some guy
the manager knew was coming to take his place. I worried: "What will the new chef be like? I hope he’s cool."
And, more specifically, I asked myself, "Will he let us continue to play music in the kitchen?" Everyone was wondering
what the new guy would be like. Then, not long after that, Mike appeared. I remember the first time I met him - over near the door
to the big walk-in cooler. Somehow, I knew he was OK from the start. Mike built a good crew, improved the way the kitchen functioned,
and made it a very fun place. (And yes - we played plenty of good music in the kitchen during Mike's tenure.)  As for me,
I stuck around - even while going to college - and eventually found myself working as first cook / quasi-sous chef.
Mike taught me how to cook, and gave me tips on how to live. He was a great chef, and a great guy.

Towards the end of 1993 Chef Mike was transferred to another club that needed a good chef,
and I left the Plaza Club shortly thereafter in order to concentrate on finishing school at Texas A&M University
(the campus was visible from the Plaza Club kitchen). Not long after that, sadly, the Plaza Club closed its
doors for the last time.

But going back, I started working at the Plaza Club in the first place because I had worked
for Kraig (as a dishwasher) at another restaurant he had co-owned, called Cafe d' Amerique. It was a
real classy operation, but it didn't last long. I had been there only about five months when I showed up for work
one day to find the place all locked up. But even before Cafe d' Amerique, the spot that held it had housed a different
restaurant - Confederate House. And during the duration of Cafe d' Amerique's existence, a glass case containing plates
and a few other pieces of Confederate House memorabilia stood in the dining room, reminding all
who walked in and out that, in the end, all things must pass...

Chef Mike 1990

Chef Mike Jones (June 1990)


Jon (June 1990)


Ron (June 1990)


me (June 1990)

Mike and Randy

Chef Mike and Randy (June 1990)

Mike and Randy

Chef Mike and Randy again (June 1990)


Shannon (June 1990)

hot line

Working at my Station on the Plaza Club Hot Line (c. 1992)

PC dining room

The Plaza Club dining room was designed by James David Barnes, an architect based in Oklahoma City.

Spinal Tap on Stage

The Official rock band of the Plaza Club kitchen - Spinal Tap!
(Who else could it be?)

(site still under construction)

Last updated November 8, 2011