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Bodega's Mama Evelyn Casini

Mother of Bodega

May 31, 2018

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I hope we all enjoyed celebrating our mothers last month. Before honoring our fathers in mid-June, I want to join in the celebration of Mama Evelyn Casini, owner of the Casino Bar and Grill for 69 years, since July 1, 1949. Evelyn took over the bar only ten years after it began.

Evelyn reported that in the beginning it was really hard work. She had only waited tables before and bartending was tough, especially since it was a man’s job thus she had to “earn respect from people.” It helped that she was a local, born at a ranch up on Bay Hill and that she was beside her husband Arthur, whose family has been here over a hundred years. They were a power couple.

She told me that they’ve always had a good following. A customer named Chris stated that the Casino is the “best bar in the world!” Evelyn said that they have “good clientele—people are just people and you have to play it by ear.” Subtle things vary daily and everyone must roll with the punches. For example, the bar opens daily at 9 a.m., however the closing time varies between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. depending on customers. If the bar wasn’t flexible and able to adapt, it would not prosper.

More wise words from Evelyn include to keep it simple, treat people how you like to be treated and people are interesting if you listen.

She gets to meet people from all over the world and is fascinated with people, where they are from and what it’s like there. She also loves entertaining local guests from regulars to countless bachelor or bachelorette parties and holds a couple special holiday parties, a grand Thanksgiving afternoon potluck for the whole community and a Christmas morning gathering with light snacks.

Speaking of snacks, they have some great food there at the Casino, conveniently in the middle of our charming little Bodega. They have a yummy Grill Menu open daily 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. as well as a delicious dinner menu every day 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Also, they seasonally offer barbequed oysters at their outside patio from April to Labor Day, depending on weather.

For fun, this busy Mother of Bodega likes to have lunch with friends, play the game machines in the bar such as pinball, and watch her one 15-year-old great granddaughter play softball, basketball, or whatever sport she is into at the time. She sure seems to enjoy her work, too. Who wouldn’t? it’s a lively place to enjoy refreshments, community, history, and appreciate exciting new experiences.

Evelyn says that the local watering hole serves like a community center, is a hub during big floods and consists of people who are always looking out for each other. She is quite an open book and thinks most people know her relatively well. She pronounces, “In spite of all the ups and downs, it’s been very interesting. I’ve met a lot of people from all over the world. The people around here are more like family than neighbors.”

I am proud to call Evelyn Casini the Mother of our tiny town and am glad to have her nearby in times of need for comfort, support, nourishment and libations.

Bodega Byways by Eva Granahan

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