I’ve known Megan long before she ever worked at Feast. I worked with her now-husband at Boccata in the early nineties, and she worked with my now-wife at Kingfisher in the same era. We worked together at the Dish a few years later, for a few more years.
Megan’s been back and forth to Sonoma and Kazakhstan since then, with a tiny child in tow who’s now moved into a house with what I imagine are four other gangly teenagers, and when she arrived back in Tucson 13 years ago, she said hello.
“Who’s helping you with your wine list?” she asked.
“No one, really,” I thought aloud, and we were off.
Megan looked me in the eye with the inscrutable face we now all know here. “If I’m still here in two years,” she said, “I want you to kick me out.” Evidently, we each had enough lessons to learn that we’ve now worked together for another thirteen-year stretch, and we’ve driven each other crazy, and we’ve been there for each other like siblings. We have jokes that only the two of us understand. We know what the other will say. And I can’t speak for Megan, but I feel all the luckier for it.
Megan plays her cards close to her chest- she’s in many ways my opposite: cautious with her words, poker-faced, and careful not to show her hand. For all my scattershot chitchat and blather, Megan keeps her thoughts largely to herself, and even when she does talk, it’s with care and prudence.
There was night in the servers’ station where a couple of us were talking about corporate team building exercises, and the Trust Fall. Would you dare to fall backward in hopes that your friend or coworker would catch you before you shattered your coccyx? There was idle chatter among us while Megan stood at the computer, entering an order for a table. Then, wordlessly, she tipped back with no one even close and put herself in fate’s hands. I saw her tilt backward in slow motion, I lunged, and I caught her. Coccyx saved. And all of us flabbergasted.
At the end of this month, Megan will leave her post at Feast to pursue her other career- still in wine, dealing with retailers and restaurant buyers rather than guests, and Katherine, who’s been here nearly thirteen years herself, will take that seat at the table, writing the list with me, working with Kevin to keep the shop filled with excellent finds, and keeping the list updated, as Megan’s done, to the best of her ability, with a fairly Herculean task. She’ll keep the cellar organized, find the bottles that no one on the staff can seem to find, update the map that tells us where in the refrigerators to find each of the nearly two hundred bottles of white wine we keep chilled for all of you.
Tomorrow at our Zoom wine tasting, you’ll be able to meet with the four of us who mostly handle the wine program here. We’re proud of it- the inclusion pre-pandemic in the Wine Enthusiast’s list of the 100 top wine restaurants in the US, and the fourteen years of Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence (and Best of Awards of Excellence,) and the more important accolades of our guests telling their friends what a great list and shop we have here. We’ll be tasting four staff picks- we’ve each chosen a wine we think you need to know more about. While there’s nothing inherently precious about the wines, each one represents an experience that one or more of us wishes that people would try in their own trust fall. Maybe you don’t know the particular producer, or even the grape, but we wish it wouldn’t keep people from trying it out and discovering that they love something that they’d never thought to try.
There’ll be a tasting on Sunday as well, one with food pairings, that will delve into four interpretations of Pinot- a Pinot Gris, a Pinot Meunier, and two Pinot Noirs, one from the New World and one from the Old,
and we’re continuing to collect contributions to our next series of donation runs, one next Tuesday to the Primavera Men’s Shelter,
to be followed closely by one to the Sister José Women’s Center, and then to Youth on Their Own and Casa Alitas.
We’ll change the menu a week from Tuesday, as we’ve done for twenty years now, and on August 15th- Ferragosto- we’ll offer up some special Italian dishes and deals on Italian wines, as we’ve done for rather less than twenty.
And we’ll continue what we’ve been doing around here for presumably years to come, if we can hoist ourselves out of the Covid-dug well that we’ve fallen into. We’re still interviewing potential coworkers, enough to get our doors open at lunchtime and to be ready for busier dinners when health protocols and the return of our more seasonal guests allows.
Megan, meanwhile, will again wordlessly tip herself backward into a new daily life, and see what happens, and Godspeed, Megan. May fate’s hands catch you and set you down gently where you want to walk next.