Mike Monahan and his son, Casey, share one goal as they set out for work each morning. They want their restaurant patrons to be satisfied.
The pair work in tandem at Creekside Cafe in Boyes Hot Springs, where popular menu items like Chef Marco Echeverria’s secret-recipe French toast, huevos rancheros, and biscuits and gravy draw in crowds for breakfast and lunch six days a week.
Mike, 63, and Casey, 24, keep a steady pace even as lines form on busy weekends. The father-and-son duo know how to keep one another calm during the most hectic days — an art they developed working side-by-side for the past six years.
“You just see the light at the end of the tunnel and power through,” Casey said. “It’s stressful, and a lot of hours. We try to keep everybody happy, the employees and the guests.”
He and his father can read one another and recognize when the other needs a break. On particularly busy days — such as Father’s Day — the duo is in constant motion.
The Monahans will work together until the cafe closes at 2 p.m., with their own Father’s Day celebration coming after a hectic work day. Mike can’t recall taking a Father’s Day off, but is happy he’s working together with his son.
“We depend on each other,” Mike said. Added Casey: “It’s the trust.”
Mike and his wife, Jody, opened Creekside Cafe 19 years ago, after moving to Sonoma from San Francisco. Jody had experience as a server and cook; Mike owned the Ninth Inning Tavern in the Inner Sunset district in San Francisco for 14 years, after a career in construction.
“My wife always wanted a cafe,” Mike said.
Jody quit her job in San Francisco to help establish the restaurant for a year or so, but then returned to work in the city. This month she retires from her career as a sidewalk inspector with the City and County of San Francisco.
Having Casey, their only child, in the family business is an asset in many ways, Mike said. He’s dependable enough to run the cafe during his parents’ extended vacations, and he’s personable enough to engage patrons, greeting many by name.
“He’s animated, of course, very funny and witty and he’s got a good sense of humor,” Mike said. “He’s learned patience over the years and that’s what you need in this restaurant.”
The casual eatery is about 2,500 square feet, with five patio tables and 12 indoor tables seating up to 45 guests.
It’s small enough that Mike’s five employees, including Casey, work in close proximity as part of a dedicated and supportive team.
That means Mike can easily spot when Casey’s stepped outside for a quick cool down.
“His nickname is Houdini,” Mike said. Casey also can tell when his father is pushed for patience.
They step in for each other, taking orders, serving food and refilling drinks, bussing tables, running tabs, doing whatever is needed.
“We’ve figured out how to make it work,” said Casey, a NASCAR fan and member of the local Native Sons of the Golden West.
They admit there are occasional tense moments when things are chaotic, but considering they work together six days a week, it’s rather rare.