On many Thursdays, members of the flourish crew go to Burrito-Ville for lunch. It’s a ritual we call Burrito-Ville Thursday, and amidst the orange, yellow and red-muralled walls, we break bread — or burritos and tortilla chips — together and find a sanctuary of friendship. There each week, we’re greeted by the people who work there who know our names. Who know our orders. Who are happy to see us, and whom we are happy to see. Being a regular makes a place in the world feel like home, and we find that here.
For us, those people at Burrito-Ville who welcome us in and help us feel known are general manager Paige Garner and shift leader/front-of-house manager/self-proclaimed burrito enthusiast George Kester. Paige first patronized the restaurant as a high school student in 2005; she says she and her friends frequented the restaurant each time they visited Cape Girardeau from their hometown of Dexter, Mo. Back then, she always ordered the nachos. She began working at Burrito-Ville in March 2010 and says since, she has eaten nearly everything there, including “all of the off-menu things that you shouldn’t have had.”
George’s mom was a teacher at Clippard Elementary School, and he first came to Burrito-Ville as a child with his first grade teacher after school one day. Ten years later, he started frequenting the restaurant while in junior high school and remembers his first order as a teenager: the slow burn burrito. The next day, he says he tried the chicken dirty fry burrito; that or the chicken dirty fries became his go-to order until he started working at Burrito-Ville a little more than two years ago and began making “crazy stuff all the time.”
We wanted to know more about these people who make our lives better, so we sat down with them to ask a few questions. May our conversation encourage you to get to know the people who people your day-to-day interactions and, like our friends at Burrito-Ville do so well, move you to help others feel they have a place in the world wherever you go. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Burrito-Ville kind of has a cult following. How do you help create a place where people want to be?
George: Dude, I don’t know. Just be nice. Just be friendly. I remember coming in, in high school, and this was like a safe spot, safe haven for when we would get done with Centenary Youth Group right up the street. We’d come here every Wednesday and hang out for like an hour or two, go back, finish up, whatever. Or after school, we’d come here. This was the ideal spot to hang out. Friendly people, friendly environment, good food.
Why is it important to you to get to know people’s names?
Paige: That’s just something that kind of happened. You see a lot of the same people, and … it only takes a couple times coming through for us to be like, “Oh yeah, that’s Cliff. He gets the dirty fry.” Especially if it’s the same [order]. I don’t want to say it was a game or anything like that, but it’s just sort of something that happens organically. … It’s sort of one of those things that creates almost like the yearn to come back.
George: I want people to enjoy this place because I enjoy it so much, and I have enjoyed it.
Can you talk about your dogs, Paige?
Paige: [My fiancée Em and I have] three bull terriers and one 100% American pit bull terrier. … Aggie’s like at least 12+, Bowser’s 11.5 and Charlie’s 8.5 [years old]. Mushroom is a year and some change. We’ve been throwing our dogs tiny birthday parties. I traced [“The Simpsons” backdrop] upside down in my living room, and one of Em’s coworkers painted it [so we could take the dogs’ pictures in front of it]. … We’ve been actually scheming on themes for their birthdays this year. But yeah, that’s pretty much what I do, is work and go home and hang out with Em and the dogs.
What do you like about pit bull terriers?
Paige: They’re just like little clowns. They are so funny. … They will just be like on their backs, teeth shining, pretty much any time you look over and they’re not paying attention to you. And they just lay there like that until you pay attention to them. And they’re funny, they like to play ball. And mine love to go for rides. We have a big backyard now, so Mushroom runs doughnuts in it, and it’s the funniest thing. Aggie’s hobbling along — she’s cool, too.
George, when did you start playing guitar, and what do you love about it?
George: I’m in a band called The Doubted. … I was nine when I started playing bass, and really shortly after that, my mom bought me a $50 guitar from a janitor at Clippard [Elementary School], and I started fiddling around with it. My dad can play just a little bit, taught me some chords, and I sucked so bad, but I didn’t put it down, I never stopped playing it. So eventually, I didn’t suck as bad, I got less sucky and less sucky, better and better, I guess, but after about two years, I took some lessons which set me straight, and then I fell in love with a band called Avenged Sevenfold and really their guitar player, and that’s it. I learned all their stuff, and that’s pretty much it. I fell in love with music. Fell in love with writing. And playing live. We played live at church and everything. That’s pretty much it. It’s all over then.
I went to school for guitar, too, out in L.A. That was a cool thing. It wasn’t even about learning guitar, though, it was meeting thousands and thousands of people that are going to be in the music industry. … That’s the main thing I wanted to go to that school for, was to meet all those people.
What is your favorite restaurant besides Burrito-Ville?
Paige: George does not have another favorite restaurant. Oh man, that’s kind of a toughie. Honestly, I’m just going to go with the first thing that popped into my head. I love Café & Me. The panang curry, but do not go up in spice level, because it is not cool.
George: I always considered it the Burrito-Ville of Hollywood — it’s called Fat Sal’s, and it’s a hoagie place or like a gyro-type sandwich place.
What is your Burrito-Ville order?
George: Junior buffalo chicken dirty fry, sub spicy cheese, add the hot fry seasoning, pico de gallo, and if you can do it — which, nobody else is allowed to do this — but you take the junior queso and you don’t fill it up all the way, and you put hot fry seasoning in it, shake it up, get it where it really looks like molten lava, pour it on top instead of just the normal queso, so it’s literally just like a pile of lava cheese fries. I love that.
Paige: Mine’s a little simpler. It’s just a junior strip club [burrito]. I like to add some honey mustard and some cheddar and some pickles. Yeah. It’s like a snack wrap from McDonald’s, circa 2006. I’m bringing snack wraps back.
Paige: Dexter, Mo.
George: Cape Girardeau
Favorite scene from a movie or TV show
Paige: The Leaning Tower of Cheeza scene from “The Goofy Movie”
George: The scene from the show “Naruto” when Naruto is teleported to the Leaf Village after it’s been destroyed and can’t sense his sensei’s presence there because his sensei has been killed just before Naruto arrives, and the fight that ensues
Paige: When people or my dogs gulp while drinking, especially if it leads to hiccups they complain about
George: I don’t really have a pet peeve.
Emoji that best describes your personality
Paige: The smirking face or the “hang loose” hand
George: I don’t really use emojis. … The purple smiling devil
Song you’re currently obsessed with
Paige: “Cherry,” by B-Ville boy band SPACERS
George: “Crystal Casket,” by Chelsea Grin