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Reef Madness

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I write this article having already left Olympia, embarked on the bitter, lonely pilgrimage each post-graduate college student must take from their old alma-mater to a new land of prospective opportunity. For despite the kaleidoscope memories of my rollicking pursuit of a liberal arts degree, and despite Olympia’s earthy, small town charm, imbued richly with weirdos galore, I felt my life there had taken on the sad, empty facade of a fallen Broadway star. So I've since moved on, headed for the seemingly greener pasture of the bustling northern metropolis they call Seattle. But towns are like lovers, it can be hard to completely move on, despite knowing that neither of you are right for each other. There are certain facets of their being that call to you and lure you back with their deeply irresistible siren song.
Olympia has such a refrain. It is almost as mythical as those singing sea-drenched mermaids. It is a persistent beast, having burned down twice in the last decade, but rising each time from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix. It is one of pitifully few places in town that are open past ten o’ clock. It is called King Solomon’s Reef. Or, if you are a hep young thing, simply The Reef. It’s a grungy little place. Styled after a 1950’s diner, if there had been punks and hippies in that decade. The service, for the sake of honest reporting, is usually slow. The whole joint is usually serviced by one or two bespectacled hipster waitresses wearing either something like calico dresses or a band t-shirt and hot pants. And the food, well, I suppose if you are a gourmand of the highest pedigree it would not exactly pass muster. But if you are a college student, a hard-worked townie, or an otherwise hungry passerby with a hankering for fried chicken and waffles, it tends to scratch the itch.
Its down-home food in a place where the concept of “down-home” or even what actually constitutes a “normal home” is much looser. At The Reef you’ll likely be enjoying your biscuits and gravy in the company of organic farmers, goth high school sweethearts, and gaggles of nomadic young adults hauling massive, dusty backpacks. It’s an eclectic family, all gathered around to enjoy the food that tastes just like how mom used to make it: macaroni and cheese, milkshakes and fresh baked pies. It tastes a little bit like going home for the holidays. And that’s kind of how it will be for me from now on. I’ll pop back into town, back to the little seaport in which I spent the formative days of my young adulthood, and if I’m there, you will most likely find me at The Reef. I’ll be somewhere behind a greasy mound of chicken bones, sipping at a milkshake and spending some quality time with my ever diverse, eternally strange other family.

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