Being a server is more than just a job for Raquel Gomez, it's the opportunity to brighten someone's day with a hot cup of coffee, greet old friends and make new ones.
A longtime server at the IHOP restaurant on Old Redwood Highway, Gomez loves people — and it shows. That's why she's been chosen as Service Person of the Week.
"I'm really a people person with lots of energy," said Gomez, who started working at the Petaluma IHOP 17 years ago. "My mom was a server, and she suggested I become one too, because of my personality. I tried it and loved it."
Gomez started working as a server at La Azteca in Petaluma 20 years ago and moved on to IHOP in 1996. Though she lives in Santa Rosa, she fell in love with the people in Petaluma.
"People here are really nice," she said. "They still remember to open the door for others and are just always there for each other."
Being there for her customers is what Gomez enjoys most about being a waitress. She takes the time to listen to her many regular customers and goes out of her way to make new ones feel right at home.
"It's not just about serving people, it's about being there for people," said Gomez. "I'm there for my customers. Sometimes the only nice part of their day is when they come in to the restaurant. I like being there for them. I've found that so many of my customers have become family to me."
"She is the best server any one can have," said regular IHOP customers Bill and Ines Stark. "It is always a pleasure to be hosted by her. We are sure most of the customers here agree."
"It's a great feeling when customers are happy and talking about you," said Gomez. "Some people become servers because it's a job. I do it because I love it."
Gomez is the third of five people to be named Service Person of the Week. Last week's honoree was Carole Quan, a checker at Lucky Supermarket on Lakeville Street. The first Service Person of the Week was Becky Rowland, an employee of Orchard Supply Hardware.