The menu has been expanded.
At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but then I figured it wasn’t my place to stand in the way of progress.
It doesn’t matter if I happen to think that the only thing Rick Walker needs on the menu at Bernie’s roadside tavern in Avilla is the double cheeseburger with bacon and jalapenos. What matters is that Rick and his customers are happy, and as far as I can tell, they are.
I know for a fact that the two customers who were with me last Saturday at Bernie’s were happy because they said they were. Here is how that conversation went.
Me: Are you happy?
Twenty-year-old daughter Emma: Leave me alone. I’m trying to eat my burger.
By the way, I’m proud to say that while my wife ordered the single
cheeseburger, Emma opted for the double. Although to be fair, Emma told me that I should have warned her how big the double was before she ordered it.
Oh well, live and learn.
For some reason my wife and I hadn’t made the short trek across Missouri Highway 96 to Avilla in some time, but now we’ve been twice in almost as many weeks.
I think that’s something.
Emma had never been to Bernie’s before last Saturday, and I wasn’t sure what she would think about the place. See, Emma runs in a sorority crowd at college, and, at least to me, Bernie’s doesn’t seem much like a sorority sort of place.
This may come as a shock to some of you, but when I was in college I didn’t hang around much with the sorority crowd.
I tended to hang out in places like Bernie’s. Last Saturday, I told Emma that much of my misspent youth had been spent in places like Bernie’s.
Emma gave me a look that said, “I don’t even know you anymore.”
But Emma also really liked Bernie’s. A lot.
I think that’s something.
I told Emma that years ago, when I was working in the oil fields around Pawhuska, Oklahoma, I took most of my meals in taverns like Bernie’s.
Emma only knows about Pawhuska because of that Pioneer Woman who cooks on the Food Channel. I told Emma that Pawhuska is a little different town now than it was when I worked there.
I don’t know, but there is just something about stopping in a roadside tavern after a long day on an oil rig and having an ice-cold beer followed by a burger and an order of fries.
I think some of my finest meals have been served up at roadside taverns.
Bernie’s has all the requirements that I look for in a roadside tavern. Beer, of course. The aforementioned excellent cheeseburgers. A great jukebox. A pool table, and friendly people.
A few weeks ago, when just my wife and I ate at Bernie’s, we sat at the bar while my wife played Keno. My wife said it was the best afternoon of her life, which I thought might have been an exaggeration.
But then again, she’s married to me.
So there is that.
Last Saturday, after we finished our burgers, Rick said he wanted me to try something new to his menu.
“We do wings now,” Rick said.
I have to admit I was uneasy with that news. “Why would a perfectly good burger tavern add wings to its menu?” is what I thought.
Sure, I love wings, but shouldn’t great cheeseburgers with bacon and jalapenos be enough?
Then I tried the wings.
And suddenly I was OK with adding wings to the menu. Rick served up a plate of stinging honey garlic wings and a plate of just really, really hot wings, and we finished them all.
After our cheeseburgers, fries and onion rings.
I guess sometimes progress is a good thing.