Early Morning at the Taylor Cafe

Several years ago, the Austin American-Statesman assigned me to photograph the Taylor Cafe, and its owner, World War II Army veteran Vencil Mares, who opened his barbecue place soon after coming home from that conflict.    Since then, I’ve occasionally stopped by to say hello to Vencil, sometimes taking photos, sometimes not.   With  Memorial Day near, Mr. Mares seems like a good subject to re-visit.  He celebrate his 94th birthday in November.   One of the things I’d heard through the years was that Vencil arrives at the restaurant every day of the year (except Christmas and Easter) at 6a.m., staying until closing time, around 10pm.   While I sort of believed the story, it wasn’t until earlier this week, while working on another story, that I saw him coming to work, well before 6a.m.   Even though he’s wheelchair-bound, you can still set your clocks by him.   As he guided Vencil into the restaurant, he explained, somewhat apologetically, that they usually get here by 5:30a.m.    This special sighting was somewhat like seeing the Loch Ness monster, but in a good way.    Happy Memorial Day, sir.

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