A chat with Karen Alexios
WESTPORT — Karen Alexios was worried.
One of her regulars at Gold’s Delicatessen had not been by to eat in a couple of days.
“He must have gone to the Cape or somewhere, but usually they always tell us,” Alexios said.
Alexios, a seasoned waitress at the local landmark, cherishes the people she interacts with daily — she has been cultivating relationships and providing unparalleled service to the loyal patrons of Gold’s going on 22 years now.
She started waiting tables in her native Bridgeport when she was 16 years old at a bakery and worked at a succession of diners and restaurants until finally landing at Gold’s, a place she doesn’t intend to leave.
As a young girl, Alexios and her mother would make the occasional trek from Bridgeport to Gold’s to get the “best chopped liver in the world — even then it was a quality place with quality food,” she recalled. “I just remember it was a treat to go there.”
When Alexios was offered a job at Gold’s (among two competing offers), she said the choice was easy, given her fond memories. Through her work at the popular Westport hangout, Alexios has steadily gained friends — many of whom are considered part of her extended family.
“We have such great customers. Most of them are regulars and after years you really get to know people. Their kids, I’ve watched them grow up and now they’ve graduated from college,” Alexios said.
Recently, a customer who Alexios has known for years, introduced Alexios to her son, who lives in California.
“It’s like I’m part of the family and they introduce me like I’m their friend, not the waitress,” she said.
She keeps a stack of her grandchildren’s old books, such as Sesame Street, on hand for her youngest customers. The gestures are appreciated by her young friends as Alexios often hears the high-pitched acknowledgement, “Hey, I know you!”
These interactions are a product of her keen ability to listen and an undying interest in the people she waits on.
“Any real friendship is earned, it’s not made overnight anyway,” Alexios said.
One customer made sure to show Alexios pictures of her grandson, who had a heart operation. Every day they talk about his recovery. She also greatly enjoys working with her colleagues, including 21-year Gold’s veteran Joan Moens. All the people she works with and interacts with, Alexios considers “specialty items” in their own right.
“(Richards) liked Tommy (an employee at the time). So Tommy would be in the back washing dishes and Keith Richards would be hanging out laughing with him in the kitchen while he was washing dishes and I’m going, ‘Only at Gold’s would you see that,’ ” Alexios said.
After all her years as a waitress, Alexios finds joy in each day she comes to work because of the relationships she consistently maintains.
“When I come in here I know I’m going to see people I enjoy talking to and I’m going to be busy. Of course it’s something to look forward to,” Alexios said.
The loyal patron Alexios was worried about eventually returned from vacation. He sat in a familiar seat at Gold’s and was warmly greeted by his friend’s inquiries about his travels.