Thursday Sep 02 2010
From 'Bean Girl' to general manager
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
Cattlemens manager celebrates 30 years with Roseville restaurant
Anne Ray sits in the low-lit bar at Cattlemens in Roseville, surrounded by western decor on the walls, as country music plays on the radio. She points to a set of salt and pepper shakers on the table and smiles with pride. “I’m responsible for everything from the roof on this building to the salt and pepper shakers,” she says. For the last 13 years, Ray has worked as the restaurant’s general manager, in charge of the business’ finances, controlling costs, maintaining the facilities and supervising staff. She currently oversees about 70 employees. Ray has seen her share of employees and customers through the years — or, rather decades. The Roseville resident celebrated her 30th anniversary with Cattlemens in July. She started as a “Bean Girl” at 16 years old and has since worked her way up to cocktail server, bartender, waitress, assistant manager and now the top woman on the totem pole. “She keeps (work) fun,” says server Philip Hernandez, who has worked at the establishment since April. “She’s always coming up with cool and innovative concepts to keep us energized.” Back in the mid-1970s, Ray attended Oakmont High School. She wanted to earn some money and a job at Cattlemens was the perfect fit because she could attend classes during the day and work in the evenings. “Everyone wanted to work here,” Ray says on a recent afternoon. “It was one of the few steak houses in the area at the time … When Roseville was smaller, someone would ask, ‘Where’s Roseville?’ And people would say, ‘Right next to Cattlemens.’” The original Cattlemens opened in Redondo Beach in 1968 and the Roseville eatery followed in 1976. Ray started as a hostess and Bean Girl, dishing out all-you-can-eat servings of piping-hot beans to customers. She remembers wearing a jean skirt and checkered shirt. Although the Bean Girl served as Cattlemens’ de facto mascot, hard economic times led the owners to ultimately do away with the position. During those early years, the menu fit on a wooden boot and consisted mainly of steak and potatoes. Ray remembers the family friendly restaurant being “really, really busy.” As a teenager, Ray also briefly worked for the Roseville Telephone Company and the Dairy Queen on Douglas Boulevard. After high school, she attended Sierra College. When Ray turned 21, she started serving cocktails and bartending at Cattlemens. She’d begin a new position and quickly advance to a leadership role. She says all that past experience means nowadays she can dive-in, hands-on, and help out when needed, whether than requires rolling up her sleeves and busing tables, opening wine for guests or serving meals. Despite the increased salary through the years, she says the customers have given her the most fulfillment at her job. “I really got to know, and still do, the customers that come in,” Ray says. “That’s been the amazing thing about working here. Some of the customers used to be young and unmarried. Now they have kids.” She says Cattlemens has been fortunate to retain a loyal customer base but the economic downturn, along with increased competition, has presented some challenges. Ray focuses on maintaining the restaurant’s reputation and building relationships with customers to get through the tough times. She makes an effort to greet customers and ensure they’re completely satisfied. “When the restaurant opens, I shut the door to my office and I don’t go back in until the last customer leaves,” Ray says. She also has a positive rapport with staff, says Hernandez, who has seven years experience in the restaurant industry. “I went in for the interview and we just hit it off,” he says. “Her freshness after 30 years — there are no signs of burn out or negativity. (Her story) moved me so much, when she offered me the job, I immediately said yes, no hesitation. It’s inspiring at the end of the day. I want to work harder for myself and for her.” When not at Cattlemens, Ray, a self-described “upbeat, outgoing, people-person,” enjoys the outdoors by taking trips to the ocean and skiing. She and her husband — who have been married 25 years — love cooking at home. She has a 23-year-old son at Sonoma State University and a 17-year-old daughter at Roseville High School. “A lot of what has happened to me is a choice that I made,” she says. “It’s tough to balance. I want to be a great mom and a great wife. But I also want to be a great business person.” She seems to have accomplished her goal, which isn’t to say the journey has always been easy. She regularly works weekends and holidays and the hours pose the hardest part of the job. “I’ve never had New Year’s Eve off. This year, I’m going to try and request it off for my 30-year anniversary,” Ray says, with a wink. Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.