Customer service: a senior seeks dating advice at Dana Point’s Tutor & Spunky’s deli
By columnist Tom Blake
When I owned Tutor & Spunky’s Deli on Coast Highway, in Dana Point, California, for 25 years, it became a meeting and gathering place for older singles. One reason that happened was the deli sponsored a “Meet and Greet for singles age 50+” one night each month.
I know of at least 20 couples who met at those events and it pleases me to know many of them remain together years later.
I sold the deli four years ago to Jim and Shelley Mouzakis, who have continued operating it as a popular, locals, place to eat.
Tutor and Spunky’s Deli has won the “People’s Choice Golden Lantern Award” for “Best Sandwich” in the Dana Point Times’ Best of Dana Point Magazine 10 years in a row, including 2019.
I believe one of the key reasons for winning the Golden Lantern award is that employees Teresa (30 years), Debbie (20 years) and Sandy (17 years) are still working there. They were among my favorite and most loyal employees.
Last week, I received a text from Debbie. She wrote: “A man by the name of Ray asked about the age 50+ singles group that you and Greta hosted here at the deli before you retired. He asked if any of the singles from that group still come here.
“He wanted your telephone number to find out information about other singles’ groups that meet in south Orange County. Here is his phone number,” (which Debbie provided).
I texted Debbie, “Thanks, Deb, you have always been so thoughtful and considerate of customers, always helping them. How old do you think Ray is?”
Always being the diplomat, Debbie responded, “He is older–guessing late 70s, maybe 80. He seemed very eager to find a new lady friend. He took his girlfriend of 13 years to a community center Valentine’s Day party, but something happened, she is no longer his girlfriend.
“He was looking for a place where older singles hang out and knew you could help him. He will be happy to hear from you.”
Thinking that Ray must be very sad, or, he can’t cope being alone–after all, it was just five days since Valentine’s Day—I phoned him and left a message that I’d be happy to talk to him. I feel bad when older couples lose a mate and one or both are desperate to immediately meet someone new.
I was prepared to tell Ray to take a deep breath, think about what happened, and not be so eager to rush out and replace his girlfriend. Also, that there is no place of which I’m aware in south Orange County–or anywhere for that matter–where older men go to hang out to meet older women close to their age. Places like that don’t exist.
Ray called me back on Friday, February 22, leaving this message:
“The reason I called you: I was a single. My woman-friend and I broke up after Valentine’s Day. I was looking for a place where older singles hang out and knew you could help me.
“But, she and I are attached again. That’s just how it is with women: one day it’s one way; the next day it’s another.
“We are happy now, but if it happens again, I will call you. Thank you.”
Some older men can’t handle being alone, not even for a few days. They rush into a new romance, and after a while, realize they weren’t prepared mentally for a new relationship. The result: they often end up breaking the new woman’s heart. Not good.
I didn’t find out what transpired in Ray’s case—why they broke up or why they got back together—he didn’t say.
I notified Debbie that Ray was already back with his girlfriend.
Debbie’s reply: “How funny. Oh well, we gave him the best customer service we could provide. I wish him success.”
Perhaps, in 2020, the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times, and The Capistrano Dispatch “Best Of” Magazines will add a new awards category: Best restaurant to dispense senior dating advice.
A version of this article appeared March 1, 2019 in
and the February 28, 2019, San Clemente Times