Sweet Serendipity

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Sweet Serendipity

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Pamela Wald met Stone at a bus stop. “We were both waiting for the same bus and when we got on, we sat next to each other and we just talked the whole time… There was never any, there was never a dull moment, in terms of conversation,” Pamela smiles as she explains their initial meeting. Four, almost five years after their serendipitous encounter, I am sitting in their restaurant, Stone’s Jamaican Roots and Juices. 

Reggae music lulls softly behind us, as Pamela continues to paint this vignette for me. “We talked about traveling and he had lived in France and we just talked about, you know, traveling and how much we liked it. I mean, he told me about his music and I was able to share that my brother’s also a bass player.” Stone is on tour right now with Julian Marley, and so this means Pamela is working the late shift at the juice shop. Most of the meals they make are take out, catering to workers and commuters. The smell of pungent aromatic spices fill the air complemented by a sweet fruity fragrance. 

While most of the recipes served at their restaurant are Stone’s own, this doesn’t mean Pamela is a stranger to cooking. Growing up in a primarily German home, Pamela’s kitchen was often filled with cooks as her family would come together to cook their favorite meals. “There was a meal, gosh, it has a different name, but we called it cheese buttons, but I know it has a different, it’s I think it’s called a Pierogi… And, everyone loved it so much that we would all get together as a family because it took so long to make and we would make it together.” Cooking being a family affair has also translated to her life with Stone. “We like to go to the farmer’s market. It’s done that and I like to just kind of go around. We still shop for our restaurant, we handpick everything…We really enjoy it. It’s kind of our date thing that we do.”

Stone and Pamela’s cultures are seemingly opposites; however, they have learned to strike balance with each other. Pamela stays true to her European culture while also welcoming and learning from Stone’s: “And you know it’s a kind of interesting because I watched and I meet a lot of Stone’s Jamaican friends have American partners and they’ll try to speak the language and I just haven’t done that. And just like, okay, I’m just going to embrace my whiteness here. Be who I am.” No expectations, and no demands; just love and support between them.

Pamela balances her two jobs, often working a total of 17 hours a day, from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

You can feel this energy at Stone’s Jamaican Roots and Juices, even from the outside. The small restaurant is nestled in a once decrepit strip mall along San Rafael’s Miracle Mile and has single-handedly transformed the energy of entire shopping mall. The bright colors are enticing and inviting and upon entering, you are welcomed by the same tasty aromas and soothing music as I was, making you feel at home right away. And Pamela is a key factor in this.

Her smiling face and warm greeting go beyond simple hospitality. She has described herself as a people watcher and someone who loves to experience people. “I think there we have a lot of, um, a lot of really wonderful, like old soul hippies that come in from this area… and a lot of people come in and it’s like, oh, I went to Jamaica and I loved it. You know, they’re drawn here because of the memory of going there.” And that’s part of the beauty of what Pamela does, she eases the stress of daily life by bringing happiness to strangers.

And while Pamela has yet to go Jamaica, she has had opportunities to people watch all around the globe. When Pamela isn’t working at Stone’s Roots and Juices, she’s working her full-time job at Genentech, which sent her to Greece a few years ago. “It was a wonderful place… I would just take the bus and I didn’t speak the language… And you know, some people try to learn some words, but I just didn’t even try and I felt that people were more open with me and really tried to help me. But what I did is I just got on the transit, either the bus or the train and then everywhere I got off I would take a picture really of the station name, so I could get myself back… I loved seeing the culture and that’s what stood out the most. And seeing like little old couples on the bus, you know?”

Embracing the cultures of others while also staying true to her own culture is something Pamela does. She learns from everyone around her and being in food service has no shortage of learning opportunities. “I started out working at a Denny’s. There was my first waitress job. And then I went up to, and I worked at Harrah’s in Tahoe for about four years and then moved to Santa Cruz and waitressed there.” She’s had her fair share of food service experience, and she loves it. “I really do enjoy it. I would always tell everybody, ‘I think when I retire I’m just going to do something in a restaurant.’ I never dreamed that I would open before I retired.” Stone’s Jamaican Roots and Juices is a place of passion and Pamela is a beautiful indicator of that, proving that it has become an intersection of many cultures and experiences with the single objective of bringing people together.