Dining out is a special treat for the entire family. It gives mom a break from cooking, picky eaters a choice of what to eat and stops the fuss over who’s cleaning the kitchen. Having a delicious meal can’t be beat – and if you happen to get an outstanding waiter or waitress, it’s icing on the cake.
Those dining at the Rockett Café and Club not only have a variety of delicious food to choose from, they’re blessed to have a 30-year veteran of waiting tables, Garry Green, as their server.
In a recent sitdown with Green, the Sun learned much about the lifelong Waxahachie resident and 1988 graduate of Waxahachie High School. His family has deep roots in Waxahachie as both his mother and grandmother were born and raised here.
“I love waiting tables,” said Green, who’s waited tables at the Rockett Café and Club since April 19, 1990. “It is a passion with me.”
He learned how to wait tables from his grandmother, Ludean Green.
“I began busing tables at K-Bob’s Steakhouse when I was 15 years old,” he said. “My grandmother waited tables there and she taught me the right way to do it,” adding that she explained how to treat customers who are ugly by “killing them with kindness.”
He’s still mourning the death of his mother, Drinda Sullivan, who passed away earlier this year.
“My mom was my best friend and I miss her terribly,” he said. “She always told me, ‘Garry, if you are kind to people it will come back to you.’ ”
That advice has worked well for Green, who has a large following of customers who request him as their server and are willing to wait until he has a free table.
“I am kind to my customers because I believe that what you give you get back,” he said. “You never know what is going on in someone’s life.”
And the kindness he’s shown his customers has come back to Green, who had a heart attack and underwent open heart surgery in 2017.
“When I had my heart attack, my customers brought me food and cards with money totaling $4,600,” he said. “Another time, when my stepfather passed away, one of my customers, who didn’t even know my mom, gave her a card with $1,000 inside to help with the funeral expenses.”
Over the years, he said he’s been “truly blessed” by his customers’ kindness.
In addition to serving the community under past owners Butch and Darlene Bissonnet from 1990-2007 and present owners Barry Bass and Julie Banks, who he went to high school with, Green is proud of the number of celebrities he has served.
“I have served Denver Pyle, Janie Fricke, Clarice Tinsley, Chuck Norris, Clarence Gilyard, Andrew Stevens, Kevin Sorbo, Cody Jinks, Vanilla Ice, John Conlee and Neal McCoy,” he said, noting also the filming that has taken place at the restaurant, including the bar fight scene in “Walking Tall II.”
Green isn’t the only long-term employee at the Rockett Café and Club. One of the cooks has worked there 27 years and a fellow server, Kimri Robards, has been there 26. He speaks highly of his fellow server and a customer, who came in recently after the restaurant reopened, who left a $100 tip for both him and Kimri.
Green lives with his two fur babies, 11-month-old Corgi siblings Jasper and Chloe. His brother Larry lives in Italy; brother Jason lives in Red Oak.
One of the most memorable events Green recalls from the years involves the Murphree family, which patronized the restaurant for 15 years.
“They brought their mother in with them and we used to serve iced tea in Mason jars,” he said. “I dropped her glass and it shattered in her purse. That was something we’d never forget. When the mother passed away, I got a flower arrangement and put it in a Mason jar.
“I attended her funeral and her son spoke of that incident and asked if I was in attendance,” he said. “When I stood up, he pulled that purse out and held it up, an emotional moment for me.”
Green spoke fondly of the late Edith Finley, who taught him and was his favorite teacher.
“We were learning the Preamble and I was having trouble learning it,” he said. “She encouraged me and inspired me. She taught me to believe in myself. She cried when I was able to recite the Preamble. I loved her and was so saddened when she passed away. Over the years, whenever I’d see her, she’d give me a big hug.”
A believer in giving back, Green spoke also of the late David Eder, who organized the senior dances at the Optimist Building and who came to the restaurant every Wednesday for catfish.
“David had to have a foot amputated and I had a fundraiser for him at Oma’s where we raised $900,” Green said. “He thanked me and thanked me.”
Not only is Green proud of his work, he’s proud of the Rockett Café and Club’s accomplishments, which include honors for the best chicken fried steak by D Magazine, top 10 best chicken fried steak as mentioned on the Food Channel and voted as one of the top five venues in the state for live music by the Texas Regional Music Awards.
Green believes God gives many things, including kindness, love, compassion and forgiveness.
“I believe being kind is a gift from God,” he said.
Few people serve 30 years as a waiter or waitress and even fewer do it with the passion and kindness.
Those traits have made him one of the best and most beloved servers in the area.