• A night of warmth and love

    I was lucky enough to attend the celebration and diner party in honor of the 2013 Winters Citizen of the Year, and what a party it was. If I hadn’t been a witness, I would never in my life have believed that such a night was possible. It was an excellent celebration of all that is good about this little city of Winters, California, its people. It was a party, to be sure, for there was fine food and drink, elbow rubbing, laughing, maybe a little crying, and a whole lot of love and affection.

    This year’s honor went to John Pickerel, owner of the Buckhorn, the Putah Creek Cafe, and a number of other fine dining establishments scattered throughout the United States, including New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is called affectionately, “The King of Meat,” because his Buckhorn steakhouse is nationally ranked. I can personally attest to the fact that he serves the finest steak in this nation, possibly the world.

    I’ve gotten to know John pretty well in the past year or so — at least one side of him. John has two sides, I think, a business side and a personal side. Normally, I would say a working side and a relaxed side but I don’t think that applies to John because even when he is relaxing he is still working very hard. I don’t think I have ever seen him in a relaxed state. He just goes and goes all the time, no matter where he is or what he is doing.

    If I had to describe John Pickerel to you, I don’t exactly know what I would say. He is nothing like you might think he is. He deals with money all day, every day, but I don’t think he cares a lot about it. Money is not the reason he does what he does, I know this for sure. To him, money is just a tool he uses to accomplish what he wants to do. He is a generous man with a passion for doing his best at what he does and he instills that into those he deals with, both professionally and personally.

    He and his wife Melanie are down-to-earth people who live simple, ordinary lives like the rest of us. They don’t drive fancy cars or wear the finest shoes, and their little house fits right in with the rest of the houses of this little town. They don’t live in the mansion up on the hill like you might think, nor would they want to. They are regular people with regular needs and wants, and they make mistakes just like the rest of us. No one I know is more deserving of the Citizen of the Year award.

    I can see that when John walks down the street, he can feel the heart of this little town. I don’t know much about the business side of his personality, but I do know that he thinks the important part of his business is the people who work with him. I don’t know exactly how many people he employs, but I imagine there are quite a few, and they and not the gaining of revenue are the reason he works so hard to stay in business. He knows what he has to do and he does it with the welfare of his employees in mind. Both John and Melanie live their lives dutifully with the notion that in service to others lies the road to happiness.

    The Pickerels put everything they have, physically and mentally, into their business not for the love of money but for each and every person who depends upon them for a job to support themselves and their families. The welfare of their employees is all-important to the Pickerels — this is clear for me to see and it should be clear to you. There is nothing phony about the Pickerels and what you see is what you get. Perhaps that is why I have grown so fond of them. As far as people go, these two are among the best I have met.

    It is not normal for me to attend public functions like the diner celebration for the Citizen of the Year, but I’m glad I did, because it was truly a night of wonder and affection in praise of John Pickerel and the Citizens of the Year of the past. It was a night of true warmth and love. It was a night I will not soon forget for it was a room full of people that are the best the city of Winters has to offer.

    We live in a fine town, a town we can be proud of, and a town where our families can live and be happy all of the days of their lives.


      • carolyn scott

      • February 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm
      • Reply

      They sound a lot like Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, who is probably rolling in his grave.



    • I have had the pleasure of eating in two of his three places in Winters and both meals were fabulous not only for the food but the company I was with.



      • Did I tell you about my friends Steve and Terry getting lost in the woods so the fire rescue and the sheriff had to find them and rescue them. This was Sunday. This sounds like a new column, ha. I enjoyed your company too.



    • “It is a very arty town, quaint and friendly,” he said. He described being touched by a simple gesture of friendship. A passerby noticed he had finished his lunch, and offered a hand to dispose of his garbage so Martin could continue painting.



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