Mama's Mexican kitchen in Seattle is going to be closing soon after 40 years in business. For its patrons, this means farewell to cheap, late-night burritos in Belltown, cozy booths and the Elvis Room.
But for Bella Biagio it's more than a loss of a business, a job or a building; She's worked there 18 years. So for her, it's the loss of family -- albeit an odd one she refers to as, "The island of misfit toys."
"We are the train with the square wheels. And the gun that shoots jelly and the Charlie in the Box," she said. "It's so dysfunctional but it works."
A lot of older Seattle is disappearing under the ceaseless march of urban development, she said. And the town is lesser for it. There are not as many none corporate, "genuine" places in Seattle anymore, she said. Certainly not many like Mama's, a popular, divey Mexican eatery on the corner of 2nd Avenue. and Bell Street.
It likely will close in a few months. It might hang on a bit longer -- but not much.
"There are a lot of duplicates of a lot of things," she said. "Everything is clean and tidy. Mama's is not."
There's no more dirty, she said. There's no more raw. She said Mama's was great for staffers who didn't necessarily fit in to a more conventional workplace. Like Bella herself.
She said she tried to work other places from time to time but it just didn't take. "I worked at a Tom Douglas restaurant," she said laughing, adding that it turned out, "not well."
She jokes that when Mama's closes she is going to put an ad in the paper looking for new work. According to Biagio, this is how it will read:
"Mama's is closing. Bella needs a job. She needs to be able to say F***."