A birthday celebration sparks good conversation with a banker

Posted by on May 28, 2013

During my first month as the Pfister Narrator, I have already spent a lot of time hanging out at the Lobby Bar, Cafe and Blu, talking to guests and hearing what brought them to the hotel.

Recently, for the first time, I went to Mason Street Grill. It was my birthday and it seemed like a fun, celebratory place. Plus, a couple I interviewed for my second Pfister blog said it had the best happy hour in the city.

I do not take such words lightly. And so I went.

I ended up not taking advantage of the great happy hour deals which offer everything on the bar menu for $5, but sat in the restaurant side instead. You know, ‘cuz I was the birthday girl and all.

I’m not one to photograph my food for social media, but I was in cell phone shutterbug mode during my entire meal. The lobster and salmon were incredible and the barbecue shrimp appetizer – which was recommended to me by former Pfister narrator Jenna Kashou – looked like an art piece. The drizzle design reminded me of an intricate henna design an Indian bride might have adorned on her hands or feet the night before her wedding.

Somehow, after my meal, I found a small window between gluttony and food coma, and struck up a conversation with Mason Street regular and another happy hour enthusiast, Tracy Meeks.

Me: So what brings you here tonight?

Tracy: I’m here for happy hour. I love the food and the drinks here. And the music. I come once or twice a week.

Me: Do you work Downtown? (He’s wearing a very nice suit and tie.)

Tracy: I work at Seaway Bank.

Me: I know where that is. Next door to the Fondy Market, on Fond du Lac. So did you move here from Chicago two years ago when Seaway took over the space? (It was formerly Liberty Bank.)

Tracy: You know your history. Yes, I did move here two years ago from Chicago when the bank opened.

Me: How long have you been in banking?

Tracy: Since 1989.

Me: So why should someone consider banking at Seaway?

Tracy: It’s a small community bank. We’re friendly. We know our customers. And you will always get a person on the phone.

Me: So do you ever go to the Fondy Market?

Tracy: Every Saturday in the summertime.

Me: You a vegetable person?

Tracy: Yes. I love squash, cabbage.

Me: Do you like to cook?

Tracy: I do. I like to make lots of things. Especially crab cakes with asparagus and a glass of beer. Not wine. I’m a beer drinker. And I like Scotch.

Me: How was your transition, moving from Chicago to Milwaukee?

Tracy: It’s been good, Milwaukee’s nice. I call it a very northern suburb of Chicago. I love my lake view here in Milwaukee. I love the people of Milwaukee. It’s a northern city with southern hospitality. It’s a diamond in the rough. A lot of people who live in Milwaukee don’t know what Milwaukee really has to offer but those of us who come in from the outside really see it.

Me: What do you miss about Chicago?

Tracy: I still go there often. I miss the night life. Chicago is a fun city to enjoy yourself. But in Milwaukee you can really relax. And there’s good music here, too.

Me: What else do you like to do when you’re not banking?

Tracy: I like running, riding my bike at the lake. I like music a lot. Jazz, Blues. And I like to vacation. I’m not much of a sightseer. I like islands and resorts where I can lie on the beach and relax. I also have a 19-year-old daughter who’s a college student in Iowa. She’s staying with me this summer. She’s out with her friends tonight. And so I’m here.

Me: Do you like sports?

Tracy: I love sports. I’m a Bears fan, of course, but I bought season tickets to the Bucks. Great season. Ended too soon, but still a great season.

Me: Where did you grow up?

Tracy: I’m from Waterloo, Iowa.

Me: Do you still have family there?

Tracy: I was just in Iowa two weeks ago for Mother’s Day. Saw my mother and my grandmother and had some good home cooking.

Me: What kind of home cooking?

Tracy: Soul food. Duck, turkey. A lot of greens. Dressing.

Me: What’s one thing your mom or grandmother taught you that you’ve carried through life?

Tracy: Be respectful to your elders.

Me: What is one of your life mantras?

Tracy: Get out and have fun. You only live once. You might as well enjoy it.

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