Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Bay Area restaurants. Right now: San Francisco Examiner's anonymous food critic Jesse Hirsch on Martin Mercado, reigning doorman/bouncer at Pancho Villa Taqueria for the past 15 years.
Mercado has the patience of a saint, warmly greeting and holding the door open for every customer. It doesn't matter if they're grimy, condescending, crazy, or drunk. He always has a smile and a kind word. Mercado can also get tough when need be. I've seen him eighty-six belligerent drunks, and he once calmed a screaming lady with three-inch nails who was trying to vault over the counter and grab one of the cooks' hair. Another time he sat down with a hard-luck character who had fallen asleep in his burrito, before tenderly guiding him out of the restaurant.
I can honestly say I've eaten there over 100 times and Mercado is always there. Who can maintain good humor in the face of such a relentless tidal wave of humanity? I can't even be nice to my friends half the time.
—Jesse Hirsch of The Examiner
Is there an outstanding server, host, or other front of house person Eater should know about? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.