— Jenny Neill

My Last Days at Ray’s

This is my last weekend working at Ray’s Boathouse as Sommelier. I’m choosing to leave this job now, near the end of summer, because it is a natural time for such departures. Already some of the younger staffers have left to go back to school in some other part of the country or have started new jobs, taking steps onto other career paths. This change, for me, at this time, is more of stepping solidly to the center of a road I never fully left.

Ray's Boathouse sign with Puget Sound and the Olympics in the background

Ray’s Boathouse sign with Puget Sound and the Olympics in the background
Photo courtesy of Mike Russell. All rights reserved.

I re-dedicate myself to being a writer fulltime again starting next week. For five and a half years, I bent that work around my shifts at Ray’s.

One of the main reasons I freelance is to have the flexibility to be choosey about my work, to follow my curiosity, and to take sidetracks to learn something new. That I stayed in this job more than twice as long as I imagined I would says something about being part of this team.

Someone, I no longer remember who, told me in my first year working there that “All roads in Seattle lead through Ray’s.” I now understand what this means.

At just over 40 years old, this business has served as the stage for so many celebrations: birthdays, marriage proposals, anniversaries, and holiday get-togethers. Friends who just want to laugh, business colleagues and tourists who crave a great meal with a fantastic view — they all gather here. An ever-evolving network of coworkers come and go as the seasons do. Most come back eventually, if not again to be employed, then certainly to have a meal.

Don’t look for me in the Sound at the end of my last shift … I won’t be making that jump. But you can be sure I’ll be back to visit old friends and crack open a crab leg or three.