Coffee pot in hand, Patricia “Patty” Misuraca darts left, pivots right and then heads straight up the middle of Lou’s Diner.
She refills the half-full coffee cups of Brad, Rick, Jerry, Mike and Jaybird on the way to pick up Brad’s order — a burrito with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese and green enchilada sauce.
It’s not quite 6 a.m. and the 58-year-old waitress who’s spent 40 years in the service industry moves at powerwalk speed.
Moving. Always moving.
And always talking to the patrons, all of whom she knows by first name.
“Anything in the paper, Brad? … You’re a little late today, Rick … Is that a new pin in your hat, Jerry?”
After her breakfast/lunch shift is over at 2 p.m., she notes that coffee cups nearing empty make her nervous.
“I’m the coffee fairy,” she grins.
Nobody can ever accuse this divorced mother of a 33-year-old son of not wanting to be the world’s best waitress.
“I want people to be comfortable, to feel they’re being treated like the good people they are,” Misuraca says.
If you’re at the diner near the intersection of Decatur Boulevard and Alta Avenue two days in a row, on the third day this woman with the blond ponytail and her makeup done just so is calling you by your first name.
If you eat the same breakfast two days in a row, on the third day she wants to know if you want “the usual.”
“I’ve never seen a memory like Patty’s,” fellow waitress Lisa Ogden says.
Even at home she can quickly recall that Rick generally prefers a breakfast of a biscuit with a patty sausage, egg over easy and country gravy on top.
“He fixes refrigeration units,” she says.
She remembers Jaybird loves a New York strip steak with poached eggs, hash browns, and sourdough toast with mixed jellies.
“He worked for the city,” she says.
On Mondays she serves Las Vegas homicide detectives scrambled egg whites with green enchilada sauce in a tortilla.
She can go on like that for hours about patrons.
Brad Carson, who worked for both the Nevada Highway Patrol and Capitol police, says he finds it difficult to get through the day “if it doesn’t start with a breakfast served by Patty.”
“You’re in a diner’s version of that show about a bar, Cheers, where everybody knows your name,” he says.
Last December Brian and Julie Jenco purchased the the diner — at the same place since 1969 — that had been under the stewardship of Louise “Lou” Lauber for 19 years.
There’s a nine-seat counter and a chalkboard with daily specials that reflect what much of America eats, including S.O.S. on toast for breakfast and catfish for lunch.
Americana — especially signs and front pages of newspapers — covers the walls.
It’s the kind of place foreigners visit to see what “real America” is like. Less than a decade ago, Misuraca waited on Princess Diana’s children, Prince Harry and Prince William.
“They’re nice kids,” she says.
Misuraca has worked as a server in casinos, but has enjoyed her 13 years at Lou’s the most.
She says only a painful right hip from walking hard floors for four decades could cause her to leave.
The restaurant’s family atmosphere appeals to her.
She says that many regulars have their coffee cups on the restaurant walls says a lot.
“We’ve created family,” she says.
She starts off her day at 3:40 a.m. making cinnamon rolls and chicken noodle soup.
She tries to open the diner before the scheduled 5:30 a.m. opening.
“I hate to have people waiting,” she says.
Normally, how she and other waitresses treat customers at Lou’s means they will get solid tips. Sometimes, however, a surly patron tips a waitress, say, only 40 cents on a $10 meal.
“When the other waitresses find out, we’ll sing happy birthday to the waitress that happened to, ” Misuraca laughs.
“At least we have some fun with it. But waitresses at Lou’s don’t want to have happy birthday sung to them much.”
Paul Harasim’s column runs Sunday, Tuesday and Friday in the Nevada section and Thursday in the Life section. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.