With ball and chain cast off, one of Aramark’s comedy routines is headed out of the Grove.
After four years serving up smiles, laughs and good eats in the Real Food on Campus cafeteria in the University Center, “jack of all trades” Tony Bryan decided the time had come to pack up the show and head home. His last day was Monday, March 14.
Originally from Billings, Mont., Bryan found his way to Pacific after a long line of dabbling.
He worked as a makeup artist in the Billings Studio Theatre at 19 while studying music, theater and film in college. Two credits, math and science core, prevented Bryan from attaining his degree when he left school.
“Never were my strong suit,” he said.
Following his departure from college, Bryan served three years in the U.S. Army during the tail end of the Gulf War where he was changed both physically and mentally.
During a listening operation 300 feet up a mountain, an attack helicopter scattered his unit. In the resulting scramble down the mountain face, a fellow soldier’s boot connected with Bryan’s mouth, knocking out a tooth.
“Friendly fire,” he said with a chuckle.
Seeing a destroyed playground littered with unexploded shells in Kuwait pushed his decision to forget the bad and helped him develop the optimistic outlook he takes day-to-day.
“There should have been children playing there,” Bryan said. “I knew I either needed to learn to laugh at situations or myself or I wouldn’t stop crying.”
Bryan moved to Los Angeles, Calif. after an honorable discharge and did work as an extra in movies including Far and Away, Starship Troopers, Bio-Dome and made-for-TV Son of the Morningstar.
“I paid the bills as a clinical nutritionist,” he said, his first dip into the world of food.
From there, Bryan returned to Billings and started a landscaping business with his father. He looked into the final courses he needed to graduate from college, but the system had changed so much, only half his credits counted toward a degree. Frustrated with the system, he scrapped the idea and went to work for a lumber mill.
It was after this he was pointed toward Pacific.
”I knew someone who signed on through a temp agency who heard they needed a prep cook,” Bryan said. The job took off after a year, offering many opportunities and positions.
“I’ve done so much around here, you can’t really pin one title on me,” Bryan said. “They challenged me and I’ve always been the type to rise to a challenge.”
His title could often be determined by the clothes he wore that day: “cook” when in a black jacket, “caterer” when in a black shirt. Other positions include Boxer Bistro barista and sous-chef, as well as each of the individual positions in RFoC.
Bryan designated his “comedy shtick” on the grill through most of the 2009-10 academic year as his favorite part of the job. “I’d forgotten how much energy I’d thrown into that routine,” he said of being put back on the grill this past year.
He plans to return to Billings, where he has an interview at a local hospital doing roughly the same as he did with Aramark at Pacific. Bryan said he would also try to reconnect with his family.
“I really loved my time here. I love making everybody laugh; it’s my bread and water hearing their laughter. I’m sad to go, but it’s time to see what adventure waits around the corner,” Bryan said.“Besides, you guys know all my jokes. Got to find a new audience.”