George Neel is a pot dealer. George Neel, a fast-talking Navy veteran, sells kitchen supplies to Café Mare, Lillian’s Italian Kitchen, the Red, and other restaurants around Santa Cruz. GT caught up with Neel early one morning at his family business, Good News Restaurant Supply, just as he was getting off the phone with a client.
GT: How long has this place been open?
GEORGE NEEL: Here in Santa Cruz? Maybe four years. We were in Ben Lomond. Then, we were in Felton—then, we came here.
So, why the move?
To open a store. Before, we were just a warehouse. Now, anyone can come, you know. Before, we didn’t have to put up with anyone. Excuse me, we didn’t have the pleasure.
Do you get much foot traffic?
Not a lot. Most of our sales are outside sales. So, I go out. (Pointing) My son Isaiah goes out. My son Tom goes out. My wife sits in here and does the books.
Were you always interested in kitchens?
No, I didn’t graduate high school. I went into the Navy. I got out of the Navy with no diploma, so I found a job in a restaurant supply business in Brisbane, California. That’s how I got into it. Now I’m 63. So, I worked for many companies before I became self-employed in ’79.
Do you like to cook?
No, that’s why I got married, man.
What’s a typical day for you?
Come in here and place orders. Get in my car, and drive over the hill, and sell in the Santa Clara Valley. (Pointing to Isaiah) This guy sells around here. (Pointing toward another worker.) This guy’s our excellent delivery guy who’s quittin’. Two more weeks, he’s out of here. Look at that smile—see? So … you want a job, delivery? Build your muscles.
I’ve got muscles—
I know. You could build it up, though, delivering stoves and refrigerators. So, you don’t want a job. What else do you want to know?
How do you keep things organized?
We don’t. Seriously. We try. To some degree. We just do everything half ass. Maybe I misnamed my business.
1211 Water St., Santa Cruz, 425-8744. PHOTO: Good News moved out of Felton four years ago to open a storefront. KEANA PARKER