The end of an era at Restaurant No. 1

Director-Generals came and went, but they stayed on. For over 30 years, Carmen, Christian, José, Luis and Mario have been on duty at CERN's Restaurant No. 1, between them notching up 171 years of service. They all retire before the end of the month. In their own individual ways they have established close relationships with the CERN personnel, who have appreciated their unfailing warmth, good humour, elegance and impeccable manners. The Bulletin has collected testimonials from many members of the CERN personnel paying tribute to them.

At a farewell party on 15 May, CERN's theorists exchanged roles with the departing Restaurant No. 1 team members. Appropriately uniformed and with the obligatory bow-tie, the theorists stood behind the tables to serve those who have served us for so long.

In 1974 when I arrived at CERN, I had to organise meetings for delegates and learnt everything about the catering side from Mario. It came as a total surprise one day when he asked me where I came from. I replied, 'Ayr, just a wee town on the West coast of Scotland' - thinking to myself that he would not know the place from Timbuctoo. 'Oh yes', said Mario, 'I know it well. I spent a year on the Ayrshire coast at the Turnberry Hotel, for my 'stage' after Hotel school'. Imagine, it is one of the best 5-star hotels in Scotland and one of the top places in all Britain. My esteem of the entire restaurant went soaring high and the prestige of service which we always got from them was certainly 5-star quality!

Morna Robillard

The Council Secretariat had the pleasure of organising numerous events related to the Council and thanks Mario for his valuable and friendly assistance. At its traditional Dinner in December 2006, the Council paid tribute to Mario for his excellent services over the last 40 years. All the Members of the Council and its Committees will remember Mario for his kindness and respectful attitude, and for the personal and thoughtful attentions he unfailingly showed to them.

The Council secretariat

In 1993, we were on holiday in Cuba and we were dining at Augusto's, a physicist who had been at CERN a few years previously. He asked us to deliver an excellent bottle of Cuban rum to José on his behalf. He told us about his months at CERN, far from home and lonely: José was one of the only people who had kept his spirits up. Many will also remember that when Carlo Rubbia made his speech to the CERN staff on the occasion of his Nobel prize he paid tribute to the restaurant staff who had been close to physicists like himself, had helped them and had supported them between shifts. He spoke of how comforting it was to know that they would always be there for those who needed not only physical sustenance but also human contact during the long nights of a physics run.

Suzy Vascotto

The Governing Board of the Pension Fund would quite simply not have functioned as well as it has if it had not been preceded by a lunch served by Mario and his team. During these lunches, Mario would work miracles to create a relaxed atmosphere and promote communication. The lunch and Mario's courtesy and professionalism have often made people feel more at ease and have, as if by miracle, transformed an occasionally tense atmosphere into something constructive.

Christian Cuénoud

In 2004 I spent 10 weeks on crutches with a broken foot. Every day, when I came to the restaurant, they made up a lunch tray for me and brought it to my table. They took care of me as if I was their handicapped child.

Django Manglunki

Mario has always contributed to creating a friendly atmosphere at official lunches and dinners. In this sense he has played a very useful role. If he noted that things were a bit sticky on one table, he would break the tension, thereby facilitating the subsequent discussions.

Friedemann Eder

I have always been touched by their professionalism and service-with-a-smile approach. They have to deal with a wide variety of cultures, languages, ages, and as a smile is a smile in any language they seem to be able to effectively connect with the wide variety of their customers. I have seen Mario in official lunches and he does this with a good balance of professionalism and human contact - in fact I can't imagine the restaurant without him. I hope there will be a huge photo when he leaves so we can remember him.

Sue Foffano

In 1996 I came to CERN as a trainee for only three months. Almost 5 years later I came back as a staff member. Carmen said to me with her radiant and heart-warming smile: 'Ah, you have come back!' I was bowled's very touching how attentive she is to people.

Corinne Pralavorio

Twenty five years ago, Luis used to push his trolley down the corridors of Buildings 4 and 5 and would ring his bell at various points to announce that coffee was available. My colleague and I nicknamed him Ben Hur. He told all his colleagues and still chuckles about it.

Nicole Boimond-Lopez

In fact, you should be asking Mario. He has dozens of stories about CERN personalities!

Danièle Lajust

From left to right: Luis, Carmen, Mario, Christian and José listening to speeches by theorists Alvaro De Rújula and Luis Alvarez-Gaumé (right) at their farewell gathering on 15 May.

A Word of Thanks

Dear friends,

You are the true 'nucleus' of CERN. Every member of this extraordinary human mosaic will always remain in our affections and in our thoughts. We have all been very touched by your spontaneous generosity.


Au revoir,

Hasta Siempre
Carmen, José and Luis