I first met Randy Rowse 16 years ago soon after I’d recently moved to town. As I walked into the Paradise Café, which he’s run since 1983, Randy greeted me with a firm handshake, asked where I was from, and wondered how I’d heard about his establishment. I was struck by his genuine interest, care, and unpretentious directness.
Any day that you find Randy at his restaurant— those rare days when he’s not busy with his duties as a Santa Barbara city councilmember — you’ll get the same reception. That personal way of doing business permeates throughout the way his staff runs Paradise when he’s not there, and is a hallmark of the way he works within the city council.
I was happy that he showed the same introspective nature, as well as his characteristically self-deprecating humor, while answering the Proust Questionnaire.
What is it you like most about your job?
The best part about both of my jobs is being in a position to accommodate people’s needs. Often, the issues are not complex and simply giving people the confidence that they are being heard and that someone is paying attention works — whether I am serving you a burger or helping to get your street light fixed. I like giving service.
What is your idea of happiness?
Friends, full sails, a rum drink with fresh lime, and Bob Marley coming through the speakers, ideally somewhere between 20 degrees north to 20 degrees south latitude.
What is your greatest fear?
Letting down people who are counting on me.
Who do you most admire?
My wife, Janet. She gives tirelessly through her non-profit Safe Launch to ensure that children’s brain development is understood and prioritized in a society that desperately needs a successful, productive, and happy next generation. She takes every child’s well-being very seriously. She also provided some genetic material that made our kids amazing. I’m pretty sure I know where it didn’t come from….
What is your greatest extravagance?
My greatest self-indulgence likely is my passion for water toys. Boats, surfboards, windsurfers, paddleboards, kayaks, SCUBA gear, and whatever else gets me into salt water.
What is your current state of mind?
You mean besides cranky middle-aged male? I like to maintain a balance somewhere between mild panic and sudden-onset narcolepsy.
What is the quality you most like in people?
The best people to be around are those that display consideration of others. A keen sense of humor that is always present, but with enough confidence to know when to employ it and in what dosage.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
The most repulsive people are those who are disingenuous and mean-spirited. They tend to be self-serving and are charitable only when credit is forthcoming. They often run for office.
What do you value most in friends?
Honesty, loyalty, and dependability. Yes, I just described my Labrador, but my true friends and I share these with each other.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Outside of my rugged but boyish good looks, that is a tough question. My attempts at self-evaluation have usually been met with muffled snorts and head-shaking by my family and friends. I shall therefore maintain a blissful sense of self-delusion.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’d like to say, “None. Every one of my utterances is an original and thoughtful gem.” But those closest to me might think it’s more like words with more than three but less than five letters.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be able to sing. I can sing loudly, but that’s about where the qualities end.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My temperament could use a tune up from time to time.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t know if it would be considered an “achievement”, but I’m most proud of being a good dad.
Where would you most like to live?
I’m already there.
What is your most treasured possession?
That’s a tough one. My material possessions don’t mean that much to me, and making money has always remained elusive for me.
What makes you laugh the most?
I like classic slapstick like the Marx Brothers, Sid Caesar, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman clips — and Santa Barbara City Council any given Tuesday.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I’m a student and fan of the nautical explorers. Captain Cook did some amazing stuff, but his last luau was kind of a bust.
On what occasion do you lie?
I tend to prevaricate slightly when responding to questionnaires….