DENVER—Barista Andrew Fulton was reportedly underwhelmed Friday by the customer response to his final day at St. Mark's Coffeehouse, saying that after his four years of service, he had thought patrons would be more emotionally invested in his departure.
"I didn't expect gifts or anything," said the 32-year-old Fulton, who described himself as the unofficial head barista of the coffee shop. "But I didn't think I'd have to remind people it was my last day, either. I've built up a great relationship with these customers, and I've been talking to them about the big move to San Diego for a couple of weeks now."
"I even had a countdown to my last day on the chalkboard under the Sesame Street quote-of-the-day thing I do," Fulton added.
Though a number of customers wished him luck and asked what he intended to do in Southern California, the longtime employee said it seemed as if they were just being polite as opposed to being genuinely interested in his future plans.
In addition, Fulton, who told reporters he would often get into long, in-depth discussions with patrons about movies and the current state of hardcore music, said that while he didn't expect anything too emotional, he was hoping there would be an acknowledgment of the fact that over the past four years something deeper than a typical customer-employee relationship had been established.
Fulton later confirmed he made the same amount in tips Friday as he always makes.
"Dave and Beth [Premus] come in here every morning, sit, and drink their coffee, and before they left today I had to tell them that I'd probably see them in February or March when I come back for a visit," said Fulton, adding that he starts making the married couple's regular order before they even get to the counter. "That's when Dave was like, 'Oh, yeah! Last day, right? Where are you going again?' I knew we weren't best friends, but I thought I was a little more than just the guy who gave him his croissant and his coffee, which I always put in a mug because I know he likes that better."
"Believe me, I know they don't see me as just another St. Mark's employee who is quitting his job," Fulton continued. "But it would have been nice to get a feeling from him that he'd miss me. I mean, I always ask about how their kid's doing in school when they come in here."
According to Fulton, who noted that during his time at the coffee shop he added more prominent recycling bins and was instrumental in creating its Internet-usage policy, there has always been a silent understanding amongst customers that he "makes the place go"—a fact he would like to have had recognized at some point, perhaps with one of the customers taking him aside privately to say how the establishment would probably fall apart without him there.
He also said that at various times throughout his employ, he had confided his concerns about the coffee shop's ownership to a small handful of patrons he "really trusted," some of whom didn't even stop by St. Mark's on Friday despite his direct invitation for them to drop in and say goodbye.
"One of the customers I was always sort of on the same page with, Mark [Porter], knew this move was really important to me because I told him I felt like I was ready to start a new chapter in my life," said Fulton, referring to a regular who had to hurry out of the café Friday because he was late for work. "We also used to talk about cycling a lot because he just got a bike, and I used to ride my bike everywhere."
"I think he also appreciated my sense of humor," the barista added, referring to how Porter snickered when Fulton replaced the whole milk and skim milk signs with clip-art pictures of fat and skinny cows. "It's a little on the weirder side."
Patrons confirmed that when Fulton finally left for the day, he loudly said, "Goodbye, everybody," before exiting, a statement that some understood and that others found mostly confusing.
"Oh, it was his last day?" said St. Mark's customer Jeanine Keller, whom Fulton has served nearly every day for the past four years. "So that's why he said, 'This is it!' when he rang up my cappuccino. Man, that guy's been here for a while. I always said I would go to one of his shows, but never made it out."