Living in Pismo Beach – Charlie Puffer

Living in Pismo Beach, where we connect you with some of our favorite people who live and work on the Central Coast. Those community and business leaders who make living on the Coast such a unique and diverse experience.

Episode #3

Charlie Puffer
Owner of Puffers of Pismo

Jim Lewis the Pismo Beach City Manager joins Ashlea Foster Boyer, Shannon Bowdey & Jordan Hamm on Living In Pismo Beach.

Ashlea Boyer:

Hey guys. It’s great seeing your faces. Happy birthday week Shannon.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you.

Jordan Hamm:

Happy birthday.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you. Yay.

Ashlea Boyer:

I’m so looking forward to when we can celebrate in person, but I hope you had a good day anyway.

Shannon Bowdey:

It was a great day. My friends got together and did a birthday drive-by, organized that. I got great gifts. Wonderful seeing everybody, just feel so fortunate and so much gratitude for yesterday, so it was good day.

Ashlea Boyer:

Awesome. Well, I don’t know about you guys, but the whole shelter home thing has my timing completely off. It’s not just about what day of the week it is, but it completely caught me by surprise that this weekend is Memorial Day already.

Jordan Hamm:

Me too.

Shannon Bowdey:

Definitely.

Jordan Hamm:

It’s crazy.

Ashlea Boyer:

But one thing that does happen this time of year, Memorial Day usually kicks off one of our contests where you can win a Yeti, so a big Yeti cooler, so stay tuned on our social media channels because we’ll be rolling out that contest soon.

Other than that, I hope everybody gets a little bit of time on this holiday weekend to relax and enjoy themselves, even if it’s in your own backyard.

Well, today we are excited to have Charlie Puffer, owner of Puffers of Pismo, a popular little fine beer, wine, and spirits shop featuring music and some yummy fare right on Price Street in Pismo Beach.

Jordan Hamm:

Yes, it is small, but has developed quite a fan base in the short time that it’s been here. They have live music and patio facing Price Street, and it makes it stand out from its neighbors. So fun.

Shannon Bowdey:

Yes. Charlie was born in New York, raised in Chicago and made it to Central Coast 20 years ago. Puffers is Charlie’s third independent venture in the wine and spirits arena. Hospitality is a natural extension of Charlie’s passions, good people in conversation, fine food and wine, travel, music and literature.

Jordan Hamm:

All great things.

Ashlea Boyer:

It’s amazing. Sounds like a great, interesting guy, so let’s have Charlie join us.

Shannon Bowdey:

What were your other ventures like Puffers, and how long have you been in the food and beverage industry?

Charlie Puffer:

I’ve been doing this for close to 40 years. I started out as a dishwasher in a cheap little restaurant on the South side of Chicago. I was 13 years old. I’m 57 and I’ve worked in every aspect of the restaurant business and through that duration of time. This is my life. It’s what I do. This is my career. I love it. I don’t know what else I would do. I should have gone to engineering school, but I didn’t.

Ashlea Boyer:

It sounds like it would have been too boring for you.

Charlie Puffer:

I don’t know. If I could fix things, if I could manipulate things properly, and make things happen, that would be good.

Ashlea Boyer:

Well, we heard that you’re originally from Chicago. How did you make it to the Central Coast? What brought you this way?

Charlie Puffer:

Well, it’s kind of a tiresome story, but I’m going to tell it very briefly. I moved to LA in 1999 to get married to a girl from Chicago and we lived together when we were married for 16 years. We had a great time. We had a nice relationship. We bought a couple of beautiful homes, had a couple of interesting jobs. And at some point we grew apart and it became time for me to leave Los Angeles. I just wanted to get out of my wife hair and kind of go somewhere and I didn’t really know where.

But I had a lot of interesting contacts on the Central Coast. I had been selling wine in Los Angeles, I made a few phone calls, I got myself a job, I moved up here. That was it. It was all over at that point.

Here’s a little funny aside, is that my ex and I discussed moving up here and buying a home somewhere in the Central Coast and we didn’t do it. Instead we got more fully invested in Los Angeles, which was actually kind of the right thing to do, but I ended up here anyway.

Shannon Bowdey:

Good.

Ashlea Boyer:

Wow.

Charlie Puffer:

It worked out for me really well.

Ashlea Boyer:

It was a magnet. It drew you.

Charlie Puffer:

Sorry?

Ashlea Boyer:

It was like a magnet that you just were drawn here.

Charlie Puffer:

Well, the funny thing is that I thought I could never live here because we go to Paso and it was too damn hot. [crosstalk 00:04:57] down to Ag or [inaudible 00:05:00] I’m like, “What would I ever do here?” And the fact that I ended up here is kind of a deliciously ironic. And yet now I feel like this is my home. I’m not leaving. You’re going to have to kick me out.

Jordan Hamm:

That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Charlie, every time I’ve been to Puffers I’ve been so impressed by just the community. Everyone is so close there and it’s just a fun atmosphere. What kinds of friendships have you formed over the years living here?

Charlie Puffer:

Well, any friendship is based upon mutual respect. You have to greet people, understand who they are and respect them and they will in turn respect you. I’ve made friends with local business people, people that like to come out and drink wine and hear music and just be easy. I think I’m pretty good at the hospitality business so I try to make people feel welcome, and then the friendships arise out of that sense of hospitality, out of the sense that I just want to take care of you while you’re here. You got two hours to burn. I’m going to love you as much as I possibly can in this [crosstalk 00:06:19]. I don’t care about your political views. I don’t care about your financial standing. I don’t care about your physical or spiritual. All I know is this, when you’re in my place I’m going to treat you right. And what happened in light of that is that when I go out of my environment, people treat me right, and it’s very, very important. A good answer?

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah, that’s a great answer.

Jordan Hamm:

[crosstalk 00:06:49].

Ashlea Boyer:

About that live entertainment that you guys are so famous for, how do you find the performers? How do they get booked for your place?

Charlie Puffer:

Well, that’s an interesting story because when I purchased this place four years ago, it was owned by Cindy Jo [Bikini 00:07:10] and she had an interesting little live music scene going on, you had a lot of really nice local performers. And she’s a fantastic performer herself. When I moved in I went, “It looks like this really is the right thing to do. Maybe I need to expand upon the live music.” And I decided to do that. I went all in.

I’ve been doing live music five to six nights a week for several years. The progression was this. Once I got some of the best people coming into play, word got around and other people decided to gravitate towards our place. What I decided to do was pay well, support local music and make it into a live music venue, as opposed to just a little wine bar and everybody came. The question here is frequently, how did you find these people? And my answer is I didn’t find them, they found me, and I’m so grateful for this.

Shannon Bowdey:

That’s wonderful.

Ashlea Boyer:

That’s awesome. If you build it, they will come.

Shannon Bowdey:

Definitely.

Charlie Puffer:

Exactly, the whole thing, and it’s really, really gratifying. Even though I’ve not been able to have live music out for a couple of months because of this stuff, I’m looking forward to the future. I’m looking forward to bringing people back and I’ve tried to support musicians, even in their absence of performing. I’ve tried to make donations. I’ve tried to give them cases of wine and they can sell them and make some money, put some gas in their car.

Ashlea Boyer:

Wow, how generous. That’s so nice.

Charlie Puffer:

It’s all right. I’ve tried to just continue to support. And what I’ve found is that as I continue to support, they continue to support, and that’s the thing. The beautiful reciprocity of it in this community is really what matters. I do for you, you do for me, we do for each other. It’s fantastic. And that to me is really the beautiful attraction of living in Pismo Beach and in the five cities, everybody looks out for each other.

Ashlea Boyer:

Yeah, I agree.

Charlie Puffer:

We cover each other’s asses all the time and it’s beautiful.

Ashlea Boyer:

I agree.

Jordan Hamm:

Well said. Charlie, we are all missing life as it was. But do you have anything that you’d like to say to your patrons as we’re all separated at this time?

Charlie Puffer:

I love you very much and I look forward to receiving you again. [crosstalk 00:10:13] back. It’s going to be a big old hug fest.

Shannon Bowdey:

It is, yeah.

Jordan Hamm:

Yes, it will.

Charlie Puffer:

There’ll be a log of hugging and kissing.

Ashlea Boyer:

I know, it’s about killing us because one of our company mantra is at Keller Williams is that you have to have seven hugs a day or you get weird and we’re racking up a big minus balance in the hug category.

Charlie Puffer:

It’s kind of like there’s a big hug repository. All the sudden there’s this big vault of hugs, [crosstalk 00:10:46].

Shannon Bowdey:

How funny.

Charlie Puffer:

Many hugs, many kisses [crosstalk 00:10:53] everybody. But I got to tell you, I see people around, we’re all masked up and doing our thing, it’s all good, but we just want to have that human contact, that spiritual contact. We want to share the love, the affection, the attention, the respect. That’s all.

Ashlea Boyer:

I agree.

Shannon Bowdey:

Charlie, I see that during this crisis, you’ve been doing some writing, writing some poetry. Is this a new passion or a hobby, or have you been dabbling in writing all along?

Charlie Puffer:

I’ve been writing stuff for 50 years plus. [crosstalk 00:11:32] really had the confidence to put it out there in the public. And what’s happened recently is that with the sense of imminent mortality, just this feeling of imminent mortality, I’m like, “What have I got to lose? Put it out there.” I popped things out, because I’m a good guy with words. I mean, I’m very nimble with words. I’ve had a lot of practice. Not all my stuff isn’t particularly good, but it generally, I seek to give a little enlightenment, a little humor, a little insight. And if somebody wants to read it and respond, that’s beautiful.

But for me, it’s just a way to take all of the things in my mind and put them out in the public so they don’t drive me nuts. [crosstalk 00:12:29]. I wrote this poem two days ago called Nuts, because it was about this woman whose nickname was Nuts because she was kind of crazy. I never thought [crosstalk 00:12:42]. I just thought she was very passionate, sincere individual, but they called her Nuts.

Anyway, I like writing. I like expressing. I’m coming out with a book.

Ashlea Boyer:

Awesome.

Charlie Puffer:

I’m going to do a signing and reading. I’ve got some musicians that are working with me. They’re going to put some of my stuff to music and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Shannon Bowdey:

Oh, that’s wonderful. [crosstalk 00:13:10].

Ashlea Boyer:

[crosstalk 00:13:11] fantastic.

Shannon Bowdey:

That’s a good silver lining to all this.

Charlie Puffer:

[crosstalk 00:13:15] an old man now, so I got to sew up some of the things that I haven’t done in the past. I got to do this stuff before [crosstalk 00:13:22].

Ashlea Boyer:

It’s making all of us get out of our boxes a little bit I think.

Charlie Puffer:

[crosstalk 00:13:30] boxes. Let’s eat our bagels and loxes. [crosstalk 00:13:38]. Let’s drink our champaign, [crosstalk 00:13:42] toast each other.

Ashlea Boyer:

Definitely.

Charlie Puffer:

[crosstalk 00:13:44] our fathers, our mothers and brothers or sisters too. Let’s just do what we do. Let’s be humans. Let’s show love. Let’s reflect blessings from above.

Ashlea Boyer:

Agree. [crosstalk 00:00:14:03].

Charlie Puffer:

[crosstalk 00:14:04] walk off on.

Jordan Hamm:

That is a great note to walk off on.

Ashlea Boyer:

I think that’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us, Charlie.

Shannon Bowdey:

Thank you.

Jordan Hamm:

That was great.

Ashlea Boyer:

I really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Charlie Puffer:

Thank you for including me in your thing. It’s gratifying. [crosstalk 00:00:14:22].

Ashlea Boyer:

All right. We’ll be there at that book signing.

Charlie Puffer:

[crosstalk 00:14:26] see you.

Shannon Bowdey:

Bye Charlie.

Jordan Hamm:

Bye Charlie.

Ashlea Boyer:

Bye.

Jordan Hamm:

Bye.

Shannon Bowdey:

Bye.

Ashlea Boyer:

All right. Well that was another great episode and I had too much fun getting to know him better. What a colorful character.

Shannon Bowdey:

Oh my goodness, yes. He’s a fun guy.

Ashlea Boyer:

He is, so once again, this is Ashlea Boyer.

Jordan Hamm:

Jordan Hamm.

Shannon Bowdey:

And Shannon Bowde,

Ashlea Boyer, Jordan Hamm & Shannon Bowdey:

with the Pismo Beach Homes Team!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.