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  • Writer's pictureAvalara Foodmaps Elves

Meeting new colleagues involves lunch

Abigail Hamilton: Roxane Neal is the best at facilitating get-togethers by showing up at the Seattle office and glamorizing the positive aspects of returning there post-pandemic. First and foremost, she reminds us that there are a whole lot of Avalarians outside of our own orgs who work just as hard as we do to help move Avalara forward on its path effectively. So on Friday, I headed into the office.

Roxane Neal: After I first worked in the office on March 23rd, I discovered unexpected benefits (for those comfortable with the risks and the commute) of working out of the office: seeing other teams (mentioned above), getting more physical activity, and access to delicious restaurants in the International District and Pioneer Square. Fridays are good days to come into the office because I have fewer multi-regional Zoom meetings. I also found benefit in “practicing” commuting to and working in Avalara Hawk Tower before the crowds get larger. I was able to work out what’s necessary to bring. I encouraged Abigail to come in before the May 2nd AHT bigger opening.

Abigail: I’m glad I took you up on it. From the very get-go the morning commute was dramatic.

I learned about a lot of new logistical hurdles, which I guess is good because now I have a better idea of what I’m working with and can adapt accordingly. Once I got there, everything felt more “normal” — Oh wait, I can’t say the word “normal” without showing you a sign in the window of Cicada Bridal down on Madison where I caught the shuttle.

Roxane: My new normal will hopefully contain more face time with colleagues, more water views, more walking, and more activities downtown.

Abigail: Yes! For me meeting those who joined during the pandemic was top-of-mind and I was even luckier than I thought I’d be. On my way to actually MEET Steve Neuman on Floor 17 I saw the actual Alicia Nogrady in a conference room! That was fun. And then more fun: I saw Kelly again for the first time in ages. It was exciting to find Roxane and Steve having mastered a new digital whiteboard and brainstorming some deeply serious stuff. By the time it was time to go to lunch (on the day’s agenda of course!) we insisted that Alicia and Kelly come too and headed out to D&E, an old haunt nearby. They were really welcoming!

Roxane: Arriving at 11:30ish, Kelly, Steve, Abigail, and I were the first customers at Pioneer Square D&E, so we got a sunny window seat. The menu featured their world-class fried chicken. The menu appeared scaled back from pre-pandemic times, as so many restaurants had to do.

Over a discussion of bagels and doughnuts in Ballard, we learned one of our companions eats gluten-free. That meant a new conversational direction and that fried chicken was OUT for them. But cheesy grits, brisket-smothered fries, roasted brussels sprouts, and coleslaw can make a darn good meal.

Abigail: Everything was so good. Old habits die hard, so of course I took some snapshots of the shared plates. My absolute favorite was the brussels sprouts because they had crunchies on them (fried onions?) and seemed to be infused with balsamic … though the pimento cheese dip and fries were no slouch either.

Roxane: The table wisely shared the brussels sprouts, the cheese and crackers, and the fries. Those of us who ordered fried chicken entrees appeared satisfied. I ordered cheese and grits and one piece of fried chicken thigh. The coating was delightfully crunchy. Cheesy grits had a nice warmth. Next time I’ll try the fried chicken sandwich.

They serve real lemonade! I recommend it. The funfetti cake under a dome at the back of the room looked tempting too.

Abigail: I’m so glad D&E — which I finally found out stands for “Drinks & Eats” — has survived and has a good memory. We got to reminisce briefly with the owner (?) about that Product party we had a while back during the 2019 SVPG training.

And like so many Pioneer Square moments, we learned about a backroom bar! Yes, behind the door marked “Private” lives an intimate bar space that in the evenings can be entered by ringing a doorbell in the back alley.

Roxane: I wish I didn’t have to be skeptical that Avalarians-in-the-know could access the bar in this speakeasy manner, but the building’s alley door appears to require a card for the card reader. Some happy hour I’ll investigate this option.

Abigail: I can’t wait for the report if you do!

Roxane: Here’s the picture Steve took — We waited to take it until we were on the way back to the office so it could include Alicia, who had to join us a bit late.

Alicia Nogrady: It was so fun to eat out with coworkers again! Socializing is a part of office life I miss very much during these Zoom-heavy times. I had to join the party late, but the team was able to squeeze me in at the table with ease. Abigail ordered my lunch ahead of time in case I wasn’t able to join, but since I arrived when everyone was still there, the staff was very accommodating and brought my lunch so I could eat at the restaurant. My chicken sandwich was super yum! I can’t wait for more coworker lunches.

Abigail: Agree! One thing I'll do differently next time — Alicia was the inspo for this — is remember that doing my nails is part of my office routine BEFORE heading in.

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