Jonathan Justus of Justus Drugstore celebrated his 50th birthday last week in Smithville with his wife Camille Ecklof, family and friends. I was lucky enough to be one of many people that attended a blow-out night that included bountiful cocktails, beer, a roasted pig and side dishes and a special private performance by Bobby Bare, Jr. and his band.

 

Roasted pig
Jonathan and Camille arranged to have a party bus shuttle between Tannin Wine Bar and the gallery/event space in Smithville every house during the event. I met some fun people like Zach Ott and Matt Scanlon from Seattle Fish Co. and spent time with Jennifer Maloney, Mike Foust, Jenny Vergara, Paul Andrews and others. Oy, it ended up being a late night that spilled into the wee hours of the morning.

 

Bobby Bare Jr 1

Band

Bobby Bare Jr 2

Bobby Bare Jr 3

Jonathan Justus and Bobby Bare Jr

I met Jonathan and Camille back in 1998 or ’99 when I began working at Le Fou Frog. Camille worked front of the house. Jonathan and I were just cutting our teeth as cooks. We had plenty to learn under Chef Mano Rafael. It’s been a treat to watch Jonathan progress from preparing cheese plates and working the line to working with other chefs around town and later opening an acclaimed restaurant in Smithville with Camille.

Jonathan Justus Camille Ecklof  Pete Dulin

I’m proud of Jonathan and Camille’s accomplishments but, more importantly, honored to think of them as friends. I don’t spend enough time with them. Life keeps us all occupied. It was great to share in this special birthday celebration and build on a friendship born out of a common love for food, wine, community and connection to a sense of place.

Here’s to many more celebrations in the years ahead.