Ink Food & Drink

Table for one: A single cook/barista/server dishes on diner life

Reid Zimmerman is a cook/barista/server at Aimee’s Café and Coffeehouse in Lawrence.
Reid Zimmerman is a cook/barista/server at Aimee’s Café and Coffeehouse in Lawrence.

Reid Zimmerman is a nerd. It says so right there on his business card, which also refers to this one-man cook/barista/server at Aimee’s Café and Coffeehouse, 1025 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, as a “student,” “friend” and “dreamer.”

“I grew up playing games, watching movies and television, reading books and daydreaming,” Zimmerman said. “That’s a lot of how I became the person I am with the values I have today.”

Zimmerman began working at Aimee’s in 2014 after a hellish year juggling three jobs, including delivery driver for Fat Freddy’s, to deal with an unfortunate financial kerfuffle that caused him to drop out of the University of Kansas, where he majored in computer science.

With a slightly more stable life these days, rocking the grill, coffee pots and table service at Aimee’s is a breeze for this hyperactive, octopus-armed multitasker. But that’s what it takes to work at Mass Street’s cozy combo of greasy spoon diner and intellectually stimulating salon.

For Zimmerman, Aimee’s eclectic clientele — including area writers, professors, filmmakers and chess enthusiasts — are a community as inclusive as his off-the-clock tribe of fellow gamers, “Star Wars” fanatics and tech enthusiasts.

“Aimee’s is a really special place,” Zimmerman said. “You can walk in here and get pulled into a conversation. Before you know it, even though what you came in for was a cup of coffee, what you leave with is a family.”

Considering we’re nearing Valentine’s Day, as the discussion turned to matters of the heart, Zimmerman revealed that he’s single.

“Relationships are hard to figure out,” he said, “and anyone who says they know is either really lucky … or really full of themselves!”

Which led us directly into this Valentine’s Day edition of Kitchen Convo:

How do you usually meet someone?

The biggest thing is being involved in your community and the things you’re passionate about. You’ll get involved with people who share those passions.

What’s the best dating experience you’ve had?

I was 19 when I had my first girlfriend. Dressed up nice, took her out, and after a wonderful meal we walked up and down Mass with the Christmas lights and cold weather, leaning into each other, and stopped in at a coffee shop and just enjoyed the night.

What was the worst date you’ve gone on?

We went out for burgers and shakes at Bobo’s in Topeka, and I needed to run errands after. So we had to stop by Best Buy and the mall, and I had to buy an electric shaver and things like that. And we realized our political views were totally opposite, too. God, that was awkward!

If money and calories weren’t a factor, where would you take a date?

I’ve not been to Fogo de Chão, but I hear amazing things.

Where would you take a date after dinner?

Every situation is different. If your date has to work early the next morning, you’re not going to go to a coffee shop … unless it’s to get good tea!

What would be your ideal gift for a new girlfriend?

For Christmas I received a box of chocolates from Au Marche, and I was so impressed by those. If I were to get chocolates, I would go there.

Has your working at Aimee’s ever led to a date?

Not yet!