Then & Now: Cornelia McMillan

Irregardless has been around for 43 years and has seen many people coming and going, including the wait staff and cooks. To celebrate the years and the people who have helped make the restaurant what it is today, our staff blogger Alix V. has created a Then & Now Blog Series – capturing the special memories of previous employees when they worked at the cafe back then – and what they have been up to now.  Let’s catch up with Cornelia McMillan!

What did you do at Irregardless and how long were you there?

I did a little bit of everything. I started out as a waitress, but I also helped out with food prep and did the salads. I worked the cash register; I did a little bit of dish washing, but not much. I don’t know how long I was there for. I was on and off for a couple of years. I left at one point and went to Europe to travel and then I came back to the restaurant. That’s a guess, I don’t remember completely. It was a long time ago.

What drew you to the restaurant?

I like the idea that it was an original to Raleigh. Raleigh didn’t have any health food restaurants and it was something new and exciting.

What was it like working at Irregardless back then?

It was great. We had a good crew of people working there. Of course it turned over frequently, but I remember at one point, there was a great crew there and we all liked each other and we had like each other so much that after the restaurant closed, we’d stick around and talked. I don’t think that happens in many places.

How did working there affect your life?

It opened my eyes to things that I was not aware of before. It drew a crowd of people – not only customers but employees – who were smart, thoughtful people and people had an influence on me.

What are you doing now?

Well, I’m not working, but I have worked in politics for the last year or so – well, more like fifteen.

What is one thing you miss about the café?

That’s a good question. I don’t really think about missing it. I live close by; I eat there whenever I can. I still go in there sometimes for dinner or lunch. I really don’t know how to answer that.

What significant stories do you remember of your time work there?

Good question. I don’t know. Just like any place where there were a variety of people working there, there are all kinds of things going on with people. One thing in particular, I was picked to serve on the jury that made national and international news. It was the Joan Little case and so that got a lot of press and that brought press to the restaurant. I also remember there was another woman, Jule Hudson, that I worked with who also was on the jury as an alternate. I think that’s right. She was either on it or an alternate. It was unusual that two people from the same establishment would’ve been picked because it’s supposed to be a random thing. That created some press. Arthur was very happy.