Fran Tate

Former owner of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant.  An early morning fire destroyed the restaurant in 2013. 

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/pepes-landmark-barrow-restaurant-burns-ground/2013/08/31/

Interviews

2009

Fran Tate, the owner of Pepes North of the Border Mexican restaurant (it burned down in 2013 in Barrow (now Utqiaġvik), Alaska) describes the unique design and concept of her restaurant. The dining room is themed after bulls, with paintings by Ricardo Vasquez.. Fran reflects on the past, recalling the transformation of the establishment from a rowdy cocktail lounge to a restaurant. She shares stories about her journey as a restaurateur, the challenges faced, and the evolution of the dining experience. Over time, the restaurant gained popularity, offering both Mexican and American cuisine. Fran reminisces about the changes she made and the warm reception from the community, especially the senior citizens who now enjoy complimentary pie and coffee. The restaurant has become more refined, she quips, with patrons now respecting the “wait to be seated” sign.

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Fran Tate, an 80-year-old restaurateur, shares her remarkable life story. Born in 1929 to immigrant parents, Fran experienced the hardships of the Great Depression, living in a tent in a berry patch before her family settled in a small shack. Despite the challenges she found when she came to Utqiaġvik, she also found great comfort in her surroundings and loved the close-knitness of the community where she has lived for 39 years. Trained as an electrical engineer, Fran’s unexpected arrival in the town brought her to a primitive and isolated place, where she witnessed the strength of community solidarity during harsh weather and tragic events. Running a restaurant, Fran takes pride in knowing everyone by name and supporting her neighbors without seeking recognition. Her generosity and commitment have made her an integral part of the town’s fabric, fostering unity and support among its residents.

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Fran Tate, a long-time resident of a small community, shares her experiences and perspectives on life. Having worked as a Mobile Oil representative and lubricating engineer, Fran has been actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club. The sense of community here on the North Slope and genuine interactions between residents makes her feel valued and appreciated. She contrasts this with the fast-paced, impersonal nature of big city life, where casual greetings lack depth and people often focus on materialistic pursuits to keep up with others. Fran emphasizes that her contentment in her current location stems from her positive mindset, rather than material wealth or convenience. She acknowledges the things she misses, such as live jazz music, but overall she appreciates the unique entertainment provided by nature, such as the Northern Lights and the excitement of local Iñupiaq whaling events.

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Fran Tate, a long-time resident in the Arctic, engages in a conversation about climate change and its effects. Sharing personal experiences, Fran reflects on the changing ice conditions and its impact on wildlife. Recounting a time when the ice never melted for an entire year, Fran highlights the challenges faced in providing fuel supplies to remote areas. Fran also mentions how climate fluctuations have affected the timing of ice formation and melting, making some years better than others. Fran expresses skepticism about the accuracy of modern technology in predicting weather patterns and advocates for respecting the traditional knowledge of native communities. Fran shares anecdotes about polar bear sightings and how their presence varies from year to year. Despite acknowledging the need to protect polar bears, Fran questions the classification of the species as endangered, citing the existence of an ample population. Through Fran’s conversation, it becomes apparent that climate change has brought both noticeable and unpredictable changes to the Arctic environment, emphasizing the importance of considering diverse perspectives and experiences when studying the impact of climate change.

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Fran Tate discusses the impact of technology, particularly the internet, on the isolated community they live in. While acknowledging the benefits of increased connectivity and regular flights in and out of town, Fran expresses concerns about the changing behavior and values of the younger generation. She reminisces about a time when people interacted more personally and criticizes the excessive use of electronic devices and the lack of communication within families. Fran shares an anecdote about working with teenagers who struggle with basic typing skills due to their reliance on technology. Fran’s own resistance to adopting new technology, such as computers and cell phones, is rooted in a belief that personal presence and direct communication are more important.

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Reminiscing about her childhood, Mexican restaurant owner Fran Tate recalls a birthday party she attended as a shy, impoverished child. She shares a humorous anecdote about getting lost while looking for the bathroom and discovering cottage cheese for the first time. Fran’s resilience and determination are evident as she reflects on her life, highlighting the mantra that what needs to be done can usually be accomplished. Fran discusses her various business ventures, including a successful sewage business, which she considers a reliable and profitable industry. Fran also mentions other building projects, such as the Teriyaki House and Burger Barn. Overall, Fran’s stories reveal a resilient and resourceful individual who navigated through early challenges and found success in brave new ventures.

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