Move over Perle Mesta; we have Jill Vontor.
Senior readers will most likely recall Miss Mesta. She was “the hostess with the modest.”
Jill is the manager and hostess at O’Grady’s Restaurant on Schuylkill Road. She started there as a part-time server in 1996. Within in a year, she became the manager.
Jill knows all the customers by name. They have become one large community. It is a special meeting place for families and friends — especially the senior community.
She comes from a large family; there are six McMaster children. Before settling in the Phoenixville area, the family traveled and were stationed around the country and in Japan, as her parents, Joe and Dorothy McMaster, both served in the U.S. Army. Some of the kids were born along the way. Mom and Dad met in Maryland and both were stationed at the Valley Forge Army Hospital — Mrs. Mac twice in fact.
Jill is the fourth oldest of “the clan.” She worked her way in to the service/food industry at the age of 12, working in a corner store after school and on weekends. She has done it all — bartender, server, cook, manager. These jobs led her to meet some famous and interesting people — some very nice and some not.
She and Steve Vontor met and were married in 1979. It was only one year after they married that Steve was killed while walking their dog in Reeves Park. Steve was trying to break up a fight between two guys. After Steve’s untimely death, the support of her large family kept her going.
There is one daughter, Megan. Jill’s 14-year-old grandson, Aiden, is the love of Jill’s life.
If there is a cause, there is no fundraiser Jill will turn down. Actually, she is a wizard of bringing it all together. As if she doesn’t have enough to do, she is treasurer of the Liberty Fire Company in Spring City. Jill is thankful that O’Grady’s allows her as part of her job to get involved in community activities.
A little info about Perele Mesta I mentioned in the beginning.
She was the United States ambassador to Luxemburg in the late ’40s an early ’50s. The musical “Call Me Madame” was fashioned after her life aboard. Both Perle and Jill embrace the world around them.
The McMaster family remains close even with death of Joe and Dorothy, or Mrs. Mac as she was known by most.
Years ago, when I wrote and published my "Neighborhood Kitchen" book, Mrs. Mac shared her famous baked bean recipe. So, once again, here is that recipe.
Mrs. Mac's Bourbon Baked Beans
3 large cans (1 lb. 12 oz.) cans B&M Original Bake Beans
½ cup dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
¾ cup bourbon (optional)
2 large onions — diced
5 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumble
Combine all the ingredients together and pour into a baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for two hours. Uncover, then lower heat to 300 degrees for 30 minutes. This allows the sauce to thicken. Or bake overnight at 225 degrees. You can cut up hot dogs and mix through the beans, making it a meal in itself.
To “start from scratch,” soak 5 pounds dry navy beans in cold water all day; rinse frequently. Pick through beans for hard pieces and broken skins; drain well. Use beans in place of canned beans.