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Spotlight on Hospitality: Papa Vince award winner builds lasting connections

December 14, 2023

Richard Yarnold has enough stories to fill a book. In fact, he’s filled six.

The 73-year-old Fishwife bartender is circulating his seventh personal guest book, expanding a collection of sketches, poems and heartfelt stories penned by his Pacific Grove customers. He started the tradition while working at Monterey’s Chart House, creating a simple record of names. It’s since become one more way that Yarnold builds relationships while behind the bar.

“At Fishwife, there is not a night that goes by when I don’t make a serious, wonderful connection with a guest or two or three,” he said.

Yarnold won Focus on Guest Experience and Papa Vince honors earlier this month, during the Monterey County Hospitality Association’s Hospitality Recognition Lunch. Named for the late Romualdo Vicente, a former Sardine Factory bartender and the award’s first recipient, the Papa Vince Award recognizes an individual who excels in service, teamwork, community-mindedness and career dedication.

“It’s a huge honor that I’m still trying to process. I’m very thankful. Very blessed,” said Yarnold. “To have 600 nominees in the room and be the winner is extremely overwhelming.”

Yarnold grew up in Connecticut, moved to southern California as a teenager and landed his first restaurant job in Marina del Rey. He worked his way from busboy to waiter to bartender and then held management roles across California before joining the Fishwife team nearly 16 years ago.

He has lived on a sailboat for more than three decades. He’s got a 1987 Volkswagen Westfalia for camping trips. Yarnold officiated his daughter’s wedding and recently welcomed his first grandson. And, he brings continued enthusiasm to his work after recovering from major heart and brain surgeries.

“We don’t know what another person’s going through in their life or what hardships they may be having,” he said. “If I can be a positive, bright light helping them through their day, that’s what it’s all about.”

Fishwife General Manager Rosa Audelo nominated Yarnold for this year’s awards. She calls him a hard worker and a great teammate who exemplifies hospitality.

“He spends time with customers. He talks to them. If they’re tourists with questions, he’ll direct them to the best places. He makes sure that whatever a customer needs gets taken care of and he goes way over expectations,” she said.

Exceeding expectations might mean printing personalized menus with anniversary wishes, putting quarters in customers’ parking meters on rainy nights or simply sparking meaningful conversation. One of Yarnold’s most memorable guest book entries came from a gentleman who dined alone at the Fishwife bar.

“He wrote, ‘Rich, you’ve restored my faith in humanity.’ A short entry, but it meant a lot to me,” said Yarnold.

He is quick to credit treasured friends, colleagues and family members for his success.

“I wouldn’t have done all this if I wasn’t surrounded by fun, good, easygoing, loving people,” Yarnold said. “All I can do is take a deep breath and be thankful and pay it forward every chance I get.”

The Monterey County Hospitality Association ( is the trade association serving the local tourism industry with advocacy, education and employee recognition programs. For more information, visit or contact Kristin Horton at 

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