Photography by Paige Green

At Ray’s you will find a cast of characters that shows up with regularity.  You’ve got your Wednesday Open Mic night people, your Friday happy hour people, your little league parents before and after (some during) the-game-up-the-street-people, and then your daily check in for a pint around 5 people. Great crews, all.

Wednesdays are particularly eclectic at Open Mic night, drawing on a local talent pool of all ages and abilities to get up in front of a small crowd in the corner of the deli space that becomes a makeshift stage. For a few years, Open Mic night has been run by Ariel Monterrey, a Cuban-born but now longtime Petaluma resident that thrives in his role as MC of this regular occurrence. He runs the show with encouragement and spirit, and is often up himself playing guitar and singing. Every act is treated to a rising roar of applause at the finish and the heartfelt camaraderie of the audience is palpable.  Close your eyes and hear banjo strumming, see children scooting around taller people’s legs, smell pastrami and cheese. That’s a sensory synopsis of Ray’s Open Mic night.

On Fridays the party gets going early, especially when the weather is nice and one can sit outside to watch the parade of vehicles that move through the intersection of West and Webster Streets. The inside scene is TGIF-jovial and can  border on the raucous. In one glance around the room you may see a bank executive, an electrician, a musician and a Petaluma High history teacher. Go back next week, and they will all be there again.

Back to the “regular” thing. There is another special group of regulars that must be mentioned: the dogs.  You’ve got Mimi and Steve’s hound dog, Blue, of the 5 o’clock regular crowd. And Joe’s pitbull mix, Buttons, a Friday regular. Blue and Buttons have many friends, which you will have to come to Ray’s yourself to meet and pat.