There hasn't been a day since I left Google that I've regretted my decision to retake control of my waking hours and how I spend them. There have been many times, however, that I've thought back fondly to the people with whom I worked and the collegial atmosphere I enjoyed as a Googler. The Google cafe (later known as "Charlie's") was central to that - a gathering place where we shared meals, conversation and laughter.
I dedicate several pages in my book to that experience and to the incredible food Chef Charlie Ayers served up on a daily basis. When the longing for days gone by overwhelms me, I sometimes wrangle an invite to return to the Google campus for lunch. The food is still great, but the atmosphere is no longer the same. A company that employs 20,000 people just doesn't feel like one that employs 60. There are lots of cafes, each with its own specialty and if I recognize one or two of the Googlers populating the lunchroom, it comes as a pleasant surprise.
So instead, when I'm hungry for a taste of Google's good old days, I head over to Charlie's new place in Palo Alto. The food is just as I remember it and I often run into Googlers or Xooglers with whom to reminisce. And of course, after five years of watching me parade my tray down the lunch line, Charlie knows just what I like and just how to fix it.