Glaisma Perez Silva
Bars of Choice: CBG, Hot Suppa
Regular Since: 2020
Favorite Drink(s): stout, boozy coffee
We’re Sara and Jessie, and we’re excited to introduce you to The Regulars, a monthly feature profiling interesting bar regulars from around Maine. Being both regulars and restaurant-industry people ourselves, we have a huge appreciation for the life stories and interesting characters we’ve met over the years.
For the first edition, we stuck close to home here in Portland. Glaisma Perez Silva is a regular at CBG, where Jessie is a bartender, and at Hot Suppa, where Sara is a bartender and cook. Glaisma is a self-declared “Congress Street regular.”
CBG is a wood-paneled, low-key bar specializing in comfort food and throwback drinks. A large poster of a scene from The Big Lebowski hangs on the wall, along with taxidermy and vintage bar clocks, none of which tell the correct time. It’s a vibe.
Hot Suppa is a small, lively breakfast and lunch spot, also on Congress, serving up Southern cuisine and brunch cocktails. The décor is “your artsy aunt who loves New Orleans.” This spot is hopping, but it’s worth the wait because the food is that good.
Where are you from originally?
I am from Puerto Rico. I came to the United States recruited as a teacher in the Eighties. I lived in Connecticut for twenty-seven years. At some point I said I wanted a change, so I moved to central Massachusetts, but was working in rural areas, which is challenging for me. From there, here [Portland] is my last stop. I’m going to retire soon.
How long have you lived in Portland?
I came here during COVID in April 2020. I relocated here because of a job, and by the grace of the divinity I found a place. … I fill out an application and I didn’t know where I was moving. As businesses started to open, I started to discover what is here. I am a city person, so I felt like, Whoa, I came to the right place.
What is your occupation?
I was a special education teacher for twenty years. I also worked in higher education. When I entered university in 1975, there was the first mandated public law to integrate children with disabilities into the mainstream. Until that time, they were in a corner in the school in the worst place. They didn’t have teachers prepared to deal with this population, so I was recruited and fell into the work. I am so grateful that I did. I call it my mission of life.
Tell us about your radio show.
I have experience doing radio shows for twenty years. I was a co-host for a radio show for NPR called Tertulia. I also had a talk show called From Woman to Woman (Mujer a Mujer) with Glaisma, interviewing women who were doing different things in their society.
I did some search on the local radio when I moved here — no Latino show. I wrote to the program director of WMPG and asked if I could do a Spanish radio show. Next week will be the last one, because I’m going to retire professionally, but my mind won’t stop — that’s something that I cannot deny, creating always. I’m going to retire from, as I call it, “institutional slavery.” When I moved here, I did not realize that it was time for retirement, and I was not ready mentally. Now I’m sixty-five. I’m done. I paid my dues. I’m celebrating now.
At Hot Suppa, you’ve told the staff that you’re “over men.” Are you going to date during retirement?
Oh yes, I’m ready for that. I’m looking for a sugar granddaddy that allows me to have a good life, because retirement is another stage. I was a single mother by choice. My son is forty. He’s my contribution to society. I work to have a good life. I eat out every day. Fuck it, because when I must eat through a tube, I’ll be able to dream I am having fish and chips from CBG. Bring on my sugar grandaddy!
What brought you to these bars and why do you keep going back?
Every place that I go, I have a routine. At Hot Suppa, I have a special coffee and only they know the recipe — don’t share! At Local 188, I have a mojito. I get there and they are preparing it already. At El Corazon, the bartender Abby mixes Rumchata with horchata and rum. We put that name to that drink: The Epiphany. At CBG, it’s a stout. These are my rituals.
You gifted a turtle figurine to the owners of CBG. What is the meaning of the turtle?
I became aware that the turtle doesn’t walk backwards. They just move forward, and even if they find an obstacle, they find a way around, but never backwards. For many years, anyone that I knew that start a new journey in life, I gave a turtle trinket. When I started doing that, people started giving me turtles. My office is full of turtles. Some students called me the “turtle lady.” During COVID, CBG had just opened. The owners were working very hard and the turtle is a symbol of progress. I got that turtle and I brought it to [co-owner] Mike Barbuto with a recipe booklet of spells to bring people in. I’m witchy, but a good witchy! I came with good intentions, but I think I scared him, so the turtle stayed on the bar. I think it’s working, though.
Who is your favorite bartender?
You [Jessie], my dear, you are a highlight at CBG. Because remember, when I started coming here two years ago, there were only male workers. Then you came aboard. Because I’m old and can say whatever I want, I told [Mike Barbuto], “Yes! You needed a stronger vagina vibe here.”
What does being a “regular” mean to you?
I recognize that I’m from away, but I’ve had the grace of being accepted. The regulars, we can identify each other, and we greet each other even though we don’t know a name. I’m a humanist. I’m a people person. So, for me to acknowledge and to respect the presence of others is number one. For me, it’s a celebration, because I am part of this blend of the famous melting pot of America.
It’s also about feeling safe and welcome. I can step out of my place and see people I know. Passing by, I see my girls from Hot Suppa on my way to El Corazon or CBG. It’s something that is in American communities. As a woman of color, and I am very aware of this dynamic and I feel embraced, welcome.
Know an interesting bar regular? Recommend them to us by e-mailing email@example.com.