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This article originally appeared in Mount Vernon magazine, published three times a year by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
For this longtime server at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, hospitality is always on the menu.
The Washingtons were well-known for their hospitality, providing food and libations for a never-ending stream of guests. Today, the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant offers American cuisine and Washington-style cordiality to travelers and local patrons alike. Aicha Ouhamou, a server at the restaurant for nearly three decades, embodies the Washingtons’ welcoming spirit every day.
Aicha and her husband, a chef, moved to northern Virginia from Morocco nearly 36 years ago and started a restaurant. After that venture closed, Aicha took on positions at other local eateries while working toward her cosmetology certificate. In 1996, she joined the staff at the Mount Vernon Inn and opted to stay on, even after completing her studies.
“I’m a person who loves people,” Aicha said. “Happy to come to work, and still never missed a day.”
Over the years, the Inn has become Aicha’s home away from home; she knows the location of every candle and dish in the restaurant, and the staff is like her family.
“I enjoy my coworkers, they’re like my kids,” she said. In fact, Aicha’s two daughters entered the workforce as bus girls and hostesses at the Inn.
Working at the Mount Vernon Inn gives Aicha the chance to meet people from around the world. Her boundless cheer and encyclopedic knowledge of the Inn instantly puts guests at ease and establishes a trust that makes them feel welcome at the estate.
“It’s the same as if you have guests in your home: show them you care, show them they’re welcome. Especially this place, it feels like your house,” she said.
Her welcoming nature makes her a natural fit for serving the Inn’s many famous visitors, including TV personalities and government leaders. Aicha also serves during Mount Vernon’s public and private events, as well as at nearly every wedding celebrated at the Inn. Mount Vernon staff can always count on her to offer stellar service and go above and beyond to make sure guests have everything they need.
“I guess I’m old-fashioned. I don’t pay attention to celebrities or watch movies or TV, so I treat everyone the same,” Aicha said.
- Mrs. Cathy Mayton, Vice Regent for Arkansas
Each spring and fall, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Board members arrive at the estate for semiannual meetings. During their stay on the grounds, Aicha arrives to the estate at 5 a.m. every day to serve them breakfast—a responsibility she is proud to fulfill.
“Aicha is a wonderful ‘silent soldier’ for Mount Vernon. I know she would have been the apple of the General’s eye,” said Mrs. Cathy Mayton, Vice Regent for Arkansas. “Her smile reflects her very big heart and lights up any room that she enters. Her love for Mount Vernon is reflected in the way she carries out her many jobs, working in the Inn and taking care of the many needs of the Ladies on the Board. Mount Vernon would not be the same without Aicha, and I am honored to call her a friend.”
Above all, Aicha takes great pride in her tasks across the estate. “When you like something, you pay attention. I pay attention to my job because I love it. I’m proud to see guests like our food and service. I’m proud to tell people the grits came from the Gristmill and food from the gardens. I’m proud to be here and make it special. It’s a wonderful place.”
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Mount Vernon magazine. Subscribe to the magazine by becoming a member today.Learn More