Tyx Pulskamp may be a name you recognize from the 2020 general election ballot when he ran for one of three open seats on the Jackson City Council. You may also know him if you’ve eaten at Rosebud’s Café on Main Street in Jackson.
Pulskamp is an Amador County native whose family started Rosebud’s Café 30 years ago when he was six years old. So, Pulskamp said, “For much of my childhood, I spent right here on Main Street.” He started working at Rosebud’s Café when the business opened. “My first job here was the cash register because I was young and couldn’t balance a tray,” Pulskamp said. “I liked math and so they kept me at the register. It gave the adults a kick.”
He added that when he was growing up, he spent most of his free time at Rosebud’s. After Pulskamp graduated from Amador High School, he studied sign language in community college and spent about ten years working in job development for deaf adults with developmental disabilities in the Sacramento area.
Afterward, Pulskamp moved back to Amador County and has worked at Rosebud’s Café since then. I talked with Pulskamp about what he learned from his run for the Jackson City Council and his thoughts about the future of Main Street Jackson.
Life at the Café
Rosebud’s spent the first half of its life as a diner, but since then the Pulskamp family has transitioned to a farm-to-table model. Today, Pulskamp said, Rosebud’s offers as much fresh local food as possible including from the Pulskamp farm, which the family has been operating for about 12 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused Rosebud’s to close in late July 2020, but the Café reopened again in early November and has been open since then. “These days, I’m in the front of the house,” Pulskamp said. “The chef is my younger brother, and he focuses on building and executing the menu. We all pitch in on prep and dishes, but he’s the mastermind behind the flavor palate at the café,” he said.
Pulskamp added that his job includes making espresso drinks, setting up the restaurant for takeout service, and working with the customers. It was the sudden drop in customers, he said, that was the hardest part about managing the public health emergency.
“The pandemic has required a lot of adjusting on every level,” Pulskamp noted. “Last March, we had to let our whole staff go. It’s really been my brother and me working here. At times, my mom comes and contributes, but she’s not comfortable interacting with the public at this point.”
On a personal level, he added, “I was really fueled by that having grown up in this environment to provide hospitality to strangers and then all of a sudden, the strangers are gone. It was rough for my mental health and my energy level.”
Pulskamp decided to run for a seat on the Jackson City Council last year because of encouragement from Jackson residents. “It wasn’t something I had really learned much about until people started to encourage me to consider it, and that was about four to five years ago.”
He was drawn to public service because of the strong example set by his family. “My grandparents were very dedicated to their civic duty and participating in the community that was presented in such a way for me that it wasn’t just the right thing to do, it looked so cool,” Pulskamp said.
A few years ago, when the Amador County Board of Supervisors formed a homeless task force, Pulskamp signed up and currently serves on the outreach subcommittee. He also services on the board of the non-profit Tri-County LGBT Alliance.
His reason for serving in these organizations is simple: “If you are able to contribute in a particular way and you’re capable and moved to do so, it’s in your best interests to do so.”
Running for Office
What’s more, Pulskamp said he was motivated to run for a City Council seat because he wants to help be a part of a thriving Jackson. “I believe Jackson has some really wonderful opportunities both geographically and circumstantially based on the evolution of our region,” he added.
Though the pandemic made it impossible to run a typical campaign, Pulskamp was encouraged by the election results. “With 570-some people voting for me for the first time, that felt like maybe there’s something to this,” he said. “That says that people in Jackson see a need for the energy that I have, and the investment of my time and energy and resources as a young person in the community has value.”
Now that Pulskamp has had a taste of politics, he’s curious to learn more. “I think it would be a wonderful learning experience to work on someone else’s campaign whether it’s a local politician or a state proposition,” he said. “There’s so much to learn and there’s a whole vernacular to government functions.”
Raising Main Street
Pulskamp says that he still plans to continue to help Jackson any way he can. “I really like to feel effective,” he said. “I want to be of use to the city as they build on the resources for serving the needs of the homeless. I try to make myself available to the mayor, city council, and the chief of police as they work together to navigate this challenge.”
He also wants to continue to help downtown Jackson thrive, but knows the challenges in doing so. “It’s been difficult to work together,” Pulskamp said. “A lot of entrepreneurs go into business for themselves because they don’t want to work for anyone else, which I totally understand, but working with anyone else is vital. You can’t stand alone.”
The independence of business owners on Main Street has contributed to the demise of past business associations, Pulskamp said, but past efforts to work together have been worthwhile. “Some good work got done, like signage that’s so important to these shops and restaurants,” he added.
He also noted that the challenges of the pandemic have resulted in creative solutions that could be the foundation of a revived group to promote Main Street Jackson. “If we can embody that spirit and continue to creatively adapt together keeping downtown safe and meet the changing needs of the tourist industry, I think it’s possible.”
Friends and Neighbors
To do that, Pulskamp believes that any Main Street business group needs to involve residents and business owners to focus on the street’s charm for visitors and a neighborly, small-town approach. “Folks are passing their way through Jackson doing the Gold Rush thing,” he said, “and if we can make a positive impression then they will remember Jackson as where they want to come back to and spend more time here.”
Though leadership will be necessary for Main Street business at some point, Pulskamp added, business owners need to nourish the relationships they have with each other right now. “This is definitely a family of businesses in downtown Jackson, and we need to nourish that and fortify those relationships,” he said. “It’s just about nourishing our friendships from one shop to the next.”
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