Photos and lyrics by Gaige Davila
PARADE sat down with Will Abete as he started his shift at the Meatball Cafe, preparing for a special piÃ±a colada with freshly squeezed pineapple juice.
Abete, 25, has been working at the Meatball Cafe for two months. He used to be a bartender right across from Padre Boulevard at Tequila Sunset. He lived on the island for a year, but worked summers at CafÃ© Karma while attending Texas State University, San Marcos. There he obtained a bachelor’s degree in performance and production.
Before graduating from the State of Texas, Abete lived in Los Angeles for a year, attending college at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (ADMA) in its second year. He graduated from the State of Texas, where he performed during his two years in the university’s drama department.
Abete unexpectedly returned to South Padre Island after the COVID-19 pandemic closed theaters around the world, initially planning to move to London to pursue his acting career. The last show he performed in was a Texas State production of “Blue.”
“I couldn’t play, it was awful,” said Abete, polishing wine glasses behind the bar. “It was 12 years to be able to do it and then I was cut off when I think I’m about to go out into the world and start doing it for myself.”
He continued, “After being without him for so long, there were days when it was crippling.”
In the meantime, Abete has tried to express himself creatively, taking painting classes alongside the Art Business Incubator and, as he aptly describes, “throwing himself into other things”.
Abete says that while working at Tequila Sunset, a fellow bartender said his acting skills were good for the bar business. Abete half agrees.
âThere are things where playing translates for sure,â Abete. âBut as a bartender, I don’t think so. People just want to talk. It’s about leading conversations, not really about acting.
And through those conversations, Abete has learned a lot about South Padre Island, developing an interesting Barrier Island theory that nearly 3,000 people call home: It’s a simulation, he jokes.
âThis island has teeth,â said Abete. “This island is supposed to keep you here, and it’s weird and awesome and broken and a guy created it from his office.”
He continues, more seriously: âThere are people here who are incredible, it’s such a tight-knit community. There are people here who are running away from something, they are awful and scary. But it might just be the life: wake up and go to the beach every morning.
Abete is saving a third of what he earns each night he works for his return to acting, with hopes of moving to London soon when COVID-19 lessens his grip on the world and more theaters start to appear. launch shows. It’s part of his spiel when speaking with customers, he says.
âOnce everything is clear my dream is to go to London, even if it seems difficult, it seems very far away, it feels very lonely,” said Abete.
Until then, Abete says he’s working on “all aspects” of himself, mentally and physically.
âThis is something I said I would do when I first came to this island,â said Abete. âI had a therapist in San Marcos who told me, ‘work on your career now, focus on yourself later’. I think it no longer makes sense.
You can meet Abete at the Meatball CafÃ© at 2412 Padre Boulevard, open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. all week.