Q. How long have you been with Darden and Olive Garden?
A. I am celebrating 35 years! I worked for Red Lobster for 16 years, then moved to Olive Garden in 1996 and have been a server at the Massapequa, NY, Olive Garden ever since. I have regular customers who ask for me, and I’ve gotten to know them. They really do become family. I also have guests who followed me to Olive Garden from Red Lobster.
'I’ve had a lot of great managers in my career.'
Q. What do you like best about your job, and why?
A. What I enjoy most is meeting different people and hearing their stories. I’ve always been a people person. The job fits into my lifestyle, especially when I had young children, because the hours are flexible. Then, I was able to continue in the lifestyle I wanted and have time to be with my family and attend my children’s events. Even at this age, I love the flexibility and the job. One time at Red Lobster, a woman choked on steak and I performed the Heimlich maneuver. Her son sent me 18 yellow tea roses because he said I saved her life. That was memorable!
Q. What are the top three reasons you have dedicated your career to Olive Garden?
A. Besides the flexible hours and my enjoyment of the job, I appreciate my managers’ recognition of my work and my achievements. That makes me feel good. There are opportunities here. I’ve had a lot of great managers in my career. My current general manager, Kelly Lynch, is fabulous, too. She’s patient, and if you have a question and she doesn’t know the answer, she will find out for you.
Q. How has Olive Garden helped you to be successful and fulfilled in your job?
A. Olive Garden taught me how to present and sell the food and wine and pass on my knowledge to the guests. I didn’t know anything about wine and mixed drinks when I started with Darden.
Q. Would you recommend Olive Garden as a good employer to your friends and family? How about to the stranger you strike up a conversation with in line at the post office?
A. Absolutely, especially to people with families who want and need a flexible schedule. I’ve had a lot of good years here.