Nellie Mitchell has worked as a server at LongHorn Steakhouse in Tampa, FL, for only about two years, but she already has made a name for herself with her guests.
Mike and Donna Kuhlman, who own a large cattle ranch in Canyon, TX, struck up a friendship with her when they visited the restaurant during visits to Tampa for medical reasons. Last summer, on their second visit, the couple told Nellie one of their 10 horses was expecting, and they asked if they could name the foal after her if it was a filly. “Her face just lit up,” Donna said.
“This was unique, and I was honored,” Nellie said. The filly was born in May, and Donna called Nellie to give her the news and sent photos. “The foal was barely standing,” Nellie said. “She was so cute.”
Donna said she and her husband warmed to Nellie right away. “We introduced ourselves to her first, which is unusual in a restaurant. But she was so open and her demeanor so welcoming and gracious. We talked. It wasn’t just, ‘What do you want?’ She was interested in who we were and what was going on in our lives.”
Managing Partner Greg Froelich said Nellie is popular with everyone. “She’s very personable and has that Southern charm that makes people feel good being around her. She gets lots of compliments from guests and the team. Everybody loves her. It takes grand character to be a great server.”
Nellie said she treats everyone well. “I was raised to treat people like I want to be treated. I know the guests’ names, and I know their kids’ names. And I treat those kids like they’re my kids.”
She has worked in the foodservice business 15 years and moved to Florida from Mississippi four years ago. “LongHorn Steakhouse is the best company I’ve ever worked for,” she said. “They treat me like I’m family.”
She loves her job, especially making people happy. “Our guests could have stayed at home and put a steak on the grill or gone to another restaurant, but they chose to come here. That’s amazing.”
She and her husband, Jonathan Mitchell, a chef, have four children. Down the road, she said, she dreams of becoming a LongHorn manager, owning a small restaurant or food truck with her husband, or something completely different — becoming a nurse.
But first, the Kuhlmans have invited her to Texas and she plans to go. “I’ve never been to Texas,” she said. “I want to touch Nellie, brush her and maybe ride her.” She said she intends to take her first horseback ride before the trip so she’ll be prepared. “I also want the hat and the boots when I go!
“This honor means a lot to me,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m special.”