Best Job I Ever Had

The best job outside the home that I ever had was working at Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders in Bowling Green, KY.  It may seem strange for a college-educated person to say that their favorite job was working at a restaurant.  Isn’t the whole purpose of going to college to move up to a better-paying and more prestigious position?  If only better-paying and more prestigious always did equal better and more fulfilling.

I worked at Mancino’s from about September of 1996 until December 31, 1997.  I did take a short six-week break for part of the summer so that I could go on vacation with my family, but otherwise I stuck around and worked every holiday.  And why did I quit this job if it was so wonderful?  There were two reasons.  1.  I was burnt out from working thirty hours a week and take 21 hours of classes that semester.  2.  I was tired of the food smell that would not leave my skin no matter how much soap or lotion was used.  I will tell you, though, that it is the only job where I cried when I gave my notice.

What made this part-time position at a restaurant that was one step up from fast food and one step-down from full service so great?  Well, the fact that you got a free 8″ grinder (a baked sandwich), slice of pizza, or small salad for every four-hour shift worked was pretty sweet.  The fact that the whole place was staffed by college students who loved to party was a lot of fun.  But the greatest thing about the place were the owners, Chris and Lisa.  They were the fairest bosses I ever had.

Chris and Lisa were a married couple in their mid-twenties.  They had worked their way up in another Mancino’s in Indiana owned by Chris’s parents (two more wonderful people).  After a few years Chris’s parents put up part of the money so that Chris and Lisa could open their own restaurant in exchange for a chunk of profit.  (That’s just the Mancino’s franchise way.)  So here were these very young but committed people opening a new restaurant staffed mostly by college students just a few years younger themselves.

First of all, they always tried to arrange the schedule so that every employee had at least Friday or Saturday night off so that your whole weekend wasn’t shot.  They worked around your class schedules, because they believed in the importance of education.  If you worked hard and they approved of you, you knew it; you received lots of verbal praise, regular raises, and extra responsibilities.  If you were slacking, they would take you aside and tell you to raise your game or face the consequences.  There was none of that garbage where you would get great feedback on your evaluation only to be called into the office two days later to be chewed out for not being good enough, like what I saw happen repeatedly in the corporate world.

Chris and Lisa also really cared about what happened to us.  You’d go to work and hear stories about how Corey accidentally busted out a tooth during his free time, and Chris and Lisa spent all night finding him an emergency dentist.  Or someone else was having problems with their architectural design homework, so Chris went over the concepts with them after work.  (Chris had studied architecture and designed the store.)  Or once when I was too overwhelmed with school and life and called in sick on my shift, they called one of my best friends who also worked at the restaurant to go check on me because they could tell I was upset.  Even after I quit, they always had a smile, kind word, and assistance ready for me if I needed it.  They were just good people.

The last time I was in Bowling Green I learned that Chris and Lisa had just opened their third location in the town, so obviously they have been doing very well.  It helps that their food is absolutely excellent, and they hold their employees and products to a higher standard than some other Mancino’s I’ve visited in other cities.  So it just goes to prove that bosses can be fair with their employees and still turn a profit.  I think that it’s a lesson that more companies need to learn.

And let me add before I go, there are still nights that I dream that I have gone back to work there.  The only nightmare I have about the place is of being negligent and allowing food to fall out of the conveyor ovens.  I also still strongly crave the food.  Whenever I go back it is so hard to decide between the Reuben, steak Grinder, meatball grinder,  BBQ grinder, Hawaiian pizza, garlic cheese bread,  or chef salad.  So if you ever make it to Bowling Green, KY stop by Mancino’s for me.

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One Comment on “Best Job I Ever Had”

  1. Tom Stanley Says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Stanley

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