What makes them so special?
I've been known to frequent restaurants that don't necessarily provide a menu that's appealing to me. Case in point, one of my favorite places to eat in Tarrant County, Texas, specializes in barbecued ribs. I don't eat beef, or pork, but I love going there anyway because I love the atmosphere. It's in the Fort Worth Stockyards Train Station and the staff is awesome, so yup ... I go often when I'm in town, and my friends go with me.
It isn't always the menu, or even the fancy manner in how the food is cooked and served, that has the power of persuasion. Sometimes, it just comes down to atmosphere. Good service and an interesting interior can get folks to come back, even without a five-star menu, loaded with the latest in fad-foody-goodies.
However, if you live in, or are passing through Kendallville, Indiana, you're in luck, because there you'll find a restaurant that has both. And, the surprise factor in this wonderful news is, the restaurant is Arby's on 450 W. North Street.
You know Arby's, right? Home of the French Dip Sandwich and Horsey Sauce?
Arby's has a well developed menu, that covers a variety of preferences. If you're hungry for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or supper, they've got you covered. But, as I said, it isn't all about the food. And, although this Arby's has great food, they have something else, something wonderful, to garnish each meal they serve with. Arby's in Kendallville has a sterling crew that genuinely appreciates their customers.
That's to be applauded because you know how it goes with large-chain, fast-food establishments. Frequently, it's less than best in both taste and service.
However, Arby's-Kendallville is an exception to the rule.
It seems their staff doesn't turn on the charm just when a customer is in the house. They actually like their customers, and know many of them personally. In fact, per the Operating Partner, Brent Wedding Jr., some of these customers enjoy their time at Arby's-Kendallville so much, they come there for at least one meal a day, most days of the week.
"These guys are at my restaurant seven days a week! Some of our regulars come every day, twice a day, just for coffee and some time with friends." (Brent Wedding Jr.)
"Another of our every-day groups." (Brent Wedding Jr.)
"Mark and Bonnie, some of my favorite guests! Larry is one of my newer friends. He just celebrated his 80th birthday, and I was invited to be a part of the celebration!" (Brent Wedding Jr.)
You see? These friends get more than a meal when they gather here. The Arby's crew knows them by name, and often is already preparing their food when they recognize their vehicles pulling into the parking lot.
This is far superior to the norm in fast-food service.
An example of the relationship between the Arby's-Kendallville crew and their customers goes something like this ...
A lady in town drove away from her home, and began experiencing some serious car trouble, not far from Arby's Kendallville location. She turned off of her scheduled route and headed for Arby's, because (she said), she knew she would be helped there.
She was right.
When she arrived, and got into the building, she told the young man behind the counter what had happened. The young man was an 18-year-old high school senior. Not only did he look up the phone number to the auto service center for her, he drove behind her all the way there, to ensure she arrived safely.
The customer's name is Gene.
Gene is 90 years old and a regular diner at Arby's Kendallville.
Another nice thing about the story of Gene's vehicle escort that day, is that the young man who followed her didn't get fussed at for it by his co-workers or supervisors.
That impresses me because I've witnessed that sort of behavior in chain managers and supervisors, who fuss when customer service ends up being extended beyond delivering the order and getting their money.
There is much to be said about a company that hires locals and actually remembers that it is a privilege to serve a community in a business capacity. All too often, with large chains, that is forgotten. But, it seems that Arby's is not only good in having a great local crew, they're actually good to their employees, and make it worth their while to work there.
Meet the rest of your Arby's-Kendallville Crew!
Greg is a shift manager, and has worked for Brent from the beginning. He was one of the first guys he hired.
Rob is also a shift manager. Many people think he and Brent are brothers, but they're not even related.
Sharon, Brent's assistant. Brent is able to spend more time with customer's because of Sharon's help with fielding administrative tasks.
Amanda began working for Brent when she was in high school. Now she is a shift manager, and attending college. Brent pays her well, and adjusts her work schedule to accommodate her school schedule. This enables her to earn management experience while she earns her degree in business management.
Sheree is a heart-transplant recipient. She was worried she wouldn't find work due to her physical limitations, but Brent proved her wrong. She is a vital part of the team at Arby's-Kendallville. Brent says this is a rare shot. Sheree's team-mates usually step in to do dishes for her, so she won't over-exert herself. This was one of only two times (known of) that she actually got to wash a few.
Not long ago, Sheree was in the hospital and missing her friends. She asked them to please send her a video of them singing their favorite Christmas carol. So, they did.
"The team pictured just finished a $700 breakfast order. The receipt was over 6 feet long! The order was completed and delivered by 0730, in conjunction with serving customer's at the restaurant. They were so proud; and so was I!" (Brent Wedding Jr.)
Danielle, snagging a piece of cake brought in for the crew by one of their favorite customers.
Arby's-Kendallville is determined to make a difference in their community and beyond. In their effort to accomplish this, they joined the No Kid Hungry Program.
This is Joanna. She's the top dog in bringing in the most donations for Arby's-Kendallville. The crew and their customers really are making a difference!
I asked Brent why he believes that Arby's-Kendallville is the premium choice of fast-food restaurants in his area. He replied with enthusiasm and sincerity.
"If people in the area are looking for a dining experience, that is first, and foremost, friendly, offers a clean environment, with a quality, fast meal, they should eat at our Arby's because we all go out of our way to serve our guests and get to know them.
"If we see you twice a week, we know your name. If we see you more than three times a week, chances are we know exactly what you're going to order and how many condiments you want. If we see you five times a week, we are likely to recognize your voice when you order at the drive-through speaker, and we'll call you by name.
"I even know my customers' vehicles. When they pull into the lot, I start getting their order ready.
"At our Arby's you're not a number. You're a name, a person, a friend. And, because you are our friend, we are going to take care of you, and give you the best all-around experience possible. If we happen to mess up, it will upset us more than it will you, and we'll want to make it right, and have you being happy!"
Brent and his wife are natives of Noble County, and he's one of those guys who wears more than one hat. Not only is he the Operating Partner of Arby's-Kendallville, he is also the Rev. Brent Wedding Jrl., Assistant Pastor of Bread of Life Tabernacle in downtown Kendallville.
Often, he finds he is working in very similar capacities in both places, and receiving like-rewards.
"Over the last four years, I have had the best customers. I have cried with them when they lost their loved ones. I have looked at pictures of their children and grandchildren. Many (perhaps even most) of them, I have seen six days a week for the last four years.
"They have become like family.
"One customer, who happens to be one of my former school teachers, said to me, 'Brent, you have taken this fast-food restaurant and made it feel like an old-fashioned diner! People love coming in here and staying for hours because they know you know them and you care about them.'
"So, I'd like to tell them, 'Thank you! Thank you for supporting our restaurant and thank you for sharing your lives with us!' You are truly dear to us!'
"To our potential customers, I would like to say, 'Come on in! There's always room for more friends, and the more the merrier!'"
Arby's-Kendallville crew, thank you for such exemplary service in work ethic as well as being such an interactive and positive part of your community.
And, best wishes for a blessed and prosperous new year from Sibling Synergy's Pumpkin Run Pulse and femmeflashpoint.
(Readers, don't be shy. Feel free to leave the crew a comment, introduce yourself and say "Hello!" .... femmeflashpoint)
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