Young workers give a warm welcome

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 19, 2001

Good things will come to those who scurry and wait. Wait tables, that is. At Ruby Tuesday’s, for sure.

A trial run on Saturday found the new Natchez restaurant in Trace Town Shopping Center teeming with wait staff – and managers, greeters, and kitchen workers.

As Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said as I passed by his table, &uot;Isn’t it wonderful to see all these young people at work?&uot;

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Indeed. Jean, Rena, LaToya, Jessie, Leon, Matthew, Anthony. On and on. Dozens, literally, smiled and said hello and waved friendly good-byes.

They did not pass a table without a friendly nod and, &uot;Is everything all right? Can I get you something?&uot;

A little slow, perhaps – it was what they call in the trade a soft opening and they were, after all, getting in a little practice – the service still seemed to be good, and all around were invited guests as well as members of the restaurant’s regional team who are on hand to see that the grand opening at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday goes smoothly.

The new restaurant provides opportunities for energetic, ambitious young folks who want to work their way up the ladder. That’s what their manager-investor Sally Bullard said.

&uot;We’re building 50 new Ruby Tuesday’s every year,&uot; Bullard said. &uot;It used to be you would have to blood-and-sweat it for 15 years before you could move up. Those days are over. The opportunities are huge.&uot;

Thus the excitement about the opening is understandable. There are plenty of other outstanding restaurants in Natchez, where locals and visitors can enjoy some of the South’s finest foods and service.

However, the new restaurant, serving from 11 a.m. through the evening and seating 225 people, requires a large staff. Full staff will be 100 people, in fact.

&uot;It’s a great place to work with great benefits,&uot; Bullard said. &uot;It’s a safe restaurant.&uot;

The walls are covered with photographs, posters, sports memorabilia and all sorts of things in the style anyone familiar with a Ruby Tuesday’s would expect.

Bullard said it is not the style of decoration that makes her eatery different, however. &uot;It’s the people,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of restaurants have the Tiffany lamps and junk on all the walls. But we have great people and we have continuing education for all our people.&uot;

Great South Construction of Pelham, Ala., was the main contractor for construction of the building. Local subcontractors were involved, also. The restaurant, in addition to hiring many local people, also will do as much local shopping as possible. Hicks Distributing Company will be an important local partner.

Spirits were high and hopes even higher as the new staff went through their paces. One visiting manager sat for a few minutes to tell of the wager she and Bullard were making with the regional director of operations, who also is in town for opening preparations.

&uot;We have a wager about how much business we think the restaurant will do in the opening week. If we make it, we get to shave his head,&uot; she said. &uot;If we do another $10,000 better than that, we shave his head and he puts on a dress to greet people at the front door. I’ve got to see that.&uot;

An opening week such as that also would be good news for the many fresh-faced, enthusiastic young people scurrying about the place – smiling and waiting.

Joan Gandy, special projects director, can be reached at 445-3539 or via e-mail,